Immigrants’ Children Rise to the Top

By Shlomo Maital  

   As a child of immigrants, imbued with the need to achieve by my parents, I have known for decades why immigrant kids do so well.  Now comes  a study based on “the first set of truly big data about immigration”, by Prof. Ran Abramitzky (Stanford) and Prof. Leah Boustan (Princeton).  It is summarized by New York Times opinion writer Peter Coy.

   Here is the bottom line:  “The economists found that on average the children of immigrants were exceptionally good at moving up the economic ladder.”

     Contrast this with the fear-mongering lying trash-talking anti-immigrant words of Republicans and Fox News. “Joe Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans”.  “…a place where large numbers of immigrants have been moved into a poor community…it’s become poorer.”  (The latter: you guessed it, Tucker Carlson). 

    Israel absorbed a million immigrants, from Europe and the Mideast, in its first years as an independent country, while defending its borders and building a nation.  They gave Israel its culture of ‘make-do’ and ‘improvise’, now bedrocks of a thriving hi-tech industry that employs one person in 10 (the highest ratio in the world).  Israel absorbed one million immigrants from Russia, 1990-2000, doctors, scientists, engineers – who fueled hi-tech.  And their kids are outstanding.  Putin, belatedly, is trying to shut down Jewish out-migration.  He’s too late.  Some 20,000 Russian Jews have already emigrated to Israel since the Ukraine War began on Feb. 24. 

     What’s the formula?  Aspiration – aim high.  Perspiration – work hard.  Those are the values immigrant kids get from the parents.  And in the background – Desperation,  leaving a place that became unlivable, with infinite gratitude to the newly-adopted country.  You are being given an opportunity others do not have.  Do not waste it.   That was the message. 

      I pay close attention to the names of NPR (National Public Radio) journaists.  Chakrabarty.  Khaled.  And…well, unpronounceable (I think, Ping, Tong, etc.).  Kids of immigrants.  Top journalists.  And the amazing couple in Germany (from Turkey) who gave us the COVID mRNA vaccine.. etc…

      If far-right Republicans continue to bad-mouth immigration to pander to their white extremist supremacist base… I think they will do much more badly in November elections that many predict.  Hope so.