Horchow: Good morning. I hope you all had a good night's sleep and are well rested and ready for this program that we've prepared for today.
I would like now to introduce our moderator for the program, who I must thank publicly for all that she did to bring this whole program together. Without Lee Cullum, we wouldn't have such an interesting program. She's arranged all of the topics and all of the speakers. As I gave credit to my wife for the topic, “Immigration,” I give credit to Lee Cullum for this entire program.
Lee, as you probably know, is a very well-known author, columnist and TV personality, and I'm happy to announce ahead of the press, that she will be launching a new program this February called “CEO,” and it's going to be on public television, so please tune in immediately, beginning in February.
Lee will now introduce our various speakers and lead the program the rest of the day. Eating will take place in the Venetian Room. Talking will take place in here, visiting in the hall. This evening we will have a similar program outside and then the dinner in the Venetian Room. At the conclusion of our program today at 3:30, we'll have cookies and various things here. Those of you who would like to stay around and visit with the panelists and with each other, you're welcome to stay as long as you want, as long as you're ready to come back at 6:30.
Thank you very, very much, and without further ado, I would like to introduce Ms. Lee Cullum.
Cullum: Roger and I first discussed this program last January at lunch, and, of course, my worry was that this would all be settled and Congress would have passed all the necessary reforms and it would be a dead issue. Well, I needn't have worried about that. Senator Cornyn is here and he knows how hard he worked to try to get it settled, but it's still very much a live issue and I'm so pleased we're discussing immigration today.
When I think about migration, I'm reminded, oddly enough, of Virginia Woolf, who I thought was the finest novelist of the 20th century. She wrote once about her mother, the beautiful Julia Duckworth, who was widowed at a young age with three children: two sons and a daughter. She remained widowed for eight years and then married the intellectual Lesley Stephen and had four more children, including Virginia Woolf. And Woolf wrote this of her mother, upon her remarriage: "She came to see, in all its ramifications, that joy must be endured along with sorrow."
We are going to talk today about the joys of immigration, along with the sorrows that inevitably attend it, at least in the minds of some. It's a very misunderstood subject. Phil Martin of the University of California at Davis, said at a symposium here in October, put on by the Tower Center and the Dallas Federal Reserve, that "Migration is a process to be managed, not a problem to be solved." Not everyone agrees with that formulation, but one who knows a great deal about immigration is Dr. Caroline Brettell, who is going to survey the situation for us here in Texas.
Carol Brettell is the interim dean of Dedman College at SMU. Dedman is the humanities college, the core college of SMU, and to my mind, she has the second most important academic post on the campus. We're very lucky to have her there. Before that, she chaired the anthropology department at SMU, developed great expertise in the area of immigration, and is currently doing a special study on migrant communities in Dallas. Carol doesn't just study these communities; she gets to know the people living in them and she tries to be helpful.
Earlier last year Carol brought to my house one afternoon, two engineers from India who were facing very great personal difficulties because of a fluke in our visa laws. One of them worked for Texas Instruments. He was married to a woman who worked at TI also. They had a baby daughter named Tricia, but before too many months, his wife was going to have to return to India because she couldn't get her work visa renewed and she would not be able to return to the country for over five years, nor could he go and visit her in India for longer than six months or he would risk losing his place in line for citizenship. Their daughter was an American citizen, born here, could stay here, but as a practical matter, she would go to India with her mother. And it was a very difficult situation. The other engineer was facing exactly the same thing.
Carol hoped that some media attention might call this problem to the attention of politicians in Washington and maybe they could correct the fluke in the visa laws. I don't know if that has happened yet or not. Senator Cornyn is speaking after lunch. He chairs the Immigration Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee; he will have all the answers to legislative questions, and we're happy that he's here today. Plus Senator Hutchison will be speaking this morning.
I would like to add that Carol became interim dean unexpectedly and very luckily for the university. She quite reasonably could have backed off from this commitment, but she didn't, and I appreciate it and I know Roger Horchow does too. So thank you for that, Carol.
I would also like to add that our last panel of the day - which was Roger's idea - a group of great success stories among immigrants, was put together pretty much by Carol. Over half the people I found through her. Carol Brettell is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of this program. And moreover, she corrected my Latin. I thought that the title should be E Pluribus Pluribus. She and her husband, Rick Brettell, realized the Latin was all wrong and she changed it to the plural, I believe, Plures. And I'm grateful for this correction, too, and happy to introduce Carol Brettell.
Brettell: Good morning. I want to thank the Philosophical Society for this invitation. I'm looking forward to a very interesting day and learning from other people as I share some of my own thoughts.
I will begin by warning you that I'm going to present you with a lot of material very quickly because this is a very complex and multifaceted problem, and the complexity is part of the significance of my title: “Out of Many, Many Things.” That's really what we're facing. So bear with me; listen hard.
