A well-founded perception is that Latinos do not assimilate, do not learn English, and are unraveling the fabric of the identity of a nation. Some Latinos undoubtedly learn English by the second or perhaps as late as the fourth generation. However, they do not uniformly speak English in school or workplace settings. Some high schools have seen rifts develop on campus between those Latinos who speak Spanish among themselves and those who prefer to hone their English skills. First generation workers who speak Spanish in the workplace lay the foundation for resentment among English speakers who feel no camaraderie with them since there is no communication.
“It is one of the ideas that anti-immigrant forces take advantage of: the notion that immigrants today do not assimilate and that other generations did. But it is not true,” says Cecilia Muñoz of the National Council of La Raza. The very existence of La Raza seems to suggest that Muñoz is wrong about this. Moreover, the extensive network of Spanish language media has significantly reduced the incentive to assimilate culturally and linguistically.
“Culturally, Latinos are never going to totally assimilate. Latinos are creating their own space in this country. And the characteristics of Hispanic culture are changing forever the face of the nation,” Jorge Ramos wrote in his book, "The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Are Transforming Politics in America." He's got that right but he could have gone much farther and described how Hispanics are recreating in America the very economic conditions of poverty and joblessness they left their homelands to escape. He could have dealt with the inevitable impact on the U.S. standard of living of unfettered population growth due to legal immigrants, illegal aliens and their progeny. This aspect of the problem is conveniently ignored.
When a disparity in the standard of living exists between two neighboring countries, it creates enormous immigration pressures. Under these conditions, if immigration is largely uncontrolled, the inevitable result will be an equilibrium between the two standards of living, with the higher standard being substantially reduced and the lower standard being increased. Population growth means that finite resources available per capita will be reduced and the standard of living will decline, for yet another second reason.
To most citizens of the U.S., assimilation means adopting a new lifestyle identified with the dominant Anglo- Catholic - Protestant culture and absorbing the individuality of the United States. It means becoming an American, not a hypenated American. Assimilation has occurred when someone feels American. People that march, yelling, "Nosotros somos América" (We are America), waving the flags of other countries, are clearly not assimilated.Richard Rodriguez, a writer who has published various books about the adaptation of Latinos to U.S. culture overlooks the fact that the country is becoming more Mexican, and that everything is changing our food, customs, music and religion. “As Latinos continue incorporating themselves into society, Americans feel they have to learn fragments of Spanish. And there will be weddings, hatred, friendship, solidarity, curiosity and competition.”
What's certain is that many Latinos live with one foot in each culture and they flow like water from one side to the other. The question becomes one of dual citizenship and dual allegiance. These terms are essentially oxymorons. Citizenship should continue to require the renunciation of allegiance to any foreign government. The unwillingness of Latinos to take this step is another source of irritation and strong evidence that they are not assimilating. Some maintain that earlier immigrants did not assimilate either. There is some limited degree of truth in that statement. Initially, we did see enclaves of Italian, Polish and other nationalities but most have now fully assimilated linguistically because it was necessary to do so in order to communicate with each other and carry on the commerce essential to the vitality of the broader communities. Latinos seem to find this unnecessary as their numbers increase daily and government is unwilling to take the stringent and continuing steps required to curb this invasion.