Why does the gap between poor immigrants and rich immigrants exist?

by Ayana Nishizaki

Last week, in my post about ‘International Immigration’, I was wondering why poor immigrants stay poor while the rich get richer. Though my study, the causes are different ones than I expected. There are two main reasons: educational opportunity, and inefficient use of human capitals. I would like to discuss these reasons in terms of ‘illegal Hispanic immigrants’.

Immigrants of America are divided into two groups: legal immigrants who can speak English and illegal immigrants who can’t speak English well. Recently, increasing the number of illegal Hispanic immigrants is one of the big problems. They try to stay longer after the tourist VISA expired because it takes long time and much money to get the right of permanent residence.

The first reason of the gap is their education. According to one reading, Gross Enrollment Ratio of Hispanic is 57while that of American is 80. Most illegal immigrants don’t have enough money to take educational opportunity. Therefore, they have no choice to get low income jobs. On the other hand, educational cost of the high quality school is getting higher. It means only the rich can get high quality education and tend to get high income jobs. Therefore, the gap is still not getting close.

As the second reason, human capitals of immigrants are not used effectively and correctly. Recently, new immigrants are more highly educated than old immigrants because the number of immigrants who graduated from universities is increasing. However, immigrants are still faced with a difficulty to get acceptation of a job they want. The problem comes up when immigrants enter host country and show their qualification and ability to employers. These qualifications that they got in home country are not necessarily useful in host country. Even if these qualifications of home countries are similar to those of host countries, their ability of communication, language knowledge, and adopting culture are different from those of natives. There is a fact that there are many opportunities to get jobs like house keeper and restaurant server. However, when it comes to more high-skill-required jobs such as IT manager, it seems more difficult for immigrants than natives. Therefore, some high educated Hispanic immigrants have no choice to work what they really don’t want because of unpractical use of their ability.

From this study, I realized that the problem of the gap is caused by less education opportunity and inefficient use of human capitals. I though the main reason was merely their poor economic situation. However, even if some immigrants achieved high academic ability, they can’t get jobs they really want. In my view, that point (how difficult it is for immigrants to get acceptation from employer in terms of language skills, ability of adaptation) is one of the barriers when they assimilate. Therefore, as one of the solutions, I think government should clarify what kind of skills and ability in each jobs is exactly necessary in host country and inform immigrants of the clear criteria. By doing so, immigrants can make their life plan (such as which skills is necessary to get in advance) to reach their goal and also employer can easily measure and their ability and communicate with them.

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