Skip to main content

Assimilation: Finding a healthy middle ground

I was exploring TownHall.com today, and just discovered some of Linda Chavez's work and the Center for Equal Opportunity. One their home page, they have a statement on immigration that I really liked.
With the United States admitting high numbers of immigrants, America's ability to accept newcomers will increasingly depend upon finding a pro-assimilation middle-ground between nativists who say that today's immigrants cannot assimilate and multiculturalists who say that they should not.

CEO promotes the assimilation of immigrants into our society and research on their economic and social impact on the United States.
The Center for Equal Opportunity web site has a paper written by Chavez, titled "Immigration Is Not About Race" that is worth reading. In it she comments on a book by Forbes senior editor Peter Brimelow called Alien Nation.
[Brimelow] confirms the worst fears about what immigrants are doing to America. According to Brimelow, the United States is in danger of becoming, literally, an alien nation, overrun by millions of brown-skinned immigrants from Latin America and Asia.

Brimelow, an immigrant from Great Britain himself, is exercised by what he sees as the racial transformation of the U.S. population. "Race and ethnicity are destiny in American politics," he warns ominously.
Chavez shows the racial focus of the argument.
Brimelow's argument, however, is less about the economic impact of the new immigrants than the racial impact. "Americans have a legitimate interest in their countries racial balance...(and) a right to insist that their government stop shifting it." This type of racial argument was used before, beginning in 1882 with the first Asian exclusion laws and most recently in 1924 to keep out "undesirable" southern and eastern Europeans. In the 1920s, immigration restrictionists warned of the "mongrelization" of America in books like Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. Nativists were then worried about Italians, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs and others. Sen. J. Thomas Heflin of Alabama claimed in 1920 these immigrants were an "alien power" who posed "the greatest evil that has confronted us in a century."

These words sound truly bizarre today when viewing the descendants of 18 million immigrants who came from 1900-1924. But current talk of a new "alien nation" is no less fantastic. Assimilation, not race, is the issue and deserves more attention and reinforcement than it currently receives in the public policy debate.
This is one of my big fears: that the nativist will foster a spirit of racism and distract from the truly important issues that relate to immigration. Our nation cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of our past in the treatment of immigrants. We must be a nation of law and order, and as such, control the influx of immigration in our borders. But to make arguments against immigration on nativist or racist ideals is just incorrect, and immoral. This statement is worth repeating:
With the United States admitting high numbers of immigrants, America's ability to accept newcomers will increasingly depend upon finding a pro-assimilation middle-ground between nativists who say that today's immigrants cannot assimilate and multiculturalists who say that they should not.
The key word here is assimilation.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hispanic Trending: Leave your name at the border

Most people miss the fact that Hispanics do not consist of a single ethnic group. Besides that, the heritage that each one of the many nationalities represented in our immigrant population is diverse in itself. As I read Manuel Muñoz's post on his assimilation experience, I can tell you mine was nothing like his. But I can relate to this paragraph. My niece's name is Katie Belle (Sierra). It's intriguing to watch "American" names begin to dominate among my nieces and nephews and second cousins, as well as with the children of my hometown friends. I am not surprised to meet 5-year-old Brandon or Kaitlyn. Hardly anyone questions the incongruity of matching these names with last names like Trujillo or Zepeda. The English-only way of life partly explains the quiet erasure of cultural difference that assimilation has attempted to accomplish. A name like Kaitlyn Zepeda doesn't completely obscure her ethnicity, but the half-step of her nam…

RealClearPolitics: The Democrats Dither on Trade

The backtracking on free trade in South America has been among the frustrating news for me coming out of the beltway. Considering how the economic downturns in Latin America affect us through the increase in illegal immigration, I would think more Americans would be fighting for this one as loudly as they fought for the failed Immigration legislation. Democratic presidential candidates like to talk about "turning a page" in America's relations with the rest of the world. But what does that mean, in practical terms, on bread-and-butter issues such as trade? Are today's Democrats a party of open markets and economic development, or of market restrictions and job protection?The answer is that leading Democrats seem to want both -- they favor economic development overseas but not at the cost of U.S. jobs. That sounds like a coherent position until you begin to look carefully at the political choices in Latin America, a part of the world where …

The Importance of English for Immigrants

With all the attention to the border security problem, and the challenges the nation is facing in regards to immigration, here are some thoughts on why learning English is of such importance to immigrants. More importantly, America would benefit greatly if we put a higher priority on getting immigrants to learn English. We are talking about improvements for the economy, reductions in crime, and much more.

Learning English allows an immigrant to:
1. Spread their wings beyond the urban Spanish-speaking enclaves. This, of course, leads to better integration, and a better understanding of what our country really looks like--nothing like "el barrio" in LA. But it also has implications as far as housing, jobs, and more. If an immigrant feels compelled to only live in certain areas to be close to other immigrants, this will place serious limitations on housing and jobs available. God knows housing prices are bad enough in LA and in Miami.

2. Improve on the job opportunities available.…