Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan
Institute where she writes on immigration and citizenship.
She is the author of Someone Elses House: Americas
Unfinished Struggle for Integration and author and editor
of Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and
What It Means to Be American.
Henry Cisneros became the first Hispanic mayor of
a major U.S. city when he was elected mayor of San Antonio
in 1981. He served as secretary of the Department of Housing
and Urban Development in the Clinton administration and
later became president of Univision. Today, he serves as
chairman of CityView, a company that builds low- and moderate-income
housing in urban areas.
Phil Kasinitz holds a joint professorship at Hunter
College and the City University of New York Graduate Center.
He is the author of Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants
and the Politics of Race and the editor of The Handbook
of International Migration.
Noah Pickus is the director of the Kenan Institute
for Ethics at Duke University and teaches at the Terry Sandford
Institute of Public Policy and the Fuqua School of Business.
His latest book is True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration
and American Civic Nationalism.
Margie McHugh is the codirector of the National
Center on Immigrant Integration Policy at the Migration
Policy Institute. Formerly, she served for 15 years as the
executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
John Fonte is a senior fellow and director of the
Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute.
He has been a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise
Institute and has also worked for the U.S. Department of
Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
* * *
Good morning. Were here on what may turn out to be
a historic day. Deliberations in the Senate about comprehensive
immigration reform are at the nail-biting stage. But were
not here to talk about comprehensive immigration reform,
whether youre for it or against it. Instead, I would
argue that the subject we are here today to talk about is
even more important than the technicalities of immigration:
and that is what happens to immigrants once they come to
What we are talking about today is a very large group of
people finding their place here. There are already about
35 million foreign-born people living permanently in the
United Stated, and another 1.5 million coming every year
to settle. This is about their economic success and social
mobility; its about our competitiveness as a country.
As the Army says, if these immigrants dont find a
way to be all they can be, what will happen
to the United States? But its also about our cohesion
as a country. Can we imagine a common future together?
As you may have noticed, Ive been using the word
it. I havent explicitly mentioned todays
topic because, as important an undertaking as this challenge
is, we dont even have a word to use to talk about
it. One part of the political spectrum calls it assimilation.
Another part of the political spectrum calls it integration.
Others dont know what word to use. I would argue that
this is one of the greatest challenges facing us as a countrythe
Sputnik challenge of our era. Yet we cant even talk
about it with each other. The far-right folks talk about
it in one tone that tends to be angry and coercive: Were
going to have to make these immigrants tow the line.
Another group on the far left doesnt want to talk
about it at all. They are not sure it should happen. They
ask: Wouldnt assimilation mean immigrants having
to give up their identities?
This is one of the greatest challenges we face and we havent
yet got to the point where we can talk about it, plan for
it, or try to think about what we can do to help. That is
why I chose to title todays conference, You
Say Tomato, I Say Tomato. Its an intentional
pun that reflects the fact that I didnt know which
word to use because I was inviting both right and left and
didnt want to insult either side. I wanted to have
a conversation. So thats what were here to talk
about today. I feel that both the right and left have failed
the immigrants, and failed the nation, by not figuring out
a way to talk to each other about this. One side is punitive
and one side is afraid to deal with it. What were
hoping to do here is start a conversation in the middle
of the political spectrum where we can begin to talk about
it and then start to figure out how to address it.
Im especially pleased to be introducing Henry Cisneros.
Henry is a dear friend and will soon be a colleague as well.
Were going to launch a venture together that will
be devoted to trying to help foster immigrant integration
Im sure you all know Henry Cisneros as the first
Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city, San Antonio,
Texas, which he led in the 1980s; then, of course, as the
secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
from 1993 to 1997, with lots of accomplishments in between.
He is now running a company that builds homes for working
families. Its called CityView. Its based in
San Antonio but theyre building houses all over the
country. They have built 6,000 homes in 14 states including
300 to be opened in New Orleans this coming weekend. I could
go on and on telling you about his many accomplishments
but, without further ado, please join me in welcoming Henry
It is a treat to be here at Tamars invitation. I am
a great admirer of her intellectual energy. Its also
an honor to be an invitee of the Manhattan Institute, whose
work Ive admired over the years. Id like to
say a few words this morning not just about immigration
but, in particular, on the subject of what I like to refer
to as the process of Americanization.
We all know the significance of immigration in our society.
I serve on the board of an organization called the Merage
Foundation, which every year honors immigrants who are having
a positive impact on our society. In our first year, we
recognized two immigrants who represented the United States
in the corridors of world decision making: Secretaries of
State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. Weve
also recognized two sitting governors: Governor Granholm
of Michigan and Governor Schwarzenegger of California. Additionally,
we have recognized the leaders of American companies like
Intel and Yahoo. In fact, I saw a recent listing of 121
major American companies that are headed by immigrants.
I suspect this trend will accelerate in the years to come
as globalization brings more people across seamless borders
in the realms of business and financeand sheer talent
will determine who heads entities like those 121 companies.
Let us take a moment to look ahead to the future and try
to understand the demographics of our country. The numbers
that Im going to cite for you are not about immigrants
per se. They are more about demographic change. But theyre
important because they describe where America is going and
what it is going to look like. Today, there are about 300
million Americans. In 2000, according to the Census, we
had 280 million people. Were growing rapidlythe
number of people in the United States grew by 20 million
over the past seven years. The midrange estimates tell us
that in 2050 there will be about 410 million people. So
we will have gone from 280 million in 2000 to 410 million
in 2050, an increase of 130 million people in 50 years.
The breakdown of that 130 million new Americans will be
something like this: 18 million will be traditional white
Americans; 25 million will be African-Americans. Twenty-seven
milliona larger number than the African-American growthwill
be Asian-Americans, and these new Asian-Americans will include
an interesting mix. Americas growing Asian population
is not just Chinese and Japanese but includes a substantial
number of Filipinos, Indians, and Pakistanis, as well as
newer immigrants coming from Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia,
and many other nations in the Pacific. As many as 63 million
of the new Americans will be Latinos from a range of different
countries. The largest number, probably 70 percent, will
be from Mexico.
Let me say again that these figures are not fundamentally
about immigration. They are about two other dynamics that
are very important in understanding demographics: family
size and the average age of certain populations. Minority
families tend to be substantially larger than non-minority
families. Only ten percent of Americans live in a family
that has over five people. But over 25 percent of Latinos
live in a family with more than five household members.