The first thing I want to present is a little bit of historical background. Scholars of immigration divide the history of immigration in this country into several waves. We are now in the fourth wave with an open time period. But the point here is, of course, that immigration goes way back to the founding of the country and different things happened during different waves. Particularly important is that during each wave of immigration, different kinds of newcomers came, and each of these populations was defined as "other" at the time. Catholics were very much "other" during the second wave of immigration; eastern and southern Europeans were very much "other" during the third wave of immigration which ended in 1924 with the National Origins Quota Act. Then we had a rather quiet period, with very limited immigration until we reopened the United States to immigrants in 1965. Although a return to European immigration was expected, pretty quickly the major sending countries were from Latin American and Asia.
The figures demonstrate that during the second and third waves, roughly 14% or almost 15% of the U.S. population was foreign-born at the high points for these waves. Then you come to the fourth wave. Between 1970 and 2000, we admitted more than 20 million persons as permanent residents. Some three million of these in 2000 were formerly illegal and able to legalize. The proportion of the foreign-born increased from 7.9% of the total population in 1990 to 11.1% in 2000; the estimate for 2005 was 12.4%.
The main point here, thinking historically, is that the total number of foreign-born was smaller at the height of the third wave of immigration, but the proportion of the total population was larger. This is an interesting difference between the third wave - many of our grandparents, our great grandparents came during that third wave - and immigration today.
In talking about the fourth wave, which is really what we're focused on and why we're dealing with these policy issues today, here are some of the things to which I will draw your attention: where are immigrants going nationwide; how does the state of Texas fit into the national picture of immigration; what is happening in Texas metropolitan areas by comparison with other metropolitan areas across the nation. Toward the end of my presentation I will focus on the study funded by the National Science Foundation that we've been doing over the last several years in the Dallas area. Clearly, this is the city I live in and the city that I know best. I will conclude with a consideration of the title of this talk – what we need to be thinking about regarding E Pluribus Plures, “Out of Many, Many Things.”
To begin, where are the immigrants going nationwide? Immigrants are settling in traditional gateway cities of immigration in significant numbers. What are these cities? They're cities you all know: New York City, with a foreign-born population that was 34% of the total population in 2000; Chicago, another city where over a third of the population was foreign-born in 2000; Los Angeles, with almost 41% of the population foreign-born in 2000; and then Miami where almost 60% of the population in 2000 was foreign-born. People tend to think about Miami as a Latin American city, with good reason.
Figure 1 shows the top ten receiving states, with California and New York at the top and Illinois at the bottom. To some extent these rankings are fueled by those big metropolitan areas that are in the list of traditional gateway cities, but the inclusion of Nevada and the District of Columbia on this list is rather interesting.
Top Ten States for the Foreign Born as a % of the Total Population, 2000, 2005
California: 26.2% (2000); 27.2% (2005)
New York: 20.4% (2000); 21.4% (2005)
Hawaii: 17.5% (2000); 17.2% (2005)
New Jersey: 17.5% (2000); 19.5% (2005)
Florida: 16.7% (2000); 18.5% (2005)
Nevada: 15.8% (2000); 17.4% (2005)
Texas: 13.9% (2000); 15.9% (2005)
District of Columbia: 12.9% (2000); 13.1% (2005)
Arizona: 12.8% (2000); 14.5% (2005)
Illinois: 12.3% (2000); 13.6% (2005)
If you look at the top ten states according to the change in the foreign-born population between 1990 and 2000, some other interesting dimensions being to emerge. States like North Carolina and Georgia appear at the top of the list; Nevada, number three; Arkansas, number four; and, of course, Texas is in there as a reference point at number seven. You can begin to see that there's something else that has been going on in the last 15 years, particularly during the decade of the ‘90s: states without traditional gateway cities are experiencing the most dramatic change in relation to the growth of foreign-born populations.
Finally, if you look at the data by the rank of the percent change in the foreign-born, additional states comes on line so to speak: Arkansas and Georgia are there, but also Tennessee and Nebraska, and between 2000 and 2005, South Carolina and New Hampshire join the list. This illustrates that the foreign-born population continued to grow in new regions of the country, even after 9-11.
What conclusions can we draw from these tables? A number of interesting trends have been happening: in addition to the traditional gateways, there are these emerging gateway cities which have seen a rapid increase in the proportion of the foreign-born, particularly during the 1990s. For examples: Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., an extremely interesting case, Atlanta, and also the Dallas-Fort Worth and particularly Dallas metropolitan area.
These terms of emerging and pre-emerging gateways I borrow from my friend and colleague, Audrey Singer, at the Brookings Institution who has written a particularly interesting paper on these urban classifications. She and I and a geographer at the University of Oregon are working on a Brookings book, actually, on suburban gateway cities, which I'll come back to in a minute.
