Is present U.S. immigration pressure any different from earlier waves?

The biggest difference between the current wave of immigration and that of a hundred years ago is that the previous wave eventually stopped, and the fact that it stopped is largely responsible for why it is considered to have been so successful. The long period from 1920-1960 of little to no immigration gave society time to digest all the newcomers. In 1920, the average immigrant was fresh off the boat, didn’t speak much English, had six or eight kids taking up seats in the public schools, cooked weird-smelling food, and may well have harbored a radical political ideology. Those kind of immigrants got natives agitated just like the natives are agitated now. By 1960, the average immigrant was the nice old man with the accent who ran everyone’s favorite pizza joint and voted Republican. Everyone loves that nice old assimilated man.

For the current wave of immigration to work the way the previous one did, it’s going to have to come to an end some time soon. Otherwise, immigrants will never be the nice old man. They’ll always be the guy in the wife-beater hanging around the Home Depot parking lot whistling at your wife and peeing in the bushes. If the U.S. continues to take in a million immigrants a year forever, how can it not dramatically change the country? A lot of immigration proponents think the country needs changing; most people don’t. A lot of immigration proponents also think that immigration policy should be decided based on what is best for the immigrants; again, most people don’t, and rather believe it should be decided based on what is best for the current citizens.

Did the earlier immigration wave change the country for the better? I guess it depends on your point of view. It made the country a lot more Catholic. If you’re Catholic, or agree with the politics of the Catholic Church, that’s great. If you don’t, it’s not so great. It also impeded the economic progress of blacks and delayed the resulting civil rights movement by forcing black Americans to compete with millions of European immigrants for a limited number of jobs. That was not so great either. I’m not saying there weren’t positives, but I believe a fair assessment has to include the negatives as well.

In depends on how far back you’re looking. The peak period of immigration was between 1860 and 1920. In that period, around 14% of the population were immigrants. In 1890, 14.8% of the population were immigrants (the highest percentage in our history). Then from 1930 to 1970 there was a long decline. In 1970, 4.7% of the population were immigrants (the lowest percentage in our history). Since 1970 the number of immigrants has steadily risen. The current percentage of immigrants is up around 13%. There are an estimated 37,500,000 immigrants in the United States.

The country that currently supplies the most immigrants, by far, is Mexico. Approximately 30% of immigrants in the United States are Mexican. No other country has a percentage higher than 5%. (The next nine in order are the Philippines, China, India, Vietnam, El Salvador, Korea, Cuba, Canada, and the United Kingdom.) This is different from the past; historically, immigration has been divided more widely by origin nation and no nation has ever predominated as much as Mexico does.

Immigrants are 12.5% of the population and are 15.6% of the workforce. 26.7% of adult immigrants have a college degree; 27% of native-born adult Americans have college degrees. 32% of adult immigrants lack a high school diploma; 12.9% of native-born adult Americans lack a high school diploma. 11% of adult immigrants are self-employed; 13% of native-born adult Americans are self-employed.

Approximately one out of every three immigrants in the United States is an illegal alien. Approximately one out of two Mexican immigrants to the United States is an illegal alien.

A 2005 study of language among Hispanic immigrants found that 79% of first-generation Hispanic immigrant children (ages 6 to 15) spoke English (virtually all spoke Spanish as well). Among the second-generation children of Hispanic immigrants, 92% spoke English (11% spoke English only) and 85% spoke Spanish. Among the third-generation children, virtually all spoke English and 72% spoke English only.

Most of this information came from a major Census Bureau survey that was conducted in 2006.

Prove it. Did European immigrants really compete with black Americans in the south? How many European immigrants in that era ever come within 500 miles of a legally segregated community?

What matters is discrimination, not segregation. Discrimination was essentially legal everywhere, and practiced everywhere, until the 1950s, and was still significant for another 30 or 40 years after that.

Let’s take the Midwest as an example. From 1840 to 1920, the proportion of blacks actually decreased from 2.7% to 2.3%. Then from 1920 to 1990, it increased more than fourfold, from 2.3% to 9.6%. Whatever it was that was holding blacks in the South, it let up around 1920. I believe the most important factor by far was economic competition from new immigrants. If there were other factors, what were they?

Immigrant displacement of black workers is as significant today as it ever has been. In the late 1970s, there were 2500 unionized black janitors in LA. Today there are hardly any. If you’ve ever been to LA, you know that the difference is made up overwhelmingly by recent immigrants, as discussed here.

