The lack of a shared set of facts about immigration makes it easy for accusatory and often false messages to echo loudly in the run-up to the midterm elections. J.D. Vance, a leading Republican candidate for Ohio’s open Senate seat, claimed in a recent advertisement that “Joe Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans, with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country.” Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona has described immigration as “full scale invasion.” Tucker Carlson of Fox News told a guest on his show in 2017: “Go to Lowell, Mass., or Lewiston, Maine, or any place where large numbers of immigrants have been moved into a poor community, and it hasn’t become richer. It’s become poorer. That’s real.”
A new book, “Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success,” by two economists, Ran Abramitzky of Stanford and Leah Boustan of Princeton, should undercut some of the fearmongering. They linked census records to pull together what they call “the first set of truly big data about immigration.”
Using the data set, Mr. Abramitzky and Ms. Boustan were able to compare the income trajectories of immigrants’ children with those of people whose parents were born in the United States. The economists found that on average, the children of immigrants were exceptionally good at moving up the economic ladder.
Immigrants and their children are assimilating into the United States as quickly now as in the past, the economists found. That’s in line with recent research into the effects of immigration. While “first-generation immigrants are more costly to governments than are the native-born,” according to a 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the “second generation are among the strongest fiscal and economic contributors in the U.S.”