Among pre-emerging gateways are cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina, that have seen a significant change. The “New South” is a term that refers to those states that didn't have a lot of experience prior to 1990 with foreign-born or immigrant populations, but that now have intense experience and are trying to adjust to that experience in terms of bilingual education in the schools and all kinds of issues that one faces when you have a rapid increase in the foreign-born population. States like North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee are all in this category.
Two other trends: immigrants are directly settling in suburban America, and I'm going to come back to that in particular. They are also settling in rural areas, so you get states like Arkansas on the list, and again, a lot of that is in relationship to jobs. Also Iowa and Nebraska, again, places without a whole lot of experience prior to 1990 with the foreign-born are now experiencing population change. The issue is widespread distribution, not to say that the bulk of immigrants aren't still going to those traditional gateways, but there are all kinds of other trends happening.
So what about the state of Texas - because I know that's partly what you're interested in. To kind of situate the state of Texas, it's ranked 3rd out of 51 in the size of the foreign-born population in 2000; 7th out of 51 in the percent of the foreign-born in the total population in 2000; 2nd out of 51 in the numeric change in the foreign-born population from 1990 to 2000; 23rd out of 51, as you saw, in the percent change in the foreign-born from 1990 to 2000 (note that 51 includes the District of Columbia).
Some other issues: 46.1% of the foreign-born in Texas entered during the 1990s - just to reemphasize how important that decade was for the kinds of questions and issues we are confronted with today. In 2000 the proportion or foreign-born, in terms of countries of origin, was almost three-quarters coming from Latin America, not something that would surprise you at all.
Of the total foreign-born in Texas, broken down by country of origin, shows that almost 65% were born in Mexico, and then the next largest group are the Vietnamese at 3.7%. You can see the huge gap between the proportion of Mexicans and the next largest group. Comparing that to the rest of the nation, where nationwide the Mexicans are the largest group of foreign-born (29.5%) followed by the Filipinos (4.4%) and the Indians (3.3%).
A third of foreign-born individuals in Texas are citizens. We are under the national average (40%), but I think that's also explained probably by, again, the disproportion number of people from Mexico. Also, almost 90% speak a language other than English at home. A quarter of Texas' foreign-born live in poverty, which is 15.8% of foreign-born citizens. Compare that to the national average, which was 18% in 2000, just to situate, again, your state.
If we look at 2005 American Community Survey data - and this is going to get me into the urban issues that I'm going to focus on as we go on this morning - I've divided the cities of Texas into three categories.
The border metropolitan areas where you see over 25% of the population is foreign-born; cities like Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo. I think that's one issue to deal with. I think we need to start looking at different urban metropolitan areas because you're going to face really different kinds of issues in relationship to the proportion of foreign-born and the composition of foreign-born, and of course, then local economies and all kinds of other things.
Then we have West Texas metros, like Amarillo, Abilene, and San Angelo, with much smaller percentages of foreign-born, but nevertheless, not insignificant which I think, again, reflects this trend of foreign-born populations moving into more rural areas, obviously following the jobs, whatever they are. But that's a second category in our state.
And then the big metropolitan urban areas like Houston, Austin-Round Rock, and San Antonio. Austin, in fact, in Dr. Singer's categorization, is a pre-emerging gateway. It hasn't quite had as dramatic an increase as the emerging gateway cities. Actually, Austin is a chapter in our suburban gateway books. There's a very good geographer down at UT Austin named Emily Skop, who has written the chapter on Austin for our publication.
So let's get to the Dallas metropolitan area, an emerging gateway city of immigration. In figure 2 you simply see the increase in the population itself. Those of us who are living in this area know that we now have traffic problems which we probably didn't have in 1980. Overall, the population itself, of course, has increased dramatically both in the city of Dallas and in the larger metropolitan area. This has been one of the biggest growth areas in the country in general.
1980: Approximately 974,000 in the city (Metropolitan Area: 2,055,000)
1990: Approximately 1,006,000 in the city (Metropolitan Area: 2,676,000)
2000: Approximately 1,188,000 in the city (Metropolitan Area: 3.5 million; CMSA*: 5.2 million)
2005: Metropolitan Area: 3.8 million; CMSA*: 5.7 million)
*Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area
In terms of the growth of the foreign-born population, between 1990 and 2000, the foreign-born population almost doubled (from 7.9% to 15% of the total population), and that's one of the criteria for these emerging gateway cities: the doubling of their foreign-born population in a short ten-year period. And you also see that this proportion is still going up between 2000 and 2005 (to 17.7%).