In addition, the minority population is a lot younger than
the non-minority population.
This combination of youthfulness and family size will result
in the numbers and the demographic changes that Ive
just described. Some people worry about the size of the
minority population. In fact, when I was president of Univision,
which is a Spanish-language broadcasting company, I went
to a media conference at the Waldorf-Astoria and was describing
similar demographic changes as a reason for the growth of
that company. When I finished my presentation a lady at
the back of the room raised her hand for the first question.
I recognized her and she stood up and asked, Well,
cant somebody do something about this?
I was trying to describe these demographic changes as a
relatively positive thing, but she was petrified by these
numbers. The fact of the matter is that the answer to her
question is no, because nothing can be done
about these numbers. This is the shape of Americas
future, and it is as much a function of what Ive describedyouthfulness
and family sizeas it is an indication of the declining
size of the traditional American population, which is reaching
zero population growth.
If you look, for example, at the population distribution
of Texas or California by race, the white population looks
like a barrel with the fattest portion of it, that is to
say the most numerous, at the 45- to 55-year range and moving
northward of that. The minority population distribution,
particularly the Latino distribution, looks like a sideways
pyramid, with the fattest portion, that is to say the largest
number of people, at age zero to 20. All you have to do
is drive by a central city school at recess time to see
what the future of the country looks like.
Some people are worried about this. But let me give you
another kind of take on the significance of this for our
country. I have a longstanding relationship with some folks
in Japan. In San Antonio we just opened a 1.3-billion-dollar
Toyota plant in our city, which was the result of a 15-year
courtship. Ive been traveling to Japan and meeting
with top Japanese governmental and business officials for
many years to try to get this deal done. During my last
trip, I met with a business association akin to a national
Chamber of Commerce and these Japanese business leaders
were wringing their hands over a phenomenon that is just
beginning to occur: Japans population has peaked and
is starting to decline, and the nation is aging dramatically.
This scenario is not all that different from what other
countries such as France, Italy, and Germany are confronting.
They have peaked in population and will soon begin to decline.
They will also have to confront the issues associated with
being a decidedly older societyissues related to how
they will fund their health and social security systems,
and staff key institutions like their militaries. These
are tough issues because these countries have not been immigrant
societies. Northern industrial societies are aging because
they have been homogeneous and prosperous. We will have
serious problems in the United States, but that issue will
not be our problem because we have been an immigrant society,
and were going to have youthful energetic workers
filling in behind our older traditional populations.
Lets talk about the American future. I will tell
you, of all of my associations, and there are manyIm
a father, Im a husband, Im a Catholic, Im
a Democrat, Im a Texas Aggie, Im a lot of thingsat
the heart of it, the most important thing to me, my principal
identity, is as an American. I love this country. Born here
of immigrant parents, I have dedicated myself to all things
American: from Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, through the United
States Army, to service in a national administration. The
identity I most cherish is that which is associated with
being an American.
But I will also tell you that I worry about the future
of our country. I want our country to be as strong as it
can be, for as long as it can. Im a student of history
and Ive studied the Greek and Roman periods of dominance.
Now I study the United States. I study our 200-plus years
of presence on the world scene, and the last century or
so of real strength. Thats a short time in the long
span of world history. I would like this country to be a
beacon to the world. And I think this question of demographics,
immigration, and assimilation of the next generation of
immigrants goes right to the heart of how America continues
to be strong and continues to reinvent itself, how it continues
to adhere to what we would think of as American values.
Integration is the heart of the answer to these questions
because were not going to be able to remain strong
if the next generation of immigrants is relegated to a permanent
underclass. If we fail to help them develop their skills,
their education, their capacities, it will cause their trajectory
into American society to be different than that of immigrants
in the past. That will be a major impediment to the kind
of fluidity, upward mobility, and societal strength that
we want to build for the future.
This society is more complex than its ever been.
When immigrants came here at the turn of the last century
they didnt have to confront the reality of functioning
in a complex system of financial services, educational imperatives,
and a workplace that requires increasingly technical skills.
In my experience, Ive found that it is a harder country
for immigrants to be able to integrate into todayand
there are fewer supports for immigrants than at the turn
of the last century.
When Lithuanians, Poles, and Hungarians came to Chicago,
they were met by political organizations at the street level
that brought them coal in the winter and turkeys at Thanksgiving,
in order to make them part of the political system. When
they arrived in those neighborhoods in Chicago, there were
parish leaders at churches that wanted them to be part of
the congregation. Drive through Chicago sometime and you
can count 15 churches with one sweep of the eye. Every neighborhood
had its parish church that aggressively sought to bring
newcomers into the social structure.
Robert Putnam and others have documented well the breakdown
of the so-called civil society institutions, and the result
is that there are no street-level organizations that bring
the immigrants into the process today. Theyre pretty
much on their own. They do group around churches and neighborhood
organizations, and there are services for them in the community
development and neighborhood corporations. But too frequently
there is no Americanization component. There is only the
process of legalization. If, during this legalization process,
any comments are made to immigrants about the United States
at all, they are often hostile. Thats not what immigrants
need and thats not what they want to hear.
I live in one of the poorest Census tracts of San Antonio
in a home that has been in my family for generations. I
see the most recent arrivals out on the street at the church
one block away. These are people who may be here just a
matter of days. And I can tell you what those immigrants
want is affirmation that they made the right decision. Theyve
come a long way. They walked across the desert. They have
ridden trucks and trains to get here. Few Americans ever
have to make that kind of choice. And, when they get here,
they do not need to hear that the United States is somehow
wrong in its position in the world. What they need is help
integrating so they can make their full contribution. This
latest generation of immigrants wants the same thing that
immigrants wanted throughout American history.
Let me speak for a moment about the Latino component. These
are hardworking, entrepreneurial people, who want the right
things for their families. These are people who want to
make a contribution in this country, and we need them. One
Sunday I was in Phoenix and went to church at the cathedral
downtown, which is now a 100 percent Latino service. The
priest recognized me and asked me to stand with him at the
back of the church and greet people. And every single person
that I greeted was involved in some aspect of a construction
business. Maybe it was just that certain mass, but every
Martinez, Hernandez, Ramirez, and Gutierrez whom I met had
callused hands, blue jeans, dirty work boots, big belts,
and had a pickup truck in the parking lot with a sign that
said Martinez and Sons, and they introduced me to their
son who was working with them, their daughter who was keeping
the books, and their wife.
I can tell you at a personal level how gripping it was
for me to see these hardworking people, who so much of the
country doesnt understand. Now it is also painful
when I see a list like the one that I described from the
Merage Foundation that listed 121 businesses run by immigrants.
Only one of the 121 was a Latino, a Cuban; one out of 121.
It suggests to me a kind of bifurcation in the way we think
about immigrants. There are immigrants to whom we give H1B
visas who are technology people, who come to staff Silicon
Valley companies and New York financial companies. Then
there are the new immigrants whom we havent yet figured
out how to provide with the skills and support systems that
will enable them to rise into the mainstream of American
The only way we create the possibility that they and their
children will be the bearers of the American future is by
creating the support systems and the education system that
keeps America a fluidly classless and upwardly mobile society.
Thats the reason that Tamar and I are working with
colleagues to create a new organization called Our
Pledge, whose focus will be twofold. One focus will
be to bring the message of the importance of Americanization
to the immigrants, as well as the larger society, and to
make clear to them that their best hope is to sign on to
the American idea with no reservations. The other focus
will be to actually reach out through a network of affiliates,
allies, church groups, and community development groups
to bring an Americanization theme or regimen on top of the
legalization and social services that are now being offered.
Our goal is to change the conversation and go beyond the
language of assimilation, acculturation, or integration,
and offer immigrants a modern version of Americanization.
The message to the immigrants will be one that says over
15 yearsand we could quibble over how much time it
takesyou should commit to learning the English language,
being fluent, and becoming a citizen. You should also sign
on to the financial system; that means having financial
literacy, retirement savings, and homeownership. These elements
are essential to being part of the American middle class.
You should commit to a program that recognizes that your
children should do better than you have, which means becoming
committed to their education and involved in their school.
This is a 15-year program that should encourage immigrants
to sign on to the American notion of the rule of lawthat
this is a government of laws, not of menand encourage
civic participation and involvement in community activities.
Theres also a reciprocal message for the general society
as well: American society must keep the doors to the middle
class open. Opportunities for people to become homeowners
and to have excellence in the public schools are critical
stepping stones to the traditional American middle class.
If we close that door, then we have doomed ourselves to
a segmented society and we have truncated the possibilities
that Americas best days are still ahead. My most fervent
belief is that Americas best days are yet to come,
when we unleash the capabilities of men and women of all
ethnic groups and races, origins, and economic beginnings
and say to them: in this country you can accomplish many
Its an exciting time. This issue is important. I
commend you for your concern about it, and thank you for
inviting me to speak. I would be delighted to field any
questions you may have.
Q & A for Mr. Cisneros
MARTA TIENDA: Im really delighted that you
used the word Americanization. What does that
mean? To me, it conveys the sense of unity, one nation where
diversity may not divide but rather unite. It conveys a
message of a two-way street.
MR. CISNEROS: It conveys the most powerful message
about integration. I choose to use the word Americanization.
This is a choice. Those of us who make that choice will
pay some price. I will pay some price to my left, as people
attack the concept of Americanization. They will say it
is presumptuous to tell people that they need to Americanize
instead of recognizing their right to be who they want to
be and make choices about their own identifications.
But my vision is not of some sort of transnational America.
It is not some sort of borderless Artic Circle-to-Patagonia
concept of the Americas. It is not some sort of brotherhood
of man idea. The message that I want to send is that
there are a set of values that we call American values,
which are not only fundamental to being an American but,
by the way, are also helpful in getting ahead in this country.
In recent years the American left has entered the movement
toward political correctness, and has become unwilling to
use the word Americanization. But Americanization is what
has worked in the past. This is the American credo, if you
will. But the modern Americanization is not just about studying
the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, although those
are important elements. The modern Americanization is also
about how to fit into a complex, financially interwoven,
technologically literate society; how to apply American
values to this modern framework. Thats what I think
needs to be done, and thats what a modern Americanization
program would do.
LARRY MEAD: The thing that disturbs me about your
viewpoint is that you lay responsibility for your Americanization
entirely on society. Dont the individual immigrants
have a responsibility?
MR. CISNEROS: I have to take issue with your characterization
of what I have discussed. I talked explicitly about a reciprocal
understanding or relationship in which immigrants make certain
pledges. Our effort is being called Our Pledge,
which is a play on our Pledge of Allegiance to this country
and what it stands for. Our organization, Our Pledge, would
say to immigrants that they must act on a life program.
We said 15 years, because thats about what it takes
to get through the citizenship process. They should save
enough money to become a homeowner and start a retirement
program. If you start with low wages, it takes you a while
to get there. But the pledge includes learning the English
language, involving yourself with your childrens school,
and a commitment to duty in this nation, including military
service if the opportunity presents itself. I thought I
was fairly clear about what an immigrants commitment
to the society would look like.
Although I cannot speak for every immigrant from the one
hundred nations that come to this country, my sense is that
Latinos, in particular, are ready to sign on to a program
of self-improvement and self-commitment. It is true that
the first generation works very hard and we see some breakdown
as later generations take on some of the characteristics
of the society in which they reside. For example, when immigrants
move into the poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles that are
gang-infested and where the schools are failing, the second
generation often takes on some of the negative attributes
of those neighborhoods. But people start with a desire to
work hard, pay their taxes, and, given the opportunity,
they will take it and they will rise.
I spent yesterday morning with a New Yorker who is one
of the great heroes of our country today. His name is Geoffrey
Canada and he runs something called the Harlem Childrens
Zone. He was describing to me his view of a law of gravity
that occurs when young people are surrounded by gang members
and drug dealers and attend failing schools. Mr. Canadas
law of gravity says that these negative forces work to pull
children down. But, if they experience a positive change
in the neighborhood around them and their set of expectations,
they will rise. Mr. Canada has 122 young people graduating
this month from that Harlem neighborhood and going on to
some of the best colleges in the country. Part of what were
talking about is changing the psychology, conversation,
and expectations, so that the law of gravity can be inverted
and create the momentum to rise.
TOM HAYES: What are your feelings on establishing
an accelerated path to citizenship through service in the
military? Could such an idea close our military shortages
and offer training so that, after their stint in the military,
immigrants are integrated into our economy and provide value
MR. CISNEROS: Im a big fan of the military.