I’d like to point out that in the American Southwest “Hispanic” culture is American culture. There is a reason why all those place names out that way are in Spanish- it’s been a Spanish speaking area for hundreds of years. Latino (whatever) culture is as much a part of America as Native American cultures are. It’s a part of our national heritage.

Personally, I never got the “culture” argument from conservatives. For the most part Mexican immigrants are hard working, family oriented, church going and rather conservative. Isn’t this exactly the "culture’ that social conservatives are trying to promote?

Having lived on Southern California, and now seeing some of the same trends in Denver, I agree with Lonesome Polecat. I think some of the issues are:

  1. Some citizens see that immigration law has been violated and justifiably wonder: “what laws am I allowed to break?”

  2. The rapid population rise has overtaxed the infrastructure. (Traffic jams at 5AM.)

  3. The immigration problem overlaps with the health care problem. (Emergency rooms are full.)

  4. The quality of schools has degraded, in part due to the need to accommodate ESL students.

  5. There are a ton of other indirect costs. (Car insurance for example.)

  6. The general quality-of-life has changed. (Not uncommon in LA: 3 families living together in a suburban house and raising chickens.)

  7. Some of the immigrants have no interest in assimilating.

Some of these have probably been seen in earlier eras, but I don’t think ‘precedent’ is a justification for tolerating major social problems.

I think most people understand that immigration is an economic and social good - and their concerns have little to do with racism - but that immigration has been really poorly managed and lots of obvious consequences were not anticipated.

While that viewpoint is rather common, it isn’t all the true, when one looks statistics. Hispanics worked fewer hours than Asian, white or black Americans, have illegitimacy rates that are nearly double white Americans - 43% vs 23%. Doesn’t seem very family oriented to me. I can’t find good statistics on church attendance by race (but I haven’t looked that hard - those other ones were from a few minutes of googling.)

Big business conservatives who want a supply of cheap, docile labor, and the Catholic Church, promote the stereotype you mention. Social conservatives promote the gangbanger/ghetto stereotype. Both stereotypes are correct, and neither is. Statistically, immigrants have all the pluses and minuses you would expect from any group of young, disproportionately male, poorly educated people.

The question is whether the country benefits from people like that. I just don’t see it. There used to be a big place in our society for unskilled labor, but that place has gotten smaller and smaller. If all the immigrants went home tomorrow, there still wouldn’t be enough jobs for natives with less than a high school education. All those immigrants busting their butts for minimum wage seem like they ought to be a benefit to society, but they’re not. The economy simply doesn’t have a call for it - that’s why wages are so low. A guy can work all week putting up drywall or butchering cattle, but he’s still a net drain on the economy because his kids are in public school, his family gets hurt or sick and has no insurance, he pays little to no tax, and when he does have money left over, he sends it home instead of spending it here. What it amounts to is a taxpayer-subsidized labor force generating profits for a few business owners.

Every single complaint being made about Hispanic immigrants today was made about Irish immigrants in the 1890s, German immigrants in the 1900s, Italian immigrants, Chinese immigrants, and so on. Every one.

In fifty years people will look back on these statements and be blown away by their staggering ignorance.

The funny part is that in seventy years, the Republican party will be full of people named Garcia and Lopez who’ll be complaining about how we’re letting in too many of these damned Malaysian immigrants. Because they’re different from what our grandparents were like when they came to America. And it’s not a racial thing - but have you ever smelled that weird food they eat? How are those people ever going to assilimate?

That’s not what you argued originally. You said that immigrant workers delayed the civil rights movement by forcing blacks to compete with European immigrants. I asked you to prove THAT, not to prove that a few thousand black workers were displaced in Los Angeles (which is itself a dubious claim, since you linked to “unionized” black janitor statistics, and your argument could just as easily be describing the decline of union membership that happened everywhere since the late 1970s). I stand by my assertion that blacks did not significantly have to compete with immigrants for jobs in the decades leading up to the civil rights movement.

Or Malaysians will be complaining about all these Yankee refugees turning up on their shores.

The linked statistics show otherwise. Do you have a better explanation for why blacks didn’t come north until the 1920s, then suddenly did in huge numbers? If you do, I’m open to it; if you don’t, then I’ll expect you to accept my claim.

The information about LA was simply to make the point that such displacement is occurring today. The wholesale shift in racial composition among janitors in LA is well documented, and furthermore is obvious to anyone who’s lived there. The fact that it’s happening today supports the claim that it could have happened a hundred years ago.

