In the past two decades, the Mexican population in New York City has grown more than fivefold, with immigrants settling across the five boroughs. Many adults have demonstrated remarkable success at finding work, filling restaurant kitchens and construction sites, and opening hundreds of businesses.
But their children, in one crucial respect, have fared far differently. About 41 percent of all Mexicans between ages 16 and 19 in the city have dropped out of school, according to census data.
No other major immigrant group has a dropout rate higher than 20 percent, and the overall rate for the city is less than 9 percent, the statistics show. This crisis endures at the college level. Among Mexican immigrants 19 to 23 who do not have a college degree, only 6 percent are enrolled. That is a fraction of the rates among other major immigrant groups and the native-born population.
Moreover, these rates are significantly worse than those of the broader Mexican immigrant population in the United States.
The problem is especially unsettling because Mexicans are the fastest-growing major immigrant group in the city, officially numbering about 183,200, according to the Census Bureau, up from about 33,600 in 1990. Experts say the actual figure is far larger, given high levels of illegal immigration.
A small group of educators and advocates have begun various educational initiatives for Mexicans, and there is evidence of recent strides. But the educators and advocates say that unless these efforts are sustained, and even intensified, the city may have a large Mexican underclass for generations.