As a veteran myself, I know the socializing effect military
training can have on young people. This socialization is
particularly important to young men who traditionally rise
out of central city and other poverty environments and learn
leadership skills, a sense of belonging, loyalty to this
country, and a sense of patriotism that remains in them
for the rest of their life and gives them a completely different
trajectory. I could cite one hundred different examples,
including my own family where five of my relatives, my dad
and four of his brothers, rose from the farm country of
Brighton, Colorado and ended up serving in the Pacific.
All of them did wonderful things in their lives after military
service. Im a big fan of this idea. Most Americans
dont know the number of people who are not citizens
that serve in the military. There are processes by which
you become a citizen with service. Your suggestion that
this could be accelerated is an avenue we should explore.
The military could gain from this. It would reward people
for their service, build on our best values, and create
leaders. That process is long honored in our country, and
accelerating it strikes me as a good thing and something
we ought to pursue.
* * *
Now that Henry has inspired us about the importance of grappling
with this challenge, we have a panel of distinguished experts
to address how were going to meet it. Ive been
in this field now for over a decade, and you rarely go to
a meeting about immigration where somebody doesnt
start to talk about integration or assimilation. Its
increasingly recognized in this country that it is a challenge.
But there isnt a very developed discourse about how
we achieve it. For years people have been talking about
the fact that we need to develop an integration policy,
but nevertheless, years later, we dont have an integration
policy. Instead, integration is mostly left to families,
neighborhood groups, churches, and individuals to make their
I spend a lot of time in Europe asking Europeans about
how they handle their immigrant integration or assimilation
question. And its striking: virtually every country
in Western Europe has a very developed integration policy
with lots of money spent, classes offered, bureaucracies,
and requirements. But, despite the fact that they spend
a lot of money and effort on it, most countries in Europe
are having a fairly hard time with integration. Most European
countries dont actually understand what it means to
be a country of immigrants. I would argue that they have
the words but they do not quite have them to music yet.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S. we have the music down pretty
well, but we dont yet have the words. We dont
offer classes. We dont have any kind of policy. Were
not helping people. But todays immigrants are still
doing fairly well and I think its important at a conference
like this to highlight the fact that were not a talking
about a looming crisis.
Were not talking about a permanent underclass. We
might be talking about people who arent rising fast
enough, but I dont believe that were heading,
even in the worst-case scenario, for a permanent underclass.
Nor do I believe were heading for balkanization. Were
not heading for Yugoslavia and were not heading for
The danger we might be facing is an America where a quarter
of the population or more is not doing as well as they can.
If a quarter of the population is Latino in 2050 and theyre
not rising up socially the way immigrants traditionally
have risen in the past, that will be a serious problem for
America. So lets be clear: we are not talking about
an apocalyptic doomsday issue here, but we are talking about
an important challenge for the country.
Here are a few of the hard questions that I hope this panel
will face: What exactly are we talking about? What do we
mean when we talk about Americanization or integration?
How are we going to make Americanization or integration
I think traditionally there have been two ways of thinking
about integration. One is a way that emphasizes what I would
call objective behaviors or functioning. Are immigrants
learning the language? How well are they doing in school?
Are they rising up the socio-economic ladder? And then theres
another school that tends to think of integration in terms
of belonging and loyalty. The questions they ask are: Do
immigrants feel that theyre Americans? When immigrants
think in terms of us and them, who
do they consider us and who do they consider
them? I hope the panel will talk about these
two definitions of integration: the rising up socially definition
verses the belonging definition.
Im also hoping that we are going to have a conversation
about how we encourage and spur integration, especially
if we believe integration is about belonging. Who can spur
it? How do we help people without forcing them or encouraging
dependency? Whos going to pay for all this? These
are hard questions; Im glad I brought other smart
people here to answer them.
I agree with Tamar that it is time we turn our attention
toward this issue of incorporation. I use the word incorporation
for the simple reason that it is the most neutral one I
could come up with. But Im fairly willing to go with
The problem, of course, is Americanization has a history
and we dont always want to buy all of that history.
A globalized society and a globalizing world are issues
that we really have to cope with now. In many ways, the
left has tended to exaggerate the negative effects of globalization
on economic life, and the right tends to exaggerate the
negative effects of the globalization of the labor market,
which is immigration.
We spend an awful lot of time arguing politically about
the technical issues of the actual process of immigration
itself. We argue about issues of whos going to come
in, how many are going to come in, under what conditions
do we want to stop somebody from coming in, and whether
to build walls to stop them from coming in. But I think
if you look at the deep emotions that the issue of immigration
stirs today in this country, its not because people
are really concerned about the mechanics or the exact numbers
of people who are crossing the borders. It is about the
question of what types of Americans the new immigrants are
going to become or, more importantly, what sort of Americans
their children are going to become.
I have an interest in that proposition since Ive
been involved for the last decade in a book about the children
of immigrants. One of the reasons I got involved in studying
the children of immigrants is that I think that it is where
the rubber meets the road on this issue. The people who
came here as small kids, or were born here with immigrant
parents, have to figure out America for themselves. They
are in that very interesting but difficult position of trying
to become part of a society that their own parents did not
grow up in.
Integration is going to be the issue for the next half-century
even if we can magically make immigration stop tomorrow.
If an effective wall went up and suddenly there were no
more immigrants, we would still be facing the question for
the next half-century. So its about time that we started
thinking in terms of policy.
Id like to talk very quickly about a couple of headlines
in my forthcoming book about the children of immigrants.
I will start with a couple of quick headlines about what
I think is going on in New York and then offer some ideas
about where weve got to go in the future. We began
this projectMary Waters of Harvard, John Mollenkopf,
my colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, and myselfa
long time ago with the fear, common in social science literature
in the last decade, that there was a real danger regarding
the emergence of what Princeton University professor Alejandro
Portes initially called the rainbow underclass.
Portes and others were pointing out that there were some
real elements of the immigrant population where we could
expect real upward mobility, but they were also pointing
out that a significant portion of the immigrant population
was becoming part of an underclass that was joining native
minority groups that are not performing all that well from
socio-economic standpoint. Subsequently, these immigrants
and their children were being locked out of permanent opportunity
The good news is that our research shows that, in New York
at least, for the people who are now young adults, this
underclass scenario has not occurred. The incorporation
evidence is fairly overwhelming. By and large, the children
of immigrants are working and, by and large, theyre
earning more than their parents. Almost all are working
in mainstream parts of the economy, not in the same jobs
as their parents, which is interesting because it means
that although the Martinez and Sons construction
companies that Henry Cisneros referenced are obviously one
route of upward mobility, that route turns out to be fairly
unusual in New York.
For the book we looked at a number of different ethnic
groups in New York, and the results were quite interesting.
For example, when we looked at the children of Chinese immigrants,
we found that their rates of getting arrested are staggeringly
low. Sociologists will tell you that there should be a certain
amount of deviance. For other groups, particularly black
immigrants and Latinos, the rates of arrest for the children
of immigrants are quite a bit higher than those of their
immigrant parents, but also a lot lower than those of the
native minorities. In fact, theyre almost identical
to those of native whites their age.
While one would like the rate of arrest for the children
of immigrants to be lower, its also important to recognize
that you cant promote assimilation and only expect
them to assimilate the good stuff. At a certain point people
are going to turn into Americans, and I am proud to say
that I think thats a good thing, but there are going
to be some downsides to that. Our young people get arrested
at pretty high rates compared with other countries. We have
a large number of divorces, and we dont save enough
money. We should work on all of those things, but we shouldnt
consider those as the problems of the children of immigrants.
I dont think you can give immigrants a hard time for
starting to look more like us if youre really concerned
I would also say that, by and large, immigrant parents do
not need to be convinced that they need to work hard so
that their children have better lives than they do. Overwhelmingly,
thats why they came here, and overwhelmingly, thats
something that is their highest priority. What they often
need help on is how do to it. As a public school parent
I have to tell you that navigating the New York City public
schools is not easy. As a Ph.D.-educated educator, and third
generation in this country, I have a hard time figuring
out how that system works, so I can understand that less-educated
immigrants often cant make heads or tails of the system.
But whats interesting is comparing how different immigrant
groups navigate the system.
Chinese immigrants in New York are amazingly successful
in the educational system and, of all the groups weve
looked at, they are most likely to be in the public schools.
Theyre actually less likely than native African-Americans
to leave the public schools for private schools. Not only
are they much more likely to be in public schools, but they
are much more likely to figure out ways to make the public
school system work for them. It turns out that the best
guides to the public school system are in the Chinese newspapers.
They were the only newspapers in New York that covered school
board elections in the last years and a very substantial
amount of the advertising is for tutoring services, after-school
classes, and test-taking services.
Working on the book, I had to get people to translate the
newspapers because Im an American, so therefore my
language skills are terrible. Thats another thing
we assimilate in this country: the inability to learn foreign
languages. This is the downside to the fact that America
has been extremely effective in teaching people English.
We interviewed 3,200 people from the second generation,
and we asked each of them if they would rather speak in
their parents native language or would they rather
speak in English. Three people out of 3,200 said they would
prefer the interview to be conducted in their parents
native language. A couple of others would occasionally switch
back to their parents native language for a certain
conversation, but then quickly switch back to English. So
that is another big lesson from the book: overwhelmingly,
the children of immigrants are learning English.
In our research we did find some bad news, or at least
mixed news. While we started out worried about the potential
downward mobility of illegal immigrants, we ended up more
worried that the relative success of the children of immigrants
was, in fact, obscuring just how badly some of the native
African-American and Puerto Rican populations were doing.
Whether its misguided solidarity or just ignorance,
the fact that were using terms like black, Hispanic,
or persons of color rather than specifying national origins
in a lot of our data has actually obscured the extent to
which a certain real underclass has formed in some of the
native minority populations and in the Puerto Rican population.
If you look at the institutions that were set up specifically
to address the problems within minority populations in recent
decades and look at who those institutions now serve, youll
find that its overwhelmingly the children of immigrants.
Thats not a bad thing. If these institutions are incorporating
the children of immigrants it is very good. But it doesnt
mean that theyre necessarily addressing the issues
of the groups that they were originally set out to address.
I think thats an important point.
One change weve noticed is that, in New York, our
immigrant population is more Mexican than it was when the
people who were studying now first arrived in this
country. Mexicans are now about half the foreign-born population
in the United States, and about 95 percent of the politics
of immigration. All of the things that you hear people talking
about are focused on the southern border. In many ways,
we increasingly have two different immigration situations:
one is the Mexico situation and the other is the 140 other
countries of the world that make up the rest of the immigrant
population. These groups are pointing in different directions
and I think that they do have different concerns.
My real fear relates to the question of the increased numbers
of the undocumented. There are about 12 million undocumented
immigrants in this country. There are also two to three
million U.S. citizens who are being raised by those 12 million
undocumented people. It is a real problem when you have
two to three million children being raised by parents who
have no political voice in communities, who are isolated
from public participation for legal reasons, and who cannot
take advantage of some of the things that the people that
we studied took advantage of to help integrate in New York.
We have to start thinking about how to integrate these children
into this society. That is the real danger of an underclass.
That is what we have to be worried about at this point.
Tamar has asked me to give the historical perspective on
Americanization and what happened 100 years ago. And I want
to start by locating us in a room not very different from
In 1909, in New York City, a group of businessmen and other
leaders in the area came together and formed the National
Americanization Committee. The National Americanization
Committee was what we would today call a public-private
partnership. It was a range of organizations. It had relations
to government, but it wasnt directed by government.
It was one of the key parts of this Americanization movement
that touched school boards, unions, employers, parent-teacher
associations, state and federal agencies, and what we today
call the voluntary associations. The Sons and Daughters
of the American Revolution were represented. The mechanics
What pulled them together initially were worriesworries
and anxieties. They were concerned about corruption and
political reform. They were concerned about protective workforce
legislation. They were concerned about the devaluation of
American citizenship; some believed that the immigrants
didnt want to become citizensor wanted to become
citizens only because they wanted the benefits. They were
concerned about naturalization and they worried that the
political machines that Secretary Cisneros spoke of were
corrupt. By the way, those political organizations did a
great job getting my grandparents into this country and
These wide-ranging concerns drove the National Americanization
Committee and hundreds of groups like it across the country.
They were worried not only about the massive influx in immigration,
but also about the movement of African-Americans into the
North. They were worried about the vigorous entry of women
into politics. They were worried about things like the concentration
of authority in our economy and the lack of political control.
