New Age Of Migration, Compare America's :"New" Immigrants With Turn Of The Century Immigrants

1043 words - 4 pages

When looking at immigration to the United States, it is important to notice the difference between the “old immigrants” and the “new immigrants” in terms of sociocultural, socioeconomic, and spatial factors. Not only are immigrants migrating to different cities than during the turn-of-the-century, they also definitely look and speak differently than the average American citizen, and in addition today’s immigrants are not necessarily poor, low-skilled, and uneducated as most “old immigrants” were. Some social scientists maintain that these differences between these immigrant generations makes comparisons unrealistic and unfavorable, yet it is still done during debates of immigration all the time. The image of the poor, uneducated, and unskilled “huddled masses” depicted on Ellis Island does not necessarily apply to contemporary immigrants.
One of the largest, and most obvious, differences between these two waves of migration stems from the respective places of origin that these two waves came from. During European immigration at the turn-of-the-century almost all immigrants had white skin like the rest of the United States; now most immigrants are people of color coming from Mexico, China, Latin America, the Caribbean, and other nations, making their presence more visible and drastically different than immigration was in the past. Another sociocultural factor, stemming from place of origin, that makes these two waves of migration so different is the fact that most of today’s immigrants come from the Third World, or non-Western nations, and their cultural traditions and ideals don’t match with those of Anglo-European origin, which are dominant in the United States.
Also important to notice when comparing turn-of-the-century immigration with that of today is that around 1900 the United States of America was a relatively new country that was still forging its identity; in 1910, 15 of every 100 Americans were foreign-born . Nowadays, in 2006, the United States has a definite identity, culture, and families that have lived here for many generations. For this reason, an immigrant not abiding by the norms of American society is much more apparent and problematic for a native-born American now, than during the turn-of-the-century. This notion, along with their non-Western origin, leads to what Wayne Cornelius calls cultural fragmentation, which in turn leads to anti-immigrant sentiment. Central to this idea of cultural fragmentation is the fact that many of today’s immigrants keep a tight grasp on their homeland’s traditions, culture, food, language, and religious practices. Another reason for cultural fragmentation not occurring during 1880 – 1920, or at least not to the same extent as today, is that many of these “old immigrants” did not necessarily come from a proper nation-state as the world is contemporarily set up. Portes and Rumbaut note, “In contrast to pre-World War I immigrants, those bound for America today seldom come from stateless lands or...

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