Part II: A Response to 
Samuel Huntington's "The Hispanic Challenge"



In Part I, I covered the topic of illegal immigration, focusing in particular on the fiscal impact and impact on crime of (illegal) immigration (among other things). Part I-A has an Afterword, where the real world example of the California strawberry industry is covered, largely using extracts from Eric Schlosser's excellent book "Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market".

This part is in some sense a follow-up to Part I, but it is largely a response to Samuel Huntington's essay in Foreign Policy magazine titled "The Hispanic Challenge" (link via Dan Drezner). 

I recommend Huntington's essay to everyone seriously interested in understanding immigration issues, in part because I have found his past work interesting (I will abbreviate all references to him in the succeeding paragraphs with "SH"). I have previously quoted from his "The Clash of Civilizations..." and favorably commented on its main thesis (which is not the same as saying I agree with everything in that book). I also have his Clash book listed as one my recommended books

There are thought-provoking points that SH makes in his "Hispanic Challenge" essay - and I will highlight a few of them that I found most pertinent. Nevertheless, I believe his essay is incomplete and sometimes deeply flawed in its emphasis or thesis, and misses a big reason for the illegal immigration problem. In the following, I will explore select portions of his essay and provide appropriate comments/critiques.

My responses are grouped under the following headers.

B. Race, Religion, Diversity

C. Language

D. Demand for Illegal Mexican Immigrants

E. Contiguity and Assimilation

F. Allegiance to America

G. Youth "Bulge" (impact on crime and welfare) and Work Ethic

H. Conclusions 

[NOTE: I am NOT listing extracts from SH's essay in the same sequence that he has them in his essay. I am listing them grouped under topics and issues of my choosing. However, I have tried my best to not make his quotes appear out of context.]


With World War II and the assimilation of large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants and their offspring into U.S. society, ethnicity virtually disappeared as a defining component of national identity. So did race, following the achievements of the civil rights movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Americans now see and endorse their country as multiethnic and multiracial. As a result, American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed...

I can take an educated guess at what SH means when he says that race virtually disappeared as a defining component of national identity after the Civil Rights movement of mid-to-late 90s, and that Americans subsequently saw their country as multiethnic and multiracial. As a broad statement this may have a kernel of truth to it, but it must be pointed out that it is oversimplified and cloaks the nuance and critical detail below the surface of that statement. The matter of race, especially in the context of African-Americans is a topic of vast complexity, that has been explored in a remarkable, scholarly work that I have recently completed reading: Whitewashing Race : The Myth of a Color-Blind Society by Michael K. Brown, Martin Carnoy, Elliott Currie, Troy Duster, and David B. Oppenheimer. This book is an eRiposte recommended book, which I expect to cover in some detail sometime in the coming months. 

Most Americans see the creed as the crucial element of their national identity. The creed, however, was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers. Key elements of that culture include the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law, including the responsibility of rulers and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a “city on a hill.” Historically, millions of immigrants were attracted to the United States because of this culture and the economic opportunities and political liberties it made possible.

SH is largely correct here, but I wonder if his inclusion of "Christianity" and "religious commitment" is somewhat overemphasized. If anything, the separation of Church and State is probably a more important part of the Anglo-Protestant creed that has been a key factor in shaping the future of this country. As Fareed Zakaria has laid out elegantly in his must-read book The Future of Freedom, the fact that true democracy in America was preceded by what he calls "constitutional liberalism" (a way of life focusing on individual liberties, rule of law, separation of powers, separation of Church and State, independent judiciary (etc.), and a quasi-free-market economic model built with an emphasis on the middle class) likely played a key role in creating a free, stable and economically powerful America. 
Most of the other factors identified by Huntington were indeed important in the evolution of a wealthy and libertarian America. Huntington could probably have emphasized the importance that Americans gave to property rights more explicitly, since this has been one of the more fundamental reasons for the success of American capitalism as both Zakaria and Hernando de Soto - in the remarkable, must-read book "The Mystery of Capital"- have pointed out. But, I will assume this is implicit in SH's recognition of the role of "rights of individuals".  

In the final decades of the 20th century, however, the United States' Anglo-Protestant culture and the creed that it produced came under assault by the popularity in intellectual and political circles of the doctrines of multiculturalism and diversity; the rise of group identities based on race, ethnicity, and gender over national identity; the impact of transnational cultural diasporas; the expanding number of immigrants with dual nationalities and dual loyalties; and the growing salience for U.S. intellectual, business, and political elites of cosmopolitan and transnational identities.

(a) SH says the "creed...came under assault by the popularity in intellectual and political circles of the doctrines of multiculturalism and diversity". At the same time he earlier applauds the fact that Americans view their country as being "multiethnic and multiracial". Multiculturalism and diversity are an integral part of multiethnicity and multiracialism. It is unrealistic to expect the latter to be non-existent when the former exists and is celebrated.
(b) SH also laments "
the rise of group identities based on race, ethnicity, and gender over national identity". I don't particularly see any evidence for the rise of "gender" identity over national identity in his essay. However, with respect to race and ethnicity, SH does provide some evidence in the context of migrants (legal or illegal) from Latin America, especially Mexico. Group identity has pros and cons (I'll explore the pros subsequently) but I agree with SH that citizens of the United States, regardless of their country of origin, simply cannot be *first* claiming allegiance to other countries (over the U.S.), including their country of origin (more on this later). The aspect that would have been more interesting to explore is whether naturalized American citizens originally hailing from Mexico feel the same as permanent residents or temporary workers (legal or illegal). SH also brings up the issue of "the expanding number of immigrants with dual nationalities and dual loyalties". This is clearly a serious issue worthy of further debate because dual citizenship raises legitimate questions of allegiance.  

C. LANGUAGE (last updated 3/22/04)

Americans have tended to generalize about immigrants without distinguishing among them and have focused on the economic costs and benefits of immigration, ignoring its social and cultural consequences. As a result, they have overlooked the unique characteristics and problems posed by contemporary Hispanic immigration. The extent and nature of this immigration differ fundamentally from those of previous immigration, and the assimilation successes of the past are unlikely to be duplicated with the contemporary flood of immigrants from Latin America. This reality poses a fundamental question: Will the United States remain a country with a single national language and a core Anglo-Protestant culture? By ignoring this question, Americans acquiesce to their eventual transformation into two peoples with two cultures (Anglo and Hispanic) and two languages (English and Spanish).

