16 March 2013

Oh, those pesky foreigners...

Percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born: 13

Percentage that was foreign-born in 1913: 15

Data from the Pew Hispanic Center, via Harper's Index, February 2013.

28 comments:

  1. The foreigners who lived here in 1913 assimilated.

    Are the ones living here in 2013 assimilating?

    Most of the foreigners living here in 1913 were from non-bordering nations without reasonable historical claims to a large portion of US territory.

    Are most of the foreigners living here in 2013 from a bordering nation with reasonable historical claims to a large portion of US territory?

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    Replies
    1. Really? You think there is a difference?

      When did all the Chinatown, Germantown, Little Italy, Polishtown, etc get established? Not from the current crop of immigrants.

      Unless you are full-blood Native American, guess what, YOU are an immigrant.

      Don't be the 7 year-old that looks at the Kindergärtners and says I don't like little kids. Pot meet kettle.

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    2. You didn't answer my questions, Rose. Are modern immigrants assimilating? Do modern immigrants come from a bordering nation with reasonable historical claims to a large portion of US territory?

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    3. As a former teacher of immigrants (all Latino with the exception of three sisters from Haiti), I can assure you that they are assimilating. When they first arrive, they are quiet, well-behaved, and attentive students. Within an amazingly short time, they are almost as loud, ill-mannered and unattentive as their native-born American agemates. Seriously, they do assimilate, and by the second generation born in this country, very few speak any Spanish at all--they're thoroughly American, just like the Germans, Poles, etc. of a century ago.

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    4. I see... the reincorporation of the californian territory by an army of mexicans, and a tall... a tall dark stranger.

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    5. The reason you may perceive that "foreigners" that are living in the US in 2013 (I presume you mean Latinos) are not assimilating as much as "foreigners" in the past is that you are confusing recent immigrants for people who immigrated 40 years ago.

      Immigration from Germany, Italy, etc. basically halted in the 1930s. Here are the numbers by decade for Italians:

      1870-1880: 55k
      1880-1890: 307k
      1890-1900: 651k
      1900-1910: 2.0m
      1910-1920: 1.1m
      1920-1930: 455k
      1930-1940: 68k
      1940-1950: 57k

      With virtually no new immigrants coming after 1930, there were virtually no "off the boat" Italians in the US after that period, and as children were born to Italian immigrants, the number of US-born people with Italian heritage quickly overtook the number of Italian immigrants.

      That effect is what people describe as "assimilation" - not the myth that people who emigrated from other countries immediately bought blue jeans, shed their accents, and "blended in" with the rest of the country.

      You are not perceiving that effect from Latino immigrants because they there is no similar dropoff in their arrival. Although there are plenty of Latinos who arrived here 50 years ago and who have had children who spoke English fluently and who have grandchildren who don't even know Spanish, the number of Latino immigrants from the 1960's is small you're not focusing on them. You're focusing on the people who came here last year who don't know English. That group is at a similar state of "assimilation" as the Italians who came here in 1920 was -- in 1921.

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    6. Are the ones living here in 2013 assimilating?

      Answer is a simple yes. Just as before the children of the first generation are assimilated while their parents being Italians, Mexicans or whatever have more difficulties with English etc.

      These ridiculous and unfounded fears are rooted in racism and xenophobia.

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    7. Barbwire wrote:

      Seriously, they do assimilate, and by the second generation born in this country, very few speak any Spanish at all--they're thoroughly American, just like the Germans, Poles, etc. of a century ago.

      That's excellent news. It's contrary to what I'm seeing here in Texas, but I'm glad that assimilation efforts are working elsewhere.

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    8. NoPolitician wrote:

      You are not perceiving that effect from Latino immigrants because they there is no similar dropoff in their arrival. Although there are plenty of Latinos who arrived here 50 years ago and who have had children who spoke English fluently and who have grandchildren who don't even know Spanish, the number of Latino immigrants from the 1960's is small you're not focusing on them. You're focusing on the people who came here last year who don't know English. That group is at a similar state of "assimilation" as the Italians who came here in 1920 was -- in 1921.

      I'm confused by this paragraph. Are you saying that immigration from Italy dropped off and then Italian immigrants were assimilated, but immigration from Latin America has not faced a similar drop off?

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    9. Steve wrote:

      These ridiculous and unfounded fears are rooted in racism and xenophobia.

      It's interesting that you've chosen to inject race into this discussion. I wonder why you've done so.

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    10. I notice that no commenter has addressed my second question.

