5.21.2007

Immigration anxiety is cultural

Navarrette: Immigration anxiety is cultural (by Ruben Navarette Jr., CNN - 5.21.07)

On Thursday, senators announced a rather remarkable bipartisan compromise on immigration reform...The same day, the Census Bureau reported what many Americans already know: The United States is becoming a Hispanic nation.

The stories are connected. Anti-illegal immigration crusaders claim their worries are entirely practical -- tied to border security or the cost of entitlements or the fact that illegal immigrants supposedly depress wages for the low skilled.

As someone who has written about immigration for more than 15 years, and heard from hundreds of thousands of readers along the way, I can tell you that most of the anxiety over illegal immigration is cultural.

People worry about changing demographics, the encroachment of Spanish, the fear that the country is becoming Hispanic-ized, etc. One sociologist called it "cultural displacement" -- the fear that your children will grow up in a world different than the one you grew up in, with fewer advantages, where they will have to work harder for what they accomplish.

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