Changing ethnic composition of new immigrant populations • The Classic era: 1901-1930 • Shifting from Northern Europeans to Southern and Eastern Europeans • 1924 National Origins Act • Total immigration 18,638,000 79.6% from Europe, 16.2% from Americas • New Regime beginning in 1971 • Dramatic shift away from European immigration and toward America’s
End of European Immigration and Beginning of New Regime • Tools for understanding immigration: Push/Pull factors • End of classical era and the end of World War II • Marshall Plan • Cold War • Economic growth in Europe • Beginning of new regime: growth of Asian Immigration • Aftermath of Vietnam War and Asian Immigration
Economic growth in the US and labor demands • Post War boom in US required a large labor pool. • No quotas on Latin American immigration until 1965 • Amendments to Immigration and Nationality Act • Most of US labor demands following World War II met by Latin Americans.
Factors Affecting Assimilation • Stratified Economy • Limited upward mobility • No generation hiatus • Language similarities of new immigrants • Enclaves of immigration • Chain migration
Race and Ethnicity • Race: a socially constructed marker of difference • Race in the US: a form of group identification • Why do we think in terms of race and not class? • Ethnicity: Cultural counterpart to race. Group identification in terms of language, religion, family structure, diet….
Current Debates about Immigration • Blaming social problems on immigrates, particularly illegal immigrants, has become a powerful political tool. • Tom Tancredo, representation from Colorado Springs • What are the common complaints against illegal immigrants?
Complaints refuted • Drive down wages of Native born Americans? • Minimum wage is set by government, this level is political not economic • Illegal immigrants do not complete with Native born Americans for jobs. • Costing Taxpayers money? • Illegal immigrants pay taxes and use few government services • they pay social security that they can never use: extremely important as baby boomer generation ages. • Terrorism? • Illegal immigrants have not been responsible for a terrorist attack in America
If commonly cited complaints are unfounded, why is there so much resistance to immigration? • Immigration has become deeply political in US • Politicians can use immigration as a way of diverting attention away from growing class differences in the US. • Play on entrenched racist and xenophobic tendencies among Americans. • Rarely is immigration looked at in the context of US policies creating push factors in Latin America: NAFTA and agriculture
Economics of Undocumented Labor Force • Labeling and Power • Okies and illegals • Keeping people in undocumented status allows American businesses to lower costs of production • Keep wages down • Deny benefits • Job insecurity and a highly compliant workforce
Conclusion • Though common complaints against immigration are not supported with evidence, immigration has become a deeply political issue. • This benefits politicians and business owners • Reinforces ethnic and racial differences in the US • Prevents the rise of a collective class consciousness