Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Generation Gap Over Immigration - NYTimes.com

A Generation Gap Over Immigration - NYTimes.com: ...The generational conflict could complicate chances of a federal immigration overhaul any time soon. “The hardening of this divide spells further stalemate,” said Roberto Suro, the former head of the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

And the causes are partly linked to experience. Demographically, younger and older Americans grew up in vastly different worlds. Those born after the civil rights era lived in a country of high rates of legal and illegal immigration. In their neighborhoods and schools, the presence of immigrants was as hard to miss as a Starbucks today.

In contrast, baby boomers and older Americans — even those who fought for integration — came of age in one of the most homogenous moments in the country’s history.

Immigration, which census figures show declined sharply from the Depression through the 1960s, reached a historic low point the year after Woodstock. From 1860 through 1920, 13 percent to 15 percent of the country was foreign born — a rate similar to today’s, when immigrants make up about 12.5 percent of the country.

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