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I've Said it Before -- Assimilation is the key

Today's column from Linda Chavez reminds us again to not lose focus of a key element on this immigration debate. An element that Bush emphasized quite well! I have been writing about that here for months, and I cheered when I heard Bush say it--assimilation is the key.

This is another key reason I like the President's speech. To talk about assimilation is not politically correct, and the President did it anyway. Way to go!

From Chavez, here are the facts about Latinos and assimilation:
Fear that the newest batch of immigrants from Latin America can't, or refuse to, be absorbed into the cultural, social, and economic mainstream of American life drives much of the anti-immigrant sentiment so prevalent today.

I've mustered statistics endlessly in previous columns to demonstrate that such fears are overdrawn -- Hispanics are not only assimilating as each group before them has, but at a more rapid pace than many previous groups -- but for the moment, I want to put those arguments aside and talk about the value of assimilation. Part of the reason so many people worry that Hispanics aren't assimilating is that we've quit emphasizing the importance of assimilation in our national dialogue.
For those that might think that today's immigration challenge is unique, think again (emphasis is mine):
Almost 30 years ago, when I was editor of the magazine American Educator, I published a series on the immigrant experience in the early 20th century. It featured photographs taken in about 1913, when the rate of immigration was higher than it is today, along with a story on a Smithsonian exhibit that recreated a typical classroom in New York City at that time, including copies of textbooks and other materials.
And this is how it used to be.
In every lesson plan and schoolbook, the emphasis was on "Americanizing" the newcomers. Teachers taught children not only civics lessons, but how to dress like other Americans, and to adopt American standards of hygiene -- something almost unthinkable in today's environment, where many teachers are more worried about damaging students' self-esteem than actually teaching them how to be successful.
And the end result? Not what you would think now days...
But a look today at the descendants of those immigrant arrivals from the early 1900s reveals not an ethnic horror but the typical American.

Assimilation is the most powerful fact of America's immigration history. But it didn't happen by accident but because Americans themselves valued the concept and helped make it a reality for each new generation. We should not forget this important principle as the immigration debate moves forward.

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