Could Tom Tancredo Have Been… Wrong?

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The Washington Post reports on a new study revealing the quicker and quicker adaptation of immigrants to American norms.

In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on, said Jacob L. Vigdor, a professor at Duke University and author of the study. During periods of intense immigration, such as from 1870 to 1920, or during the immigration wave that began in the 1970s, new arrivals tend to drag down the average assimilation index of the foreign-born population as a whole.

The report found, however, that the speed with which new arrivals take on native-born traits has increased since the 1990s. As a result, even though the foreign population doubled during that period, the newcomers did not drive down the overall assimilation index of the foreign-born population. Instead, it held relatively steady from 1990 to 2006.

"This is something unprecedented in U.S. history," Vigdor said. "It shows that the nation's capacity to assimilate new immigrants is strong."

What left-wing, Soros-and-la-Raza-funded "think tank" belched this out, anyway?

The study, sponsored by the Manhattan Institute

Oh. Well.

Obviously, a large school of restrictionists believe in restriction as a means of assimiliation. This is an old Peter Brimelow hobby horse: The immigration waves before the 1920s were so successful because the "time out" between then and the 1965 Immigration Act stopped flooding cities with new arrivals who would have retarded the assimiliation of the old arrivals. But if assimiliation is quickening without a strategic pause…

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  1. So we are actually the Borg? Who is Locutus?

  2. This is what I’ve been saying on immigration threads for years!

    The reason people encounter immigrants with bad English skills so often is because those immigrants are out there in the mainstream economy and society, learning English by using it every day to interact with native English speakers – as opposed to the old days, when immigrants could live, shop, and work entirely within ethnic enclaves where everyone spoke the old tongue.

    Score one for the libertarians; the openness of America’s society and economy makes it an astoundingly efficient assimilation machine.

  3. Can we please stop pretending that there was anything positive about the mass immigration of Catholics and Jews to the US in the 19th century? The know nothings were right. The Irish, Jews and Italians imported their socialist statist ideas, their corruption, their criminal gangs. We’re still dealing with that awful legacy. Look at the cesspools of New Jersey or Eastern Masschusetts if you want to see the damage 19th century immigration has wrought.

  4. We soften up those forreigners with our globalism, lure ’em in with our shiny economy, and assimilate ’em with our name-brand ketchups.

    Who can resist? Who would want to?

  5. Could?

    It takes a scholar to prove that fresh-off-the-boat immigrants don’t usually assimilate, but their kids do? Do these schmucks never go to a suburban shopping mall near a major city on a Saturday afternoon?

  6. Yo, John Bull, which party governs Britainnia again?

  7. This result isn’t surprising if you think about it. The reason is that today’s immigrants, for the most part, are already half assimilated when they get here. Even a Mexican campesino or Chinese peasant knows a lot more about the US, and more English, than my semi-literate Italian great grandfather did, and culturally the leap they are making is much smaller. Even poor people in the 3rd world are at least acquainted with computers, electricity, cars, paper money, fast food, etc. It’s not the culture shock you had 120 years ago coming on a tramp steamer from a dirt poor Ukrainian Shtetl where you’d known maybe 100 people your entire life and being dropped in Manhattan. So thank Hollywood and McDonald’s if the new crop of immigrants becomes American at a record pace.

  8. But if assimiliation is quickening without a strategic pause…

    then keep bringing ’em in! It’s not like Southern California is overcrowded or anything…

  9. How you gonna keep ’em down on the espa?ol once they seen cable TV?

  10. When you assimilate, you make an ass out of imi and late.

  11. anxiously awaiting lonewacko’s post about the ManhattanInstitute and the MexicanGovernment.

  12. Am I missing the link to the Washington Post article?

  13. The second paragraph of the article: “Modern-day immigrants arrive with substantially lower levels of English ability and earning power than those who entered during the last great immigration wave at the turn of the 20th century. The gap between today’s foreign-born and native populations remains far wider than it was in the early 1900s and is particularly large in the case of Mexican immigrants, the report said.”

    Weigel: hardly a blanket endorsement of your spin perspective.

    Vanya: See above. The article clearly states lower levels of English proficiency than in 1900 immigrants.

