U.S. Immigration and Migration

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How do we view immigrants and immigration? Do we still believe in the "melting pot" or do we believe America is more like a "salad bowl" of different cultures?

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One the one hand, we can say that America is clearly more of a “salad bowl” than it was in, for example, the 1950s.  In the 1950s, there were not many unassimilated immigrants.  Today, we have many immigrants who are not assimilated.  It is for this reason that we have things like census instructions and other government documents being printed in a number of different languages.

On the other hand, however, there are at least two points that must be made along with this point. 

First, we must point out that American society has looked like a salad bowl at other points in our history.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were newspapers being printed in big cities in languages such as Yiddish and German.  There sections of cities called “Little Italy” or other such names.  The melting pot does not work immediately and the country always looks like a salad bowl for a while after a major wave of immigration.

Second, we must note that most immigrants themselves believe in the melting pot.  They do not want their children to be Mexican or Bosnian or Rwandan.  They want their children to be Americans who may still know a bit about their ancestral culture.  That is why second and third generation immigrants tend to be very Americanized.

In short, we can say that our society looks like a salad bowl at the moment.  However, this is mainly because the melting pot works slowly and has not yet had time to assimilate the current immigrants in the ways that it has already assimilated Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, and other previous groups of immigrants.

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