ellisisland.jpgA report released by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that foreign born immigrants living in New York are socioeconomically closer to the average citizen than elsewhere in the country. The study says that New York immigrants are more likely to be in the country legally, have health insurance and tend to be better educated. The New York Times reports that the states with the widest income gaps between immigrants and citizens are California, Texas, Arizona, and Colorado.

The research director who prepared the report concluded that the narrower socioeconomic differences made it easier for immigrants in New York to integrate. One in ten immigrants to the United States resides in New York and comprise 22% of the state's population. Recently, Gov. Spitzer attempted to enable illegal immigrants receive NY State driver's licenses. His plan faced widespread opposition and eventually Spitzer abandoned it.

One of the most salient differences between New York's immigrant population and those of other states is the percentage of people here legally versus illegally. It's estimated that only 13% of New York's immigrants are undocumented. In Arizona, that figure is 65%.

One reason for the relatively low proportion in New York, he said, is that the state is farther from the Mexican border. Also, social networks in New York draw many more legal immigrants. And, he said, other studies have found that among the foreign-born people who are in New York illegally, more are likely to have overstayed their visas than to have entered the country illegally.

Last year thousands of people marched on Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan to protest changes in immigration law. Interestingly, The New York Sun reported Friday that the number of immigrants from Venezuela coming to New York has risen dramatically and is expected to increase further, as President Hugo Chavez prepares to declare himself dictator for life.

(Ellis Island As Seen From The Staten Island Ferry (NYC, May, 2007), by Hernan Hernandez at flickr)