Why are many South American immigrants poor and uneducated?

On the whole, South American immigrants to the United States tend to be better educated and more prosperous than other Hispanic newcomers.

They tend to be middle-class people with technical skills and a strong belief in education. Many come from cities rather than rural areas.

One reason: travel to the United States is expensive. It is hard for a poor person to afford the airfare. The distance to New York City from Lima, Peru, is greater than that from London, England.

Another is that middle-class people have the most to lose from such problems as high inflation and governments that penalize a person for belonging to the wrong party.

With their education and skills, South Americans tend to adapt readily to life in the United States.

Because of a lack of English or necessary credentials, they may be forced at first to accept lower-status jobs than they might have held in their native country: a lawyer working as a clerk; an engineer working in a factory.

But many eventually achieve a standard of living higher than what they could have had at home.