FRESH BLOOD: The New American Immigrants by Sanford J. Ungar

FRESH BLOOD: The New American Immigrants

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Ungar (School of Communications, American Univ.; Estrangement: America and the World, 1985, etc.) produces a chorus of today's uprooted: the ""new immigrants"" who, like their forebears, are simultaneously convulsing and transforming the US. Unlike previous waves of newcomers, today's come mostly from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, making the US increasingly multiracial as well as multiethnic. Given current seemingly persistent ethnic differences, Ungar's substitution of the salad bowl for the melting pot as an immigration metaphor is hardly novel. His work gains in complexity and strength as ""an anthology of recent immigrant stories"" that allows readers to grasp both differences and similarities among these newcomers. Today's immigrant, he shows, is not merely an undocumented Latin American worker but a whole welter of different groups, often the flotsam of world turbulence in the last four decades, including refugees from communism and Third World poverty. By and large, by focusing closely on patterns of settlement and employment for several groups (e.g., Minnesota's Hmong, Los Angeles's Koreans, Chicago's Poles, Miami's Cubans, Washington's Ethiopians, and New York City's Mashadi Jews from Iran), Ungar convincingly demonstrates ""that immigrants invariably contribute at least as much as they take."" As interviews with aliens and social workers show, even the much maligned illegal aliens are more exploited than exploiters (and fear deportation too much to protest their abuse), while legal immigrants are transforming the economy (e.g., Indians and Pakistanis comprise a sizable portion of the hotel-motel industry). Although not without faults (for instance, he offers inadequate explanations for the new Irish immigration), this account does reveal immigrant groups' varied modes of adaptation and their common struggles--most poignantly, the effort to retain cultural norms in a more diverse, liberal environment. A spirited, largely effective liberal rejoinder to pull-up-the-drawbridge polemics like Peter Brimelow's Alien Nation (p. 117).

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0252067029
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster