By Noah Tananbaum, Staff Writer
America has always been a country comprised of immigrants. Initially, Western European colonizers washed up on our shores. They have been followed by Irish families, German and Dutch settlers, Eastern European Jews and Chinese immigrants at the turn of the 20th century and, more recently, a large cohort of Hispanic immigrants. Our government and citizenry must realize that one of America’s great strengths is that we are made up of a diverse group of people with far-reaching cultures and backgrounds. This bolsters our country rather than hinders it.
The patterns of immigration illustrate that by the end of the century, the United States will more than likely become a “majority-minority” country. And yet, despite all of this, there are those in our country who feel threatened by the arrival of new immigrant families. While there is no doubt that there is a border crisis occurring in our country and that there are many undocumented workers living in here, these are issues that can be addressed. While it is eminently reasonable for Americans to be concerned with the effects that a fast-growing population has on job availability and government spending within the country, many Americans simply do not want more immigrants because they view them as an existential threat to their way of life.
Political scientists have studied this theme of a symbolic threat that immigrants represent and dubbed it the “acculturation threat hypothesis.” This hypothesis presents the idea that native-born citizens undergo a culture shock of sorts when their environment encounters a massive ethnic change, wherein they are exposed to different cultures and sets of values that ultimately create a wedge between the natives and the immigrants. To find evidence of this, look no further than the Super Bowl earlier this year. Coca-Cola ran a commercial which portrayed numerous different ethnicities living in America, all singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages. Sadly, this ad stirred up controversy with conservative members of the media, many of whom were outraged that anyone would have the nerve to sing “America the Beautiful” in any language other than English. This is a remarkably intolerant outlook on other cultures. If America is to succeed in the future then we must embrace multiculturalism rather than shun it. If the United States continues to reject multiculturalism, it will be to our own detriment. Immigrants enrich our country. Accepting them makes smart economic sense. There are brilliant people all over the world, many of whom come here with temporary visas, take what they learned here and bring it back to their country where they compete against us because they were not allowed to stay here on a permanent basis. When seeking a path to citizenship, immigrants are required to take a test that many Americans would fail. Having some form of a citizenship test is important but America must either modify the test or establish a broader, more sophisticated plan of educating those preparing to take the test, ensuring that they are on a more even playing field.
For years now, Democrats have attempted to push through comprehensive immigration reform and the Republicans have blocked their attempts. The immigration trends for the remainder of the 21st century are clear and if Republicans do not modify their stance on this particular issue, their constituency will become a minority. The issues that immigration creates are very real, but we have no hopes of solving them if we continue to express xenophobic tendencies and oppose the acceptance of those who would bring new ideas and cultures to our country.