In exchange for a deal on young immigrant Dreamers, the White House is demanding that Congress reduce legal immigration by ending the diversity visa lottery and almost all family sponsorship categories. On Fox News last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the case for these changes by stating that he wants legal immigrants to “have the education and skill level to prosper in America.” He asked rhetorically, “What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle?”
But this generalization about diversity and family-sponsored immigrants is wildly inaccurate. Not only are many of them educated, they are generally much better educated than U.S.-born Americans are. Nearly half of all diversity and family-sponsored immigrants who arrived in 2015 had college degrees. Diversity and family-sponsored immigrants were 62 percent more likely than U.S.-born natives to have graduated college. At the same time, they are no more likely to have dropped out of high school than natives.