With the recent confirmation that immigration enforcement in the country’s interior is all but eviscerated, it is an opportune moment to assess America’s future if its immigration policies--de facto and de jure--remain unchanged. California provides a window into that future, since the transformation unleashed by the last three decades of mass immigration is further advanced there than anywhere else. Nearly 50 percent of all California births are now Hispanic, with the state’s Hispanic population almost equal to the white population.
The consequences of this demographic shift have been profound. In the 1950s and 1960s, the state led the nation in educational achievement. Today, with a majority Hispanic K-12 population and the largest concentration of English language learners in the country, California is at the bottom of the educational heap, barely distinguishable in its national test scores from such economic backwaters as Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Over a third of California eighth graders lack even the most rudimentary math skills; 28% are equally deficient in reading. The mathematics performance gap between Hispanic and white eighth graders has not budged since 1990, while the reading gap has narrowed only slightly since 1998.