SH raises a valid question here: "Will the United States remain a country with a single national language and a core Anglo-Protestant culture?". Being of Indian origin, let me share some perspective on the importance of language. 
As this website points out

India has 18 officially spoken recognized languages. However, English continues to be an accepted means of communication.

Note that English is NOT one of those 18 languages. Another point to note is that an estimated 40% of Indians in 1991 spoke Hindi. If you randomly search the web for other sites talking about India and languages you will also see that in addition to these officially recognized languages, there are numerous unofficial languages, not to mention probably hundreds to thousands or more dialects. Indian states were mostly drawn up based on the prevalence of a particular language (and thus culture). 

All in all, this is a picture that gives the impression of Indian states being linguistically sequestered or isolated. That impression, however, is only partly correct. While it may be literally true, the reality is that India is a vibrant, though-imperfect, democracy gradually becoming more capitalistic since the 1990s. English, while not one of the officially recognized languages, is perhaps the most important mode of communication between people from different states, between people and the Government, between State/Central/Foreign Governments and in general commerce. India's recent successes in taking jobs away from Western countries stems largely from its English-educated middle and upper classes (not to mention the relatively high quality of its English-based education system overall). The message I want to convey here is that a country that appears, at face value, to be dominated by languages other than English (especially by Hindi), is actually giving people in countries where English is the native (or most important language) a run for their money. I won't go into the historical reasons for the importance English has played in India as an associate language (some of you can surely guess) but the net result is that people conversant with two (often more) languages can do very well for their country as a whole. India will probably continue to have an advantage over China for some years, in attracting business from English-speaking countries, but time will tell whether India is successful in attracting (services-related) business from non-English speaking countries. The operating language is English now, but worldwide demographic shifts will determine whether English remains the most important language in the future. 

So, returning to the question posed by SH, the real question should not be whether America will remain a country with a single national language, but rather whether the growth of dual or multiple languages will necessarily compromise national identity and America's combination of constitutional liberalism and democracy. In principle, I don't see an overt connection between language and Americanism, but if the emergence of Spanish as a second, semi-official language is only a symptom of a deeper structural issue, then the future of the America will need to be assessed (and this does not mean the future will necessarily tilt the way SH thinks it will). I explore this further in Section F below. 

SH also examines the statements of supporters of bilingualism (largely meaning English and Spanish) in the U.S.

Mexican immigration is fundamentally different. These differences combine to make the assimilation of Mexicans into U.S. culture and society much more difficult than it was for previous immigrants. Particularly striking in contrast to previous immigrants is the failure of third- and fourth-generation people of Mexican origin to approximate U.S. norms in education, economic status, and intermarriage rates.
The size, persistence, and concentration of Hispanic immigration tends to perpetuate the use of Spanish through successive generations. The evidence on English acquisition and Spanish retention among immigrants is limited and ambiguous.
Although second- and third-generation Mexican Americans and other Hispanics acquire competence in English, they also appear to deviate from the usual pattern by maintaining their competence in Spanish. Second- or third-generation Mexican Americans who were brought up speaking only English have learned Spanish as adults and are encouraging their children to become fluent in it. Spanish-language competence, University of New Mexico professor F. Chris Garcia has stated, is “the one thing every Hispanic takes pride in, wants to protect and promote.”
A persuasive case can be made that, in a shrinking world, all Americans should know at least one important foreign language—Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, French, German, or Spanish—so as to understand a foreign culture and communicate with its people. It is quite different to argue that Americans should know a non-English language in order to communicate with their fellow citizens. Yet that is what the Spanish-language advocates have in mind. Strengthened by the growth of Hispanic numbers and influence, Hispanic leaders are actively seeking to transform the United States into a bilingual society...
Hispanic organizations play a central role in inducing the U.S. Congress to authorize cultural maintenance programs in bilingual education; as a result, children are slow to join mainstream classes. The continuing huge inflow of migrants makes it increasingly possible for Spanish speakers in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles to live normal lives without knowing English. Sixty-five percent of the children in bilingual education in New York are Spanish speakers and hence have little incentive or need to use English in school.
Dual-language programs, which go one step beyond bilingual education, have become increasingly popular. In these programs, students are taught in both English and Spanish on an alternating basis with a view to making English-speakers fluent in Spanish and Spanish-speakers fluent in English, thus making Spanish the equal of English and transforming the United States into a two-language country. Then U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley explicitly endorsed these programs in his March 2000 speech, “Excelencia para Todos—Excellence for all.” Civil rights organizations, church leaders (particularly Catholic ones), and many politicians (Republican as well as Democrat) support the impetus toward bilingualism.
Perhaps equally important, business groups seeking to corner the Hispanic market support bilingualism as well. Indeed, the orientation of U.S. businesses to Hispanic customers means they increasingly need bilingual employees; therefore, bilingualism is affecting earnings...
In the debates over language policy, the late California Republican Senator S.I. Hayakawa once highlighted the unique role of Hispanics in opposing English. “Why is it that no Filipinos, no Koreans object to making English the official language? No Japanese have done so. And certainly not the Vietnamese, who are so damn happy to be here. They're learning English as fast as they can and winning spelling bees all across the country. But the Hispanics alone have maintained there is a problem. There [has been] considerable movement to make Spanish the second official language.”...

Personally, it seems to me that SH's main concern is with forced bilingualism but I could be wrong. I have a hard time believing that second (or subsequent generation) Mexican-Americans would have little interest in learning English per se, especially because they go to schools where English is largely the medium of instruction. I also wonder if businesses are really seeking forced bilingualism, rather than those who happen to be bilingual. But before I address bilingualism, let me state the following. I have no objection to Mexican immigrants wanting their children to learn, and become fluent in, Spanish (in addition to English). I think it is worth applauding. I also think that if business imperatives dictate the need to hire employees who know Spanish and English, so be it. If State Governments fund optional classes for students in their schools to allow them to learn Spanish, that is also reasonable and acceptable, given the potential advantages such classes may offer to its students later in life. 

