Friday, April 16, 2004

Huntington, meet reality

Remember Huntington's immigration article? At last, I've found some more statistics on the subject. The results are not favorable to Huntington. They rebut most of his claims. The author of the rebuttal, when he strays from the numbers, interestingly manages to say plenty of things I agree with and plenty of things I disagree with, too many things for me to list here. I would like to point out this, though:
Virtually every immigrant to America wants to remain as they are, most of them want their children and grandchildren to remain loyal to their language and culture, and many of them plan to return home someday. Very few - almost none before WWI and very few now - arrive with any particular loyalty to America or desire to integrate.
In that past, this lack of personal loyalty to America didn't make much difference. Third generation German monolingual Americans didn't have another country to be loyal to. Immigration in the 19th century was a once - or at most twice - in a lifetime experience for all but the super-rich. Even native born Mexican-Americans lived too far from the population centres of Mexico to feel strongly connected to the old country.

That is something that has changed.

In the 21st century, moving to the other side of the world doesn't even mean having to miss your favourite soap opera. The Internet will bring you your hometown paper in real time, no matter where you live. Satellite TV keeps you as well informed in the new country as you were in the old. And, even a quite low income can purchase the airfare for an annual pilgrimage to take the kids to see the grandparents. The numbers and concentrations of Mexican immigrants is not new. Their proximity to Mexico isn't even terribly important. What is new is that immigrants need no longer be completely cut-off from their old country.
I think there's something to this. A bigger challenge than Huntington's "Hispanic Challenge?"

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