    It appears to me that both of you largely read the headline and nothing else. The rest of the article clearly elaborates on the paragraph above. I would argue the main point of the article is: current immigrants assimilate at a faster rate but start at such a low level of English and economic proficiency compared to immigrants of 100 years ago, that the gap between immigrant and native born is much larger than at any previous point in American history.

    This is not even remotely a pro immigration or assimilation article. If anything it is extremely anti illegal immigration and you spin this as pro?

  14. If you want to learn the truth about TomTancredo and his allegiance with BigMysticism, ask him questions like these, upload them to VideoSharingSites, and soon the whole world will know the truth about TomTancredo and his allegiance with the KnowNothings.

    For the dumber BobBarr supporters, I recommend you re-read JohnBull’s excellent Work.

  15. The reason people encounter immigrants with bad English skills so often is because those immigrants are out there in the mainstream economy and society, learning English by using it every day to interact with native English speakers – as opposed to the old days, when immigrants could live, shop, and work entirely within ethnic enclaves where everyone spoke the old tongue.
    I hate that mentality of “why don’t they just learn english?”
    It’s as if they expect them to enter the country and learn the language immediately, when in reality it takes a while, even if you’re taking classes.
    At the same time, even I get frustrated a lot trying to communicate with my Spanish-speaking co-workers. But shit, it’s not a fucking abomination of our country’s flag if they refuse to learn the language.

  16. From the article, conveniently quoted in the blog post: As a result, even though the foreign population doubled during that period, the newcomers did not drive down the overall assimilation index of the foreign-born population.

    From Jim: would argue the main point of the article is: current immigrants assimilate at a faster rate but start at such a low level of English and economic proficiency compared to immigrants of 100 years ago, that the gap between immigrant and native born is much larger than at any previous point in American history.

    So, no.

  17. Being pro immigration I was curious about the details. Having found this I don’t think the spin in the original blog post is inaccurate.

    http://nysun.com/news/assimilation-factor

    Linked article authored by the vice president for Policy Research at the Manhattan Institute.

  18. I’d really like to hear LoneWacko’s opinions on the IrishCatholicMenace (PapalArmy!) and the GreasballWOPs.

    I just had a funny image of LoneWacko smacking a plate of spaghetti from in front of himself because it’s “guido food” just like Russel Crowe in Romper Stomper.

  19. Jim,
    The article clearly states lower levels of English proficiency than in 1900 immigrants.

    That’s very misleading. The article also states clearly that “one of the top five origin countries was England, and close to 100 percent of them spoke English.” English people have never really been considered “immigrants” by your average American(see John Bull’s post above). Also I suspect a large number of the Irish who came then were quite capable of speaking their mangled doggerel English dialect. My Irish relatives came over pre-1900 and not a manjack among them spoke Irish as far as I know. So really you need to compare the Italian and Eastern European immigrants to todays Latin American and Asian immigrants. Modern immigrants have the benefits of television, a global entertainment culture, cell phones and rapidly homogenizing cultural mores. They certainly know a lot more about the US before they get here than Grandma Corleone or Papa Yankelovich did when they set out for the land where the streets were paved with gold.

  20. I’m not anti-immigration, just anti-ILLEGAL immigration…

  21. I’m not anti-drug, I’m anti-illegal drugs! See, there’s a difference!

    Freedom of movement, labor and contract can only be permitted once we dismantle the welfare state…duh! You guys didn’t know our freedoms should be held hostage to the Welfare State?

    Cosmotarians think they’re doing libertarianism a favor by trying to make it more globalistic, but everyone knows that most libertarians are White Christian Males.

  22. I’m fine with slaves leaving their masters; they just need to do so within the boundaries prescribed by law.

  23. I just don’t want to interact with brown-skinned people unless they act completely “white” upon my first meeting them. Shows like Sesame Street and Maya and Miguel on PBS just prove that the Mexicans are trying to brainwash our children into liking corn tortillas and pronouncing Mexican words correctly!

  24. I tend to be skeptical towards social science research. The indices in the study are vague, and so is the concept of assimilation. The Amish still hold on to many cultural traits from their Swiss ancestors. Cultural traits don’t make someone American. The US Constitution makes someone American. Language and social preferences are small details compared strong union that document makes.

