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Brown report highlights “immigrant paradox”

September 16, 2010

Immigrant children in the United States are more likely to do well in school and less likely to engage in crime and drug use than their American-born peers. That according to a new report from researchers at Brown University

The report challenges the idea that new immigrants are a drain on schools and other social services. Brown Education Professor Cynthia Garcia-Coll, one of a dozen researchers whose work is featured in the report, says first generation immigrants are generally hard-working people with a strong motivation to achieve the “American dream.”

“They value education in ways that other families don’t, they have a very strong working ethic, and some of them have 2 and 3 jobs,” says Garcia-Coll. “What’s interesting is that they don’t even see discrimination or racism.”

But Garcia-Coll says the outcomes are not as positive for the second and third generations born in the United States, a phenomenon she calls the “immigrant paradox.” Second and third generation immigrants are more likely to complain of racism and less likely to go to college than their foreign born parents or grandparents, according to the report. Garcia-Coll says after two or three generations in this country, many Latino and Asian families are not achieving the same economic success as earlier immigrants.

“The second and third generation are acculturating to poverty,” says Garcia-Coll. “There’s anger, there’s dissatisfaction, there is a feeling that I have a right to a good place and I’m not getting there”

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