Poor in the USA

Saturday, October 9, 1999; Page A21

That an immigration lawyer would defend mass immigration's status quo ["Immigrants Out of Poverty," Free for All, Sept. 18] is not surprising, but Palma Yanni, executive committee member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, also defends what my organization cannot: the trend by recent immigrants to arrive and remain in poverty.

Citing a Cato Institute study, Yanni rationalizes the poverty today's immigrants experience by arguing that it takes about two decades for immigrant poverty rates to match those of natives. In fact, the poverty rate for households headed by 1970s immigrants is still significantly higher than that of natives.

But even if she were correct, no one disputes the fact that one in five immigrants now lives in poverty--and for their young children the figure is one in three. Unfortunately, in an effort to justify continued high immigration, Yanni wants to minimize a serious and growing problem for those newcomers who already live among us.

--Steve A. Camarota

The writer is director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.

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