Many Hispanic Immigrants Illiterate, New Study Finds

Learning English is an even bigger problem for immigrants than was thought to be the case, according to a new study. The majority of Hispanic immigrants, even those who have lived in the US for more than a decade, are essentially illiterate.

According to a new analysis, 63 percent of Hispanics are illiterate, with their understanding of English ‘below basic’. The figures do not improve with long-term immigrants. The study found that even after living in the US for 15 years, 67 percent of Hispanics are still not proficient with the language, and have not had to, or tried to, learn it.

The Center for Immigration Studies says that immigrants from all nationalities have problems with English, with around 41 percent at, or below, the lowest English literacy level. The problem does not improve with their children – 22 percent of the children of Hispanic immigrants have a below-basic level of English literacy, and ‘elite’ literacy skills possessed by five percent of second-generation Hispanics, in contrast to the average 14 percent possessed by most native Americans.

Author, Ph.D., and independent policy analyst, Jason Richwine, who conducted the study, says that it is not possible to overstate the crucial importance of English literacy and that immigrant families who lack the skill will find it hard to succeed in the mainstream US. Richwine adds that policymakers should also take note of the study, which could show poor immigrant assimilation.