Some refer to the United States as a “melting pot” because of its great racial diversity. Its people hold differing views on topics such as politics, religion, and foreign affairs. America was founded as an immigrant nation because the people who started community-formation and settlements were immigrants from Europe. Since the settlements of the seventeenth century, America has been the land of dreams for many European immigrants hoping for a chance to get a new start in life.
African Americans have gotten there chance to emigrate out of their agrarian home country but face different circumstances in this new land. They were forged into slavery as their only way of work and would face extreme racism from the white people. They were treated as inferior people and mere objects of profit. Even until now, the hostility and prejudice towards black people still exist because it is hard to change the minds of people who are stubborn and have these ideas instilled. Later, Chinese Americans and Mexican Americans came or were brought to the United States largely for economic purposes.
Most migrant groups share this trait. In fact, the majority agrees that people who migrate to the United States are “driven to do so by poverty, economic stagnation, and overpopulation in their home countries” (Sassen 31). Extremely poor economic conditions combined with war were the determinants of some of the first large scale migrations to America for both the Chinese and Mexican Americans. When the first large waves of Chinese Americans immigrated to the United States, many Chinese were looking to flee China and its persistent wars.
Similar to the Chinese, some of the first large waves of Mexican American immigration occurred during the time of political upheaval and military war in Mexico. In the early 1900’s, Mexicans were “pushed from Mexico by… the horror of war” during the time of the of the 1910 Mexican Revolution (Takaki Different 315). Both groups tend to settle in a few, highly concentrated areas (Census). In fact, 45% of all Asian Americans live either in California or New York. Asian Americans dominate select cities in California such as Daly City (53. 6% Asian), Fremont (39. 8% Asian), and San Francisco (32.
6% Asian) (Census). The Chinese Americans also formed communities in various highly Asian-populated areas that would be known as “Chinatowns” (Takaki Strangers 239-240). In these “Chinatowns”, Chinese Americans would gather to support their ethnic community. These “Chinatowns” were characterized by Chinese shops, writing, and people. Mexican Americans also settled into heavily concentrated communities. Large concentrations of Mexican Americans also settled in certain cities in California such as Los Angeles, which has the second most people of Mexican decent in the world (Takaki Different 8).
Huntington Park, California, is almost entirely Latino. It is the center of California Assembly District 50, which is made up of 89% Latinos (Maharidge 70-71). Because of the overwhelming amount of immigrants from many different groups over the past century or so, America is a country that is continuously getting more diverse as time goes on. The new immigrant groups, Latinos especially, are not fully assimilating like most theorists thought they would and is changing America’s national identity, possible putting the nation in danger of division into “two peoples, two cultures, and two languages”.
Samuel P. Huntington argues that the Latino Americans are immigrating into this nation in large numbers and instead of assimilating, they are forming their own niches and isolated communities. He states that “Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration, persistence, and historical presence” (Huntington 2). In terms of contiguity, the border between the United States and Mexico is so long that immigration to the United States is not too hard of a task.
Another interest fact is that “The income gap between the United States and Mexico is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world” (Huntington 3). Thus Mexicans are trying their best to escape poverty in their home country to immigrate to the United States. This contiguity provides them with close contact to their family and friends back home. The scale of immigration is large, as the numbers have been increasing during the past few decades. The proportion of immigrants that consist of Mexican immigrants is significant, as “Mexican immigrants constituted 27. 6 percent of the total foreign-born U.
S. population in 2000” (Huntington 3). These also do not reflect the amount of Mexican immigrants that cross the border illegally into the United States. Another reason that the Mexican population is huge is because the fertility rates for their race are higher than the fertility rates of the other races. Most of the immigration came after 1965 because of the 1965 immigration law which brought “increased availability of transportation and the intensified forces promoting Mexican emigration” (Huntington 4). That was the time when the United States endorsed immigration from many different nations.
After that, the border patrol started to increase their guard and the number of illegal immigrants rose rapidly. Another factor was regional concentration. One of the key aspects of assimilation was that the “U. S. Founding Fathers considered the dispersion of immigrants essential to their assimilation” (Huntington 4). The Hispanics have not dispersed their settlements across the nation after their immigration. They concentrate in certain regions in the United States, such as the “Mexicans in South California, Cubans in Miami, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in New York.
They have also been concentrating in certain cities as well, as they constitute almost half of the population of Hartford, Connecticut. The greatest concentration of the Hispanics has to be in the Southwest, especially California. The Hispanics make up more of the immigrant population than any other group in California and they are projected to make up more than half of Los Angeles in the next decade or so. This presents a problem for assimilation because if the Hispanics are concentrated in certain areas, they will not be forced to interact with people of different races and will use their ethnicity as a crutch to hold onto.
The Hispanic immigration shows no signs of letting down as it seems like it will persist for a long time. The only reason that might deter this large influx of Hispanics is if the living conditions and work opportunities in their home country improve to almost the level that the United States is at right now. Even then, there is no guarantee that the immigration will slow down, because “when Europe was rapidly industrializing and per capita incomes were rising, 50 million Europeans emigrated to the Americas, Asia, and Africa” (Huntington 5).
There is also historical precedence that the Mexican Americans have for immigrating into the states. They used to inhabit the American southwest before the Americans were able to defeat them in war and take away their land. The Mexicans feel that they do have a right to inhabit these lands because of their previous ownership of them. The assimilation of Mexicans into the U. S. culture has been very difficult and another reason is the “failure of third- and fourth-generation people of Mexican origin to approximate U. S.norms in education, economics status, and intermarriage rates” (Huntington 6).