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Immigration Policy and the Shaping of U.S. Culture

Becoming America

Roger White

The author examines the relationships between immigration policy, observed immigration patterns, and cultural differences between the United States and immigrants’ source countries. The entirety of U.S. immigration history (1607-present) is reviewed through a recounting of related legislative acts and by examining data on immigrant inflows and cross-societal cultural distances.
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Chapter 10: How immigration policy has shaped American culture and opportunities for U.S. public policy in the twenty-first century

Becoming America

Roger White

Extract

We close by summarizing the work that has been presented thus far, and by offering a discussion of potential related opportunities for public policy. We begin by revisiting the relationships and the corresponding questions that form the basis for this project. We then provide an accounting of the work—what we have done, how it has been done, and what we have learned. This summary provides a comprehensive discussion of what our findings suggest can be said about the past, the present and, to a lesser degree, the future. Having these details in place also allows for discussion of the associated policy implications. It is argued that maintaining or increasing/expanding the current level/source country composition of immigrant inflows is preferable to reducing/restricting inflows. A potential divergence between perceived and real costs and benefits associated with immigration and how to narrow such a difference is also discussed.

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