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Immigrant America: A Portrait

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Author Alejandro Portes
ISBN 9780520207653
Pages 421
Condition Very Good
Format Paperback

Widely acclaimed for its superb portrayal of immigration and immigrant lives in the United States, this work, first published in 1990, has become a classic. This second edition has been thoroughly expanded and updated to reflect current demographic, economic, and political realities, and the vertiginous pace of historical change in the post-Cold-War era. The authors have written two new chapters, infused the entire text with new data, and added a vivid array of new illustrations. As immigration moves to the center of national debate, this new edition is indispensable for framing and informing issues that promise to be even more hotly and urgently contested. The United States of the late twentieth century is a new nation of immigrants. Not since the peak years of immigration before World War I have so many newcomers made their way to America: During the 1980s about six million immigrants and refugees were legally admitted, and a sizable but uncertain number of others entered without legal status. This definitive new book offers a broad portrait of the multicultural people who comprise the latest wave of immigrants to the United States. Overwhelmingly Asian and Latin American yet defying widespread stereotypes of immigrants, they come in luxurious jetliners and the trunks of cars, by boat and on foot. Manual laborers and polished professionals, entrepreneurs and exiles, these immigrants reflect in their motives and origins the forces that have reshaped American society in the second half of the century. Drawing on recent census data and other primary sources, Portes and Rumbaut revise our understanding of immigrant America in a sweeping and multifaceted analysis. They probe the dynamics of immigrant politics, examining questions of identity and loyalty among newcomers who are "in a society but not of it," and explore the psychological consequences of varying modes of migration and acculturation. They look at patterns of settlement in urban America, discuss the problems of English-language acquisition and bilingual education, and explain how immigrants incorporate themselves into the American economy. Portes and Rumbaut also dispel myths about that most oppressed and controversial immigrant group, the undocumented. Though much maligned in the popular imagination, these immigrants—often positively selected men and women seeking opportunities for advancement—contribute importantly to many sectors of the American economy. In this rich new study, which will appeal as much to the general reader as to the policy maker and social scientist, Portes and Rumbaut provide a fascinating and complex portrait of America circa 1990. It is a powerful and distinguished contribution to the literature in American and immigrant studies.
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