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Citizenship and Identity on the US-Mexico Frontier
A “border” is a powerful and versatile concept, variously invoked as the delineation of geographical territories, as a judicial marker of citizenship, and as an ideological trope for defining inclusion and exclusion. It has implications for both the empowerment and subjugation of any given populace. Both real and imagined, the border separates a zone of physical and symbolic exchange whose geographical, political, economic, and cultural interactions bear profoundly on popular understandings and experiences of citizenship and identity.
The border’s rhetorical significance is nowhere more apparent, nor its effects more concentrated, than on the frontier between the United States and Mexico. Often understood as an unruly boundary in dire need of containment from the ravages of criminals, illegal aliens, and other undesirable threats to the national body, this geopolitical locus exemplifies how normative constructions of “proper” border relations reinforce definitions of US citizenship, which in turn can lead to anxiety, unrest, and violence centered around the struggle to define what it means to be a member of a national political community.
Where Wealth and Poverty Collide
Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century
Between 1875 and 1924, more than 2.7 million Jews from Eastern Europe left their home countries in the hopes of escaping economic subjugation and religious persecution and creating better lives overseas. Although many studies have addressed how these millions of men, women, and children were absorbed into their destination countries, very little has been written on the process of deciding to migrate. In Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear: Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century, author Gur Alroey fills this gap by considering letters written by Eastern European Jews embarking on their migration. Alroey begins with a comprehensive introduction that describes the extent and unique characteristics of Jewish migration during this period, discusses the establishment of immigrant information bureaus, and analyzes some of the specific aspects of migration that are reflected in the letters. In the second part of the book, Alroey translates and annotates 66 letters from Eastern European Jews considering migration. From the letters, readers learn firsthand of the migrants’ fear of making a decision; their desire for advice and information before they took the fateful step; the gnawing anxiety of women whose husbands had already sailed for America and who were waiting impatiently for a ticket to join them; women whose husbands had disappeared in America and had broken off contact with their families; pogroms (documented in real time); and the obstacles and hardships on the way to the port of exit, as described by people who had already set out. Through the letters in Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear readers will follow the dilemmas and predicaments of the ordinary Jewish migrant, the difficulties of migration, and the changes that it brought about within the Jewish family. Scholars of Jewish studies and those interested in American and European history will appreciate this landmark volume.
Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times
Anti-immigrant sentiment reached a fever pitch after 9/11, but its origins go back much further. Public rhetoric aimed at exposing a so-called invasion of Latino immigrants has been gaining ground for more than three decades—and fueling increasingly restrictive federal immigration policy. Accompanied by a flagging U.S. economy—record-level joblessness, bankruptcy, and income inequality—as well as waning consumer confidence, these conditions signaled one of the most hostile environments for immigrants in recent memory. In Brokered Boundaries, Douglas Massey and Magaly Sánchez untangle the complex political, social, and economic conditions underlying the rise of xenophobia in U.S. society. The book draws on in-depth interviews with Latin American immigrants in metropolitan New York and Philadelphia and—in their own words and images—reveals what life is like for immigrants attempting to integrate in anti-immigrant times. What do the social categories “Latino” and “American” actually mean to today’s immigrants? Brokered Boundaries analyzes how first- and second-generation immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean navigate these categories and their associated meanings as they make their way through U.S. society. Massey and Sánchez argue that the mythos of immigration, in which newcomers gradually shed their respective languages, beliefs, and cultural practices in favor of a distinctly American way of life, is, in reality, a process of negotiation between new arrivals and native-born citizens. Natives control interactions with outsiders by creating institutional, social, psychological, and spatial mechanisms that delimit immigrants’ access to material resources and even social status. Immigrants construct identities based on how they perceive and respond to these social boundaries. The authors make clear that today’s Latino immigrants are brokering boundaries in the context of unprecedented economic uncertainty, repressive anti-immigrant legislation, and a heightening fear that upward mobility for immigrants translates into downward mobility for the native-born. Despite an absolute decline in Latino immigration, immigration-related statutes have tripled in recent years, including many that further shred the safety net for legal permanent residents as well as the undocumented. Brokered Boundaries shows that, although Latin American immigrants come from many different countries, their common reception in a hostile social environment produces an emergent Latino identity soon after arrival. During anti-immigrant times, however, the longer immigrants stay in America, the more likely they are to experience discrimination and the less likely they are to identify as Americans.
