Their second paragraph is an important social science finding and should be cited in immigration debates.
To the Editor:
Re “Hispanics, the New Italians,” by David Leonhardt (Sunday Review, April 21), and “When Assimilation Stalls,” by Ross Douthat (column, April 28):
In our book “Generations of Exclusion,” we show that the descendants of Mexicans do not experience the steady progress into the third and fourth generations that has been documented for those of European ancestry. [Bold added]
Throughout the 20th century, Mexicans immigrated primarily to fill low-wage jobs and have been held in low regard, a status shared by many of their descendants. Although many Mexican-Americans do well, too many do not pursue education because they attend low-quality schools or receive the brunt of negative expectations by educators.
Mexicans and other Latinos — especially Salvadorans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans — also appear to share similar experiences and a nonwhite status that in effect racializes them and channels them into the lowest sectors of our society.
The solution to poor treatment of immigrants is not to exclude them but to improve educational conditions for all!
Los Angeles, April 28, 2013
The writers are professors of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Princeton, respectively.
In their sizable sample, fourth generation Mexican-Americans (i.e., people who had a grandparent born in American) had only a 6% college graduation rate. My recollection is that their preliminary data on the educational attainments of young fifth generation Mexican-Americans was also unpromising.