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Census: Under-35 immigrants most populous in "gateway" states

Young adult immigrants to the United States make up just more than a quarter of the nation's foreign-born population and are heavily represented in "traditional immigration gateway" states such as California, Texas, New York and Florida, a new Census Bureau report says.

More than 64 percent of the foreign-born, noncitizen population under age 35 was born in Latin America and the Caribbean, says the report, culled from the bureau's multiyear data in the 2010-2012 American Community Survey.

While foreign-born noncitizens under 35 make up a small portion of the nation's population -- 10.3 million people, or 3 percent -- they "represent a unique immigrant group that is notably different from comparable groups, such as citizens under age 35," the report says.

It added that the difference is due, in part, to that population's varying legal status. The group includes people who are legal permanent residents; temporary migrants, such as international students; temporary workers; refugees; and those in the country illegally.

The American Community Survey did not ask survey participants their legal status.

Among the findings:

Eighty percent of noncitizens under age 35 were from the ages of 18 and 34, compared with 47 percent of citizens under age 35 who were between those ages.

More than half of the foreign-born population (56 percent) and the noncitizen population under age 35 (51 percent) lived in four states: California, Florida, New York and Texas. California had 2.3 million noncitizens under age 35, the most of any state, followed by Texas (1.3 million), New York (916,000) and Florida (747,000).

Almost one-third of noncitizens aged 18 to 24 living in the United States were enrolled in college. These were 65 percent of Asian immigrants in the group, 54 percent of both European and African immigrants, and 18 percent of those from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Citizens aged 25 to 34 were more likely to be working (83 percent) than noncitizens in that age group (75 percent). Citizens were 50 percent more likely than their noncitizen counterparts to work in management, business, science or arts occupations. The noncitizens were 50 percent more likely to work in service, production, transportation or "material moving" occupations.

Peter Salins, a professor of policy science at Stony Brook University, whose recently published book, "The Smart Society," has a chapter on immigration, said: "I argue imported human capital -- immigrants -- has been one of the strongest anchors" of American society.

It is "very important [that] immigrants be successfully absorbed in society," he added.

A critical factor, Salins said, is legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants.

"They can't reach their full potential if they're marginalized, especially the young people," he said.


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