      Eugene Volokh recently wrote a thoughtful post on the subject:

      I think, though, that the “Pilgrims = Illegal Aliens” equation illustrates the exact opposite. The whites immigrated to America — and took over the place. (I’m glad they did, but I can surely understand why the Indians might have disagreed.) Likewise, Jews immigrated to Palestine (adding vastly to the numbers already present), sometimes illegally — and eventually there were more Jews in some parts than Arabs, so Jews started running the place. Now Israelis are sensibly objecting to Palestinians’ asserted “right of return” to their and their parents’ homes, because if enough Palestinians are allowed to immigrate into Israel, they’ll start running the place.

      The bottom line is that for all the good that immigration can do (and I’m an immigrant to the U.S., who is very glad that America let me in, and who generally supports immigration), unregulated immigration can dramatically change the nature of the target society. It makes a lot of sense for those who live there to think hard about how those changes can be managed, and in some situations to restrict the flow of immigrants — who, after all, will soon be entitled to affect their new countrymen’s rights and lives, through the vote if not through force.

      I sometimes pose for my liberal friends a stylized thought experiment. Say that they live in a country of 3 million people (the size of New Zealand) where 55% of the citizens are pro-choice and 45% are pro-life (1.65 million vs. 1.35 million). Now the country is facing an influx of 1 million devoutly Catholic immigrants, who are 90% pro-life. If these immigrants are let in and become citizens, the balance will flip to 2.25 million pro-life to 1.75 million pro-choice (56% to 44% pro-choice); and what my friends might see as their fundamental human right to abortion may well vanish, perfectly peacefully and democratically.


      The history of Texas provides a fine example of this development. Mexico invited in immigrants from the neighboring United States. More kept on flooding in, the Mexican government was unable to stop it, and soon Americans were running the place. Then Texas became a part of the United States.

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    11. Very weak argument and it does not contain valid examples. Once again, it comes across as xenophobic.

      "Mexico" was a new government, freshly formed, and making land grabs. The Spanish & French, of course, had been doing so for many years prior. The Spanish had the land, and then it was annexed to Mexico and just added to an existing state because it was so sparsely populated. The problem with that is the original inhabitants, the Native Americans (not "Mexicans" based on a Spanish government) were not having it and kept attacking folks who were intruding on their land. Thus the invitation to immigrate so they could have more safety with numbers.

      So yeah, inviting a bunch of stubborn people into an undefendable area led to a society that wanted independence. They did so, and then ended up joining the United States because they could barely defend themselves against Mexico.

      The land was never historically set as belonging to anyone but the native Americans. The Mexicans you refer to are a mish-mash of Spanish & multiple native american blood-lines. Who exactly is going to lay historical claim to the land??

      And the logic of leaving Mexico for better opportunities to just get the land re-integrated back into Mexico... That makes no sense, they want a further northern border they would have to cross? It just sounds like you don't want to be surrounded by "Mexicans" because it makes you uncomfortable, thus the need to find reasons why there should not be so many (it's dangerous!)

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    12. The land was never historically set as belonging to anyone but the native Americans. The Mexicans you refer to are a mish-mash of Spanish & multiple native american blood-lines. Who exactly is going to lay historical claim to the land??

      The notion that the United States stole Texas and the American southwest from Mexico is a popular one among Mexicans. So it is they who are making historical claims upon those lands.

      The fact that you regard these claims as illegitimate does not prevent people from making them.

      And the logic of leaving Mexico for better opportunities to just get the land re-integrated back into Mexico... That makes no sense, they want a further northern border they would have to cross?

      So you think there could be no negative consequences to Texas and the American southwest becoming culturally and linguistically part of Mexico?

      It just sounds like you don't want to be surrounded by "Mexicans" because it makes you uncomfortable, thus the need to find reasons why there should not be so many (it's dangerous!)

      Not at all. This is a rational, not emotional response. It's perfectly reasonable to object to the colonization of your area by a bordering nation that regards your area as stolen from that bordering nation.

      If that's xenophobia, it's a rational xenophobia.

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    13. Avoiding being colonized by foreigners who regard your land as rightfully theirs is a rational xenophobia, if it can be called xenophobia at all. I would prefer the term "common sense."

      Or was it irrationally xenophobic of the Mexican government to worry about American immigration into Texas during the 1830s?

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    14. At least you admit to it, which is the first step...

      Not going to go through all the various lines of reasoning I could point out as flawed in your arguments.

      Bottom line, you don't like and/or have a fear of "Mexicans" and their culture. Making up a reason to make them "dangerous" with no motive or actual threat does not make it "common sense".

