Sidebar

Early Warnings

The special social and cultural problems posed by Mexican immigration to the United States have received little public attention or meaningful discussion. But many academic sociologists and other scholars have warned of them for years. In 1983, the distinguished sociologist Morris Janowitz pointed to the "strong resistance to acculturation among Spanish-speaking residents" in the United ...

The special social and cultural problems posed by Mexican immigration to the United States have received little public attention or meaningful discussion. But many academic sociologists and other scholars have warned of them for years.

In 1983, the distinguished sociologist Morris Janowitz pointed to the "strong resistance to acculturation among Spanish-speaking residents" in the United States, and argued that "Mexicans are unique as an immigrant group in the persistent strength of their communal bonds." As a result, "Mexicans, together with other Spanish-speaking populations, are creating a bifurcation in the social-political structure of the United States that approximates nationality divisions…." 

Other scholars have reiterated these warnings, emphasizing how the size, persistence, and regional concentration of Mexican immigration obstruct assimilation. In 1997, sociologists Richard Alba and Victor Nee pointed out that the four-decade interruption of large-scale immigration after 1924 "virtually guaranteed that ethnic communities and cultures would be steadily weakened over time." In contrast, continuation of the current high levels of Latin American immigration "will create a fundamentally different ethnic context from that faced by the descendants of European immigrants, for the new ethnic communities are highly likely to remain large, culturally vibrant, and institutionally rich." Under current conditions, sociologist Douglas Massey agrees, "the character of ethnicity will be determined relatively more by immigrants and relatively less by later generations, shifting the balance of ethnic identity toward the language, culture, and ways of life of the sending society."

"A constant influx of new arrivals," demographers Barry Edmonston and Jeffrey Passel contend, "especially in predominantly immigrant neighborhoods, keeps the language alive among immigrants and their children." Finally, American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Falcoff also observes that because "the Spanish-speaking population is being continually replenished by newcomers faster than that population is being assimilated," the widespread use of Spanish in the United States "is a reality that cannot be changed, even over the longer term."

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola