Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Fewer newcomers, more assimilation - what happens next?

The University of Southern California's Dowell Myers has written an insightful essay on the future of immigration to the U.S. for the New York Times, taking in the steep drop in illegal immigration.

Myers, a professor of urban planning and demographer who has written extensively about immigrants' role in reshaping Los Angeles, outlines reasons why inbound migration may never return to the peak levels of a decade ago (a much lower birthrate in Mexico, for one, meaning less future competition for jobs there). He then gets into what assimilating immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants are going to do next: go to school, get jobs, buy homes. In general, join the American mainstream. It's a good read. Here's how it starts:

THE immigration crisis that has roiled American politics for decades has faded into history. Illegal immigration is shrinking to a trickle, if that, and will likely never return to the peak levels of 2000. Just as important, immigrants who arrived in the 1990s and settled here are assimilating in remarkable and unexpected ways.

Taken together, these developments, and the demographic future they foreshadow, require bold changes in our approach to both legal and illegal immigration. Put simply, we must shift from an immigration policy, with its emphasis on keeping newcomers out, to an immigrant policy, with an emphasis on encouraging migrants and their children to integrate into our social fabric. "Show me your papers" should be replaced with "Welcome to English class."

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