They were worried about the effects of science. In other
words, there was a crisis of confidence at the time in which
immigration was a key issue, but there was also a much larger
question about all of these changes and challenges taking
place at the same time. It was a question of whether American
citizens were up to all these tasks in the in the twentieth
The Americanization movement of the teens and twenties
gave a resounding answer to these concerns. The answer was
a confident, progressive kind of reform. Despite the doubts
they had about immigrants, the changing economy, and themselves,
they had the confidence, to use an oxymoronic term, to
make people natural. We would naturalize immigrants
in the sense of bringing them into the body politic, making
them part of the American polity, and, in doing so, use
the vehicles not only of immigrant groups but of American
society to reinvigorate doubts about our own flagging capacity
That sense of confidence was countered by those who were
deeply dubious about our ability to manage our affairs and
about the influx of southern and eastern Europeans. They
believed that the right approach was to close the doors
to immigration. What I think is important for our purposes
today is to recognize that, at that time, those in the Americanization
movement also represented a kind of left-right coalition.
In fact, they were brought together in that room in 1909
by a woman named Frances Keller who had studied at the University
of Chicago, had worked with Jane Addams in the settlement
houses in the Midwest, and had become a key political advisor
to Teddy Roosevelt. She was the Tamar Jacoby of her day.
For about ten or fifteen years she sought to coordinate
those different groups, but ultimately they split apart.
What I want to talk about today is the two approaches that
were taken by that left-right coalition, what happened,
and what lessons we might draw from that. The left side
of that coalition was represented by intellectuals like
John Dewey, Jane Addams and the settlement house movement,
and lots of other aligned organizations.
What Addams represented was often not well understood,
and its worth dwelling on it for a moment. It was
not a bureaucratic approach to dealing with immigrants
needs, nor was it based on the notion that all immigrants
needed to become an American was to learn the lofty principles
of the American creed. She didnt sneer at the creed.
She believed it was critical. But she understood that you
needed more than principles alone. She understood that you
need to meet immigrants immediate needs and concerns
about neighborhoods, family unity, health care, and education.
Heres one small example. Addams got herself appointed
the garbage inspector of the nineteenth ward in Chicago.
Her job was to go out at 6:00 a.m. and make sure that the
garbage was picked up. She used this job to reach into the
immigrant community and form relationships with the mothers.
She understood that there were structural issues that needed
to be addressed. There were problems with basic garbage
collection in the immigrant neighborhoods. But she also
understood that there were aspects of immigrant behavior
that were contributing to that and there were unsanitary
conditions in the homes. There were things that immigrant
mothers didnt understand and they needed to change.
Addams worked both at that individual behavioral level
and at the structural policy level. She did this in such
a way that it added a notion of common civic engagement
where people worked together and formed the emotional bonds
that come from a shared experience. In other words, theres
a practical dimension here, but theres also a rights
and responsibilities dimension. Addams understood that becoming
an American also had an emotional dimension which came,
in part, from the common experience. Sometimes that experience
was in the military, and sometimes it was in the settlement
The single most impressive group that I see out there today
that is replicating anything close to what Jane Addams did
is the evangelical churches. They have a very clear self-interest:
they want to save souls and convert parishioners to their
style of worship. But theyre also providing practical
services, helping people in their communities, and theyre
full of passion and emotion about the common experience
of working together.
The right side of the left-right coalition Ive been
talking about was represented by people like Teddy Roosevelt.
If you go back and read his speeches, you will hear him
say that we cannot have the policy of laissez-faire; he
thought that was vicious. Teddy Roosevelt said, If
an immigrant doesnt know justice, he cannot believe
in loyalty. This is Roosevelt saying we have to do
more. We cant just leave them alone. But he didnt
leave it at that. He also made significant demands on immigrants.
His demands may be uncomfortable for some of us today. He
did not believe in hyphenated Americanism at all. He completely
rejected dual citizenship. He wanted immigrants to understand
that they had to learn English and become American or there
would be penalties. In fact, if they didnt learn English,
they would be deported. These are not friendly demands.
These are very strict demands. It was a demanding Americanization,
and it was also an exclusionary one in many ways, particularly
toward Asians, but it was one that was also clearly oriented
against a policy of leaving immigrants alone and in favor
of integrating them into society.
What are some of the outcomes and lessons from this? One
thing that Ive mentioned is that Americanization has
a lot of different dimensions. Its about civic principles,
civic engagement, commonality, and forging an emotional
bond. As Secretary Cisneros mentioned, its about what
it means to be an American, not being embarrassed to say
that, and clarifying the bargain. By bargain, we mean what
American immigrants owe us in return. I think that is unclear,
not only to Americans today, but to immigrants. This is
a hard question that we have to come to terms with. The
demands of a Roosevelt-type approach also worked a little
magic in some ways. Its no accident that the despised
Irish of the early twentieth century eventually became part
of FDRs coalition that emphasized the fact that were
all Americans, that we have to have a shared American identity,
and that includes a certain economic floor to what it means
to be an American citizen. Over 20 years, thats a
Of course, there are risks to Americanization. The hyper-nationalism
of World War I brought about much harsher views regarding
immigration, and both the Addams-style integration and the
Roosevelt-style integration were deemed to be insufficiently
robust. What happened then is we decided to close the doors
to immigration, rather than deal with the difficulties of
incorporating immigrants. And thats our challenge
todaythats a mistake we dont want to make
I want to talk about some of the policy issues that were
facing. The first observation I would like to make is that
its not by accident that these issues regarding integration
or assimilation arent a rich part of our national
debate in Washington around immigration. I think its
important for everyone to be honest about that, and think
about the consequences of that. The people on the right
want to believe that we can do this inexpensively, and the
people on the left are afraid to admit that it costs any
money. Consequently, for the key people on both sides of
the debate, its a real nuisance to recognize the issues
surrounding integration. It drags down what theyre
trying to do on the immigration policy side of the debate.
This leads me to my second point which is that on the local
level, integration is the number-one issue. Immigration
policy is seen in light of how integration is working in
local communities. Its a little offensive to say to
some of you in this room, who have devoted your careers
to immigrant integration issuesat least in a place
like New Yorkthat were so behind on integration
policies. If you look at civic institutions in New York,
our many foundations and community-based organizations,
people who are working on school system issues, on higher
education, civic participation, the people who are dealing
with immigrant integration, all of these people have a lot
of expertise on these issues. The problem is that the national
debate only wants to talk about numbers and categories.
