With the arrival of millions of Latinos in recent decades, there have been multiple reasons to wonder if they would assimilate and thrive — including legitimate economic issues that go well beyond ethnic stereotypes. Unlike previous generations of immigrants, today’s can remain in daily telephone and video contact with their homeland. And unlike those in the past, today’s immigrants face legal obstacles, and their pathway to a middle-class life involves college tuition. A decade ago, the political scientist Samuel P. Huntington described the newfound issues with assimilation as simply the “Hispanic challenge.”
Yet as the Senate begins to debate a major immigration bill, we already know a great deal about how Latinos are faring with that challenge: they’re meeting it, by and large. Whatever Washington does in coming months, a wealth of data suggests that Latinos, who make up fully half of the immigration wave of the past century, are already following the classic pattern for American immigrants.
They have arrived in this country in great numbers, most of them poor, ill educated and, in important respects, different from native-born Americans. The children of immigrants, however, become richer and better educated than their parents and overwhelmingly speak English. The grandchildren look ever more American.
“These fears about immigrants have been voiced many times in American history, and they’ve never proven true,” Alan M. Kraut, a history professor at American University, in Washington, told me. “It doesn’t happen immediately, but everything with Latinos points to a very typical pattern of integration in American life in a generation or two.” Hispanics, the New Italians - NYTimes.com (via dendroica)