And Still They Come: Immigrants and American Society, 1920 To the 1990s

And Still They Come: Immigrants and American Society, 1920 To the 1990s

And Still They Come: Immigrants and American Society, 1920 To the 1990s

And Still They Come: Immigrants and American Society, 1920 To the 1990s

Synopsis

In this distinctive study of the impact of immigration and ethnicity on twentieth-century America, Barkan thoughtfully examines the changing composition of our immigrant populations, highlighting the ways in which certain facets of the struggle to adapt to American society have persisted from the 1920s until the 1990s. Going beyond the immigrant experience, Barkan considers the ways in which second- and third-generation Americans stress integration, even as they cling to important components of their ethnicity, not only adapting to American culture but shaping it. Featuring a moving photographic essay and coming alive with first-person accounts, And Still They Come is certain to provide important food for thought as Americans once more consider the narrowing gateways to the nation.

Excerpt

The well-known public figure exclaimed, “If America is to survive as 'one nation, one people,' we need to call timeout on immigration, to assimilate the tens of millions who have lately arrived. We need to get to know one another…. And we need soon to bring down the curtain on this idea of hyphenated Americanism." Written in 1920? 1924? No, Republican presidential hopeful Patrick Buchanan wrote it in October 1994, expressing a growing public sentiment of concern about the nation's immigration and refugee policies. Three months later, the Republicans, having won majorities in both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades, introduced bills to tighten curbs on illegal immigration, reduce legal immigration, and withdraw dozens of federal services from foreign-born noncitizens.

In some respects, public opinion appeared to be swinging back to the 1920s. Whether it would indeed come full circle and whether we would actually see restrictive legislation enacted was not yet certain by October 1995. One thing was clear: The presence of very mixed feelings about immigrants and refugees was not new. Nevertheless, the depth of the current anxieties about them, fueled by the clamor over illegal immigration in 1993 and 1994 and the general climate of economic uncertainty, had surprised many observers. It was not, for example, very apparent when I began this study in 1992, barely a year after the quite liberal immigration act of 1990 had taken effect.

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