Monday, March 27, 2006

History Does Not Repeat Itself

Often, people will compare the last great immigration wave with the present one but there are several stark differences which greatly impact the notion that this wave will result in the same assimilation patterns:
  • Locality of Sender Nation: the mere fact that the largest sender nation (Mexico) borders the United States creates unique dynamics that a Germany or Greece never did.
  • History of State Relations: the American southwest was at one time part of Mexico. This fact is not lost on the radical fringe of the illegal immigration movement. While the majority of immigrants have no desire to “re-conquer” Aztlan, the manipulation of the subject could be used politically for the opportunistic demigod.
  • Communication/Travel: The low cost and convenient methods of travel whether by car or plane have afforded the modern day immigrant the luxury of visiting their homeland early 20th Century immigrants never imagined.
  • Media: Native language television, radio, print, and web publications enable the immigrant to stay immersed in their native culture and language to a far greater degree than in the past.
  • Duration/Size of Immigration Wave: The sheer size and uninterrupted flow of immigrants from one country (Mexico) is unprecedented and has placed immense strain on not only America’s ability to absorb, but also assimilate such large numbers.
  • Political Clout: The size of the potential Hispanic-immigrant voting block is staggering and presents unique dilemmas for politicians in the execution of their duties including introducing, passing, and enforcing tough immigration laws.

In California particularly Los Angeles, we have witnessed the power of these factors in the recent mayoral election and protests. More importantly, we have seen the emergence of a true Anglo/Hispanic society. California sets trends and is first to be exposed to changes which will eventually sweep the nation. America must acknowledge the impact of these factors and not naively assume past patterns will hold true today.

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