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Coming To America

The third period of immigration ramped up in the early 1970s, after the passage of the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965. Approximately 400,000 Arabs joined many others from around the world in coming to the U.S. to start new lives. Many Lebanese fled civil war, Palestinians left refugee camps, and others arrived in the U.S. from all over the Arab world. This period brought people who had a stronger sense of a broad Arab identity. Arab immigrants in this period also included many highly educated professionals as well as students, who were offered jobs and ended up staying in the country permanently.

Coming To America

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While Columbus was a courageous and enterprising mariner, he proved to be a poor governor, unable to control the greed of his followers. In 1496, he was called back to Spain to answer complaints about his management of the colony. When he appeared at court before Ferdinand and Isabella, he found the king and queen were still willing to support his explorations. Columbus gave them a "good sample of gold . . . and many masks, with eyes and ears of gold, and many parrots." He also presented to the monarchs "Diego," the brother of a Taino chief, who was wearing a heavy gold collar. These hints that more gold might be forthcoming encouraged Ferdinand and Isabella to send Columbus back to the Indies, this time with eight ships.

Electricity was first introduced to New York in the late 1870s. Edison's incandescent lamp had created an astonishing demand for electric power. And his DC power station on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan was quickly becoming a monopoly. On the streets, single poles carried dozens of crooked crossbeams supporting sagging wires, and the exposed electrical wiring was a constant danger. Unsuspecting children would scale the poles only to meet an untimely electrical demise. The residents of Brooklyn became so accustomed to dodging shocks from electric trolley tracks that their baseball team was called the Brooklyn Dodgers. In spite of the perils, wealthy New Yorkers rushed to have their homes wired, the most important being the banker, J.P. Morgan, who had invested heavily in Edison.

A prior analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of Census Bureau data showed that the age at which immigrants are arriving in America had increased dramatically since 2000. Newly released data for 2019 shows that immigrants (legal and illegal combined) are still coming to America at much older ages than was the case a decade or two ago. However, the trend has stabilized and, in fact, new immigrants in 2019 were slightly younger than newcomers in 2017 and 2018.

Traditionally, one of the benefits of immigration is that new arrivals generally come at young ages, helping to offset population aging in advanced industrial democracies like the United States, which have high life expectancies and low fertility. The question of the degree to which immigration slows population aging in receiving countries has been well studied by demographers for some time, and the research shows that immigration to low-fertility countries like the United States can add a larger number of people to the population, but has only a modest impact on slowing population aging.1 This analysis finds that even this modest impact is likely becoming smaller as the age of new immigrants is now higher than it was two decades ago.

Figure 5 shows that the arrival of older immigrants on an annualized basis increased along with the overall level of newcomers from 2013 to 2016.5 The decline in new immigration after 2016 also caused a decline in the number of older immigrants arriving. Despite the decline in overall immigration and the resulting decline in the number of older newcomers, it is still the case that 224,000 new immigrants settled annually in the country who are age 50 and older, nearly twice what it was in 2000. The number of new immigrants 65 and older coming on an annual basis is more than twice what it was in 2000.

Impact on the Aging of American Society. One of the most common arguments made about immigration is that it prevents post-industrial societies with low fertility and high life expectancy from aging. The younger the immigrants are at arrival, the larger their positive impact on aging in the receiving society. In reality, there is general agreement among demographers that while immigration makes the population much larger, its impact on slowing the aging of low fertility countries like the United States is modest.12 The significant increase in the age at which immigrants are coming to America shown in this report means that the modest positive impact on the nation's age structure will be correspondingly smaller moving forward.

The above figures are a good reminder that immigrants who arrive at older ages often struggle to support themselves and even if they may not be eligible for Medicare or Social Security, having not paid into those programs long enough or at all, they still often access programs like Medicaid and SSI at high rates. All of this means that the increase in the age at arrival of immigrants likely has negative fiscal implications, especially the significant increase in the number of immigrants coming in the oldest age groups.

There is no question that immigrants are coming to America at older ages. However, at any given moment new immigrants account for only a modest share of all immigrants. In 2019, there were 44.9 million immigrants (legal and illegal) in the country. Like all people over time, the existing immigrant population ages. Of course, new immigrants will make the overall immigrant population somewhat younger when they first arrive, though how much younger depends on their age and number. Since new immigrants are coming at older ages than in the past, this will tend to reduce their ability to slow the aging of the nation's overall population or slow the aging of the overall immigrant population.

The fact that immigrants are coming at older ages not only reduces their already small positive impact on the age structure of the U.S. population, it also has negative fiscal implications. Research by the National Academies for Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicates that immigrants who arrive at older ages tend to create a net fiscal drain, creating more costs for the government than they pay in taxes. Because immigrants are now arriving at older ages, including many at or near retirement, it means that the fiscal impact of immigration will be more negative or at least less positive than would have been the case had the average age of immigrants remained younger.

For poorer migrants at the border, circumstances are quite different. The vast majority are poor and coming from violent, unstable countries. The U.S. has pulled the welcome mat, Park said, after decades of looking the other way while enjoying the economic benefits of low-skilled migrant labor.

Louie Anderson plays the character Maurice in Coming to America, who is one of Prince Akeem and Semmi's co-workers at the fast food restaurant McDowell's. Maurice returns in the upcoming sequel Coming 2 America as well, still working at McDowell's, with the restaurant relocated to Zamunda. The character of Maurice was originality intended to be played by a black actor. Speaking out on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall broke down the sad story behind Louie Anderson's casting, indicating that he was not supposed to be in the movie. 041b061a72


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