      Miami is practically Cuba North, Alaska IS Canada, Southern Ohio is a second cousin away from being West Virginia. No one is going to invade, you are just afraid of the culture! As in just plain ol' xenophobia. Are you afraid your children and grandchildren will get really good deals on fajitas, mole sauces, and be part of the marachi band at the local school?

      This "issue" might be something you discuss with your close buddies over a couple of beers, but you might want to keep it there.

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    15. Well, then, Rose, perhaps you could answer my question. It was:

      So you think there could be no negative consequences to Texas and the American southwest becoming culturally and linguistically part of Mexico?

      And while you're at it:

      Or was it irrationally xenophobic of the Mexican government to worry about American immigration into Texas during the 1830s?

      And, of course, I'll answer yours:

      Are you afraid your children and grandchildren will get really good deals on fajitas, mole sauces, and be part of the marachi band at the local school?

      No. I'm afraid that my country is and will continue to be colonized by a foreign nation that regards much of my country's territory, including the territory which I live in, to be stolen from it.

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    16. Negative consequences:

      None. Militarily - laughable. Revolutionary, nope. White people with hurt feelings, yep.

      1830's:

      They were not xenophobic. They ASKED for WHOEVER to move in to increase it's population... because they NEVER had control of the region. The fact that the people wanted to be independent of the newly formed Mexico AND the expanding U.S. was an unfortunate side effect of doing whatever it took to keep Indians from killing the settlers. Did I mention they were trying to gain control of a land they simply claimed on paper?

      And none of this matters. Mexico does not say they want the land back, and they simply are not going to fight for it. And if lots and lots and lots of Mexican people live in those lands, they will just enjoy the benefits of living in the U.S. Revolution will simply deprive them of the benefits of coming to the U.S. in the first place. The many workers that come here are supporting families in Mexico. Why mess up the staus quo and eliminate that huge source of revenue.

      You are just being silly.

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  2. My grandfatherwas born here to first generation German immigrants (as I understand it) in 1907. He was sent to German school. Back then I'm sure they would say he wasn't assimilating. But he learned to speak English, held a decent job as a bus driver, then opened his own restaurant. My father thinks of him self as an American (as he is), and so do I. My father obviously feels his German heritage more than I do. I think my Grandfather though of himself as the son of immigrants, but I never thought to ask him directly.

    I suspect a similar arc will occur for most of the recent immigrants and their descendants. So with all that in mind, I figure the current wave of immigrants will have fully American descendants in a century. We just need to give it time.

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    Replies
    1. For heaven's sake, stop being so damn sensible. You're skewing the demographic!

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    2. Full linguistic assimilation usually takes 3 generations. I think that is the case with new waves of hispanic immigrants as well. Most 1st-generationals speak some English, but learned it as adults, and thus it always is a foreign tongue. Their kids go to public school and learn to be equally fluent in Spanish or in English, though they primarily speak Spanish in home. Quite a few of the 3rd generation (mostly kids in this area) know some Spanish, but are fluent in English. English is spoken in their homes with about half that I know also being fluent in Spanish (mostly depending if their grandparent is living, and lives nearby or in the home).

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  3. The two main differences are:
    - how the social system works -> in 1915 immigrants needed to integrate, there was no really no choice if they were looking to make a decent living
    - society was a lot "harder" and "ignorant" when it came to violence, crime and discrimination

    As times and societies change so changes what solutions and policies are good, best or even just working.

    As a wise man once said: Out of democracy, welfare state and strong immigration you can choose any combination of two, but all three is a recipe for desaster.

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    Replies
    1. Would you be kind to provide source for your citation?

      I don't see how 2015 immigrants wouldn't need to integrate.

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  4. I didn't spend too much time on this, but here is the historical trend.

    From http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0029/tab01.html

    You can see that there is a definitely lull in the 1970s, so there is a perceived increase of foreigners in the last 40 years.

    1990 0.079479418
    1980 0.062150372
    1970 0.047336718
    1960 0.054303943
    1950 0.068883391
    1940 0.088060757
    1930 0.115692475
    1920 0.131686788
    1910 0.146956105
    1900 0.136079135
    1890 0.147703843
    1880 0.133183904
    1870 0.144384445
    1860 0.131624042
    1850 0.096783977

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mark, for finding the primary data.

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  5. I reckon the main diff isn't assimilation, but whether we're talking about legal or illegal immigration. it does make a difference. intention matters.

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  6. There are plenty of Canadian, European, and Asian illegal immigrants, so why does the debate around "illegals" seem to focus soley on Latin Americans? This country is made up of immigrants so regardless of how they get here, the US benefits more from them being here than not.

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