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Table of contents

This area needs further research. In addition to civics and naturalization education efforts that are explicitly aimed at preparing immigrants for their potential roles as American citizens, the federal government plays a strong role in integration education via adult education and workforce training. What is relatively new is legislation explicitly designed to address these issues.

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Today, several pertinent trends underscore the needs of immigrant and limited English proficient LEP 15 adults for adult education and workforce training. One such trend is the sustained concentration of immigrant workers in low-skill jobs: 57 percent in The shares of immigrant workers in middle- and high-skilled jobs in were 19 and 24 percent respectively. Immigrants made up 15 percent of the U. Third, American Community Survey data show that close. Fourth, higher levels of education attainment are no guarantee of literacy in English. Adult Education Since the 18th century, educating adults and integrating newcomers have often been mutually reinforcing national and state policy objectives Eyre, States created evening schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide language classes to new migrants, and the Immigration Act provided federal assistance to schools to offer English language, history, government, and citizenship classes to promote naturalization Eyre, As more than 40 percent of the 1.

State financial contributions to adult education, and presumably to ESL, vary widely. In California, for example, roughly 20 percent of overall spending on adult education comes from federal funds; in Texas the share is 75 percent. States also vary in terms of the number and shares of adult English learners enrolled in ESL classes and in the access states provide to adult education programs for undocumented immigrants e. For instance, data from the Australian Census indicated that the earnings of immigrants who were proficient in the destination country language were 15 percent higher than those who were not proficient Chiswick and Miller, And other studies have found that LEP high-skilled immigrants were twice as likely to work in unskilled jobs as those with equivalent skills who were English proficient e.

Chapter 7 discusses this topic further. In program year , states enrolled 1. By program year , the number had fallen to , enrollees. ESL enrollees, however, represented a rising share of all adult education students: 42 percent in program year Second, adult education for all adults—but especially for those with limited English skills—typically proceeds sequentially from English-language learning to obtaining a secondary-education credential e.

This long, attenuated process often does not match the time and economic pressures many low-income adult immigrants experience today, making persistence and progress in ESL classes and low transfer rates from adult secondary education to postsecondary education a source of abiding policy concern. While LEP individuals—many of whom are immigrants—have been a central focus of language and literacy programs, these populations historically were underrepresented in workforce training programs receiving support under the predecessor to the WIOA, the Workforce Investment Act.


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Despite the fact that LEP workers make up 35 percent of all workers lacking a high school degree, they represented just 3 percent of those receiving Title I services in The WIOA also adjusts state incentives in ways that may provide more of an incentive to serve populations that have low language and literacy skills. And the WIOA authorizes states to tie basic skills and workforce training together in ways that may make the credential attainment process less attenuated for LEP participants starting in ESL programs.

However, the WIOA was not supported by additional funding, so these shifts will have to be initiated by states without new resources from the federal level. Evaluation of Workforce Preparation Programs There have been few systematic studies in the United States of the impact of job training programs for LEP individuals and immigrants, in contrast to many other developed countries where both integration initiatives and their systematic evaluation are more common Thomsen et al.

One demonstration program was administered by the San Jose Center for Employment Training in the s and s. That program, which enrolled a large share of Hispanics, many of whom were LEP, integrated job training and English-language skills training. In general, English language proficiency increased but employment outcomes were mixed. I-BEST involves co-teaching by basic skills faculty working with professional-technical faculty. I-BEST has shown success in helping ESL and adult basic education students reach the goals of earning college credits and obtaining short-term credentials, as well as earning higher wages Jenkins.

Given the importance of these training programs for integration, best practices for such programs could be identified by conducting and compiling more evaluations like those conducted for the I-BEST Program in Washington State.

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States and localities historically have been the public sector leaders in devising and implementing affirmative integration measures. In some cases, these measures are in tension with federal law and enforcement priorities, as discussed above. Here the panel examines how states and localities have responded to the presence and interests of undocumented immigrants. We then highlight some contemporary examples of more generally applicable state and local integration strategies.

