Immigration to the United States Essay

Submitted By mj094
Words: 617
Pages: 3

In the past decade, there has been considerable debate on the assimilation of immigrant children (Xie and Greenman 2005). Given the fact that children growing up in contemporary immigrant families will represent a crucial component of American society in the future (Zhou, 1997), the smooth assimilation of these children will benefit U.S. society as well as lower social costs. Children in immigrant families are defined as children under age 18 who were either themselves born in countries other than the United States or have at least one foreign-born parent. According to the 2000 Census, there were 13.5 million children living in immigrant families in the United States (PRB, 2005). In 2000, one of every five children living in the United States was living in an immigrant family. More than eight of 10 children in immigrant families are ethnic minorities.
Due to the lack of data on immigrant children or missing information on nativity (Hogan and Eggebeen 1997; Jensen and Chitose 1996; Portes 1996), studies of children in immigrant families were not given much attention until the last two decades. During this period, assimilation and adaptation became the main subject of studies on children of immigrant families. A wide range of outcomes have been examined, both regionally and nationally (Rumbaut 1997; Zhou 1997; Bankston and Zhou 2002; Harris 1999).
Education, health behavior and cultural (mainly language) adaptations have been addressed in the literature. Among these, research in the area of immigrant health (Williams et al. 1986; Collins and Shay 1994; Eberstein 1991; Landale, Oropesa and Gorman 1997), risk behavior (Harris 1997), educational achievement (Rumbaut 1995; 1997; Kao and Tienda 1995) and ethnic self-identity (Rumbaut 1994) points out the negative aspects of the assimilation of immigrant children in the United States. The findings often run precisely in the opposite direction of what might be expected from traditional perspectives on assimilation (Rumbaut 1997). They describe a less favorable future for children from immigrant families. The causes have been attributed to the American economic context, racial attitudes and the national origins of today's immigration flows (Gans 1992; Portes and Zhou 1993; Portes and Rumbaut 1996).
Others suspect that these authors are too pessimistic. Compared to the historical European immigration from a century ago, Perlmann and Waldinger (1997) argue that it is too soon to say whether the new immigrants’ adaptation to America will turn out differently from the last great immigration to the United States. They argue that the experiences of European immigrants were not particularly promising at the beginning, nor were established groups at the time ready to accept the…