Latino Immigrants in US Are Stagnating in Social Mobility and Getting Poorer, MPI Says

More than nine million Latin American and Caribbean immigrants live in poverty, according to a study by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI)

A store in the Latino neighborhood of Eagle Pass, Texas. Latinos make up the biggest percentage of poor immigrants in the US.
November 30, 2022 | 05:37 PM

Bloomberg Línea — There are around 44 million immigrants in the United States, according to official data from 2019 and, of that total, some 9,256,000 Latin Americans and Caribbeans live im poverty, which means that 20% of immigrants are Latinos, and are living below the poverty line.

According to a study by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), by 2019, some 14.8 million immigrants from different latitudes were living below the federal poverty level in the US that year, which was then gauged as living on an annual income of $16,521 for a family of four.

In the total sample of immigrants, by origin, Latin America and the Caribbean people account for the largest proportion, followed by Asia with 3,256,000 low-income persons; Europeans with 938,000; those of African origin with 930,000; those from Canada and Bermuda with 140,000; those from Oceania with 65,000; and other countries account for a total of 3,000 people.

In terms of ethnicity, some 8,445,000 (57%) of the total are Latino. They are followed by Asian or Pacific Islander who total 2,796,000 (19%); White immigrants accounted for 1,888,000 (13%) and Black immigrants 1,372,000 (9%).


“Smaller numbers of low-income immigrants were multiracial, Native American, or identified with another race, each of which accounted for no more than 1% of total low-income immigrants,” the report notes.

If a breakdown of Latin American immigrants by country is made, Mexico tops the list with 4,887,000 people living in poverty; in second place is El Salvador with 587,000, followed by Guatemala with 569,000; Cuba with 530,000, the Dominican Republic with 520,000 and Honduras with 400,000.

Upward mobility?

The survey indicates that labor inclusion does not guarantee immigrants a way out of poverty. According to MPI, total low-income immigrants (over 16 years old) constituted 4% of the total US civilian labor force in 2019.


They are also overrepresented in some specific industries: agriculture, fishing and hunting (14%); accommodation and food services (9%); public administration (8%); and mining; professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services at 5% each.

Forty-percent of low-income immigrants employed full-time earned between $15,000 and $24,999 per year, while 16% had even lower earnings, and 44% had higher earnings.

On the other hand, those low-income immigrants have limited English proficiency and lower educational attainment. As a result, they face greater barriers to accessing basic services, public benefits programs, and health coverage.

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