An excerpt in The New York Times, published in the wake of the El Paso tragedy, argues that assimilation remains a powerful force and that immigrants aren't replacing Americans but becoming them.
I took reassurance this past week in another Texas immigration story, which suggests that America’s powers of assimilation remain formidable. It involves a third grader with an apt name, Precious Lara Villanueva, who lingered at dinner a year after arriving in the United States and said, “I sort of agree with Rosa Parks.”
This was news. The previous year, Lara’s teacher had called Parks a “hero.” But the idea of a hero in handcuffs made no sense to a girl straight from the Philippines, where children are admonished to respect elders and obey authority. “She didn’t listen to the policeman,” Lara had said. (Besides, she added, heroes wear capes.)
By the following year, her views were in flux. “It wasn’t, like, fair for the black people to sit in the back,” Lara told me at dinner in 2014. Parks’s courage impressed her, but so did her manners: “She said no — but she didn’t use a bad word.” To an immigrant deftly blending cultures, Rosa Parks became “The Civil Rights Hero Who Didn’t Curse.”
I’ve followed Lara’s family for 32 years, as they completed a remarkable rise from a Manila shantytown to the Houston suburbs. As a young journalist, I moved into her grandparents’ hovel, to better understand the country’s vast poverty, and I’ve been reporting on the family’s migrations ever since. …
While opponents of immigration insist (ever more loudly) that assimilation has failed, the Villanuevas’ experience offers a retort. With a house in the suburbs and kids on the honor roll, they achieved in three years a degree of assimilation that used to take three generations.