Immigrants & Global Education Trends

The idea of an “America First Caucus” in the House has been shelved. Henry Olsen says good riddance to it. In the course of his denunciation, he draws attention to a statement that was supposed to accompany the group’s founding, which includes the line, “An important distinction between post-1965 immigrants and previous waves of settlers is that previous cohorts were more educated, earned higher wages, and did not have an expansive welfare state to fall back on when they could not make it in America and thus did not stay in the country at the expense of the native-born.”

Olsen doesn’t linger on the point, but this statement is mistaken. As Pew Research noted a few years ago, immigrants “are better educated than ever, due in part to rising levels of schooling in many of the countries they came from and an influx of high-skilled workers to the U.S. in recent years, especially from Asia.” A report for the Center for Immigration Studies from around the same time concurred with this assessment but explained that from 1970 to at least 2000, immigrants’ education level relative to U.S. natives had dropped. The gap shrank, however, from 2007 to 2017.

Our immigration policies aren’t particularly well-suited to our economic needs. But today’s immigrants have significantly more schooling than those of yesteryear, just as you’d expect considering global trends in education.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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