NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 24, 2006

The critical factor separating most U.S. immigrants from our underclass is this: Attitude matters, says Joel Kotkin of the New America Foundation.

For example:

  • Most newcomers to America see this not as a land of oppressors -- the sore exceptions gravitate toward journalism, politics or academia, so we sometimes get a skewed impression -- but rather as a place of opportunity and fundamental fairness.
  • The United States contain far fewer barriers while conditions in the immigrants' home countries often require connections and ethnic privilege for getting anything done.

"Africans come here because there are far fewer barriers," says Nigerian-native immigrant/entrepreneur Ibim Bobmanuel.

Recent immigrants like Bobmanuel and their children now amount to some 60 million immigrants, the largest number in our nation's history, and roughly one fifth of our total population.

Some of this large group will inevitably fall into our underclass, as will millions of whites. And certainly the persistence of Latino second- and third-generation gang members in places like Los Angeles confirms that the integration of immigrants into the productive part of American society has been far from perfect. But the overwhelming trend in this country is for new people and new races to be folded into an ever-shifting and ever-increasing American mainstream, says Kotkin.

Source: Joel Kotkin, "Ideological Hurricane," American Enterprise, January/February 2006.


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