My US born children have often been asked, “Where are you from?” Houston, is often not an acceptable answer to the questioning party. Its usually followed by, “Where are you really from, or where are your parents from.” This probably happens to US born non white children. I remember that American Immigration Lawyer’s Association had a blog about how important immigration is when Jeremy Lin had his “Linsanity” moment. Yet Lin was born in the US. However, the question still arises, does Immigration demand assimilation?
Color cannot be changed to “look” American. However assimilation was a big question since our country’s history. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1906 limited Immigration to “Caucasian” descent only. US v Bhagat Singh made a case that Mr. Singh was Caucasian of Indo European descent. The SCOTUS held that even though he might be of Aryan race (which they said was probably intermixed with Dravidian blood) Immigration was still impossible because he would not be able to “assimilate” into the American society. That made all people of Indian descent, including the father of Amar Bose, the creator of Bose Speakers, illegal.
However with successive waves of immigrants from England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, all brought their culture and their food, and assimilated into the melting pot of American society.
The US has a melting pot philosophy, while countries like Canada or France have a Cultural Mosaic. The difference is whether the country considers itself homogenous vs heterogeneous. Proponents of Multiculturalism decry Melting Pot theory, yet the Mosaic system has been shown to cause more discrimination. In a Mosaic system, the majority always think they are better than other groups. Yet, in modern times, it can be argued that assimilation is difficult, because the world is more connected. Immigrants can easily keep in cultural contact with their homeland via the internet, and thus create more of a mosaic society living in their own cultural world, and not embracing the “American” culture.
Whatever the case may be culturally Immigrants have made USA very diverse. You can get superb food from practically all major countries in your own city. Birth of fusion culture arises everywhere, from food trucks, to rock music. This year more than 1 million people applied for Citizenship, proving that most Immigrants are happy and love America.
Written by Annie Banerjee, for Banerjee & Associates