The Immigration Debate: Remaking America

The Immigration Debate: Remaking America

The Immigration Debate: Remaking America

The Immigration Debate: Remaking America


• Examines the past and current arguments both for and against immigration

• Topics include: the US history of immigration, the structure of current immigration policies and laws, and the demographic impact of immigration on population growth

In another breakthrough book, Isbister provides readers with the historical facts and current issues of immigration, allowing the reader to navigate this complex debate. The author analyzes the short and long-term economic, ethical, social and environmental effects of immigration in America.


My interest in international migration stems partly from my academic background in demography, third world economic development and poverty in the United States. All three areas come together in the subject of immigration. Rapid population growth and erratic patterns of economic growth and stagnation in the third world are causing immigration into the United States, immigration that in turn has an impact on America's poor and ethnic minority groups.

My interest is more than academic, however. When I was a teenager, my father, Claude M. Isbister, was Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the government of Canada, so immigration was one of the principal topics of discussion around the family dinner table in Ottawa. Later I became an immigrant myself, entering the United States first on a student visa in 1964 and then as a permanent resident in 1968. As a professor and administrator in a public university in California, I work with a student body that is increasingly composed of immigrants and the children of immigrants. If the rate of immigration is maintained, my experience of working in a multicultural, increasingly immigrant environment will be repeated by more and more Americans. In part, therefore, this book is a personal essay, a series of attempts to locate my own experience in a broader context, written in the hope that these explorations will be relevant to others.

When one is dealing with issues of race, ethnicity and nationality, problems of terminology arise, and I have had to make some arbitrary decisions. I have reserved the term American for citizens of the United States of America, even though all citizens of the Western Hemisphere have a right to that name. I do so simply because it is conventional and because I cannot think of a better alternative. For the most part, I do not distinguish between whites and non-whites, but between Anglos and non-Anglos. The reason for this choice is that most Latinos are regarded by the U.S. Census Bureau as white. Anglo is not a very happy . . .

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