  25. I saw Romper Stomper in the theater. With a bunch of skins.

    I gotta Netflix that. Thanks, Episiarch!

  26. I’m not anti-speeding, just anti-illegal-speeding.

    That’s why we can’t change the speed limit.

    Wait…what?

  27. In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on.

    Did the study take a look at how long on average before the immigrant takes on the characteristic of bitching about new immigrants?

  28. Nice troll, John Bull. Quick, dirty, efficient. I like it.

  29. It’s not like Southern California is overcrowded or anything…

    By world standards, it isn’t. Not even remotely.

  30. pronouncing Mexican words correctly!

    Its pronounced fajeeter, dammit!

  31. Did the study take a look at how long on average before the immigrant takes on the characteristic of bitching about new immigrants?

    I once mediated a land dispute between two neighbors.

    It took me three tries to understand that the Portugeuse guy was complaining about the Asians.

    “Dey shoulda go home!”

  32. I see the kids have already been here to help Reason burnish their reputation as a site for intellectual discussion.

    And, I see that Weigel has already offered the intellectually dishonest coverage, failing to point out any of the many issues with the study.

    And, I see that Weigel has failed to look into who else the ManhattanInstitute employs. Hint: I’ve written dozens of posts about her and even discredited her in person.

    No one should take Reason seriously, they’re just “libertarians” who constantly attempt to support corporate welfare.

  33. Hint: I’ve written dozens of posts about her and even discredited her in person.

    Bigger hint: No. One. Cares.

  34. I haven’t read the study, but interestingly the Palm Beach Post, on the strength of the same study, came away with exactly the opposite evaluation of it’s conclusions:

    Immigrants less integrated than before, study finds.

    Maybe somebody might want to read the fucking report itself, and tell us what it actually says?

  35. Sure they are improving at a higher rate. Big deal. The assimilation rate seems higher but the article also states the actual gap between native and immigrant is larger than it has ever been. They are currently starting so far behind native born that a fast rate of improving assimilation is irrelevant.

    Would you rather have 50% of $1 or 5% of $100?

    Vanya: I disagree. From the Library of Congress website: “Unlike earlier immigrants, the majority of the newcomers after 1900 came from non-English speaking European countries. The principal source of immigrants was now southern and eastern Europe, especially Italy, Poland, and Russia, countries quite different in culture and language from the United States.”

    As you can see the vast majority of immigrants in the times being discussed were NOT from English speaking countries. I don’t think I’m being unfair when I say you skimmed the blog post and then came up with a theory you thought made sense based upon your quick and incorrect read. 100 years ago the primary source of immigrants was non English speaking countries and immigrants did not have the benefits of, as you point out mass media and cellphones, yet the gap between immigrant and native born is much higher today than it was during the other big peak in immigration, 100 years ago.

    My only point was you misunderstood or did not read the article and so the basis for your argument was invalid.

  36. Here’s the amconmag link taking Weigel to task.

    This is getting silly: all we have is bloggers putting their spin on newspaper accounts of a study that apparently nobody has actually read…

  37. The report found, however, that the speed with which new arrivals take on native-born traits has increased since the 1990s.

    Not having read the study, I wonder how much of this is enhanced/created by technology. We are the Internet/cell phone/txting generation and most immigrants are youthful, thereby more willing to adopt newer conventions.

  38. No Jim. I did read the article. Here, in more detail, is the exact quote:

    “Although new arrivals at the turn of the 20th century were most likely to be eastern and southern Europeans, he said, “one of the top five origin countries was England, and close to 100 percent of them spoke English.”

    Now the article may be wrong, but I certainly read it correctly.

  39. “In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on”

    Yeah – like an “entitlement” mentality and support for all the related socialist programs and buying into the (racial) group indentity politics that the leftists have stoked among the pre-existing homegrown minority groups for decades.

  40. Yeah – like an “entitlement” mentality and support for all the related socialist programs and buying into the (racial) group indentity politics that the leftists have stoked among the pre-existing homegrown minority groups for decades.

    As well as an “entitlement” mentality and support for all the related socialist protectionist programs and buying into the (racial native) group indentity politics that the leftists, rightists, and moderates have stoked among the pre-existing homegrown minority majority groups for decades.

