Immigration and Assimilation
Immigration is a hot topic these days and many people on the left and right are providing their opinions. I am going to provide my point of view on this topic as a person who immigrated to the United States and became a citizen.
An immigrant is a person who seeks to become a citizen of a new country. In my case, I was born in Egypt and I decided from a young age that I want to be an American citizen so I worked hard to build the right skill set that can land me a job in the United States. I worked for several years in Egypt until I landed a good opportunity to work for an American company and moved to the United States. I worked through the system until I became a citizen of the United States. In the process of becoming a citizen of the United States, I renounced my allegiance to my previous country and became an American citizen. I am not a Muslim-American, an Egyptian-American or an Arab-American and I hate that many people are pushing these kinds of dual identities that split people into distinct groups based on their race, national origins or religion. To me being an American is about being an individual which means that I am a unique person and everyone else is unique in his or her own way. This individuality is what makes us Americans, this individuality makes us value life, love liberty, and pursue our own happiness through family, community, and career. I immigrated to this country because I want to build my life without the interference of government, without permission from a supreme leader and without being harassed because I don’t follow a certain religious dogma. The meaning of assimilation, in my opinion, is to embrace the American individuality and be yourself. Unfortunately, many forces prevent immigrants from fully embracing their individuality.
Many new immigrants fall into the trap of continuing to live in their original country while living in the United States. That may sound strange but it will make sense when you think about the typical adult social life. Every adult is a member of a few social circles such as home (spouse and kids), family (parents and siblings), friends and work (co-workers, clients, and managers). These social circles are the people you interact with and relate to the most. For a fresh immigrant, most of his or her circles such as home, family, and friends belong to the native country and force him or her to follow the native culture. The only social circles that can link an immigrant to the new country are the ones formed at work or school. Assimilation is very difficult for immigrants who don’t interact with citizens of their new country in close social circles and currently, we have many forces that weaken this interaction.
Having a job or owning a business is the fastest way to assimilate into the American society but our current immigration system since 1965 favors family based immigration and grant very limited quotas to employment based immigration. We also accept thousands of refugees every year. Refugees come to the United States and other western countries in waves that usually settle in the same geographic locality and form a community that follows the culture of the home country. The internet made it also easy for a fresh immigrant to keep close communication channels with family and friends back in the old country and even follow the old country’s media further enforcing the native country culture.
Many left-leaning states and localities provide government services and even election ballots in several foreign languages and even force businesses to provide translation services to immigrants. Many people on the left are against having a national language but without a common language people cannot have common culture and heritage and cannot easily exchange ideas. How can we have a functioning republic if we have citizens who have never read the constitution and cannot follow political debates and read the history of the different issues? All the hype about the United States being a diverse society encourage immigrants to continue living in their isolated social islands and prevent them from discovering their individuality and that is the bigger problem.
Diversity doesn’t mean being forced into a certain group based on country of origin, religion, race or sex. It means that each of us is an individual who is free to choose beliefs, customs, social traditions, food, and careers as long as he or she doesn’t use force against anyone else. Immigration to the United States should be a way to escape the tyranny of heritage and choose who we want to be. Our individuality is our common culture and strength in the United States and immigration should be a source of new citizens not members of special groups.