Saturday, October 10, 2009
Is Assimilation Desirable?
Assimilation often becomes the main focus of any and all discussions about immigration. Most of the anti-immigrant groups and some of the sympathetic ones usually wind up in concluding that immigrants to the United States during the early part of the twentieth century assimilated better and at a faster rate into the US mainstream. Is such a conclusion accurate? Is it desirable? And above all is it possible to advocate such outcomes in the year 2009? May I suggest; and this is a purely subjective statement; that the answer to all the above three questions is a resounding NO.
Some academics have even developed measures for assimilation and their studies show that the current immigrants do assimilate just as rapidly as those of a hundred years ago. It is also to be noted that what the “restrictionists” mean when they speak of assimilation ought to be rejected since their conception is best described as a linear process instead of the realistic dynamics that change both the new arrivals and the natives at the same time. Furthermore, even if old fashioned traditional assimilation was possible a century ago it is no longer plausible for the simple reason that immigration is not presently undertaken with the sole expectation that it is to be permanent. Temporary immigration is what explains immigrant remittances and the “new economic theory of migration”.
Old fashioned assimilation, as a one way street, where the minority loses its identity in order to acquire the characteristics of the majority can succeed only in an undemocratic and hegemonic environment. We ought to celebrate its demise instead of decrying its death. Gracias amigos/as.