However, I do draw the line at bilingual education at taxpayer expense. I can see no reason to expend general taxpayer funds to schools focusing on bilingual education, regardless of its potential benefits to the students in the long-term. Such a form of education, in my view, is a luxury, not a necessity. If it is very important for students living in a certain locality to learn Spanish, they are free to take second-language Spanish classes in their schools. But, asking of teachers that they teach regular subjects in English *and* Spanish is as unacceptable as my expecting bilingual education in other language combinations. Moreover, what special value does education conducted in Spanish ADD that education in English does not? Has it made Spanish-speaking countries of the world the most economically or culturally dominant or powerful? No. Is Spanish the #1 spoken language in the world? No. [Chinese (Mandarin) would easily beat Spanish, but I don't hear a clamor to make American schools bilingual with English and Mandarin.] 

Let me add some more perspective from India. There has always been tension between the southern and northern states in India about using Hindi as an official language for Government business. The South, especially the state of Tamil Nadu (native language Tamil), has always objected vehemently to Hindi (the most common language in North India) being forced down its throat. Luckily, English came along as an unlikely, neutral savior. Given the propensity for English-proficient countries to dominate the world economy, India's focus on educating its middle and upper classes in English has paid off handsomely. Indeed, most well-recognized schools in India have been teaching subjects in English for a long time now, rather than using the State's language. It has not prevented Indians from not knowing their local language as a result. The ability to converse with friends and family in the native tongue, coupled with optional native language classes and English education, has enabled Indians to be bi- or multi-lingual without the need for bilingual education. 

The lessons I draw from India are the following. 
(i) Government sponsored bilingual education is largely a waste of taxpayer funds.
(ii) Citizens can become bilingual in the U.S. (i.e., learn a language other than English) through interactions with their community and the use of second-language classes. In this context, less dispersed (i.e., concentrated) Mexican-American communities can actually help in making their children bilingual.
(iii) Those who wish to improve their employment chances by becoming bilingual should do so on their own, without the need to depend on the Government to invest in measures with dubious or irrelevant returns to the country as a whole.

Let me re-emphasize my point by calling out (again) a specific portion of SH's essay:

A persuasive case can be made that, in a shrinking world, all Americans should know at least one important foreign language—Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, French, German, or Spanish—so as to understand a foreign culture and communicate with its people. It is quite different to argue that Americans should know a non-English language in order to communicate with their fellow citizens. Yet that is what the Spanish-language advocates have in mind. 

While I find nothing wrong with the wishes of some Mexican-American leaders that their community's children become proficient in Spanish, it would be a fallacy if anyone insisted that bilingual education is required for children to become comfortably conversant in more than one language - especially considering the close-knit communities that Mexican-Americans live in. Governments in the U.S. should not fall for this rhetoric in an attempt to win votes. A unified front irrespective of political party affiliations will convey this message to any Mexican-American/Hispanic leaders who advocate such policies. The combination of English-based education, optional Spanish classes and parents/adults who speak Spanish to the children in their communities, should more than suffice - to achieve what these leaders want. To ask for anything more is inconsistent with experience - even in developing countries like India.  

[NOTE: Dan Drezner has a link to a David Brooks (whom I don't particularly enjoy reading) column, where Brooks states:

In their book, "Remaking the American Mainstream," Richard Alba of SUNY-Albany and Victor Nee of Cornell point out that though there are some border neighborhoods where immigrants are slow to learn English, Mexicans nationwide know they must learn it to get ahead. By the third generation, 60 percent of Mexican-American children speak only English at home.

I have no idea if Brooks is accurately representing Alba and Nee, but if he is, his point is worth noting. One (of numerous) reasons I express some skepticism at Brooks' writing is his following paragraph:

Nor is it true that Mexican immigrants are scuttling along the bottom of the economic ladder. An analysis of 2000 census data by the USC urban planner Dowell Myers suggests that Latinos are quite adept at climbing out of poverty. Sixty-eight percent of those who have been in this country 30 years own their own homes.

Owning a home is one possible metric for evaluating someone's economic status in life, but by itself it is a misleading metric (not just because it says nothing about debt to income ratios). It is well-known that Hispanics' median incomes are second lowest in the U.S., just barely above that of African-Americans. This is not to say that Mexican-Americans are not capable of doing better; a careful study of the experience of Mexican-Americans in America, at the hands of mainstream America, will likely reveal more about challenges they face in their attempts to succeed economically. More on this in Section E. To give Brooks some credit, he does say this towards the end of his op-ed piece:

Huntington is right that Mexican-Americans lag at school. But that's in part because we've failed them. Our integration machinery is broken.

UPDATE 3/3/04: Brooks proves I was too hasty to give him credit. His latest op-ed is filled with such nonsense that I wouldn't know where to start to point out all of it. Here's an example:

[Edwards] suggests that if we could take money from the rich and special interests, there'd be more for the underprivileged. 
This kind of talk is descended from Marxist theory, which holds that we live in the thrall of economic conditions. What the poor primarily need is more money, the theory goes.
The core assumption is that economic forces determine culture and shape behavior.
Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that liberals have it backward. In reality, culture shapes economics. A person's behavior determines his or her economic destiny...We've now had a 40-year experiment to determine which side is right, and while both arguments have merit, it's clear the conservatives have a more accurate view of poverty.

I wonder if I should laugh or cry at this claptrap. 

As I point out in Section G below, conservatives like Brooks love to keep pointing out how the rich need higher income through tax cuts (their "behavior" is insufficient to shape their "economic destiny", you see) -- to be motivated enough and work hard and create more wealth (as this economic theory says "What the rich primarily need is more money"). On the other hand, these "conservatives" believe that the poor are perhaps so "culturally" or "behaviorally" challenged that increasing their income or equivalently reducing their taxes proportionately (say through reductions in payroll taxes) would do little for their motivation to work hard! Not to mention Brooks' delusions about who was receiving welfare in the last "40 years".]

D. DEMAND FOR (POORLY PAID) ILLEGAL MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS - a widely underemphasized problem

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act contained provisions to legalize the status of existing illegal immigrants and to reduce future illegal immigration through employer sanctions and other means. The former goal was achieved: Some 3.1 million illegal immigrants, about 90 percent of them from Mexico, became legal “green card” residents of the United States. But the latter goal remains elusive. Estimates of the total number of illegal immigrants in the United States rose from 4 million in 1995 to 6 million in 1998, to 7 million in 2000, and to between 8 and 10 million by 2003. Mexicans accounted for 58 percent of the total illegal population in the United States in 1990; by 2000, an estimated 4.8 million illegal Mexicans made up 69 percent of that population.

