Once in a while, a news story comes along that I feel I must share with the readers, but one which I know is bound to stir (extra) controversy.
This one comes from NBC Latino:
“Immigrant children who came to the U.S. before they were teens do better in academic achievement and school engagement than native-born children, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University, and the advantages extend to adulthood. …
The study looked at over 10,700 children ages 13 to 17 and followed their outcomes until they were between 25 and 32, using a wide variety of data available from government sources. Dr. Hao found that ’1.5 generation’ children, those born outside the U.S. and then brought here before their teens, did better than ‘second generation’ children, which are children who are born in the U.S. to either one or both foreign-born parents, and ‘third generation’ children, who are native-born children to native-born parents. The 1.5 generation immigrants did better on educational, social and behavioral outcomes. One important finding is that foreign-born immigrant children do better in STEM fields like math and science, an important finding as one looks at future workforce projections.”
It would seem that many DREAMers — the undocumented immigrants brought to the States as children and raised here — fit into this 1.5 generation of children outperforming our made-in-the-U.S.A youngsters.
I also found one of Dr. Hao’s reasons explaining the conclusion as provocative as the conclusion itself:
“There are several reasons why foreign-born immigrant children show these educational and social advantages, often referred to as the ‘immigrant paradox’ by educators and sociologists.
‘The first thing is family,’ explains Dr. Hao. ‘Immigrants who come to the U.S. are self-selective; they overcome difficulties to create a better life, and foreign-born immigrant parents transmit this motivation, values and expectations to their children,’ she explains. Children absorb these expectations and their actions demonstrate a ‘mom and dad made all this sacrifice for me, I better do okay’ type of behavior.”
Immigrant groups are “self-selective.” I’d never heard the term applied to immigrants before, but once I saw it in the article, I thought it was a perfect descriptor.
The reason Americans love describing their country as “a nation of immigrants” — at least, we used to — is because the immigrant spirit closely parallels the American spirit. Immigrants are the dreamers and the pioneers of their home countries. They are the ones who are confident enough to be dissatisfied with their lives back home and brave enough to go to extremes for a chance to build better lives — doing something as drastic as moving to a foreign country where you don’t know the language and hoping to thrive there.
Eleven years after the terrible attacks that nearly brought a great nation to its knees, America must not become fearful of the outsider. Americans must cherish and strive to uphold their immigrant legacy, forever remembering the call of Lady Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The DREAMer is here by no decision of their own, and yet, they’re here to learn, work and contribute to the greatness of their new country.
I only hope Americans have the clarity of heart and mind to let them.