Over the last decade, economists Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan have conducted innovative research into the history of immigration to the United States. How disappointing then that their new book, "Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success," is less an explication of that research than it is an advocacy brief, rife with enthusiastic rhetoric and simplistic arguments for expanding immigration.
The authors make three major claims. First, immigrants from the Great Wave (1880 to 1920) generally did not live out the romantic, rags-to-riches storylines that became part of Ellis Island lore. Instead, the most significant progress occurred in their children’s generation. Second, the children of today’s immigrants appear to be on the same path of assimilation. Third, immigration does not harm the labor market prospects of Americans.
Only the first claim withstands scrutiny. . . .