Study Finds Immigrants’ Average Age Is Increasing

July 2, 2019 Updated: July 3, 2019

WASHINGTON—A new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data finds the average age of foreign individuals coming to America is steadily increasing, with many more near or at retirement age, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said July 2.

“Immigrants (legal and illegal) are coming to the United States at significantly older ages than in the past. The average age and the share arriving at or near retirement increased significantly in the last two decades,” the CIS study said.

“These findings have implications for the often-made argument that immigration makes the country significantly younger. The findings also have implications for public coffers, because prior research indicates that younger immigrants tend to have a more positive lifetime fiscal impact than older immigrants.”

The CIS study used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) from 2000 to 2017. The ACS presents a population profile on July 1 annually and is a primary resource for demographers and others interested in trends among Americans. The CIS study looked at individuals who have been in the United States for 1 1/2 years or less.

“The average age at arrival was more than five years older in 2017 than it was in 2000—25.7 vs. 30.9 years,” CIS said. “The share of newly arrived immigrants who are over the age of 50 roughly doubled, from 8 percent to 15 percent between 2000 and 2017; and the share 65 and older nearly tripled, from 2 percent to 6 percent.”

Sixty-six percent of the new arrivals were under age 30 in 2000, the study found, but that portion had declined to 52 percent by 2017, according to CIS. At the same time, the share of those over age 30 swelled to 48 percent, from 34 percent.

A particularly worrisome finding of the study for those who believe immigration makes the workforce younger is that while the percentage of arriving immigrants of working age (defined as ages 16 to 64) essentially remained steady throughout, their average age increased to 33 1/2 years old from 30 years old.

Steven Camarota, CIS’s director of research and the main author of the study, said in a statement accompanying its release that “most people assume that all immigrants come to America young, but that’s never been true and it’s less true now.”

Camarota said that in 2017, “one in eight new immigrants was old enough to move directly into a retirement community.”

“The current legal immigration system allows people to bring in older relatives. If we want more young immigrants, then we would need a very different system,” he said.

Older immigrants have a variety of problems in adjusting to life in the United States, according to Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

“Individuals who are older often have a harder time learning English and often a tougher time making the transition they may have to make in their jobs or professional careers,” von Spakovsky told The Epoch Times in an interview July 2.

“This makes assimilation, which is of key importance in integrating new immigrants into our society, much tougher.”

Asked if the CIS study results should encourage candidates seeking federal office to change their thinking or positioning on immigration issues, Democratic strategist Max Burns told The Epoch Times that he doesn’t think so.

“Undocumented migrants aren’t currently entitled to most federal benefits programs, but they do require care when they’re apprehended and make asylum claims,” Burns said on July 2.

Citing data from the Department of Justice for the 2017 fiscal year, Burns disputed claims that most asylum-seeking immigrants fail to appear for their court dates, saying “92 percent of asylum-seekers appeared in court to receive a final decision” on their cases.

“The Democratic candidates are right: We have the resources to process these asylum claims while treating migrants with dignity and looking after their health. The United States has the power to ensure both an efficient and a humanitarian immigration process,” Burns said.

In a June 11 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Acting Homeland Security Director Kevin McAleenan testified that 90 percent of illegal immigrants do not show up for asylum hearings.

But Republican strategist Jimmy Keady told The Epoch Times that last week’s vote for $4.5 billion in new funding to address the border crisis suggests at least some Democrats are already repositioning themselves on immigration issues.

“Last week was a signal that moderate Democrats are realizing that Republicans are winning the immigration debate; however, the Democrats’ progressive wing is pushing the party further left on this issue. This was made clear by the laughable Democratic presidential debates last week,” Keady said.

Keady was referring to the June 26 and June 27 debates among 20 of the nearly two dozen Democrats seeking their party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Immigration was a major issue during both nights’ discussions, with all of the candidates, for example, saying they favor providing health care for illegal aliens in the United States.

 Contact Mark Tapscott at mark.tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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