Integration issues are not making their way up into the
Id like to just focus on two issues that I hope will
ground this conversation in the choices were facing
at the local level right now. These are a few key issues
in local communities around the country. The first is pre-K-through-12
education. If you look at the data nationally, one in five
students in U.S. schools is a child of an immigrant. If
you look at places like New York or Los Angeles, over 50
percent, and sometimes two-thirds, of students are children
of immigrants. If you look at a lot of the new immigrant
destination counties around the country, there is a huge
impact from immigration. Some of these places had no experience
in dealing with immigrants. Certain school systems have
transitioned from being mostly native-born white to almost
entirely Hispanic in the past five years. Its an entirely
different set of issues to try and address when a school
is dealing with limited English proficiency.
In terms of the left-right approach, weve been thinking
a lot about No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in the context of
the impact that a federal immigration reform bill might
have on states and localities. There has been a huge outcry
from school systemsthose with historically high immigrant
numbers and those experiencing changes in their immigrant
population because NCLB says that all children, even
non-English-proficient recent immigrants, need to be tested,
which affects the overall scores for the district.
We need to figure out how to get the testing right. There
are children who come into schools in the tenth grade. They
receive two years of English language education and they
are expected to pass the same English exit exam as children
who have been in the system for 12 years. Either its
too easy an exam for children who have been in the system
for 12 years, or its probably too hard an exam for
children who have been here for only two years.
On the left you have people saying that these exams are
unfair and we need to let these children have more time,
lighten up on the testing, and have a different approach
to how we count their test results. The right would say
that this testing philosophy is good, that this is the sort
of pressure we wanted to put on schools, and that we want
to have a unified standard. If the schools cant meet
it, well find somebody who can, as if the market will
somehow create a pipeline of teachers that know how to teach
these kids, and the market will somehow create the curriculum
thats needed to teach them.
I think its pretty clear that theres a real
problem with both approaches to trying to help kids like
this succeed. Theres a huge issue with curriculum.
I think New York has a lot to teach other parts of the country
right now, particularly in the new destination states. Theres
a very big issue in some of the new destination states with
how to teach these children who dont learn English
by magic. At the Migration Policy Institute, were
talking to four statesNorth Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee, and Georgiaabout working together to develop
a teaching college program to try to get more certified
English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. I just want
to point out that there are very big issues in K-12 education
that should be beyond politics, and both sides are getting
it wrong. I think we can all agree that these are children
we need to educate. Theyre an enormous part of the
future workforce. It does us absolutely no good as a society
to not educate these children.
Right now, under various federal reimbursement programs,
states get about $136 per child who has limited English
proficiency. You can imagine what it feels like for education
officials in states and localities to witness this tremendous
change in the immigrant population and then learn that only
$136 per kid in federal aid is on the way. In past years,
particularly during the legalization program that happened
under President Reagan, there were amazingly generous aid
programs that helped fund a variety of the costs that state
and local economies were incurring as a result of unauthorized
Let me move to the issue of adult English-language acquisition.
We can all agree that this is something that both the left
and the right want to see happen. We used to say in my work
in New York that learning English was the most effective
antipoverty program for immigrants. I know some of you have
united neighborhood houses and are still working very hard
to increase the amount of money thats going to quality
programs in this area. We need to provide opportunity but
we also need to have higher expectations of immigrants in
terms of the discipline to follow through with classes.
Frankly, learning a foreign language as an adult is hard,
and we dont do anybody a service by acting like all
you need is a six-month course at your local church a few
nights a week.
If you look at Census data regarding the number of people
who are here both as lawful permanent residents and people
who are unauthorized, we need to provide several billion
new hours of English- language instruction over the next
seven years. To learn English it requires somewhere between
300 to 600 hours per person, depending on the profile of
person youre talking about. On the left, you have
proposals that represent what I call the fire hose
approach. They say, Lets throw a few hundred
million dollars a year at this problem. The left basically
makes this money a giveaway of formula grants to states,
so that just by having a body that needs to learn English
in your state you get money. The right makes proposals for
things like a $500 fee that the immigrant would pay, and
then that becomes a voucher to go look for classes. You
can imagine how little someone will get with $500.
Adult education is plagued by problems with teacher certification
and quality curriculum. Im proud of a lot of the programs
here in New York that have been chosen by immigrants on
their own or with leadership from the city. The Department
of Youth and Community Development is a place that has really
tried to work to upgrade the quality of what theyre
doing, and I think people from around the country have a
lot that they can learn from us on this.
This is such an important moment for the reform of adult
education around the country. No matter what we do on the
issue of immigration reform, its going to result in
tremendous new demand on the adult education system all
around the country. Almost all of us have a reason to be
unhappy with how the system is functioning, particularly
at the community college level. It is a system were
going to rely on more and more as we deal with the rise
of the Indian and the Chinese economies. We know that were
going to have to have more of our workers up-skilled
in the course of their careers.
Theres a lot of reluctance to invest money in this
adult education system now, with standards where they are.
I annoy a lot of people by saying I think we need an NCLB
for the adult education system. We need much stricter standards
with regard to who is teaching and what theyre teaching.
At this moment its very discouraging. All we have
are stereotypical left or right proposals that contain none
of the nuances needed to make the progress we need to make
on these issues.
Ill just end by saying that since youre all
New Yorkers, I hope you all know that once we get past the
ideological left-right stuff, there are complex systems
underneath and theyre really different state-by-state.
Were just losing so much time by not getting to those
issues. We have a moment right now, with this immigration
reform debate, when there could be more money available
for these systems, and I believe its critical that
we get it right.
Theres a book available from our organization, the
Migration Policy Institute, called Securing the Future.
Theres a chapter in it about the money that we put
in to state legalization-impact assistance grants during
the 1986 immigration reform. This was billions of dollars
that came down through the systems, and it left nothing
in its wake. We got none of the benefits that we could have
gotten from that program because we didnt do any of
this thinking beforehand. Lets not make that mistake
again. People from the local level who are concerned about
these issues must exert some influence on the national debateand
must show policymakers in Washington the reality of where
we need it to be.
