On Tuesday Stephen Trejo responded to Richard Rodriguez’s Monday article Mexicans in America. Here is a teaser of what his response contained:
What do we know about the socioeconomic achievement of the children, grandchildren, and more distant descendants of Mexican immigrants? In light of the reasons for pessimism listed above, U.S.-born Mexican Americans have done surprisingly well, though certainly areas of serious concern remain. Like Europeans in the past, Mexicans enjoy ample intergenerational progress between first-generation immigrants and their second-generation children. Relative to their parents, the U.S.-born second generation experiences dramatic increases in English proficiency, educational attainment, and earnings. From this generational perspective, the lightning-rod issue of language—in terms of both English acquisition and Spanish preservation—loses all its spark. By the time they are teens, second-generation Mexican Americans overwhelming prefer to speak English rather than Spanish, and by the third generation most Mexican Americans no longer speak Spanish at all.
In general, the labor market opportunities available to U.S.-born Mexican Americans are similar to those afforded non-Hispanic whites with identical skills. On average, the employment and earnings of Mexican Americans are close to the outcomes of Anglos who are the same age and have the same schooling….
There is one crucial area, however, where Mexican Americans lag behind both whites and blacks: education. This problem is well-known, although popular accounts often greatly exaggerate its magnitude by not distinguishing Mexican immigrants from U.S.-born Mexican Americans. Nonetheless, high school dropout is disturbingly prevalent for U.S.-born Mexicans, even for those in the third generation and beyond (i.e., for the U.S.-born grandchildren and later descendants of Mexican immigrants). Inevitably, college attendance and completion rates are also much lower for Mexican Americans. Because the educational disadvantage of this group largely explains their below-average earnings, finding a way to eliminate the schooling gap would go a long way toward bridging the economic divide that remains between Mexican Americans and the Anglo majority. As Rodriguez notes, the limited educational success of U.S.-born Mexicans may reflect cultural pressures to subordinate personal achievement for the sake of family unity, a social dynamic that Rodriguez aptly describes as the struggle between competing pronouns “I” and “we”. Surely, however, some other immigrant groups (e.g., Italians) faced a similar dynamic and still were able to integrate fully into American society, so perhaps we can expect that ultimately the same thing will occur for Mexicans.
The full article can be found here.