‘Newcomers,’ Immigration, and Assimilation in America
Speaking of “newcomers,” it’s the term Tomás Jiménez, a sociologist at Stanford University, used to describe immigrants and the children of at least one immigrant parent in his important new book The Other Side of Assimilation. Jiménez is one of the most nuanced, thoughtful scholars of immigration-driven diversity and cultural change I’ve come across. His recent work emphasizes that assimilation is not just a straight-line process in which newcomers come to resemble established Americans, his term for the U.S.-born children of two U.S.-born parents. Rather, it is a relational process, which “involves back-and-forth adjustments in daily life by both newcomers and established individuals as they come into contact with each other.” Right now, newcomers represent roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population, a number that is set to rise considerably. Yet in some regions, such as Silicon Valley, the focus of Jiménez’s new book, the newcomer share is much higher, and there’s sometimes just as much adjustment on the part of the established as there is from newcomers. The growth of the newcomer population is sure to mean a lot of creative tension, and in some cases just plain old tension. The Other Side of Assimilation is a stimulating guide to what’s to come.