The world is better educated, education is more international, and we are receiving the results without any change in official immigration policy. The politics of immigration today is largely unaware of these trends.
In New Brain Gain from the Migration Policy Institute, facts are presented.
The share of recent immigrants who have college degrees has been higher than the share of native-born Americans with college degrees since at least 1990, is not before. Since 2010, close to half of recent immigrants had graduated from college before arriving – 86% of Indians, one quarter of Latin Americans, and about 65% of Europeans. In contrast, about 30% of native-born Americans have college degrees.
The rise in college education among immigrants is mostly attributable to the increase in Asian immigration and the rise in the educational level of Latin American immigrants.
In about half the American states, recent immigrants are over 50% college educated and in six states (NH, MI, DE, DC, IA and VT) over 60% college educated. California, the most populous immigrant state, shows 50% of recent immigrants as college educated. A large state with a political leadership that tends to be restrictive in preferred policy is Texas. Its native-born population is 30% college educated; the total immigrant population is about 23% college educated, and about 45% of recent immigrants are college educated.
Still, most recent arrivals are not proficient in English. The share of recent immigrants who were English proficient was 34% in 2000 and in 2015 43%. Between these years, unauthorized immigration from Mexico largely dried up and Asian immigration rose; also international student enrollment rose steeply.
The Migration Policy Institute includes all foreign person visas, including temporary work and student visas. Education is rising around the world, most notably re: American immigration among Latin Americans. Student visa volume has risen by a lot, and college enrollment has turned into an important immigrant channel for college-educated foreigners. This has happened even while the total share of global international students has declined from 23% in 2000 to 19% in 2013.
In sum, the world is better educated, education is more international and we are receiving the results.