Diversity and Unity Among Americans, 1900-2000
In every generation, Americans have worried about the solidarity of the nation. Since the days of the Mayflower, those already settled here have wondered how newcomers with different cultures, values, and (frequently) skin color would influence America. Would the new groups create polarization and disharmony? Thus far, the United States has a remarkable track record of incorporating new people into American society, but acceptance and assimilation have never meant equality. In Century of Difference, Claude Fischer and Michael Hout provide a compelling—and often surprising—new take on the divisions and commonalities among the American public over the tumultuous course of the twentieth century. Using a hundred years worth of census and opinion poll data, Century of Difference shows how the social, cultural, and economic fault lines in American life shifted in the last century. It demonstrates how distinctions that once loomed large later dissipated, only to be replaced by new ones. Fischer and Hout find that differences among groups by education, age, and income expanded, while those by gender, region, national origin, and, even in some ways, race narrowed. As the twentieth century opened, a person’s national origin was of paramount importance, with hostilities running high against Africans, Chinese, and southern and eastern Europeans. Today, diverse ancestries are celebrated with parades. More important than ancestry for today’s Americans is their level of schooling. Americans with advanced degrees are increasingly putting distance between themselves and the rest of society—in both a literal and a figurative sense. Differences in educational attainment are tied to expanding inequalities in earnings, job quality, and neighborhoods. Still, there is much that ties all Americans together. Century of Difference knocks down myths about a growing culture war. Using seventy years of survey data, Fischer and Hout show that Americans did not become more fragmented over values in the late-twentieth century, but rather were united over shared ideals of self-reliance, family, and even religion. As public debate has flared up over such matters as immigration restrictions, the role of government in redistributing resources to the poor, and the role of religion in public life, it is important to take stock of the divisions and linkages that have typified the U.S. population over time. Century of Difference lucidly profiles the evolution of American social and cultural differences over the last century, examining the shifting importance of education, marital status, race, ancestry, gender, and other factors on the lives of Americans past and present.
Transnational Lives of the Second Generation, The
The children of immigrants account for the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population under 18 years old—one out of every five children in the United States. Will this generation of immigrant children follow the path of earlier waves of immigrants and gradually assimilate into mainstream American life, or does the global nature of the contemporary world mean that the trajectory of today's immigrants will be fundamentally different? Rather than severing their ties to their home countries, many immigrants today sustain economic, political, and religious ties to their homelands, even as they work, vote, and pray in the countries that receive them. The Changing Face of Home is the first book to examine the extent to which the children of immigrants engage in such transnational practices. Because most second generation immigrants are still young, there is much debate among immigration scholars about the extent to which these children will engage in transnational practices in the future. While the contributors to this volume find some evidence of transnationalism among the children of immigrants, they disagree over whether these activities will have any long-term effects. Part I of the volume explores how the practice and consequences of transnationalism vary among different groups. Contributors Philip Kasinitz, Mary Waters, and John Mollenkopf use findings from their large study of immigrant communities in New York City to show how both distance and politics play important roles in determining levels of transnational activity. For example, many Latin American and Caribbean immigrants are "circular migrants" spending much time in both their home countries and the United States, while Russian Jews and Chinese immigrants have far less contact of any kind with their homelands. In Part II, the contributors comment on these findings, offering suggestions for reconceptualizing the issue and bridging analytical differences. In her chapter, Nancy Foner makes valuable comparisons with past waves of immigrants as a way of understanding the conditions that may foster or mitigate transnationalism among today's immigrants. The final set of chapters examines how home and host country value systems shape how second generation immigrants construct their identities, and the economic, social, and political communities to which they ultimately express allegiance. The Changing Face of Home presents an important first round of research and dialogue on the activities and identities of the second generation vis-a-vis their ancestral homelands, and raises important questions for future research.
