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.
Prior to the Immigration Act of 1965, U.S. policy favored immigration from Europe, particularly Northern and Western Europe. Thus, American culture became similar to the cultures of European societies and of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Changes in U.S. immigration policy during the past half century have resulted in American culture becoming more similar to the cultures of more recent arrivals’ source countries (i.e., societies in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa). Tests for structural breaks in the immigrant inflow series and descriptive analysis of the cultural differences between the U.S. and several cohorts of countries reveal fascinating details about this transformation. Population projections for the years 2015-2065 suggest continued cultural change. Corresponding policy implications are discussed.
This book is a key resource for faculty, researchers and students along with policymakers, non-academics interested in immigration policy and its history, and readers interested in migration studies, global studies, and cultural studies.