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Can Old Immigration Theories Be Applied To New Immigrants?

957 words - 4 pages

Joel Perlman and Roger Waldinger question in their theory the pessimism of the present scholarship on assimilation. These authors emphasize the duality of contemporary immigration and compare historical facts with new findings on contemporary immigrant research. Furthermore, they criticize the way scholars such as Alba, Hirschman and Falcon, and Lieberson and Waters, apply old immigration theories and how the results show prospects for contemporary immigrants in an unfavorable light. (226)Perlman and Waldinger argue that the linear theory approach which compares historical results of research for immigration assimilation, does not address the fact that contemporary immigrants face a different social and economic environment then than in the past. In The Handbook of International Migration "Immigrants Past and Present: A Reconsideration", the authors voice their opinions and point out that changes in economy and changes in changes in skills that new immigrants bring to the US affect economical assimilation for the second immigrant generation.Contemporary immigrants bring different skills and face a more industrialized economy, and cannot be compared to immigrants from the past.Immigrants in the past came with different occupational skills and as well as different levels of education (224). In the past many immigrants came with agricultural or craft skills, low levels of education, and many were illiterate, whereas the contemporary immigrants and contemporary generation of immigrants are more educated and bring more professional skills (227). "The 1990 Census found that a college degree was common among all immigrants.. Moreover the highly skilled are often present at levels well above the U.S. average "... (227). Many researchers use the experience of past immigration as a base to compare the economical assimilation of present immigrants. A major problem constitutes that this difference is not considered when scholars conduct their research.As Waldinger and Perlman outline, the fact that the immigrant experiences of the past apply mostly to immigrants that came from southern and eastern Europe whereas the contemporary immigrants come mainly from Asia, the Caribbean, and other continents. The comparison of the contemporary immigrants does not address the problem of the visibly identifiable immigrants of today. "Today's newcomers are visibly identifiable and enter a mainly white society still not cured of its racist affliction" (pg 223). Race and ethnicity are still major issues that cause barriers for immigrants and prevent socio economic upward mobility.Unlike the earlier European immigrants who encountered discriminations and were later viewed as white, the contemporary immigrants are more visible and cannot disappear in the mainstream.In his writing still the Promise City? African Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York, Waldinger points out that immigrants did better when they stayed inside their respective ethnic niche and...

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