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Immigration Usa Case Study

Essay by   •  July 28, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,619 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,551 Views

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Immigration in the United States is amongst the most highly contested issues. From uncivil remarks from mostly conservative American people to flaming television shows like that of Lou Dobbs, immigrant communities are continuously finding themselves isolated and unwelcomed by mainstream society. Having said this however, it is important to highlight that immigrant experiences are not similar for every single immigrant that moves to the United States. Experiences are mostly influenced by social identities such as race, class, gender and, at times, nationality. In this paper I explore the difficulties that recent immigrant children/young people face in achieving academically in US schools. As already stated above, social identities play a salient role in determining experiences for immigrants. I will therefore further explore the social and identity issues which arise for immigrant youth in US schools in 2008. Finally, I will highlight important issues for teaching and curriculum development in US schools in order to support both academic achievement and social well-being of recent immigrant students. As a point of argument, using the work of Lopez (2003) and Qin-Hilliard (2003), I ardently argue that the experiences of new immigrant youth in the US are largely characterised by gendered, racialised and classed negative treatment.

Studies on immigrant students clearly demonstrate the shocking and unequal experiences that newly arrived immigrant youth are exposed to in schools. Numerous studies (Hernandez (2004), Ogbu (1987) & Portes and Zhou (2005)) have presented compelling arguments as to why newly arrived immigrant students have such experiences. Among such arguments have been that of assimilation. As Strikus and Nguyen (2007) note, assimilationists have highlight the "rapid and near-universal shift away from the native [culture] of immigrants to English and the widespread gravitation to American fashion and lifestyle." Under this thinking assimilation becomes the focus that ultimately determines ones' performance as well as social mobility. For assimilations, in order for one to fully perform, one must leave the old culture behind and then take on the culture of the new country. This theory of straight-line assimilation has however been found problematic. Scholars such as Ogbu (1987), for example, argue that immigrant children face cultural, linguistic, social and economic barriers which in turn prevent them from achieving. For Ogbu "some minority groups do well in school even though they do not share the language and cultural backgrounds of the dominant group that are reflected in school features and practices". This argument by Ogbu leaves numerous questions as to the reason for the different achievements in immigrant groups in the United states. Ogbu answers this by identifying the nature of the 'history, subordination, exploitation of minorities as well as the nature of the minorities' own instrumental and expressive responses to their experiences' as the main determinants of the success or failure of immigrant youth. Ogbu believes that the main reason for the underperformance of black immigrant youth is due to the fact that black immigrant youth view schooling as a 'white' act and as such develop an oppositional discourse towards schooling.

Scholars such as Portes and Zhou have also argued that losing ones' own culture to that of mainstream cultural experiences does not always produce success for immigrant youth. These scholars purport the idea that assimilation can mean upward or downward mobility. They highlight three ways of assimilating. The first is to assimilate into the white middle class and get upward mobility, the second is to assimilate into a racially stigmatised group, thus experience downward mobility and the third is to instigate new ways of maintaining ones own culture whilst gaining upward mobility. The third path has been highlighted by many scholars who have noted Punjabi Indian groups as well as some Asian groups as being good examples of this path. As groups which have been noted by many scholars as having negative experiences, I wish to focus the next section on the experiences of immigrant groups from low income families with black phenotype features.

Lopez (2004) succinctly notes that experiences of immigrant groups are not about how these groups assimmilate but rather concern the lived gendered and raced experiences of these groups. Like Lopez, I believe that black immigrant youth have very negative schooling experiences which are influenced by their skin colour as well as their genders. Under such an outlook, gender and race cannot be looked in isolation but are rather as interconnected and always functioning to determine outlooks which in turn inform the future experiences.

Black immigrant youth are time and time again exposed to poor schooling facilities which affect their academic performance. Lopez (2004) found that schools at times did not even have text books for learners.

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