by Ayaka Nakamura
In the last class discussion, our group mainly talked about how we could determine who shall have a dual citizenship and who shall not. Although there are many existing criteria to allow foreigners to have a visa, such as blood relationship, age, an ability of language, and criminal records, Japan still has not admit a dual citizenship. Then, questions came up to my mind, what do we need to be a citizen of a country? Do we really have to meet the criteria to live in the country? As I had strong interests in one of lecture topics, migration, through “Salsa and Ketchup: Transnational Migrants Straddle Two Worlds,” written by Peggy Levitt, I would like to deepen my knowledge about immigrants in the U.S.
One of interesting findings is that keeping homeland’s culture and language does not really matter to live in the U.S. Although an ability to speak English is necessary to assimilate into natives, Mexicans, the largest immigrant group, seem to have a difficulty to adopt American ways than other groups, according to a research by USA TODAY. In the article, Jacob Vigdor, a Duke University associate professor of public studies and economics, sets up three categories that distinguishes immigrants from U.S. natives: “economic (employment, occupations, education, homeownership); cultural (ability to speak English, marriage to natives, number of child); civic (naturalization, military service),” and discusses Mexicans have the lowest assimilation of any immigrant group.
Kirk Semple in “Moving to the U.S. and Amassing a Fortune, No English Needed.” seems to explain the reason why Mexicans hardly assimilate. Semple talks about Mr. Sanchez, an immigrant from Mexico, who was selling tortilla chips on the road but realized an American dream in the U.S. Mr. Sanchez came to the U.S. as an immigrant to have a successful life and opened a food company, Puebla Foods that earns millions of dollars now. Mr. Sanchez says he cannot speak English because he has not needed to speak English for his success. He targets only Spanish speakers and works with Spanish speakers living in the U.S. Moreover, Semple introduces another example, Mr. Zhang, a Chinese immigrant, who owns a cell-phone accessory company. Mr. Zhang targets Chinese markets in the U.S. and talks that English ability did not matter to establish a company. He says the progress of technology enabled his business to reach a success. He communicates with English speakers through the Internet where numbers of language translating systems are going on. Thus, his lack of ability to speak English did not really matter.
However, to be a U.S. citizen, Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Zhang have to pass the naturalization test that includes English tests. Although the U.S. society allow them to success in business and have wealthy lives, the immigration system cannot give them permissions to be citizens. It seems that the current system does not meet the situation of the U.S. society. I would not say it should be changed and let all of those immigrants to be citizens, but the criteria to judge whether a person is proper to be a citizen might have to be reconsidered. The U.S., the melting pot of the world, would be the first country that accepts an idea of multiple citizenship or global citizenship.
Nasser, Haya El. “Study: Some Immigrants Assimilate Faster.” USA TODAY. (May 13, 2008). http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-05-13-assimilation_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip
Semple, Kirk. “Moving to the U.S. and Amassing a Fortune, No English Needed.” New York Times. (November 8, 2011).