An all-time high of nearly 62 million U.S. residents – or about one in five people – now speak a language other than English while at home, a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) found.
The study, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, found 44 percent of those who don’t speak English primarily at home—a total of about 27.2 million—were born in the United States.
CIS’s research director Steven Camarota, the co-author of the report, said that this means the U.S.’s current immigration system is failing to properly assimilate people from foreign countries, and those assimilation problems are carrying over into future generations. Camarota said that can be attributed to all-time high levels of legal immigration with over a million people a year admitted into the U.S. legally, and a new “tolerance” in Washington for the continued surge of illegal immigration.
“It is important to understand that the enormous growth in foreign language use reflects past policy decisions,” Camarota said. “Allowing in over one million new legal immigrants a year and to a lesser extent tolerating illegal immigration has important implications for preserving a common language. For too long we have given little consider to whether continuing this level of immigration, mostly legal, hinder the assimilation of immigrants and their children.”