This is where I believe SH unfortunately under-emphasizes the most significant aspect of the problem. Let me repeat the key portion: "...The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act contained reduce future illegal immigration through employer sanctions...But [this] goal remains elusive...". 

As I said in Part I,

A fact often ignored by critics of illegal immigrants is that illegal immigrants come to this country because there is history of people - usually corporations (including agribusinesses) - hiring them. I am willing to bet that the supply of illegal immigrants into the U.S. would abate significantly (of course it won't disappear entirely) if they were not really needed and used. Expressed in another way, it is a matter of supply and demand. There will be little in the way of supply if real demand did not exist
Clearly, if one believes that illegal immigration has to be stopped, merely penalizing those who enter the country illegally will not solve the problem - penalizing those who hire them all the time (mostly businesses/companies) is also a must. This is not simply a matter of punishing companies/businesses for committing an illegal act. Rather, it has more to do with the fact that such companies boost their profit margins by paying illegal immigrants egregiously low salaries with limited or no benefits, thereby forcing the state or local governments to bear much of the costs of living (including education) of the immigrants and their families.
When companies employ, but refuse to pay decent wages to, illegal immigrants, this is a multiple-whammy to legal residents and citizens.
(i) They have less jobs available as a result.
(ii) Companies are able to depress wages overall, reducing the bargaining power of legal employees - thereby gradually lowering the latter's quality of life.
(iii) By paying illegal immigrants poor wages, they create a poor quality of life for illegal immigrants. This has cascading effects. Local/State Governments may be forced to pay for the welfare or education (usually the latter dominates) of the immigrants' families using taxpayer funds that are disproportionately from legal residents/citizens. In cases where the illegal immigrants' localities are subject to high crime driven by sheer poverty, the State Government is also forced to use taxpayer money (disproportionately from legal residents/citizens) to build more prisons.
All of the above just because some corporate executives or business owners can reap in the big bucks and because the consumer may see somewhat lower costs (assuming the consumer still has his or her job). Get the picture?

In my opinion, SH does great injustice to the debate on illegal immigration from Mexico by paying little attention to the demand side of the problem. If businesses do not hire illegal immigrants, there is not only less incentive for them to come here, there is also far less incentive to argue on their behalf saying that they hold jobs and have contributed to the American economy. I am all for legal immigration based on sound policy, but when administrations (such as the current one) or lawmakers (including some Democrats) are concerned largely with the ability of their corporate contributors to lower the wages they pay to their workers and enrich their own wallets as a result, there is little fairness in today's illegal immigration debate - a debate that often uses exaggerated claims relating to crime and welfare associated with illegal immigrants to shift the focus away from the most important reason for the problem.

UPDATE (3/3/04): Dan Drezner (whom I incidentally sent a note to with a link to this page) has his own response to SH in The New Republic (link via his website). Drezner says:

Indeed, Huntington is correct to point out that Mexican immigrants are poorer and less well educated than either native-born Americans or other immigrant groups. But that's an economic argument that is irrelevant to Huntington's core thesis, which takes as its focus questions of culture and identity. On those fronts, his argument has some significant flaws.
Huntington is right about at least one general point: America's current immigration situation is far from perfect. Illegal immigration remains an unsolved problem. The official U.S. immigration policy of prioritizing family reunification over educational attainment makes little economic sense, and is worthy of further debate. Huntington is correct to highlight the educational deficit of Mexican immigrants as a first step to addressing the problem.

Drezner is correct in that SH barely addresses the economic aspects of immigration. However, Drezner, by therefore largely ignoring economic considerations in his response, fails to ask whether the trends in economic progress for past immigrants to the U.S. from Europe and for more recent Mexican immigrants to the U.S. (in the past 2-3 decades, for instance) are comparable/similar. After all, if Mexicans are indeed coming to the US to achieve the American dream, one must ask how they have been doing so far compared to American citizens, from an income/wealth standpoint. As I pointed out above, the median income of Hispanics (not sure how Mexican-Americans are placed within the Hispanic category) has been barely above that of African-Americans and well below that of Whites and Asians for a few decades now. It would therefore be interesting to find out how the incomes of early European immigrants evolved in comparison to American citizens in the corresponding period. I think that will provide a much better predictor of the future of Mexican-Americans in the U.S. (as a whole) than mere comparisons of factors that are far less important. 
Additionally, Drezner only briefly hints at the challenge of illegal immigration saying it "remains an unsolved problem". He ignores the fact that illegal immigration is fueled by demand from American companies for low-wage workers - and all the consequences that follow from it (that I have discussed above).

Matthew Yglesias in his own post I think makes the same ommission. As I wrote in the comments section to Drezner's blog post, clearly, there is no fundamental reason why Mexican immigrants cannot be economically successful. But, their capability is one thing and the conduciveness of their environment (in the US) in helping them build their wealth successfully is another thing. There is so much in that context that I fear all these takedowns of Huntington have missed. Huntington's points on culture and identity are the easiest to critique; his lack of attention to the root cause of illegal immigration and the economic/fiscal issues surrounding that are in my opinion the most significant problems with his essay.


The United States is now confronted by a massive influx of people from a poor, contiguous country with more than one third the population of the United States...
This situation is unique for the United States and the world. No other First World country has such an extensive land frontier with a Third World country. The significance of the long Mexican-U.S. border is enhanced by the economic differences between the two countries. “The income gap between the United States and Mexico,” Stanford University historian David Kennedy has pointed out, “is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world.” Contiguity enables Mexican immigrants to remain in intimate contact with their families, friends, and home localities in Mexico as no other immigrants have been able to do [eRiposte emphasis].
Contiguity, however, obviously encourages immigration.

