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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Immigration Facts and Trivia

1. The argument that previous waves of immigrants were "legal" makes little sense. Until the early twentieth century all an immigrant had to do was verify his/her name. Passports were not required. The southern border was not guarded and was crossed frequently in both directions.

2. Immigrants took a long time to assimilate. Germans and Italians were still speaking their native tongues some seventy years after the major waves of immigration from their home countries.

3. Literacy tests were done in the native tongue, not English.

4. Rates of return to the home country were often as high as fifty percent. Clearly many people came here not to stay, but to earn more money and then to return home.

5. Italians, Poles and Greeks took much longer to assimilate and join the middle class because most had come from illiterate rural backgrounds in their home countries. They typically stressed work over education.

6. Every generation of immigrants looks down on the following waves of immigrants.

7. Some scholars suggest the evidence points to waves of immigration as providing the vigorous periodic rejuvenation that has made the United States as strong as it is. Without it we would be languishing.
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