Last year, 694,193 people became new Americans.
How has their experience been different than earlier immigrants?
Louis Mendoza, chairman of the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, wrote in The New York Times that technology has changed the melting pot:
Leaving home is not what it once was. Staying connected to one’s community of origin is easier. In the past, we expected assimilation of every immigrant, and this was reinforced by our social institutions, be it through teachers, religious leaders, or politicians. We now know that one can truly live bilingually, biculturally and transnationally.
Michael Jones-Correa, also in The New York Times, is more skeptical about a new-found acceptance of a bilingual world. Immigrants – even if they are full citizens – don’t always feel embraced by natives.
If immigrants are grudgingly only tolerated as residents, they are very unlikely to feel they are full members of society. This may result in their pulling back from social and political engagement, or it could fuel the opposite reaction, with immigrants pressing their demands when threatened, as many did in the 2006 marches in the United States for immigrants’ rights.
Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about the 18 million Americans who were born in another country and became naturalized citizens.
We want to hear from both sides of the immigrant experience. If you’re a naturalized citizen, do you feel fully American? And if you are a native, when do you consider someone fully American?