Immigration Finally an Issue for Affirmative Action
March 19, 2007, 11:25 PM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
Selective colleges have expanded their enrollments of black students by "increasing the number of immigrant and multiracial black students," says Camille Z. Charles, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who is one of the authors of a recent study on the topic.

The paper, "Black Immigrants and Black Natives Attending Selective Colleges and Universities in the United States," appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Education. In addition to Ms. Charles, its authors are Douglas S. Massey, a professor of sociology at Princeton, and Margarita Mooney and Kimberly C. Torres, both of whom are postdoctoral fellows at Princeton's Office of Population Research.

The paper draws on a study of 1,051 black students who enrolled at 28 selective institutions in 1999. Those students were part of a larger project, the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, that was financed by the Mellon Foundation and led by scholars at Princeton.

Of those 1,051 students, 27 percent were born outside the United States or had at least one parent who was born outside the United States — most commonly in Jamaica, Nigeria, Haiti, Trinidad, or Ghana. By contrast, only 13 percent of the general population of 18- and 19-year-old black Americans in 1999 were first- or second-generation immigrants, according to data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

At the most selective of the 28 schools, the ratios for non-native black students were even higher. The study included four Ivy League universities — Columbia, Penn, Princeton, and Yale — and at those universities, 41 percent of black students were first- or second-generation immigrants.

(At Selective Colleges, More Than a Quarter of Black Students Are Immigrants, Study Finds, by David Glenn. The Chronicle Of Higher Education 2/1/07)

The authors even outline some of the advantages black immigrants have over black natives: 44% of black immigrants have a parents with an advanced degree, versus 25% of black natives. Plus, black immigrants are less likely to have been raised in the ghetto and more likely to have attended private elementary and high schools, and they also have significantly higher SAT scores ( an average of 1250 versus 1193, respectively).

"If you're a purist" — that is, if you view affirmative action as restitution for the harm done by American slavery and segregation — "then you'll think that this is not in the spirit of affirmative action," Ms. Charles continued. "But if you're a diversity purist, and your idea is to expose everybody to as many different kinds of people as possible, then you'll think this is great."

But if you're a tax-paying American, especially a black one, you should be wondering why we're subsidizing the advancement of immigrants at the detriment of the American blacks who are suffering here.