Integrating Undocumented Immigrants Both Republican- and Democratic-leaning states have adopted laws that permit students who are undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities 20 states as of early Meanwhile, five states explicitly deny undocumented immigrants in-state tuition.

Among the recent integrative strategies for undocumented immigrants are efforts to provide them with some form of identification. Some local jurisdictions have complemented these efforts by issuing municipal identification cards, an identity document that can facilitate a range of activities that enhance integration, such as opening a bank account, signing a lease, and accessing municipal services such as hospitals and libraries Center for Popular Democracy, , pp.

A person must have a lawful immigration status in order to qualify for a fully compliant license, and states must somehow distinguish between licenses they issue that are not valid for federal purposes and those that are. To counter this, officials in cities such as Los Angeles and New York have attempted to make municipal ID cards appealing to all city residents, including by attaching benefits such as museum entries to them Center for Popular Democracy, , p Finally, California has perhaps gone the furthest of any state with respect to immigrant integration.

Overall, California has removed many barriers to education and employment for unauthorized immigrants. In addition to allowing in-state tuition and state financial aid to undocumented immigrants, it has also passed laws forbidding local landlord ordinances and mandates on the use of E-Verify by localities Gulasekaram and Ramakrishnan, The state also allows undocumented immigrants to practice law and has mandated that all professional licensing boards in California consider applicants regardless of their immigration status Ramakrishnan and Colbern, However, other state and local efforts at immigrant integration in California, such as allowing lawful permanent residents to serve on juries and allowing noncitizen parents to vote in school board elections, have failed to be enacted Ramakrishnan and Colbern, In New York, legislation proposed in that aims to create a form of state citizenship allowing all immigrants to vote in state elections, hold state office, and seek the protection of all state laws is unlikely to pass the legislature.

While particular states are pushing further than ever before on immigrant integration, they still fall shy of the high-water mark set in the mids, when many states offered voting rights to certain noncitizens in state and federal elections Raskin, The efforts by state and local governments to facilitate the integration of both legal status and undocumented immigrants have yet to be systematically studied, so the panel cannot conclude whether they make a difference in the long-term integration of immigrants.

The variation by state and locality provides an opportunity to undertake studies of the efficacy of different approaches to integration in the future. Integration Agencies and Task Forces Numerous cities and states have created agencies, task forces, commissions, and other programs to promote immigrant integration. The states with the most developed task force and agency frameworks include Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Washington.

These orders provide a blueprint for what other localities might accomplish, given the scope of municipal government. While federal laws have given states and localities permission to determine who accesses various benefits, the Supreme Court has handed down decisions sometimes prohibiting states from blocking access and at other times granting states leeway in determining who is eligible for these public goods Table For instance, in the ruling on Graham v.

However, in De Cana v. Bica the court ruled that the protections afforded LPR status in Graham v. Then in Plyler v. Doe , the court ruled that state and local governments could not deny undocumented children access to public education. Many states reacted to these federal restrictions by providing state-funded programs Borjas, ; Brown, Although courts and commentators have traditionally characterized immigration as an exclusively federal function, states and localities have been active participants throughout U. Conclusion The Undocumented status is inherently unstable because undocumented immigrants are at constant risk of deportation, which poses significant barriers to immigrant integration.

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In addition, federally supported adult education has proven to be a cornerstone of what can be seen as a rather skeletal federal immigrant integration policy. Yet LEP adults are generally underserved in federally. Shalala , Meanwhile, state and local efforts simultaneously challenge the complex balancing acts the federal government has struck and complement federal regulation by employing state and local institutions in the day-to-day work of integration.

Conclusion The patchwork of integration policies has not been systematically studied to determine which programs at the federal, state, or local level work best and with which populations. Rigorous evaluations of these programs could provide guidance for any attempt to institute new programs or to scale up existing programs to a higher level.

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