This is an area that has attracted both high and low human capital immigrants, and by human capital I mean education; I mean English-language skills, those kinds of resources that people have. There's a significant population of Asian-Indians in Dallas and you're going to hear from one of my friends in the Asian-Indian community this afternoon, but obviously, there's also a significant population of lower human capital immigrants. Of course, it's because we have an economy that attracts both high and low human capital immigrants.
The important thing, coming back to this issue of suburban settlement, is that we no longer have a concentric zone model of cities. During the third wave of immigration, everybody knew about New York City and the lower east side; the kind of older, cheap housing, inner-city neighborhoods. This is where immigrants went during the third wave; this is where they first settled. And then they moved out into the suburbs in the second, but particularly in the third generation. The grandchildren of the immigrants who arrived were the ones who would grow up in the suburbs. Well, what we have now is direct settlement in suburban communities around these gateway and particularly emerging gateway cities, so you see here that 15.3% of the population of the suburbs of the Dallas area was Hispanic in 2000. A lot of the affordable housing is in the suburbs now. A lot of jobs are now in the suburbs, so it's a completely new phenomenon.
I apologize for these tables. I know at the back you're probably not going to be able to see the numbers, and so I'll point out what's important here. I've chosen one county, Collin County, which, of course, was one of the fastest growing counties in the United States between 1990 and 2000. It is a suburban, wealthy county. The proportion of foreign-born in Collin County changed dramatically between 1990 and 2000. When you have increases over 300%, and in one case (in terms of Africans, of course, the numbers are smaller) over 400%, something interesting is happening in terms of the changing dynamics and composition of the population of this suburban county.
For those of you who are not from this area, I just put a map up (figure 3) because I'm going to be talking about a couple of these communities. Particularly so that you can fix in your mind where Plano is, Farmers Branch, Richardson, Lewisville, McKinney, Allen.
Dallas – Fort Worth Metropolitan Area
Source: The Firm List, 2006 http://us.firmlist.com/texas/dallas/dfwmetro.php
I think about the inner and outer ring suburbs. We have the central city of Dallas, then we have this inner ring of suburbs that might include Garland and Richardson and Farmers Branch and maybe even Plano, at this point at the heart of Collin County, and then outer ring suburbs (or ex-urbs) like Denton and McKinney.
The next table shows the foreign born in these inner ring suburbs. We've heard a lot about Farmers Branch in the news recently and I'm going to come back to that – a quarter of the population in that community was foreign-born in 2000 and that has only increased in recent years. You also see in Irving, another inner ring suburb with over a quarter of the population foreign-born, Plano with 17% foreign-born, and Richardson, an older receiving area where Asians have been settling since 1980. Richardson’s population was 19% foreign-born in 2000. And then there are these outer ring suburbs, not insignificant proportions, way out there in McKinney, with 12.6% of the population in 2000 foreign-born. So this is just to stress the point about these suburban communities of major metropolitan areas being places of immigrant settlement.
I know for sure you cannot see this table at the back of the room, but I'm just going to point out two figures to you because I'm going to come back to them. In Farmers Branch, almost 60% of the foreign-born population is from Mexico. Contrast that with Plano, where 21 or 22% of the foreign-born population is Mexican. If you add up those the next three groups, all Asian (Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian), they comprise slightly over 30%.
There are a couple of maps we've generated out of our project. This is the settlement pattern for Indians, and I know you can't see it, there are all those little red dots from the generated census data, but the point to take away from this, and it's really contrasting this map with the next two that come, is the Indians have settled in the suburbs in a kind of arc around the city. This is the dispersed settlement pattern of the Asian-Indian population.
Contrast that with the Vietnamese settlement pattern. Just focus on those two intense areas of blue; this is in Arlington and in Garland, they are the centers of the Vietnamese community. They are much more tightly knit and intense settlement in a couple of suburban areas gathering together.
Then the Salvadorans, who are in these inner ring suburbs (and Irving is in there and Farmers Branch is in there) where you see that kind of pinky color, but again, some concentration. And then there is the yellow of the Mexican settlement all around the city in both suburban and urban areas. You also see Denton and McKinney at the northern top of the map and so that shows you that the Mexicans are settling in those communities as well as more around the metropolitan core.
I've become very interested in the attitudes of metropolitan areas towards immigrants, and I think there are multicultural-minded municipalities, and here I take a quote from a study by a fellow named Alexander. "The multicultural-minded municipality is sensitive to the particular needs and problems arising from the migrants' otherness. The positive potential of the migrants for the city is also acknowledged and their otherness is also perceived as enriching the local host culture and economy."
I would take Plano, Texas, as a multiculturally-minded suburban community. There are lots of programs that Plano has put in place for their foreign-born population. They have a very active multicultural roundtable which has been inclusive in getting the foreign-born population, the immigrants involved in the community. There are extensive library programs. Libraries are at the front of the integration process of immigrants, in my view, in terms of the programs that they offer. I have a lot more information on this, but I'm just giving you an idea.
