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Immigration Assimilation Misconceptions; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

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It's time for the anti-immigrant movement to take notice of the fact that immigrants are assimilating into the United States and contributing to the well-being of the American people.  Political analyst and two times Presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan is perhaps best known as the leader of the anti-immigrant movement as seen by his prior statement:

"The question we Americans need to address, before it is answered for us, is: Does this First World nation wish to become a Third World country? Because that is our destiny if we do not build a sea wall against the waves of immigration rolling over our shores...Who speaks for the Euro-Americans, who founded the USA?...Is it not time to take back America?"

In spite of such xenophobia from Mr. Buchanan, a recent study by the Center for American Progress highlighted the success that immigrants are making as they assimilate in the United States.  The study noted "we found that immigrants are following the path of their predecessors and assimilating just as rapidly as today as they did in the past."  The study highlighted the accomplishments of ICE since 1990 and the accomplishments that these groups will achieve by 2030.  Of most interest:

  • The amount of immigrants who are expected to own homes will see an increase to 71.9% in 2030.  This figure was at 25.5% in 2000.

  • The number of immigrants that attend college will increase from 22.6% to 31.1% by 2030.  The amount that complete high school will increase by nearly 13%. 

While some Americans are fearful of immigrants taking the jobs of those born in the United States, the study also highlighted how the retirement of baby boomers will grow the labor force and increase the need for all those residing in the United States. 

A separate study conducted by the Manhattan Institute noted other interesting facts about assimilating including:

  • Immigrants from Vietnam, Cuba, and the Philippines have the highest rates of assimilation

  • There is no significant difference in assimilation between immigrants from developed countries and those that are not developed.

These studies have clear policy implications that our leaders should take into consideration.  While employment based immigration is often times seen as a way to advance the U.S. economy and society, family based immigration is also playing a large role in contributing to this country.  Therefore, the cap for Family Preference Categories should increase.  Additionally, this cap should specifically be increased for the Philippines.  Although Filipinos are quick to assimilate, the back log for fourth preference family visas (brothers and sisters of US citizens) dates back over 20 years.

However with so much cultural assimilation, there are questions as to whether US remains a cultural melting pot.  This country has prided itself on being welcome to people of all countries and allowing them to continue to practice their cultural traditions in the United States.  Although assimilation is an important goal for all immigrants, they shouldn't be pressured to abandon their native cultures in their quest to assimilate to life in the United States. 



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