End of the Melting Pot?

From Harvard Magazine:

Mexicans_2 In 1986 after receiving amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, Jorge Montes began looking for a good place to raise his family. He settled on Gainesville, Georgia, a small manufacturing city outside Atlanta, because it reminded him of his hometown in Mexico. He and his wife could afford a decent house on his truck driver’s wages, and the schools were good. His son studied hard and became the star kicker on the Gainesville High School football team, winning the admiration of native residents.

In Gainesville, where immigrant labor has reinvigorated the poultry-processing industry, nearly 30 percent of the 30,000 inhabitants today are foreign-born Mexicans. The speed of change has strained public resources and stoked native resentment, threatening the goodwill that greeted earlier newcomers like the Montes family. Letters published in local newspapers accuse immigrants of “taking over”—of burdening schools and welfare agencies, lowering wages, spreading crime, and “refusing to learn English.”

Will the current tide of poor, low-skilled Hispanic labor migrants (legal or not) gradually blend into the American mainstream like their European predecessors? Or will they remain a growing but segregated population, marginalized by race, class, language, and culture?

More here.