SH's argument to be cautious about Mexican immigration is worth noting (especially for policy-makers). At the same time, there is one aspect of his statement about contiguity that should be explored a little further. If contiguity helps contact with family, it might be reasonable to expect that this could also have a beneficial impact in making it easier for immigrants to deal with the challenges of living in a different country.  To understand this better let us consider the results shown in my Part I article, on the relationship between immigrants and imprisonment rates in the U.S. What did we learn there? 
We learnt that research shows that Mexican immigrants, while having a nearly 2X imprisonment rate compared to American citizens overall, have actually had (in past studies) an incarceration rate almost identical to that of American citizens when age and gender are taken into account. In other words, the disproportionate presence of youth in the Mexican immigrant population partly explains their higher imprisonment rate relative to that of American citizens as a whole. What we also learnt was that Cuban immigrants have a disproportionately high imprisonment rate that cannot be explained even if age and gender are taken into account. Given that SH gives Cuban-Americans in Miami relatively positive mention (relatively, with respect to Mexican immigrants), one has to ask why immigrants of Cuban origin are imprisoned at rates that are ~3X that of Americans and Mexican immigrants of the same age and gender. Could it have something to do with the fact that Mexican immigrants have greater ties to family (through contiguity with and access to Mexico) and therefore actually feel less stressed or isolated in a relatively foreign land? I don't know, but this is a possibility that should be considered more carefully.

The U.S. Founding Fathers considered the dispersion of immigrants essential to their assimilation. That has been the pattern historically and continues to be the pattern for most contemporary non-Hispanic immigrants. Hispanics, however, have tended to concentrate regionally: Mexicans in Southern California, Cubans in Miami, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans (the last of whom are not technically immigrants) in New York. The more concentrated immigrants become, the slower and less complete is their assimilation.

SH's point about assimilation may have some validity but he may be confusing cause and effect. Even in Mexican-Americans are not broadly assimilated in American society, this does not necessarily mean that they don't want to be assimilated. Their demographics could easily be the result of factors not entirely within their control. For instance, let us say his assertion has a kernel of truth to it. Now, without detailed statistics on the detailed distribution of Mexican immigrants we are talking about generalities here - so let us assume that his statements refer mostly to the lower income segment (assimilation is obviously a function of income and wealth). In this case, a more thorough examination of the reasons why lower-income Mexican immigrants might prefer regional concentration to broad assimilation or distribution should be conducted first. Clearly, social and cultural comfort zones play a role in this (which may actually have some benefits in providing a social support structure), but more importantly, I suspect a study of the African-American experience in America (especially why low income Blacks often - but certainly not always - tend to be concentrated near inner cities) may provide some clues. Given the history of racism, prejudice and disinvestment Blacks have suffered in America, as explained in detail in the superb "Whitewashing Race : The Myth of a Color-Blind Society" by Michael K. Brown et al., it would not surprise me if partly similar experiences at the hands of mainstream America could have resulted in low-income Hispanic immigrants' relative isolation (and other demographics, including general achievement) compared to other ethnic groups. I will of course concede that my comment is speculative, but it does not mean it is implausible and I would certainly be interested in systematic research on this topic.  

(SH's point that "There is no Americano dream. There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society." seems over the top to the point of sounding ridiculous.)

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias says:

I continue to find this idea of Huntington's to be quite absurd. My granfather was born into one of these hated immigrant communities where everyone spoke Spanish, and now look at me. Or look at the neighborhood. Now I live in a neighborhood where immigrants from El Salvador and their descendents are in the plurality, and it's very clear that most people are at least semi-integrated into the surrounding Anglo- and Afro-American cultures and that the trend will continue the longer people live in the country. My roommate's parents came to this country from Mexico, he went to Harvard, he's now working for a Southwestern US Senator and trying to improve his Spanish skills so that his boss can do a better job of reaching out to his many Latino constituents, thus better integrating them into American political life.

It appears to me that Matthew is trying to frame SH's claim on lack of assimilation as one based on anecdotal evidence. Alas, Matthew offers only anecdotal evidence in response. So, going back to what I was saying above, even if it is true that low-income Mexican-Americans have assimilated less than other immigrant communities (and I don't have any statistical evidence yet to say it is not), this is not necessarily a bad thing at this point in time (as I have explained). What is more important is to understand the root cause of this (assuming it is true) and see if something can be done to increase the integration of Mexican-Americans without making life more difficult for them as a result. 

Via Matthew Yglesias, here's Gregory Rodriguez writing in the Los Angeles Times:

As do many other contemporary scholars, Huntington overemphasizes both the influence of multiculturalism on immigrants and the coercive nature of assimilation. His theory suggests that Mexican Americans living in a majority-Hispanic region will have neither the desire nor the need to assimilate. He assumes that the presence of large numbers of Anglos is the sine qua non of assimilation. But places like south Texas have had majority-Hispanic populations for years, and separatism — political, cultural or economic — is nowhere to be found. Last week, Laredo, Texas, which has been overwhelmingly Hispanic since its founding in 1755, culminated its annual George Washington's birthday celebration, the largest in the nation. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of allied occupation forces in Iraq, grew up in nearby Starr County, which is 98% Mexican American.

ANOTHER UPDATE (3/3/04): Dan Drezner provides a useful reference to evaluate SH's claims on the education levels/assimilation of Mexican immigrants, pointing out that German immigrants were viewed similarly by people like Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Schlesinger, and they ended up being wrong. Drezner also makes a reasonable case against SH's thesis in the context of language and population/distribution/contiguity. One specific point of Drezner is worth noting:

In addition to these flaws, the argument contains a final oddity: It undercuts Huntington's contentions about identity from Clash of Civilizations. That book argued that religion was the most important indicator for cultural identity, followed by language. Hispanics are certainly not outliers from the American mainstream in terms of religious affiliation, and to date they are no different from other immigrant groups in terms of language assimilation. Huntington concluded in his 1996 book that "the cultural distance between Mexico and the United States is far less than that between Turkey and Europe." Furthermore, he acknowledged in Clash that if any culture is changing in the Western Hemisphere, it is the one south of the Rio Grande: "Mexico has attempted to redefine itself from a Latin American to a North American identity and Chile and other states may follow," he wrote. "In the end, Latin American civilization could merge into and become one subvariant of a three-pronged Western civilization."


We now come to a part of SH's essay where he raises the issue of allegiance. I will first quote significant portions of SH's essay to underscore the issue.