  41. Vanya: Please do your research. Look it up. See what the percentage is. In the top 5 means it could be number 5? Give it up. You spun an idea out of thin air and now you just can’t admit there is no basis to your whole argument. The article says the opposite of what you were spinning. Secondly, if you knew much at all about immigration history, you would know that the overwhelming majority of immigrants during the time period described were not from English speaking countries. If you don’t believe me, look it up. If you want to continue to argue it then come back with some facts rather than sound good theories conjured up from thin air.

  42. Sure they are improving at a higher rate. Big deal. The assimilation rate seems higher but the article also states the actual gap between native and immigrant is larger than it has ever been. They are currently starting so far behind native born that a fast rate of improving assimilation is irrelevant.

    No, Jim, that is not what the report says.

    The report states that while more immigrants are coming here with a larger cultural gap between them and the American mainstream, the rate of assimilation has increased to the degree that, in the aggregate, the population of immigrants in this country today is more assimilated than ever before.

    The actual gap you refer to is, in fact, smaller than ever before, according to the study.

    The rate of assimilation is not irrelevant, as it is that rate of assimilation that has caused the gap between immigrants and native-born Americans to be smaller than at any point in our history. Even though they are, on average, starting off “further behind,” assimilation has advanced so much that this larger gap is not just made up for, but overtaken.

    Do you want to start out with $1 and earn $100 per day, or start out with $5 and earn $10 per day?

  43. but the article also states the actual gap between native and immigrant is larger than it has ever been

    It states that this is so for immigrants just stepping off the boat.

    However, the people who came here in the last week are only a tiny fractions of the population described by the label “immigrants.” Most immigrants have been here for one, two, five, ten, thirty years.

    For the entire population of immigrants, they are closer to mainstream America than has historically been the case, despite the fact that they start our further behind in the aggregate.

  44. For the response to joe, read the links provided above. Needless to say, the situation is a whole lot worse than supporters of corporate welfare would have you believe.

  45. Mexico is the largest source of immigrants. According to the Vigdor report which Weigel couldn’t be bothered to read:

    “Mexican immigrants experience very low rates of economic and civic assimilation. Immigrants born in Mexico, particularly those living and working in the United States illegally, lie at the heart of many current debates over immigration policy. The assimilation index shows that immigrants from Mexico are very distinct from the native-born upon arrival and assimilate slowly over time. The slow rates of economic and civic assimilation set Mexicans apart from other immigrants, and may reflect the fact that the large numbers of Mexican immigrants residing in the United States illegally have few opportunities to advance themselves along these dimensions.”

    The nature of Mexican assimilation is well established. As UCLA professors Edward Telles and Vilma Ortiz have noted (in Generations of Exclusion: Mexican Americans, Assimilation, and Race):

    “Linguistically, Mexican Americans assimilate into mainstream America quite well-by the second generation, nearly all Mexican Americans achieve English proficiency. In many domains, however, the Mexican American story doesn’t fit with traditional models of assimilation. The majority of fourth generation Mexican Americans continue to live in Hispanic neighborhoods, marry other Hispanics, and think of themselves as Mexican. And while Mexican Americans make financial strides from the first to the second generation, economic progress halts at the second generation, and poverty rates remain high for later generations. Similarly, educational attainment peaks among second generation children of immigrants, but declines for the third and fourth generations.”

  46. Can we please stop pretending that there was anything positive about the mass immigration of Catholics and Jews to the US in the 19th century? The know nothings were right. The Irish, Jews and Italians imported their socialist statist ideas, their corruption, their criminal gangs. We’re still dealing with that awful legacy.

    Can we please stop pretending that the was anything positive about the mass immigration of the English, Spanish, and French of the 17th century? The Europeans imported their imperialism, diseases, and slavery. We’re still dealing with that awful legacy. And trust me, WE’RE dealing with a hell of lot more crap than assholes like John Bull.

  47. Say, did Professor Jacob L. Vigdor sign the “Duke Lacrosse players are all rapists letter”? If so, I don’t give two fucks from Thursday what he has to say.

