Children of Immigrants Reshaping America

Alex Johnson and Maria Menounos, MSNBC, October 14, 2008

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Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau paint a clear picture: By as early as 2023, more than half of all children will be members of what are now minority groups, an evolution fueled significantly by a baby boom among recent immigrants. By 2050, they will make up more than 60 percent of all American children.

By 2050, the number of Americans of Hispanic origin will double to comprise a third of the American population. The Asian population is projected to nearly triple, to 9.2 percent of the population. And as those populations mingle, the number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races will more than triple.

The result will be a United States in which the so-called white majority will, for the first time, be in the minority.

In the process, the children of new immigrants “will not only reshape American racial and ethnic relations but define the character of American social, cultural, and political life,” researchers at Harvard University and City University of New York write in “Inheriting the City,” a landmark study of the children of first-generation immigrants to the United States.

Crossing, assimilating differences

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In a study of children of recent immigrants in Southern California and South Florida, Ruben Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California-Irvine, and Alejandros Portes, director of the Center for Migration and Development at Princeton University, found that the so-called second generation was better equipped than ever to overcome historical hurdles like racism, economic disadvantage and language assimilation.

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# In the Ivy League, 41 percent of all black freshmen are from African and Caribbean families, who make up only 13 percent of the overall black population, researchers at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania found.

# Among second-generation Hispanics, education is a priority, according to a nationwide study by the Public Policy Institute of California. Only 10 percent of second-generation adults have not graduated from high school, it found, compared with 38 percent of their first-generation parents. {snip}

# While Hispanic immigrants as a whole vote less often than the overall population, the proportion of voters among second-generation Hispanics is rising rapidly, according to a 10-year study of immigrant achievement in California by researchers at the University of Southern California. {snip}

‘Increasingly . . . the mainstream’

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At Dumbarton Middle School, Principal Nancy Fink said all parents, native and immigrant, should welcome the transformation.

Referring to columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s contention that a globalized society flattens economic and cultural differences, Fink said: “Parents are very aware that their children will be living in a flat world. So the more experiences they have with children who are different than them, the better.”

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