Could you elaborate on what claims made in this thread are false, and how similar claims about earlier immigrants were also false? Note that I’m looking for factual claims that have actually been made in this thread, not claims that you feel are “typical” or “representative” of immigration opponents.

Of course I do! The reason they stayed in the South is because that’s where they’re from. It’s the same reason you find a lot of Russians in Russia, or a lot of Eskimos in the north. We’re talking about 70 years after the end of slavery, only a few generations removed from people who owned nothing, had absolutely no education, and probably didn’t even have a basic understanding of geography.

Keep in mind that the 1920s saw the deepest poverty the south has arguably ever known, possibly even including the reconstruction era. It wasn’t just blacks moving from the south, it was EVERYONE.

Blacks are also more likely to be lawyers or surgeons in LA today than they were in 1970. Blacks also make a smaller portion of LA’s population today than they did in 1970. Are you saying blacks are less likely to be employed today, or are earning a lower average salary today because they have to compete with Mexican immigrants? Nothing is “obvious” here except that there are fewer black janitors in the janitor’s union today than thirty five years ago.

Yes. And people will still be speaking Spanish in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula. Along with a hundred other languages. With English still number one. And some middle aged folks will still remember that judgmental kindergarten teacher who thought they weren’t good enough to live in her city.

The question isn’t why they were in the South to start with - the question is whether, and why, they left all of a sudden. I believe you are claiming that they left because everyone left, and this was due to poverty in the South starting in the 1920s and had nothing to do with the end of immigration.

It is true that there was a lot of outmigration from the South in all racial groups. But blacks left at a much greater rate than whites. For the 40-year period of 1920 to 1960, the white Southern population grew 80% but the black population only grew 27%. This could be due to a difference in birth rates rather than differences in outmigration rates, but in fact black birth rates were quite a bit higher than white birth rates. So the difference in population growth during this period can only be explained by blacks leaving the South at a much greater rate than whites.

Also interesting is that the black population in the South increased by 48% from 1880-1920, but only 27% from 1920-1960. Then from 1960 to 2000 (a period of renewed immigration primarily affecting areas outside the South), it increased by 68%.

This is consistent with, but not proof of, economic harm to blacks by immigration. But it’s just economic common sense that they were. Both groups were competing for the same jobs. Even if blacks had never left the South, they still would have suffered, because all other things being equal, a company will build a factory in the area that has the lowest prevailing wage (that is, the area that has the greatest surplus of labor). So in 1900, a company would be a lot more likely to build a plant in Detroit, with its huge numbers of immigrants, than in Atlanta, with many fewer.

Absolutely. Blacks have left LA in droves and their places have been taken by immigrants. Those blacks that have remained are earning lower wages because of immigration. It’s been studied. This is excerpted from a link I gave in a previous post:

Are you talking about a white teacher who thinks Hispanic kids aren’t good enough, or a Hispanic teacher who thinks white kids aren’t good enough? Speaking as someone who has tutored Mexican kids in a Los Angeles middle school, I have encountered more of the latter than the former.

It’s great, also, if you’re a non-Catholic who believes cultural and religious diversity has some value in and of itself. We owe the First Amendment partly to a principled commitment by at least some of the Framers to the idea of purely secular government, but also to the historical accident that Americans at that time were divided among numerous Protestant sects, none of which wanted any of the others to get upper-hand status as the official religion. But everybody still thought of America as a Protestant Christian nation, non-Protestants being no more than a tolerated minority, not full members of our national society, and not likely to be taken seriously as candidates for public office. Adding large numbers of Catholics to the mix forced us to liberalize that conception. Adding Jews forced us to broaden it still more, to speak of a “Judeo-Christian tradition.” All changes for the better, I hope you will agree. And if the day comes when we have as many assimilated Muslims as Catholics, that will be better still. At any rate, it will smooth our relations with the Islamic world.

One reason blacks left the South in large numbers in the 1950s, BTW, was the introduction of the mechanical cotton-picker. Many of them could find no work locally but picking cotton, and now they could not even find that.

Early migration resulted in the migrant living in enclaves. They kept their language, customs and kept much to themselves. That is why so many cities still have remnants of Poletown, chinatown, germantown etal inside them. This migration is going everywhere. It is in the country, the city and everywhere in between. Every construction crew seems to have a mexican labor component,whether they are in the south or up north. Stores,restaurants and factories across the country hire illegals to cut costs.

Yeah. I’d like to see a cite that shows, for example, less willingness to assimilate. As has been pointed out, once you start getting to the 2nd generation and beyond, you’re seeing much assimilation. Just like previous waves of immigration.