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America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity

Frank D. Bean, Gillian Stevens

Publication Year: 2003

The attacks of September 11, 2001, facilitated by easy entry and lax immigration controls, cast into bold relief the importance and contradictions of U.S. immigration policy. Will we have to restrict immigration for fear of future terrorist attacks? On a broader scale, can the country's sense of national identity be maintained in the face of the cultural diversity that today's immigrants bring? How will the resulting demographic, social, and economic changes affect U.S. residents? As the debate about immigration policy heats up, it has become more critical than ever to examine immigration's role in our society. With a comprehensive social scientific assessment of immigration over the past thirty years, America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity provides the clearest picture to date of how immigration has actually affected the United States, while refuting common misconceptions and predicting how it might affect us in the future. Frank Bean and Gillian Stevens show how, on the whole, immigration has been beneficial for the United States. Although about one million immigrants arrive each year, the job market has expanded sufficiently to absorb them without driving down wages significantly or preventing the native-born population from finding jobs. Immigration has not led to welfare dependency among immigrants, nor does evidence indicate that welfare is a magnet for immigrants. With the exception of unauthorized Mexican and Central American immigrants, studies show that most other immigrant groups have attained sufficient earnings and job mobility to move into the economic mainstream. Many Asian and Latino immigrants have established ethnic networks while maintaining their native cultural practices in the pursuit of that goal. While this phenomenon has led many people to believe that today's immigrants are slow to enter mainstream society, Bean and Stevens show that intermarriage and English language proficiency among these groups are just as high—if not higher—as among prior waves of European immigrants. America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity concludes by showing that the increased racial and ethnic diversity caused by immigration may be helping to blur the racial divide in the United States, transforming the country from a biracial to multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. Replacing myth with fact, America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity contains a wealth of information and belongs on the bookshelves of policymakers, pundits, scholars, students, and anyone who is concerned about the changing face of the United States.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Series: American Sociological Association Rose Series

Title Page

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pp. ix-x

About the Authors

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book represents the culmination of several years of research and thinking about a number of social science research questions that have occupied center stage in the longstanding (but never more salient than now) debate in the United States over the issue of immigration reform. Whether and how U.S. admissions...

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Chapter 1: Introduction: Immigration’s Nuances and Complexities

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pp. 1-15

The destruction of the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001—carried out by persons who were neither citizens nor legal permanent residents—cast into bold relief the importance and contradictions of U.S. immigration policy. Those responsible for the suicide missions were able either to enter the country fraudulently or to remain here illegally after visas...

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Chapter 2: Migration Flows, Theories, and Contexts

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pp. 16-41

Assessing the importance of immigration for the United States requires not only that we become knowledgeable about the shifting magnitude and nature of migration flows into the country occurring over the past few decades but also that we develop an understanding of the various theories about why such flows take place. It is also crucial that we consider the changes in the...

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Chapter 3: Mexico and Unauthorized Migration

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pp. 42-65

Up to this point we have considered the general phenomenon of international migration to the United States, noting the several kinds of flows that make up this migration, theories as to why such flows occur, and the economic and labor market contexts within which they have taken place. Often, analyses of immigration to the United States that are intended to shed light on immigration- related policy issues tend to treat immigration as...

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Chapter 4: Immigrant Welfare Receipt: Implications for Policy

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pp. 66-93

The issue of immigrant welfare receipt has played and continues to play a major role in national debates over the need to reform immigration policy (Bean et al. 1997; Borjas 2002; Van Hook, Glick, and Bean 1999). As noted in chapter 1, discussions about immigration policy reform tend to revolve around three broad questions: How many and what kinds of immigrants come to the United States? What happens to them after they arrive? And what...

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Chapter 5: The New Immigrants and Theories of Incorporation

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pp. 94-113

Just how rapidly the new immigrants—by which we mean post- 1965 immigrants—are becoming part of the American mainstream has constituted one of the major research issues fueling debates in recent years about the need to reform U.S. immigration policy. The general process marking this transition has most often been called assimilation. During the latter third of the twentieth century...

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Chapter 6: Immigrant Economic Incorporation

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pp. 114-142

The extent to which the new immigrant groups are experiencing successful economic incorporation is one of the central issues driving current debates about the need to reform U.S. immigration policy. Political controversy about whether existing admissions policies should be changed is likely to intensify to the degree that immigrants are not experiencing positive economic...

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Chapter 7: Linguistic Incorporation Among Immigrants

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pp. 143-171

The social and cultural integration of immigrants and their children into American society is a critical issue for the immigrants, national descent groups, and American society. Theories concerning the social and cultural integration of national-origin groups in American society have largely focused on the language characteristics of immigrants as measures of the incompleteness of integration into a society firmly dominated by the English...

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Chapter 8: The Incorporation of Immigrants: Patterns of Marriage

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pp. 172-198

The incorporation of immigrant groups into the mainstream of American life is a central element in the debates about immigration policy. Whether—and how rapidly—racial and ethnic groups who immigrate to the United States are incorporated into the social and cultural fabric of American society is a particularly important aspect of immigration. High levels of racial and ethnic intermarriage provide strong evidence of sociocultural incorporation...

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Chapter 9: The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration

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pp. 199-223

In previous chapters we have focused on theory and research that help answer two of the three broad questions that, we suggested in chapter 1, drive most policy debates about immigration: What kinds of people immigrate to the United States? What happens to them after they arrive? In this and the next chapter we shift gears and focus on theory and research that can help answer the third broad question: What are the consequences of immigration...

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Chapter 10: Immigration and Race-Ethnicity in the United States

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pp. 224-249

Given the United States’ long and unfortunate experiences with racial exploitation and discrimination, an especially important topic involves the implications of immigration for race or ethnicity. This is true whether we are considering the consequences of the new immigration for the United States as a whole or for particular groups of native residents living in the country. As noted in chapter 2, the new immigration has increased...

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Chapter 11: Conclusions: Diversity and Change in America

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pp. 250-262

The evidence and arguments introduced in the previous chapters demonstrate that immigration has become a phenomenon of critical importance for American society. Recent annual levels of immigration are almost as high as, and in some years higher than, they have ever been. The national origins of immigrants have changed dramatically such that newcomers now swell the ranks...


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pp. 263-296


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pp. 297-309

E-ISBN-13: 9781610440356
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871541246
Print-ISBN-10: 0871541246

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: American Sociological Association Rose Series

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Americanization.
  • United States -- Emigration and immigration -- Government policy.
  • Immigrants -- United States.
  • United States -- Emigration and immigration
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