  48. Here are some more highlights:

    “The assimilation index is low overall, and has been at a steady low level since 1990. This 16-year period is unique, however, in that it coupled a rapid increase in the immigrant population with virtually no change in the composite assimilation index or its components. Over the past few years, in fact, there has been some evidence of an upward trend in assimilation. Rapid growth of the immigrant population, which would tend to depress the assimilation index on its own, was offset by stronger upward trends in assimilation for immigrants remaining in the United States. These strong upward trends are most obvious along economic and civic dimensions. Cultural assimilation shows less evidence of increasing strongly as immigrants spend more time in this country, except among cohorts arriving within the past decade.”

    That doesn’t sound so good. Neither does this:

    “Vietnamese immigrants, taken as a whole, are well on track to be considered successful. Mexican immigrants, by contrast, display much more worrisome patterns.” Or this:

    “children of Mexican immigrants have had below-average assimilation-index values for the entire period since 1980.”

    Or this:

    “young immigrants born outside of Mexico are less likely to be incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized than natives in the same age group. Among those aged 12-24, the rate in the immigrant population is 1.0%, while in the native-born population it is 1.4%. Thus, the assimilation index treats institutionalization as a distinctively native characteristic. Mexican immigrants, however, have an institutionalization rate of 1.8%.”

    Or this conclusion:

    “As seen in this brief analysis, immigrants born in Mexico and most immigrants groups born elsewhere prove to be on a separate trajectory.”

  49. But shit, it’s not a fucking abomination of our country’s flag if they refuse to learn the language.

    In Detroit, we have a century old catholic church that still celebrates mass in German.* People find it cute, not threatening.

    * Not every mass, just once on days of obligation.

  50. “By world standards, it isn’t. Not even remotely.”

    The world is a pretty shitty standard.

  51. …everyone knows that most libertarians are White Christian Males.

    And I thought Libertarians were all godless, dope smoking atheists. I want my money back!

  52. The NYSun link posted above is from someone who works at the ManhattanInstitute, so presumably he’s familiar with the study.

    Familiar in what way? Does he have the background in any relevant subject to opine on the matter?

    The study was from a guy at Duke. MI may have commissioned it, but that doesn’t imply that a janitor who works there has any particular insight into the study.

  53. In Detroit, we have a century old catholic church that still celebrates mass in German.

    I thought Vatican II made it so mass is always said in English. Otherwise, what was the point of it?

  54. So should we have an immigration pause? Based on Vigdor’s report, the answer is yes. As he bserves, “immigrants originating in different nations have also had very different experiences. Mexican immigrants, who find themselves at the center of current policy debates, show evidence of assimilating very slowly in comparison with other contemporary immigrant groups.” Since Mexicans arrive in far higher numbers than other groups, reducing the number of Mexican immigrants might go a long way to helping them assimilate better.

  55. So should we have an immigration pause? Based on Vigdor’s report, the answer is yes.

    Based on Vigdor’s report and a belief that his findings on assimilation trump every other concern one might have.

  56. Tancredo, et al have been wrong all along. Doesn’t matter – the Lonewackos of this world will continue to hear what they want to hear…

  57. And so will the Weigels and Walshes…

  58. Sorry, but it seems no one here has the intellectually curiosity to read the report.
    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_53.htm

    After collapsing from 1964 until 1983, the Assimilation index has only marginally decreased since 1984.

    The Washington Post reporter, N.C. Aizenman, bopth lied and spun, and a hack for the open borders fanatics at Reson spread the lie.
    I’m shocked.

  59. My intellectual curiosity impugned, I disregarded my earlier presumption that such assimilation metrics are not particularly important and read the report. I now have even more reason to believe that such assimilation metrics are not particularly important.

    Don’t get me wrong: It looks like an enjoyable statistical exercise, and there may be interesting subsets of data and results involved. But the grand metrics should not have any but the most marginal place in the immigration debate.

    Suffice it to say that a metric that finds India to be the second least assimilated country of origin after Mexico does not offer much insight into whether immigration is good or bad for the US.

  60. Incidentally, because the assimilation metrics have so little relevance to any normative measure of goodness, and because those metrics bend like reeds before the particular characteristics of the immigrants du jour, evidence for pretty much every conclusion that has been mentioned in the original posting and on this thread can be found in the article.

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