Should the U.S. Still Have to Keep the Gate Locked?

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.

References

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).

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4 thoughts on “Should the U.S. Still Have to Keep the Gate Locked?

  1. Reference is to” It seems that the current system does not meet the situation of the U.S. society.” Our current system needs tightening, not relaxation. Illegal immigrants have a disproportionately high crime rate, are too often involved in large scale commercial distribution of illegal drugs, and exert high costs on education systems and health care systems. A possible flaw is our somewhat restrictive limits on persons with high-talent scientific, technical, mathematical, and engineering.

      • I will be pleased to read the studies that you feel best prove your claim. Until then, you might find the following to be of interest.
        “Illegal aliens linked to rise in crime statistics”
        http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kouri/060622 That is a 2006 study. For a more recent study read this: “Crime Statistics regarding illegal aliens in America by FBI- quick read” http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7fb_1339912081

        There are many more. Common sense is not as quantifiable, but poor people, people of low literacy, and people who are escaping punishment in their home nations are understandably more apt to include crimes as part of their coping strategy.

      • Here are several links to research that clearly shows there is no correlation between immigration and crime:

        A great article by sociologist Robert Sampson, reviewing his own research and summarizing the research of other scholars: http://contexts.org/articles/winter-2008/sampson/
        A summary report by Rubén Rumbaut and Walter Ewing: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/Imm%20Criminality%20(IPC).pdf
        An article from the NY Times discussing Sampson’s research: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/03/magazine/03wwln_idealab.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
        An article from Time magazine that also reviews the research: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1717575,00.html

        There are more, however many research journal articles are behind paywalls, and I’m avoiding giving you links to articles for which you would have to pay. The articles above, especially the ones by Sampson and Rumbaut/Ewing provide detailed analyses of the data, which show that immigrants have lower rates of criminality than the native-born population.

        If we’re also citing common sense, then common sense would dictate that immigrants make tremendous sacrifices to migrate to another country and establish themselves there. This would make them rather protective of their status in the host society. That is, compared to the native-born, they would be less likely to do something to risk their status in that society.

        As Rumbaut and Ewing note, “data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group, without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated and the least acculturated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population. What is more, these patterns have been observed consistently over the last three decennial censuses, a period that spans the current era of mass immigration and mass imprisonment, and recall similar national-level findings reported by three major government commissions during the first three decades of the 20th century.

        “Given the cumulative weight of this evidence, immigration is arguably one of the reasons that crime rates have dropped in the United States over the past decade and a half. Indeed, a further implication of this evidence is that if immigrants suddenly disappeared and the country became immigrant-free (and illegal-immigrant free), crime rates would likely increase. The problem of crime and incarceration in the United States is not ’caused’ or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status.”

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