People come to America because it is attractive for their livelihood, or perhaps as an investment in their children’s future, and hopefully because they want to be a part of the dream. While the primary goal is to enjoy the benefits of living in the United States, every immigrant adds the seasoning of their own country’s origins to the American melting pot. Their values, language, behaviors, dress, and food become a cultural version of the Heisenberg effect.
As would be expected, the influences of immigrants on the American culture swing from magnificent to horrific. First-generation immigrants have contributed the science of Albert Einstein, the culinary delights of Daniel Boulud, and the entrepreneurial spirit of Elon Musk. Some not-so-amusing immigrants have also attempted to introduce culturally defensible rape, religious intolerance, and honor killings.
Up until the 1970s, American leadership seemed to understand that maintaining well-gauged immigration levels from all other nations would result in receiving valuable newcomers who took on more cultural influence than they brought from the old country. The usual result was beneficial perspectives that challenged tradition in a healthy way while exhorting Americans to appreciate and protect the rare freedoms given us by our founding fathers.
The most recent census reveals that over half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million people between 2000 and 2010 are from Hispanic origins. The majority of these residents are reported as having Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban origins. This pace of immigration and births from a distinguishable culture offers opportunities of both advantage and caution for the perpetuation of America’s greatness.
Not surprisingly, three-fourths of the Hispanic population increase during the 2000 to 2010 decade are of Mexican origin. Not only is Mexico geographically close, it is also an internal mess. People relocate to the U.S. from Mexico for two primary reasons; to work for much higher wages and to escape the fearful existence of a nation oppressed by drug cartels and corrupt government officials at all levels. An evocative video recently flourished through social media to encourage Mexico’s presidential candidates to clean up the country’s act. The fulfillment of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign promises is yet to be seen.
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