What's happening in the schools in terms of this multiculturally-minded approach to the foreign-born and this rapid growth in the foreign-born? There are citizens academies where they reach out to the foreign-born and try and include them in the urban government process in their city, and then, of course, the kinds of things where people are allowed to express their cultural diversity. The mayor of Plano described Plano as the cricket capital of North America and claimed they're equally very good in table tennis. Well, that's obviously the involvement of those significant numbers of Indian and Chinese immigrants.
The mayor of Plano was quoted in the Dallas Morning News: "Given current demographics, we'll have this diversity forever. It is never going to be reversed, and since that's the case, then, let's embrace it."
Now, this was not always the case. The Indians in the Dallas area in 1980 had some land in Plano where they wanted to build their Hindu Temple, and there was a lot of negative attitude about that. It's a long, complicated story, but the end result was that they were forced to sell that land. The mayor of Irving was much more hospitable at the time, and the DFW Hindu Temple now is in Irving, Texas and is a very active center point for the Indian community. So Plano was not always multiculturally-minded; in the 1980s it was not, but it had a change of attitude and I think currently does an excellent job of integration.
Well, then we come to Farmers Branch, about which we have, at least in the Dallas area, been reading a lot about. I think it has also been covered in the national press. Here I think there is an excluding approach. It is not a multiculturally-minded city. Approximately one-third of the population in 2005 was foreign-born and it's gone up from the one-quarter figure that I gave you for 2000. You all know from reading the papers what the city council there has proposed: to bar landlords from leasing units to the undocumented and penalizing employers who hire them, to make English the official language of Farmers Branch, and to train law enforcement to process and detain illegal immigrants, which I think is a particularly controversial issue which we could come back to.
Here are some quotes, taken from the newspaper, representing the kind of attitude that has been fostered in that community, which personally I don't think is really productive in dealing with the issue of unauthorized immigrants. But I'm sure there are people out there who disagree or who want to discuss it, but these kind of quotes really represent an attitude which is more confrontational than problem-solving.
I want to discuss a little bit about immigration status and citizenship, and again, if you look at this, it's a complex problem: we're dealing with both legal and illegal immigrants; we're dealing with people who come in as refugees and then very quickly get their green cards and probably move fairly quickly towards naturalized citizenship; we're dealing with people who are on work permits, not necessarily defined as immigrants, defined as temporary workers - and we all know there is a guest worker program that is back on the table. So we're dealing with all kinds of different populations when we talk about the issue of immigration.
I'm going to show you a couple of charts, again from our study; I'm not going to explain the estimator that was used to do this. But when we were interviewing immigrants, we documented an immigration status trajectory from the way that they entered the country all the way to what kind of status they had at the time of our interview. Now, some people entered illegally and they are still undocumented; other people entered with a work permit and they are now either legal permanent residents or citizens.
So here are three graphs: A-1 represents people who came into the country as undocumented workers, and the important point is just the trajectory of these lines, that over time - and this compares the Salvadorans with the Mexicans - they have changed their status. For a long time we've had this change of status possibility. I don't know if you want to call it a policy, but this is the experience, that people come in under one status and they end up under another status, very often legalized. So whether it's written policy or not, this is what has been happening.
In the case of the more rapid linear decline of Salvadorans (representing more possibility for a change of status) by comparison with Mexicans, it's because we've extended to them something called Temporary Protective status. This status is issued because of conflicts and natural disasters in El Salvador to allow people to be here temporarily, legally and to work legally. But even the graph of the Mexicans shows that over time they become legalized in some way.
Here are the H-1-B workers. Pay attention only to the black line because the N for the Nigerians, who are also in our study (a smaller group, but the biggest African group in the state of Texas) is too small to be significant. However, the Indian trajectory there, shows you that people who come in under Temporary Worker status, these skilled worker visas, over time have been able to convert that status into a green card holder status, and then ultimately into citizenship. The decline in the graph shows you that trajectory.
Here are legal permanent residents, people who came in or at one point were able to get that status, so this is about the move to citizenship. And the interesting thing there, just in terms of the groups, the light blue line at the bottom is the Vietnamese, people who come in as refugees, become green card holders very quickly and they become citizens. Of course, there are obvious reasons for that in terms of your ability to go back to your home country – not something the Vietnamese want to do.
The Mexicans at the top in red, show a much slower process. Again, I'm probably not telling you anything that you don't already know, but it's interesting to see this sort of stuff graphed out. And the Indians, the black line in the middle, in terms of movement from holding a green card to becoming a citizen.
What Lee Cullum didn't mention to you in her introduction, is that I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I came to the U.S. on a student visa; I became a green card holder in 1976; it took me until 1993 to become an American citizen. But I've gone through this experience of changing status myself and I have some relationship to it.