No other immigrant group in U.S. history has asserted or could assert a historical claim to U.S. territory. Mexicans and Mexican Americans can and do make that claim. Almost all of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah was part of Mexico until Mexico lost them as a result of the Texan War of Independence in 1835-1836 and the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. Mexico is the only country that the United States has invaded, occupied its capital—placing the Marines in the “halls of Montezuma”—and then annexed half its territory. Mexicans do not forget these events. Quite understandably, they feel that they have special rights in these territories. “Unlike other immigrants,” Boston College political scientist Peter Skerry notes, “Mexicans arrive here from a neighboring nation that has suffered military defeat at the hands of the United States; and they settle predominantly in a region that was once part of their homeland…. Mexican Americans enjoy a sense of being on their own turf that is not shared by other immigrants.”
Massive Hispanic immigration affects the United States in two significant ways: Important portions of the country become predominantly Hispanic in language and culture, and the nation as a whole becomes bilingual and bicultural. The most important area where Hispanization is proceeding rapidly is, of course, the Southwest. As historian Kennedy argues, Mexican Americans in the Southwest will soon have “sufficient coherence and critical mass in a defined region so that, if they choose, they can preserve their distinctive culture indefinitely. They could also eventually undertake to do what no previous immigrant group could have dreamed of doing: challenge the existing cultural, political, legal, commercial, and educational systems to change fundamentally not only the language but also the very institutions in which they do business.”
Anecdotal evidence of such challenges abounds. In 1994, Mexican Americans vigorously demonstrated against California's Proposition 187—which limited welfare benefits to children of illegal immigrants—by marching through the streets of Los Angeles waving scores of Mexican flags and carrying U.S. flags upside down. In 1998, at a Mexico-United States soccer match in Los Angeles, Mexican Americans booed the U.S. national anthem and assaulted U.S. players. Such dramatic rejections of the United States and assertions of Mexican identity are not limited to an extremist minority in the Mexican-American community. Many Mexican immigrants and their offspring simply do not appear to identify primarily with the United States.
Empirical evidence confirms such appearances. A 1992 study of children of immigrants in Southern California and South Florida posed the following question: “How do you identify, that is, what do you call yourself?” None of the children born in Mexico answered “American,” compared with 1.9 percent to 9.3 percent of those born elsewhere in Latin America or the Caribbean. The largest percentage of Mexican-born children (41.2 percent) identified themselves as “Hispanic,” and the second largest (36.2 percent) chose “Mexican.” Among Mexican-American children born in the United States, less than 4 percent responded “American,” compared to 28.5 percent to 50 percent of those born in the United States with parents from elsewhere in Latin America. Whether born in Mexico or in the United States, Mexican children overwhelmingly did not choose “American” as their primary identification.
Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway. A meaningful move to reunite these territories with Mexico seems unlikely, but Prof. Charles Truxillo of the University of New Mexico predicts that by 2080 the southwestern states of the United States and the northern states of Mexico will form La República del Norte (The Republic of the North). Various writers have referred to the southwestern United States plus northern Mexico as “MexAmerica” or “Amexica” or “Mexifornia.” “We are all Mexicans in this valley,” a former county commissioner of El Paso, Texas, declared in 2001.
Since the 1980s, however, the Mexican government has sought to expand the numbers, wealth, and political power of the Mexican community in the U.S. Southwest and to integrate that population with Mexico. “The Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders,” Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo said in the 1990s. His successor, Vicente Fox, called Mexican emigrants “heroes” and describes himself as president of 123 million Mexicans, 100 million in Mexico and 23 million in the United States.
As their numbers increase, Mexican Americans feel increasingly comfortable with their own culture and often contemptuous of American culture. They demand recognition of their culture and the historic Mexican identity of the U.S. Southwest. They call attention to and celebrate their Hispanic and Mexican past...As the New York Times reported in September 1999, Hispanic growth has been able to “help ‘Latinize' many Hispanic people who are finding it easier to affirm their heritage…. [T]hey find strength in numbers, as younger generations grow up with more ethnic pride and as a Latin influence starts permeating fields such as entertainment, advertising, and politics.” One index foretells the future: In 1998, “José” replaced “Michael” as the most popular name for newborn boys in both California and Texas...
The persistence of Mexican immigration into the United States reduces the incentives for cultural assimilation. Mexican Americans no longer think of themselves as members of a small minority who must accommodate the dominant group and adopt its culture. As their numbers increase, they become more committed to their own ethnic identity and culture. Sustained numerical expansion promotes cultural consolidation and leads Mexican Americans not to minimize but to glory in the differences between their culture and U.S. culture...

SH provides some anecdotal evidence of pro-Mexican tilt in Mexican-Americans, but it is not clear to me as to how much one can rely on that and limited polling of children to draw broad conclusions about Mexican children or adults across the country. Additionally, one needs to separate the views of illegal immigrants, legal immigrants who are not yet citizens and naturalized citizens to see if there is a progressive trend towards identification with America. One should also look at successive generations of Mexican-Americans carefully to assess if there is a gradual trend of Americanization. Last, but not least, it is also unclear whether the tendency for the claimed pro-Mexico posture could be the result of the treatment or experience of Mexican-Americans here. There are important questions, but SH does not address them substantively, thereby weakening the credibility of his claims and leaving them unconvincing (to me at least). 

Now, if SH's thesis is true (and that's a big if), that some (or many) Mexican-Americans increasingly identify themselves with Mexico rather than the United States, and additionally may even have contempt for the American culture, then this should certainly be a cause for concern for all Americans. On the one hand , it is fully understandable than an ethnic community/minority in the U.S. would want to celebrate the community's culture, roots, language and customs. This should be welcomed, since people in foreign lands are likely to be more comfortable adapting to their new homes if they have the ability to strongly reconnect with where they were originally from. In my case, being from India originally, I take great pride in Indian philosophy, culture, art, music, values, etc., and the occasions I get to celebrate or enjoy these. However, being in the United States, and having been the recipient of this country's friendship and opportunities, I feel a strong sense of allegiance to it. This does not mean I feel no allegiance to India. I do, but even though I am not yet an American citizen, the U.S. has been my home for long and I identify more strongly with America. 

