Wave on Wave
Pew Social & Demographic Trends has interesting data on the three big immigration waves in American history.
The report on second-generation Americans concludes:
Some scholars of immigration have questioned whether today’s immigrants and their offspring will be able to match the high levels of intergenerational upward mobility experienced by much of the immigrant stock of the 19th and early 20th centuries.7
The skeptics cite many factors: Most modern immigrants are non-white and thus face deeply ingrained social and cultural barriers; about a quarter of today’s immigrants (the vast majority of whom are Hispanic) have arrived illegally and thus must navigate their lives in the shadows of the law; globalization and technology may have eliminated many of the jobs that provided pathways to the middle class for earlier generations of hard-working but low-skilled immigrants; the relative ease of travel and communication have enabled today’s immigrants to retain their ties to their countries of origin and may have reduced incentives to adapt to American customs and mores.
It is beyond the scope of this report to make definitive statements about the success of today’s second-generation immigrants compared with those of earlier eras. Most of our data trends do not extend that far back in history. Moreover, with so many of today’s second generation just now starting to age into adulthood (16 million are under the age of 18), and with more than a million new immigrants continuing to arrive each year, it will take decades before one can attempt a comprehensive generational scorecard of the modern wave of immigrants and their children.
If people who oppose large scale Hispanic immigration turn out to be correct it won’t matter anyway. The damage will have been done.