MALDEF

Michael Savage Slanders Immigrants, Again

Courtesy of Media Matters for America:



On January 13, radio shock-jock Michael Savage made the following statement after a Louisiana congressman criticized Savage for previous anti-immigrant comments:
[M]ost refugees that come here, particularly from certain countries do not assimilate to this nation, it’s not the same as European immigrants in the 1930s or the 40s or the 50s and a nation must have a dialogue as to which immigrants and from which country they want, because the immigrants will shape the future of the country all you have to do is go look around at a mall: you’ll see many 14-year-olds pushing carriages with two babies because it’s a meal ticket for them.1
Mr. Savage is wrong, of course. Several recent studies show that current immigrants and refugees are assimilating at least as fast as previous generations of immigrants. In 2008, the LA Times reported on the latest Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau:
[B]ucking perceptions that high levels of immigration are jeopardizing national cohesion, the data showed that today’s immigrants, like those before them, are embracing an American identity. In Los Angeles County, for instance, the proportion of native Spanish speakers fluent in English increased to 51.4% in 2007 from 44.6% in 2000. The share of naturalized citizens among the foreign-born grew to 43.3% from 38% over that time.2
A study by the Manhattan Institute found that immigrants are actually integrating into American society at a faster rate:
Immigrants of the past quarter-century have assimilated more rapidly than their counterparts of a century ago, even though they are more distinct from the native population upon arrival. The increase in the rate of assimilation among recently arrived immigrants explains why the overall index has remained stable, even though the immigrant population has grown rapidly.3
Anti-immigrant groups and radio personalities often point to the teen pregnancy rates of national origin minorities as supposed evidence of the ills of immigration. But their claims are too simplistic:
[A] study by the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that while U.S.-born Latinas have a higher level of education, they have a higher teen pregnancy rate than immigrant Latinas from Central and South America.4
Experts suggest that growing up as a minority in the United States actually increases the likelihood of teen pregnancy. Thus it isn’t immigrant culture that contributes to higher rates, but rather American culture and socio-economic conditions:
Disadvantage is associated with several factors that can influence teenage sexual and reproductive behavior and outcomes, including lowered personal competence, skills and motivation; limited access to health care and social services; lack of successful role model; and living in dangerous environments.5
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1. "Responding to Rep. Cao, Savage says of immigrants 'you'll see many 14-year-olds pushing carriages with two babies because it's a meal ticket for them,'" County Fair Blog, Media Matters for America, 14 Jan 2009
2. Francisco Vara-Orta and Teresa Watanabe, "Census study finds a greater blend," Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep 2008
3. Jacob L. Vigdor, "Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States," Manhattan Institute, May 2008
4. "Study Finds Healthier Babies Born To Immigrant Mothers," University of California Newsroom, 2 Oct 2003
5. Susheela Singh, Jacqueline E. Darroch, and Jennifer J. Frost, "Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Adolescent Women's Sexual and Reproductive Behavior: The Case of Five Developed Countries," Guttmacher Institute, Nov 2001

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