Would I find it disappointing if legal residents or naturalized citizens in America, hailing from other countries, feel a stronger sense of allegiance to their home countries than to America? Yes. Now, in the case of Mexican Americans, I understand that their history vis-a-vis the United States adds a special dimension. Regardless, Mexican-Americans who swear allegiance to Mexico rather than the U.S. run the risk of forgetting the root of their own prosperity here - namely, the values of America. If what SH is claiming is true - namely, that there are some Mexican Americans in the U.S. who crave Mexican values so much that they link themselves to Mexico rather than the U.S. and find American culture inferior, then at the least it would be hypocritical to benefit from the U.S. and root for another state while being an American citizen. If some people swear allegiance to Mexico because of some historic need to retake the American Southwest from the U.S., then without a doubt this is anti-American behavior. If, on the other hand, they swear allegiance to Mexico because they feel unaccepted by mainstream Americans, then that is a serious social policy issue that Americans need to solve by working with Mexican Americans. Regardless, SH neither provides convincing evidence of a significant pro-Mexico tilt, not does he provide enough analysis/context to fully evaluate what all the root causes could be for such a tilt, if one indeed exists

UPDATE: Incidentally, Dan Drezner has posted an update to his original blog post linking to a Chronicle of Higher Education article by David Glenn. In this article, Glenn points out:

Mr. de la Garza, of Columbia, said in an interview that Mr. Huntington's fear that Hispanic immigrants would maintain strong loyalties to their countries of origin was not grounded in empirical fact. Mr. de la Garza cited a 1998 study by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization in Los Angeles, that, he said, demonstrated that Hispanic residents of the United States have a relatively low level of engagement with the politics of their home countries and are much more oriented toward events in the United States.
James P. Smith, a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, said in an interview that Mr. Huntington's analysis appeared not to distinguish fully between the experiences of first-generation immigrants and those of their children and grandchildren.
"It's not unique to him," Mr. Smith said. "He's using the convention of the field, and I think the convention of the field is methodologically flawed."
A more precise analysis would show that Hispanic immigrants have actually made rapid progress from generation to generation, Mr. Smith argued.

Additionally, via Matthew Yglesias, here's Gregory Rodriguez once again, in the Los Angeles Times:

The problem with Huntington's theory is that it doesn't take into account the people whose actions it presumes to predict. In the more than a century and a half of Mexican American history, there has not been one serious, popularly supported movement to wrest control of the Southwest away from the U.S. or to isolate it from the rest of the nation. Nor have Mexican Americans ever shown much interest in distancing themselves from the mainstream by building parallel ethnic institutions.
For example, in Los Angeles, home to more Mexicans than any other city in the U.S., there is not one ethnic Mexican hospital, college, cemetery or broad-based charity. Ignoring Mexicans' history of racial and cultural blending and the reams of survey data that show Mexican Americans place great faith in U.S. institutions, Huntington resorts to sketchy, anecdotal evidence to prove the existence of Mexican American separatism. His examples of rowdy Mexican soccer fans hurling abuse on American players and a quote from a lunatic Chicano studies professor are also cited by Pat Buchanan in his book "The Death of the West." It never occurred to either man that this methodology is akin to gauging the sentiments of Anglo Americans by quoting white supremacist David Duke and citing the antics of Raider fans at the Oakland Coliseum.

Clearly, SH's claim appears extremely shaky to the point of being ridiculous. I look forward to more data on this controversial topic.


Mexican immigration increased steadily after 1965. About 640,000 Mexicans legally migrated to the United States in the 1970s; 1,656,000 in the 1980s; and 2,249,000 in the 1990s. In those three decades, Mexicans accounted for 14 percent, 23 percent, and 25 percent of total legal immigration. These percentages do not equal the rates of immigrants who came from Ireland between 1820 and 1860, or from Germany in the 1850s and 1860s. Yet they are high compared to the highly dispersed sources of immigrants before World War I, and compared to other contemporary immigrants. To them one must also add the huge numbers of Mexicans who each year enter the United States illegally.
Mexican immigrants constituted 27.6 percent of the total foreign-born U.S. population in 2000. The next largest contingents, Chinese and Filipinos, amounted to only 4.9 percent and 4.3 percent of the foreign-born population.
In the 1990s, Mexicans composed more than half of the new Latin American immigrants to the United States and, by 2000, Hispanics totaled about one half of all migrants entering the continental United States...It is estimated Hispanics may constitute up to 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. These changes are driven not just by immigration but also by fertility. In 2002, fertility rates in the United States were estimated at 1.8 for non-Hispanic whites, 2.1 for blacks, and 3.0 for Hispanics. “This is the characteristic shape of developing countries,” The Economist commented in 2002. “As the bulge of Latinos enters peak child-bearing age in a decade or two, the Latino share of America's population will soar.”

The youth "bulge" is a key factor that both supporters of immigration (illegal or legal) and Government policy makers need to consider carefully in reaching a balanced policy position on immigration in general. As much as I have pointed out (earlier) that Mexican immigrants are imprisoned at rates not significantly different from that of American citizens of comparable age and gender, I have also noted that the greater proportion of youth in their population, and their greater fertility rates (which imply a potential increase in their proportion among Mexican-American youth in the future), are facts that cannot be ignored in policy discussions. Note that I am not against population growth per se, but hailing from India - a country where unchecked population growth disproportionate with economic and jobs growth has produced unimaginable poverty (not to mention the overall fiscal, crime and environmental impacts) - it would be remiss of me to not point out the risk of a growing (immigrated or otherwise) population of youth if that population has a hard time finding jobs or jobs with reasonable wages.  (It certainly does not help when an ideological Government that is against family planning is at the helm.)

The impact of Mexican immigration on the United States becomes evident when one imagines what would happen if Mexican immigration abruptly stopped. The annual flow of legal immigrants would drop by about 175,000, closer to the level recommended by the 1990s Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Illegal entries would diminish dramatically. The wages of low-income U.S. citizens would improve...
Bilingual education and the controversies it spawns would virtually disappear, as would controversies over welfare and other benefits for immigrants. The debate over whether immigrants pose an economic burden on state and federal governments would be decisively resolved in the negative. The average education and skills of the immigrants continuing to arrive would reach their highest levels in U.S. history.

Talking of wages of low-income U.S. citizens, I am in complete agreement. But SH's treatment of wages is rather superficial and again ignores the real root cause - businesses who depress wages by hiring illegal immigrants. I covered this at some length in Part I, as well as in Section D above - where I also noted that all the talk of illegal immigrants on welfare unfairly biases the debate in one direction without holding those who leave them at the mercy of welfare rolls accountable. There's nothing more I can add to that. 

