Children of Immigrants

By Schauffler, Richard | National Forum, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview

Children of Immigrants


Schauffler, Richard, National Forum


Which Way is up?

The "new" immigration is challenging how Americans think of themselves as a nation and how immigrants think about life in the United States. In 1965, changes in the Immigration and Nationality Act increased immigration by family members of immigrants already residing in the United States. The high priority placed on reunifying families shifted the turn-of-the-century pattern of single male labor migrants seeking to return home after saving money to a pattern of spouses, children, grandparents, and relatives seeking to make a permanent home here. This change, combined with eliminating national quotas and replacing them with hemispheric quotas, set the stage for a shift in immigration from Europe to Third World, most dramatically Asia.

As Frank Bean and others have pointed out, relative to the size of the population, post-1965 immigration has remained below the levels of the early part of the twentieth century. But because of a drop in fertility rates among the native-born and a decline in return migration among immigrants, immigration in the 1980s accounted for 35 percent of U.S. population growth, about the same percentage as in that earlier period. As a result, children of immigrant parents are an increasing proportion of the school-age population. By 1980, 10 percent of the dependent children in households counted by the census were second-generation immigrants.

Because immigration is network-driven, immigrants tend to concentrate where earlier co-ethnic relatives reside. Hence, 75 percent of Cubans go to Florida and New Jersey; 80 percent of Mexicans to Texas and California; 70 percent of Japanese to California and Hawaii; and 50 percent of Koreans to California, Hawaii, New York, and Illinois. Within these regions, eight cities--Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, Miami, and New York--absorb the highest proportion of immigrants, and their children are concentrated in the public schools. As a result of this geographic concentration and the fact that so many of the new immigrants are "visible minorities," immigrants loom large in the public eye. The cyclical debate about the social and cultural definition of America is reopening.

Adaptation to Life in the United States

The U.S. public and observers of the American experience have been debating the two presumed outcomes of that experience--assimilation and pluralism--for over two hundred years. Given the relative homogeneity of early immigrants arriving from Europe and the exclusion of African-Americans and Native Americans from this discourse, it is not surprising that assimilation in the form of Anglo-conformity--expressed by Chickering in 1848 as "The tendency of things . . . to mould the whole into one people, whose leading characteristics are English, formed on American soil"--was long the dominant mode of thought on the issue.

But the pluralist idea of the United States as a melting pot also can be traced back to the beginnings of the nation. Crevecoeur captured its essence in 1782 when he noted, "Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men." Like the assimilationists, most of those propagating this notion understood the contents of this pot to be a European (although not primarily English) blend, not one that included African-Americans or Native Americans.

During the Progressive Era, the notion of cultural pluralism emerged in response to the intolerance that greeted the arrival of poor and decidedly non-Protestant immigrants from southern and eastern Europe at the turn of the century. Unlike the melting-pot variant of pluralism, which imagined the United States as one homogeneous people and culture, cultural pluralism envisioned a harmonious mixture of coexisting cultures, a kind of multinational federation of immigrant nationalities. The opposing sentiments of the assimilationists were reflected in the words of President Woodrow Wilson, addressing newly naturalized citizens: "You cannot become thorough Americans if you think of yourselves in groups. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Children of Immigrants
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.