So coming back to the general, broader issue that we're discussing, E Pluribus Plures, “Out of Many, Many Things,” there are lots of things to discuss and I'm going to go through these quickly: the issue of becoming a citizen; the issue of being an American; the issue of being an Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Salvadoran at the same time that you're also perhaps an American; the issue of what I call cultural citizenship; and then some final concluding remarks. So we're getting to the last little bit of this presentation.
Talking a little bit about citizenship, I thought I would present you with just some quotations from the interviews that we did. These are responses about people's attitudes towards citizenship, which I think is particularly telling. I've divided these into the different groups that we were looking at in this large study.
1). “To me, it is not unpatriotic to India to do it - that is, to become an American citizen - you have to be true to where you live. You plant a seed somewhere else and the roots are the same, it just bears fruit in a new place.”
2). “It is our responsibility to be part of the country and do something for the country. We are taking all the privileges and benefits, why not become a citizen. I did it with no hesitation.”
1). “It would be impossible to have Vietnamese citizenship, given the nature of the regime there. The Communist government in Vietnam may consider us to be citizens, but all they are interested in is money, getting us to send money back.” This respondent refers to the important issue of remittances, and the element of suspicion that a lot of Vietnamese here - and that's a very interesting issue - have about Vietnam.
2). “The U.S. is my second home country. This is the place where we have come to live to improve our lives and gain freedom, so the kind of values that are absorbed by newcomers to this country, so it is important to formally join the society and become a citizen.”
Mexican Responses: Now, when you get to the Hispanics, then, people who work very, very long hours and who have less education, becoming a citizen is more of a challenge.
1). “It takes too long, too much time and effort.” These are concerns to them in terms of the challenge of becoming a citizen.
2). “It's not worth it and the system is getting worse because of terrorism, but I'll try again in the future but not now.” Note that some of these interviews were done a couple years after 9-11.
Many of the Mexicans we interviewed were not eligible, they were undocumented, they had no interest, but those who were, who had the possibility because they were already legalized said things like: “Because it is my country, my home now, I want to be like everyone else,” a sentiment which is not so different from that of the Indians. Said another: “It gives you fewer problems to find work and receive benefits.”
What does it mean to be an American? That was another question that we asked, and here I want you to pay attention to the kinds of values that have been absorbed. We just heard in the newspaper that the country is considering a new citizenship test, much more meaty questions about American history, but I think we are concerned about the absorption of values and I think actually some of these responses represent that this actually is taking place.
1). “It means to have freedom, the opportunity to have a brilliant future, to fulfill one's dreams. What do I say? I have no words; the United States is the maximum; I have a good image of this country.”
1). “It means that one has opportunities, the chance to prosper and get an education; the education must come first - things can be accomplished in El Salvador, but it is harder.”
2). “Being an American means being an international figure because of both the power and the image of the country in the rest of the world's minds.”
1). “To be an American means that you have the freedom to express yourself without anyone stopping you, the freedom of speech, one of the basic rights in our Constitution. An American also has the freedom to succeed in life with all the opportunities given by the government, a government.” That the U.S. is a democracy, which is the way I would phrase that response.
2). “It means I have been upgraded, like from economy to first class.” I love this last quote; it is really my most favorite of every single interview that was done on this project.
1). “In India, we are all brought up like followers, to do things when somebody else asks and to do it well, but not to take a leadership role. In the U.S., I have learned how to be a leader and it means a lot to me.” I think that's a very poignant comment about an interpretation.
And then we asked people about multiculturalism, or being both; being both American and being true to your origins and to your roots, Most people said, “Sure you can be both, this is the country that allows you to be both.”
1). “By law, one can be both, but in one's heart, where you work and live determine what you are, especially once you adapt to life here. I think I would feel like a foreigner in El Salvador now.”
1). “People identify me as Mexican, so I must embrace it too.”
That raises interesting issues about to whom do we accord the right to be American citizens. And sometimes somebody asks where they are from, and they say America; no, but where are you really from? Well, think about when you ask that question; what you're really asking and what you're taking away from people when they give you a response that they are from America.
1). “I'm American first, but I respect the Vietnamese values. It depends on what you are talking about. If it is about culture, personality and character, I think you can draw from both; if it is about a conflict between the U.S. and my country, I think I would be loyal to where I live; I'm here using the resources here so I think I would have to be loyal to the United States.”
1). “When I think of my identity, I feel that my soul values are Muslim; my intellect, confidence and freedom to reason are American; my heart, my emotions are Indian; my work ethic is Asian. I'm one person, but in me are all these identities operating at the same time.” And this, I think, is the most poetic comment that we ever got in an interview.
