AMERICAN IMMIGRATION TODAY: Pressures, Problems, Politics by Judith Bentley

AMERICAN IMMIGRATION TODAY: Pressures, Problems, Politics

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A serviceable look at the Asian and Latin American immigrant groups who have arrived here since the 1965 changes in our immigration laws. Bentley notes that the force behind most new immigration is ""more push than pull,"" the push being mainly overcrowding, poverty, lack of jobs, and in some cases (as with educated Koreans) lack of professional jobs at home. Among many new groups there is less commitment to stay than with previous immigrants, and more ""commuting"" back and forth, especially among Mexicans and Puerto Ricans; many see America as ""a good place to make money"" but not to put down roots. Considering each group separately, Bentley notes the differences between the first and second waves of Cuban refugees', the differences in reception between even the new Cubans and the less welcome, but just as desperate Haitians', and the effect of both on Miami's culture, economy, and public services. She considers why some groups prosper and others don't and how some rise through entrepreneurship and others through professional education; and she points to the tragic effect on Vietnam ""boat people"" of our policy of scattering them among strangers, expecting assimilation, instead of allowing larger groups to help each other as has been the practice of other immigrants. Like Anderson (above) but less superficially, she looks at different solutions to containing the flood of illegal entries, especially through the ""tortilla curtain,"" quotes the congressional select committee and others as to ""who"" and ""how many"" should be let in, and presents committee findings to the effect that low-cost immigrant labor is good for the overall economy (as they and apparently she see the economy) but does compete with the least skilled natives and does tend to hold wages down. Finally, though illegals strain medical and education facilities in a few locations (most notably Dade County, Florida), immigrants as a whole pay more in taxes than they cost in services and are in fact a better bargain than the average native-born American. A competent summary.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Messner