Young Adult Children of Immigrants in Europe and the United States
A seismic population shift is taking place as many formerly racially homogeneous cities in the West attract a diverse influx of newcomers seeking economic and social advancement. Not only do young people from immigrant backgrounds make up a large and growing share of these cities’ populations but they will steadily replace the native-born baby boom generation as it ages out of the workplace and positions of influence. In The Changing Face of World Cities, a distinguished group of immigration experts presents the first systematic, data-based comparison of the lives of young adult children of immigrants growing up in seventeen big cities of Western Europe and the United States. Drawing on a comprehensive set of surveys, this important book brings together new evidence about the international immigrant experience and provides far-reaching lessons for devising more effective public policies. The Changing Face of World Cities pairs European and American researchers to explore how youths of immigrant origin negotiate educational systems, labor markets, gender, neighborhoods, citizenship, and identity on both sides of the Atlantic. Maurice Crul and his co-authors compare the educational trajectories of second generation Mexicans in Los Angeles with second generation Turks in Western European cities. In the U.S., uneven school quality in disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods and the high cost of college are the main barriers to educational advancement, while in some European countries, rigid early selection sorts many students off the college track and into dead-end jobs. Students who got their education in the comprehensive U.S., French, or Swedish systems are more likely to go on to college than those from the highly stratified German and Austrian systems. Liza Reisel, Laurence Lessard-Phillips, and Phil Kasinitz find that while more young members of the second generation are employed in the U.S. than in Europe, they are also likely to hold low-paying jobs that barely lift them out of poverty. In Europe, where immigrant youth suffer from higher unemployment, the embattled European welfare system still yields them a higher standard of living than many of their American counterparts. Van Tran, Susan Brown, and Jens Schneider find that the benefits of the European social welfare system extend to the quality of life in immigrant neighborhoods: second generation Turks in Berlin live in much better neighborhood conditions than do Mexicans and Dominicans in L.A. and New York. Turning to issues of identity and belonging, Jens Schneider, Leo Chávez, Louis DeSipio, and Mary Waters find that it is far easier for the children of Dominican or Mexican immigrants to identify as American, in part because the U.S. takes hyphenated identities for granted. In Europe, religious bias against Islam makes it hard for young people of Turkish origin to identify strongly as German, French, or Swedish. Editors Maurice Crul and John Mollenkopf conclude that despite the barriers these youngsters encounter on both continents, they are making real progress relative to their parents and are beginning to close the gap with the native-born. The Changing Face of World Cities goes well beyond existing immigration literature focused on the U.S. experience to show that national policies on each side of the Atlantic can be enriched by lessons from the other. The Changing Face of World Cities will be vital reading for anyone interested in the young people who will shape the future of our increasingly interconnected global economy.
Immigrant Parent and Teacher Perspectives on Preschool for Children of Immigrants
In many school districts in America, the majority of students in preschools are children of recent immigrants. For both immigrant families and educators, the changing composition of preschool classes presents new and sometimes divisive questions about educational instruction, cultural norms and academic priorities. Drawing from an innovative study of preschools across the nation, Children Crossing Borders provides the first systematic comparison of the beliefs and perspectives of immigrant parents and the preschool teachers to whom they entrust their children.
Arab Detroit After 9/11
Is citizenship simply a legal status or does it describe a sense of belonging to a national community? For Arab Americans, these questions took on new urgency after 9/11, as the cultural prejudices that have often marginalized their community came to a head. Citizenship and Crisis reveals that, despite an ever-shifting definition of citizenship and the ease with which it can be questioned in times of national crisis, the Arab communities of metropolitan Detroit continue to thrive. A groundbreaking study of social life, religious practice, cultural values, and political views among Detroit Arabs after 9/11, Citizenship and Crisis argues that contemporary Arab American citizenship and identity have been shaped by the chronic tension between social inclusion and exclusion that has been central to this population’s experience in America. According to the landmark Detroit Arab American Study, which surveyed more than 1,000 Arab Americans and is the focus of this book, Arabs express pride in being American at rates higher than the general population. In nine wide-ranging essays, the authors of Citizenship and Crisis argue that the 9/11 backlash did not substantially transform the Arab community in Detroit, nor did it alter the identities that prevail there. The city’s Arabs are now receiving more mainstream institutional, educational, and political support than ever before, but they remain a constituency defined as essentially foreign. The authors explore the role of religion in cultural integration and identity formation, showing that Arab Muslims feel more alienated from the mainstream than Arab Christians do. Arab Americans adhere more strongly to traditional values than do other Detroit residents, regardless of religion. Active participants in the religious and cultural life of the Arab American community attain higher levels of education and income, yet assimilation to the American mainstream remains important for achieving enduring social and political gains. The contradictions and dangers of being Arab and American are keenly felt in Detroit, but even when Arab Americans oppose U.S. policies, they express more confidence in U.S. institutions than do non-Arabs in the general population. The Arabs of greater Detroit, whether native-born, naturalized, or permanent residents, are part of a political and historical landscape that limits how, when, and to what extent they can call themselves American. When analyzed against this complex backdrop, the results of The Detroit Arab American Study demonstrate that the pervasive notion in American society that Arabs are not like “us” is simply inaccurate. Citizenship and Crisis makes a rigorous and impassioned argument for putting to rest this exhausted cultural and political stereotype.