In this age of migration, more and more children are growing up in immigrant or transnational families. The "new second generation" refers to foreign-born and native-born children of immigrants who have come of age at the turn of the twenty-first century. This book is about this new generation in the world s largest host country of international migration the United States.
Recognizing that immigration is an intergenerational phenomenon and one that is always evolving the authors begin by asking "Do members of the new second generation follow the same pathways taken by the 'old' second generation?" They consider the relevance of assimilation approaches to understanding the lived experiences of the new second generation, and show that the demographic characteristics of today's immigrant groups and changing social, economic, and cultural contexts require new thinking and paradigms. Ultimately, the book offers a view of how American society is shaping the life chances of members of this new second generation and how today's second generation, in turn, is shaping a new America.
Designed as a rich overview for general readers and students, and as a concise summary for scholars, this book will be an essential work for all interested in contemporary issues of race, ethnicity, and migration.
Min Zhou is Tan Lark Sye Chair Professor of Sociology at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at UCLA
Carl L. Bankston III is Professor of Sociology at Tulane University
Immigration: Past and Present Trends
This chapter examines past and present trends of immigration to the United States. Using statistical data from the federal immigration agencies and US censuses, we contrast the main characteristics of different waves of immigrants and the changing contexts of emigration and immigration in historical perspective. We focus on describing how today's second generation differs from that of the past.
Converging on the Promised Land
The United States is a nation of immigrants. Since the Mayflower pilgrims reached American shores in the early seventeenth century, this land has been viewed by many international migrants as the "Promised Land" in which they can start lives anew and rebuild homes. Hundreds and thousands of people have entered the country year by year. The majority has stayed on and settled. The waves of immigration ebb and flow, but the nation has grown even at low tide, thanks to the self-selected, innovative, persistent, and resilient stream of newcomers.
Figure 2.1 gives an image of US immigration history and presents a clear picture of the immigration waves that have produced generations of native-born offspring of foreign-born parentage. By plotting the numbers of immigrants arriving in the United States each year between 1820 and 2013, we can see that migration has not been a steady stream throughout American history but that it has been marked by many ups and downs. It increased from the late 1840s until the American Civil War and then dropped during the war years. After the war, immigration continued to rise and fall, but in general it rose to a crest toward the end of the nineteenth century. A more massive wave hit American shores in the first two decades of the twentieth century, which is often referred to as "the first great wave." The children of those arriving during this wave made up the "old" second generation.
Figure 2.1 Numbers of Legal Permanent Residents Admitted to the United States, 1820-2013
Source: Compiled with data from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, Legal Permanent Residents, Table 1. (United States Department of Homeland Security)
Immigration plummeted in the 1930s and 1940s but gradually began to rise again after World War II, gaining momentum in the 1970s, in large part due to policy reforms in US immigration law, and has since continued to go upward throughout the rest of the twentieth century and into the new millennium. The sudden spike between 1988 and 1992 is a statistical artifact due to implementation of the Special Agricultural Worker program (SAW) in the mid-1980s and the enactment of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million formerly undocumented immigrants residing in the country for a considerable period of time prior to 1989 (Cooper and O'Neil, 2005). The massive immigration surge since the late 1960s is also known as "the second great wave," or post-1965 immigration. The children of those immigrants arriving during this wave made up the "new" second generation. While the earlier cohorts of this new second generation are already well into adulthood, later cohorts from the surge of immigration since the 1990s are still children or young adults (Foner, 2013). So this new second generation is still very much a work in progress.
