8/4/16: all we are saying, is give immigrants a chance

A radically obvious idea pointed out by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic‘s July/August 2016 issue:

As Latinos assimilate, whites become less hostile to them. A forthcoming article in the American Sociological Review…shows that whites are more comfortable having Latinos as neighbors if those Latinos speak English well, work in high-status occupations, have a white spouse, were born in the United States, and are in the United States legally. When Latinos look and sound like Marco Rubio or the NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez, whites are less likely to stigmatize them.

A big reason nativist sentiment is strong today is that immigration has outpaced assimilation.

This is a bit of a catch-22 in action; in order to be accepted by the so-called “natives,” the immigrants need to assimilate–but in order to safely assimilate, the immigrants need to be at least tolerated. It’s also a vital reminder that exposure is the best palliative for fear; if you see only a single example, and it’s Ann Coulter and Donald Trump’s Mexican Rapist, you’re likely to fear the larger sample. This is why statisticians select from a larger population, one in which you’re reminded that while there are no doubt extreme actors who also happen to be Muslim (just as there are zealous Christians and unhinged atheists), the vast majority–the ones you wouldn’t normally be exposed to, because the media tends to broadcast bad news–are not.

The solution here, then, seems simple: provide more services to immigrants, legal or not, that help them to assimilate. This isn’t equivalent to welfare, and we should continue to punish those who skirt labor laws by hiring undocumented workers. But those who aim to obey the law–a thing we can aid in by providing multi-lingual documents and better options–are not the people we need to expend resources on expelling. By the way, when I say “assimilate,” I don’t mean that people should sacrifice their unique cultures or change their religions. Nobody should be forced to alter a single thing about themselves unless it causes harm to those around them. In this case, I take the word to simply mean “contribute.” And as business-minded Republicans should know, some contributions and investments take time to pay dividends.

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