I was going to start off today by attacking the word integration,
because I think its basically a weasel word. But I
have been very delighted and heartened to hear the word
Americanization used a lot today. Over the last couple of
years Ive talked about patriotic assimilation
and developed a theory on it. But the best word of all is
Americanization. Tamar asked us to respond to what Americanization
is, but Ill use assimilation here because its
a little easier. I will define what it is first, and then
talk about how we encourage it and who should encourage
There are different types of assimilation. Certainly one
worth talking about is linguistic assimilation, or the learning
of English. In order to function in society, learning English
is, obviously, necessary. Then theres what you call
economic assimilation, which is when you have a job, youre
gainfully employed, and joining the middle class. Then theres
cultural assimilation. Phil Kasinitz noted earlier that
this comes with positives and negatives. You can be assimilated
into Britney Spears and popular culture. This sort of thing
happens when people become Americans. Theres also
civic integration, which sometimes means the immigrant is
integrated into our political system, votes, pays taxes,
and participates in public life in some way. All of these
are important, but Im going to discuss why theyre
not really quite enough.
I talk about patriotic assimilation, or Americanization.
Patriotic assimilation is essentially adopting the story
of Americaadopting the narrative, as academics would
call it. To give a hypothetical example, lets take
an eighth-grade girl, a Korean studying American history.
Shes studying the constitutional convention in Philadelphia.
She may think: Thats something that was done
200 years ago, before my Korean ancestors came to the United
States. Thats something that white males did.
Thats not patriotic assimilation. But if she thinks:
We Americans developed this Constitution, then
shes adopting the story of America. Of course, she
doesnt have to agree or support everything weve
done. When learning about the Mexican-American War, this
hypothetical Korean girl may think: Well, I would
have agreed with Lincoln, I would have been against the
war. And that is fine. Americans do argue about their
history. But she should adopt the story of America as her
ownthat is the key to patriotic assimilation.
How should we encourage Americanization? Woodrow Wilson
encouraged it. He declared July the 4th and July the 5th,
1915, to be national Americanization days. He sent his cabinet
and his political supporters out and they spoke around the
country at naturalization ceremonies on the subject of Americanization.
Wilson spoke in Philadelphia, Louis Brandeis spoke in Boston,
and others spoke in different places. My favorite Americanization
speech is the one Brandeis gave at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
We could do something similar today. The Bush administration
has started talking about Americanization, as some of us
have urged, but its getting late in the game at this
I want to bring up a few touchy subjects. In some cases
with Muslim integration, weve seen people who are
economically and linguistically assimilated, but not patriotically.
Economic and linguistic assimilation is not enough. We saw
recently in the case of the Fort Dix terror conspiracy that
immigrants were in different categories. Some were legal,
some were legal permanent residents, and some were illegal
One thing we might want to think about is that, for most
of the twentieth century, we did have ideological tests
for immigration. After McKinley was assassinated, President
Theodore Roosevelt said that he didnt want any more
anarchists coming here. If you believed in anarchy, or if
you wrote an article supporting anarchy, you werent
allowed to immigrate to the United States, which later applied
to Nazis and Communists.
Now, in the twenty-first century, I think it makes little
sense to have someone who wants to establish Sharia Islamic
law in the United States to come in as an immigrant. Obviously,
someone who rejects the Constitution and American democracy
shouldnt get an immigration visa. They could possibly
get a visa to come here and debate somebody, but they shouldnt
necessarily be getting immigration visas.
What do we do? We need a bully pulpit for national leaders.
National leaders from both parties need to talk about Americanization.
And we need specific measures. We need a mix of carrots
and sticks. Senator Lamar Alexander introduced an amendment
to the immigration bill last year. It passed 99 to one.
The idea was to support what he called the patriotic
integration of immigrants into the American way of life
and to study American heroes, including military heroes.
That bill should be passed.
We should reform ESL and civic education. Currently theres
a lot emphasis on how to catch a bus, how to make a doctors
appointment, other practical questions. As Margie pointed
out, these practical concerns should be addressed but there
should also be some discussion of American history, the
I think that for 30 or 40 years in this countryand
this is right out of Herman Badillos bookthere
has been a movement toward a multilingual, multicultural,
anti-assimilation idea of group preferences for immigrants.
This includes bilingual education programs that dont
teach children English. Theres no reason for any of
this at this point, so lets dismantle the anti-assimilation
regime that we have in place.
Executive Order 13166 requires that federal documents be
translated into foreign languages. Lets make an effort
to dismantle that regime. Theres no reason for people
in the United States to be voting in a foreign language.
I think any of us could vote properly if we got a foreign-language
ballot where we saw Bush and Kerry.
One other topic that I want to bring up is the issue of
citizenship and national allegiance. I want to give you
one example that really struck me. In an April Chicago Tribune
story titled Influence on Both Sides of the Border,
a man in charge of the State of Illinois new Americanization
office [Office of New Americans Policy and Advocacy], Jose
Louis Gutierrez, is quoted as saying that The nation-state
concept is changing. You dont have to say Im
a Mexican, or Im an American. You
can be a good Mexican citizen and a good American citizen
and not have that be a conflict of interest. I think
thats a problem. I think the head of the new Americanization
office should be talking about loyalty to the United States,
not loyalty to another country. I dont think they
should be dual citizens. In our citizenship ceremonies we
ask new citizens to take an oath of absolute allegiance.
We ask them to absolutely renounce all allegiance to a foreign
stateand then we tell them that its okay to
go and vote in another countrys election? Americans
should not be running or voting for offices in foreign nations.
I want to close with Theodore Roosevelt, who had a completely
different view than the gentleman who heads the office of
Americanization in Illinois. About 100 years ago, Theodore
Roosevelt said: If the immigrant comes here in good
faith, becomes an American and assimilates himself, he shall
be treated with the exact equality as anyone else, for its
an outrage to discriminate against any such man because
of creed, birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated
upon that man becoming an American and nothing but an American.
There can be no divided allegiance here. Anyone who says
hes an American and something else is not an American
at all. We have room for one loyaltythats loyalty
to the American people. I think 85 to 90 percent of
the American people would still agree with that statement
today. Thats Americanization.
I do have to say one thing about the comprehensive immigration
reform bill. What we really need is a comprehensive assimilation
bill. If the president started with this, he might be having
less difficulty. The main problem with the comprehensive
immigration reform that were seeing today is that,
ironically, its not comprehensive. It doesnt
deal with assimilation. It doesnt deal with dual citizenship
and it doesnt deal with bilingual education. If it
did, then it might be a real comprehensive assimilation
package, and it might be having an easier time. But thats
not whats out there now. What we really need first
is comprehensive assimilation. Then well talk about
comprehensive immigration later on.