From a historical standpoint, the contemporary wave differs from the earlier wave in several significant ways. First, about 85% of contemporary immigrants have hailed from outside Europe and from much more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Second, the foreign-born population as a proportion of the general American population was somewhat lower. Although the proportion increased steadily - from a record low of 4.7% in 1970, to 7.9% in 1990, and 12.5% in 2010 - it was relatively lower than the earlier times - 14.8% in 1890 and 14.7% in 1910 (Gibson and Lennon, 1999). Third, today's return migration is considerably lower - for every 100 immigrants who arrived from 1901 through the early 1920s, 36 returned to their homelands, but since the 1970s fewer than 25 have returned (Warren and Kraly, 1985). However, while contemporary immigrants are more likely than their earlier counterparts to stay in the United States permanently, transnational flows have become more common since the 1990s. Fourth, unlike immigration of the past, today's immigration is accompanied by a much larger number of undocumented immigrants. Before the Nationality Act of 1924 established the national-origins quota system, immigration to the United States was relatively open, with legal restrictions only on immigrants from Asia - a small fraction of total US immigration.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, various immigration laws have regulated front-door entrants, but reliance on immigrant labor, especially in agriculture, as well as migration networks have encouraged undocumented immigration through back-door channels (Massey, 1995). The flood of undocumented immigration from the 1990s onward is a dimension of contemporary immigration that did not play a substantial part in the earlier wave. Finally, contemporary immigration is made up of a higher proportion of refugees and those seeking asylum. Most of the refugees have come from the Caribbean, Central America, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union. These distinctive characteristics have also created challenges and opportunities for immigrants and their children.
What caused these two great waves of international migration that have produced two historically distinctive second generations? In his classic paper "The Laws of Migration" in 1885, the British scholar Ernest George Ravenstein identified the fundamental tendencies guiding long-distance migration, especially rural-to-urban migration. Ravenstein suggested that economic causes were the most important driver for human movement. The economic motivations for migration are at the core of the classic "push-pull" model: people are pushed out of some places by economic circumstances (such as low wages, unemployment or underemployment, poverty, and famine) and pulled by the economic advantages and opportunities offered by other places. The push-pull forces are consequential, increasing emigration from migrant-sending places and increasing economic development in migrant-receiving places.
Ravenstein's laws continue to be influential in explaining international migration in modern times. However, the idea that migrants simply leave economically undeveloped or underdeveloped rural locations for economically burgeoning urban locations within and across national borders seems to attribute human movement to spontaneous responses to differences in wages and in economic circumstances. This explanation is incomplete because it does not account for why people move from some specific locations to others. For example, why did immigration to the United States in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century come so heavily from Europe, rather than from impoverished Latin America, Asia, and Africa? Within the United States, why did African Americans not move out of economic deprivation in the South to the industrial regions of the North during the same period of the first great wave of immigration?
The American economist Michael J. Piore (1979), looking mainly at the first great wave of immigration, argues that migrants do not decide to move entirely on their own, but are recruited by labor-seeking enterprises in developed economies. Moreover, migrants tend to be "birds of passage" because of their economic motivation. They seek to earn money and then return home, and permanent settlement is only a by-product. While Piore's "birds of passage" explanation may not be applicable to all immigrants, it does serve as a reminder that first-generation migrants tend to retain close ties with their homeland and that many do so by sending back remittances. Thus one of the considerations in thinking about the second generation may be the extent to which the "birds of passage" orientation remains possible once immigrant workers form families in migrant-receiving places.
Piore maintains further that industries recruit workers not only to meet labor demand resulting from industrial growth but also to fill jobs deemed undesirable and left vacant by natives, pointing to the demand for labor from the perspective of economically more developed migrant-receiving places. The unavailability of native labor is generally the consequence of labor market segmentation, a phenomenon where the economies are divided into primary and secondary, or core and peripheral, sectors (see also Bonacich, 1972). Primary-sector labor markets consist of jobs that are relatively well paid and stable, while secondary-sector labor markets consist of menial blue-collar jobs that are characterized by three Ds - dirty, dangerous, and difficult (or demeaning). The expectation of natives of high wages and job security creates vacancies for transient workers, who are disproportionately newly arrived immigrants. One inference that we can draw from this phenomenon is that native-born or native-reared generations tend to move from transient to secure positions in the type of economy described by Piore. The transient workers contribute to the economy of the receiving society, benefiting the native-born who are able to...