In terms of “Out of Many, Many Things”, what has happened? Well, I'm going to race through this rather quickly. The urban landscapes of America have changed in terms of these ethnic shopping malls. These are just images of the kinds of things that exist in the city of Dallas, but they exist in Washington, D.C., in Houston, Texas, and elsewhere. The diversity of religious institutions: here you have the DFW Hindu Temple, and the Mar Thoma Church. There are 17 Indian Christian churches in the DFW area. You have new voluntary organizations where people learn citizenship and learn leadership. Here is an image of the India Association of North Texas which was founded in the early 1980s, a very active organization.
Cultural citizenship represents the right to be different. I think this country has been built on allowing people to maintain some of those cultural differences. International festivals and claims-making on the urban landscape in terms of these international festivals: national days. The Indians here in the DFW area, sometime in August close to the 15th - which is, of course, Republic Day when the British walked out of India and left it to build its own democracy -between 20,000 and 25,000 Indians in the area gather at Lone Star Park, the racetrack, and you feel like you're in India and you eat wonderful food and are wonderfully entertained.
Some concluding thoughts: Where do immigrants fit into American identity? Are we a nation of immigrants? History shows that immigrants have frequently not been welcome, and that was the point that I made in the beginning by talking about somebody always being "other," but we've gotten over those hurdles all the time. The country is resilient, the country is flexible, the country is welcoming, and we've been able to absorb these differences and build very loyal American citizens.
But we need to think about what's happening globally, so I quote the anthropologist Arjan Appadurai. He suggested the United States is in transition from being "a land of immigrants to being one node in a post-natural network of diaspora." So maybe we need to think about the world differently as we address this particular problem.
English is a unifying language. However, issue tears some communities apart. Again, I give you some historical perspective - Jane Adams, who founded the Hull Settlement House in Chicago would not have been surprised when told that there were more than 100 languages spoken in the schools of our major gateway or emerging gateway cities today. She confronted the same thing at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.
What are we? A melting pot, a salad bowl, or the demographic re-Conquista? Is that what's happening? I don't happen to think the latter is what's happening, but what kind of metaphor are we going to use for this country?
I'm just putting these out without saying what the issues are because I think these are the issues that we're going to be discussing for the rest of today:
- The issue of legal versus illegal immigration and where to situate the concept of a nation of laws, which is also really fundamental to our identity in relationship to all of these other issues.
- The economic issues of whether immigration depresses wages or whether immigrants are taking jobs that no one else wants to do.
- The issue of federal responsibility versus local responsibility. Local communities, like Farmers Branch, are frustrated with the stalling of national immigration policy, and of course, they're the ones integrating these immigrants. There's a kind of tension there, I think, between the local and federal levels on this issue.
- Immigration policy versus integration policy; should we be thinking more about integration policy than we perhaps have? And it's not to say that one precludes the other, but perhaps we need to be thinking along both trajectories as we move forward.
Finally, I'd like to thank the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation which is funding some current work that I'm doing on citizenship and incorporation, Roger Horchow and Lee Cullum, and of course, Southern Methodist University which has housed my project and housed me for a very long time. I'm very grateful to them. Thank you.
I'm happy to take some questions or comments. I apologize for throwing so much at you so fast.
Female Speaker: What about the bilingual education in the Dallas-Fort Worth area?
Brettell: I can tell you that Southern Methodist University has a bilingual education program which is still going on and very successful. We are short on bilingual teachers in the state. It's not a topic that I've worked a lot on; there are a couple of things I could just say in terms of what I think about it.
I grew up in Quebec; I grew up bilingual. I actually think being bilingual is an asset in this global world. I think there are a lot of bilingual education programs that have probably not been successful in terms of the original spirit of bilingual education, which was to help young students transition into English, and sometimes they are stuck in these bilingual education programs and that's not to their benefit. We're talking largely about Hispanics, although, again, there are some critical mass issues for other languages. Their parents aren't even enthusiastic about that. I mean, parents want their children to learn English.
The other thing I would say is I think that some of this issue about language is a non-issue. If we were to transport ourselves back to the third wave of immigration, to those first generation immigrants, they were all speaking their own languages. Now, there were multitudes of languages back then, and so there's a difference between the kind of hegemony and the Hispanic language because the largest proportions now are Mexicans, with smaller numbers for other populations. But regarding the immigrants of the past, their children and their grandchildren spoke English, and sometimes their grandchildren did not speak the native language, which in some ways, I think, is a bit lamentable or sad - let's put it that way.
I think the children of Mexican immigrants, whether legal or undocumented, are learning English. I hope they keep their Spanish too because I think these are assets globally.
Male Speaker: I think a lot of the attitudes toward immigration depend on whether or not immigrants are viewed as an economic asset. Have you explored how Farmers Branch and Plano would differ in that regard? Why, say Farmers Branch people wouldn't consider immigrants to be an economic asset the way Plano people would?
Brettell: Well, I want to make a comment first. I was struck by an op-ed by Thomas Friedman yesterday and by an analogy. He was talking about Iraq, and he made some reference to the Israel-Palestine issue and Israel had gone through several strategies and finally decided to build this wall. Of course, we know a wall is on the table in terms of the security aspects of immigration. And by the way, since 9-11, the security aspects of immigration have been put on the table like they never were before, so that's an interesting issue to discuss. But then he got to the point where he said, “The real way that we're going to deal with this problem,” and he said it before, but he said it very powerfully yesterday, “is to get off our addiction to oil and to really explore alternative energy sources.”
Some of the issue about immigration, I think, is getting off our addiction to cheap labor, and if we're going to deal with this, we're going to have confront that. I do think there are a lot of jobs for which we need immigrants, and that's been the history of the United States. In the third wave of immigration, it was the immigrants fueling the steel industry and the kind of industrial growth that this country experienced in the late 19th century in particular. There's a kind of parallel there; we need people to come in and do these kinds of jobs.
In terms of Plano and Farmers Branch, point one was, again, the dynamics of the foreign-born populations are different. Plano has both those high human capital and the lower human capital immigrants; they are equally employed doing various kinds of things that we need in the DFW economy, just in different areas. I think the sort of demographic dynamic allows them to operate that way.
I've actually done a lot of interviews in Plano with various people in the city, but I haven't had the chance to do that in Farmers Branch - because they asked me to be dean; otherwise, I would have been out there in the streets, in Farmers Branch. So, I'm a little less confident talking about it, but I think the large hispanic population probably presents different kinds of challenges to that community. You know, it's almost politically correct to be anti-Hispanic. I mean, there are certain groups where people can say what they want to say and I'm not so sure that that's productive.
We've had a law on the books since 1986 about employer sanctions, I suppose we could enforce it, but there's a reason why we haven't enforced it - again, it goes back to economy. The housing issue is also important – access to cheap housing. I just think that the Farmers Branch approach is not the way to deal with the problem. You know, people wouldn't be here if they couldn't find work, and they find work.
Now, if you read your paper this morning, the new president of Mexico was installed and he was talking about something that I think this country needs to work with Mexico on. He was talking about creating more jobs in Mexico and attracting more foreign investment. People don't necessarily want to leave their homes, but you know, the Mexicans who are here have the same goals that you do, which is to give shelter to your families, provide for your families, and if you can't do it where you live, you tend to look elsewhere. If you could do it where you live, you might not look elsewhere. Of course, the other thing is the wage difference between Mexico and the United States which is also an issue that we have to confront.
Male Speaker: Maybe I misunderstood your slides, but I thought that it said that 60 percent of Farmers Branch population was of Mexican national origin?
Brettell: Sixty percent of the foreign-born population is Mexican. In 2005, I believe it's about a third of the population of the community is foreign-born, and then of those foreign-born, 60% are Mexican. So I was making two points: looking at what the total proportion of the population is foreign-born, and then within that, what's the composition of the foreign-born population. And it's quite distinctive between Plano and Farmers Branch.
Male Speaker: I see. Well, the Farmers Branch movement has gotten national attention, and my real question is, once a foreign citizen becomes a U.S. citizen, do they tend to change their attitude towards being exclusionists as well?
Brettell: You mean the sense of belonging? You're talking about the immigrants themselves. Right?
Male Speaker: Yes. Well, actually once they become national citizens. If their ethnic background is from Mexico and they are now U.S. citizens, and they've been that way for maybe a generation or two, do their attitudes change towards Mexican immigrants?
Brettell: Towards other newcomers?
Male Speaker: Yes, from their ethnic backgrounds.
Brettell: Well, you know, that's an interesting question. It's not something that I've really worked on, but there is a little bit of not wanting other people to come in and share the pie. I don't know if you've ever seen the film "Lone Star" which was a film set on the Mexican border, and there's a woman there who owns a restaurant, I believe, and she is very against the undocumented workers, the wetbacks coming across the Rio Grande River. You get to a point in the film where the fellow who works for her brings his girlfriend across or something happens - it's been a long time since I've seen the film - and you see a flashback to the fact that she herself entered the country that way. That's a piece of fiction and a piece of literature, but there are, I think, undocumented workers is the demonized population these days.
Not to say that I don't think we should try to solve this problem, because I actually think when you're undocumented, you're open to all kinds of exploitation. There's a lot of stuff going on that I wish were not going on. So yes, I agree with you. I originally thought you were talking about just when people become citizens, what attitude they have. I presented those quotes earlier to show you that people really do absorb core U.S. values. I've been at naturalization ceremonies and I can't tell you the positive enthusiasm that occurs at those ceremonies. People are very proud to take American citizenship when they're able to do it.