At the same time, in the context of the burdens posed by Mexican immigrants on State and Federal Governments, I should remind the reader that the chances of immigrants having a net fiscal benefit (from a tax revenue standpoint) to the United States is significantly tied to their education level. If the U.S. does nothing significant to halt illegal immigration, and States prevent the children of illegal immigrants from getting access to public education, then the long-term consequences could be the worst of all worlds. Illegal immigrants lead to depressed wages and concomitant, higher taxpayer-funded welfare. Their children would remain uneducated and become burdens on society. Unskilled youth would increase the risk of crime rates, thereby increasing taxes needed to pay for prisons. All-in-all, not a pretty cycle. Thus, the only way out of this cycle is to:
(i) Prevent illegal immigration by dramatically eliminating demand for such workers.
(ii) Encourage legal immigration in a manner that does not depress worker wages for Americans.
(iii) Penalize businesses hiring illegal immigrants with higher corporate taxes.

It would be irresponsible of me if I did not mention that SH clearly points out that Cuban immigrants led to significant prosperity in Miami, Florida. SH points out that in part this was because early immigrants from Cuba were relatively well-off. I wonder if it is also in part because Cubans settled in the U.S. realized they have to build their lives here (successfully) since they don't really have the option of going back to their home country. SH hints at this, but I think this is worth exploring further, for this is a significant difference between the Cuban-American community and the Mexican-American community, not to mention the fact that immigrants from Mexico have apparently tended to be poorer (per SH).

Finally, I find it disturbing that SH reproduces anecdotal comments from "a successful Mexican-American businessman from Texas", Lionel Sosa, that are clearly based more on prejudice than fact:

To be sure, as Harvard University political scientist Jorge I. Domínguez has pointed out, Mexican Americans are more favorably disposed toward democracy than are Mexicans. Nonetheless, “ferocious differences” exist between U.S. and Mexican cultural values, as Jorge Castañeda (who later served as Mexico's foreign minister) observed in 1995.
Castañeda cited differences in social and economic equality, the unpredictability of events, concepts of time epitomized in the mañana syndrome, the ability to achieve results quickly, and attitudes toward history, expressed in the “cliché that Mexicans are obsessed with history, Americans with the future.” Sosa identifies several Hispanic traits (very different from Anglo-Protestant ones) that “hold us Latinos back”: mistrust of people outside the family; lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition; little use for education; and acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven. Author Robert Kaplan quotes Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican American in Tucson, Arizona, as saying that he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work” as the way to material prosperity and is thus willing to “buy into America.”

Sosa's comments may be based on his personal experience, but I think SH erred in presenting them in his essay. The comments of Sosa that I find most distressing are:

(i) "Lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition": This is a broad generalization that has little meaning without context. "Self-reliance" can mean different things to different people - so can "ambition". For instance, should a worker with no job in Mexico be considered "un-ambitious" when he takes a dangerous journey past the American border and works like a dog for an American business, with little or no medical benefits?

(ii) "Little use for education": Another broad generalization which also has no meaning without context. Indeed, the Chronicle of Higher Education article by David Glenn linked from Dan Drezner's update has this snippet:

On Monday, critics of the article attacked both its factual premises and its analytic framework. In a letter to the editors of Foreign Policy, Andrés Jiménez, director of the University of California's California Research Policy Center, wrote that the article was "misinformed, factually inaccurate, inflammatory, and potentially injurious to public policy because of its potential for being used as a further baseless rationalization for anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican politics."
In an interview, Mr. Jiménez said that Mr. Huntington was wrong to suggest that Hispanic families place a lower value on educational achievement than do native-born Americans. He cited a January 2004 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, which found that Hispanic parents are more likely to attend PTA meetings and to help their children with homework than are white or African-American parents.
He also argued that Mr. Huntington was foolish to describe the history of Hispanic families' educational and labor-force status without acknowledging the history of formal and informal segregation in the Southwest. As recently as the 1950s, he noted, the State of Texas maintained separate schools for Hispanic students, which did not continue past the sixth grade.

The last part is entirely consistent with the point I made earlier in Section E - namely that, parallels in experience that Mexican-Americans may share with African-Americans might partly explain their current demographics. This is a very important point that cannot be dismissed by superficial claims about Mexican-Americans.

(iii) "Acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven": This sentence alone suggests Sosa is off his rocker. Why in the world would illegal immigrants risk their lives to come across the border if they can stay "poor" in Mexico??

Unfortunately, SH goes further and quotes "Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican American in Tucson, Arizona" who claims that  "he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work” as the way to material prosperity"! Again, is it really fair to claim that illegal immigrants who get worked like dogs by U.S. companies, at super-low wages, somehow don't like "hard work"? Could it be that the supporters of supply-side voodoo (like the current administration and its long list of corporate sponsors) who wail at how the taxation of *their* earned and unearned wealth and benefits/perks can sap *their* motivation to work hard, simultaneously believe that the best way to motivate (legal or illegal) immigrant workers from Mexico to "work hard" is to pay them poor wages and little or no benefits? I will probably have an easier time believing that the Ken Lays, Donald Cartys, and Jeffrey Barbakows of the world (not to mention prominent politicians who have risen to their positions of wealth and power largely through connections and bailouts) are the ones who don't believe in "hard work". 

Enough with the prejudice. 


Samuel Huntington's essay makes some thought-provoking points about the impact of Hispanic (particularly Mexican) immigration to the United States. However, his overall thesis is oversimplified and sometimes deeply flawed. He pays little attention to the demand for such (poorly paid) immigrants (from businesses), which is a big reason for their increased flow into the U.S. Although he mentions the downward wage pressure on Americans due to illegal immigrants, this superficial note does injustice to the root cause of the problem - which is businesses allowed to hire and underpay illegal workers with marginal penalties. He covers language issues somewhat extensively and in the context of bilingual education I happen to be in agreement that that should be unnecessary. Nevertheless, his claims on culture, assimilation and achievements are somewhat simplistic, failing to address the possible root causes for the observed demographics and giving short-shrift to the possible advantages of the structure of Mexican-American communities. Finally, he makes the fatal mistake of quoting random businessman who clearly have more prejudice than facts in hand, in describing Mexican-Americans' work ethic or ambitions. All-in-all, I give this essay a mixed rating, leaning towards negative.























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