MALDEF

BREAKING NEWS: Immigrants Are Assimilating

It may come as surprise to some anti-immigrant hate groups that California’s immigrants are assimilating into mainstream society. But really, it shouldn’t. According to the Los Angeles Times:
[B]ucking perceptions that high levels of immigration are jeopardizing national cohesion, [new Census Bureau] data showed that today's immigrants, like those before them, are embracing an American identity. In Los Angeles County, for instance, the proportion of native Spanish speakers fluent in English increased to 51.4% in 2007 from 44.6% in 2000. The share of naturalized citizens among the foreign-born grew to 43.3% from 38% over that time.

"Every major study shows that immigrants from whatever country are integrating into our society at the same level and degree as prior immigrants," said Antonia Hernandez, president of the Los Angeles-based California Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that recently launched an initiative to help immigrants adapt here.

"Notwithstanding the rhetoric of anti-immigrant groups," Hernandez said, "immigrants are deeply embedded in the social and economic fabric of Southern California and particularly Los Angeles."
Unlike some restrictionist and English-only organizations, some groups are taking proactive approaches to helping immigrants integrate into American society more easily.
The California Community Foundation, for instance, has commissioned two major studies on the topic and is kicking off an initiative to expand access to English-language classes, help professional immigrants gain U.S. certification for their skills and promote immigrant parental involvement in their children's education, Hernandez said.

At the federal level, the Bush administration launched a massive assimilation campaign in 2006 and is expanding it this year -- including a free, web-based English class to immigrants on its new site, www.WelcometoUSA.gov.
For the full article, click here. Also, to learn more about what the federal government could do to facilitate immigrant integration, take a look at the “Strengthening Communities Through Education and Integration Act of 2008,” available here.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund