Immigrants, no matter where they are, be it in the United States or anywhere else in the world, have marked differences from local inhabitants. The most obvious differences between the two groups (the locals and the immigrants) usually involve culture, language, and food. However, the differences, more often than not, are usually deeper than that. Nonetheless, as time goes by, as immigrants continue to mix, interact, and live with the locals, their differences become narrower until one may not be able to differentiate between the two groups again. This process is referred to as the process of assimilation, integration, or incorporation.

In academic terms, assimilation is described as the process by which the characteristics of members of a host community and immigrant groups can no longer be differentiated. However, such an immense change does not occur overnight, but it is a gradual process that includes economic, political, and sociocultural transformation.

So far, we've discussed only in terms of two groups of people, but we can have more than that coexisting together. For instance, in some parts of the United States in the 19th century, there were Germans, Irish, and white migrants coexisting together with native Americans. Due to this, the extent of assimilation of the three migrant groups differs from each other, since the assimilation process then tended towards native Americans who were in the majority. Fast forward to the 1920s, the works of Sociologist Sharon L. Sassler discovered that white immigrant white in the United States tended to be more educated then than their German and Irish counterparts when the third generation of the three immigrant groups was studied.

Varied factors were responsible for such differences in the rate of assimilation of different groups of immigrants including the variation in the level of the initial human capital of the immigrant groups, the economic and structural opportunities available to them, and the difference in what each group find easiest or consider most important to assimilate (most immigrants will first go for the local language). Additionally, the immigrant groups differ in the level of desire to assimilate and become one with the host population for many reasons. However, there can be reasons which may turn into conflicts later on, especially if it is built into a radical ideology.

It is important to point out that both groups (immigrants and natives) influence each other in every aspect till the end of the transition period, with traces of the initial characteristics of the two groups found in the final attributes. Although a particular group will have more input into what will be considered the final characteristics (usually those of the host community because most times it depends on the number) but such features are usually best left to the students of history to find out. This is because such incorporation does not just take years, but it takes generations to complete, starting from the first generation of immigrants to the second, third, fourth, and sometimes beyond.

Anglo-conformity: Attaining the American Lifestyle

Anglo-conformity is an old word that is used to describe how the different races of immigrants in the United States fine-tuned their ethnic characters and conform to those of the larger population they meet in America. America itself was founded and developed by European immigrants, but it got to a time when they realized that they needed to define what it meant to be American. Anglo-conformity was, therefore, one of the theories of assimilation propounded which means the necessity for an immigrant to learn the English language, adapt to numerous norms and values, and the reference of established institutions as a way of conformity to the integral Anglo-American society for the achievement of a homogeneous society.

Many immigrants did and continue to make efforts towards the acculturation process established by such laws as the immigration law of 1924, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1849, the Magnuson Act of 1943, the Immigration Act of 1965, the American Patriotic law of 2001, and the establishment of immigration quotas that favors one set of immigrants over the other.

Anglo-conformity, as a traditional assimilation theory, is still very relevant today because of its immense influence on American immigration laws. It is an important concept to understand, right now more than ever, before the time when the American immigration system needs overhaul and leaders are sharply divided along ideological and political lines with no consensus on what should be the way forward.

Indeed, when critically assessed, many laws formed to protect America and maintain religious and political tolerance can be deemed to be racial and bias. In fact, it is one thing to migrate to the United States legally and receive your citizenship, it is another thing for you to be accepted and treated as a member of society by others. So, American citizenship is very different from American identity. Yet, the people who made those laws that seem bias and racial, cannot be crucified because they did what they thought was right to do in their own time and it is the responsibility of those living at this time to learn from them and create an atmosphere that suits our own time.

Way Forward: Adoption of Cultural Pluralism

Cultural pluralism is another immigrant assimilation ideology that advocates tolerance and respect for all cultures, while every individual still pursues the American dream and lifestyle.

There is no better time to advocate for the advancement of cultural pluralism in America than now. Cultural pluralism should provide opportunities for all humans, regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion. It should also encourage essential values of Americanism, which includes shared values and common civic identity.

It is important to note that cultural pluralism and Anglo-conformity can co-exist together because real American life is one that provides opportunities for all. Liberty, freedom, and social justice, including the process of providing equal opportunity for all persons to acquire all these for themselves, are the hallmark of American life. Therefore, the American lifestyle cannot really be achieved without cultural pluralism.

In conclusion, America is a country of immigrants, founded and developed by hardworking immigrants should be open to more immigrants who are ready to embrace the American way of life. Therefore, every native citizen of today should know that their forefathers were once considered, but well-received, as new immigrants, and it is their responsibility to afford other people the same opportunity their parents had when they landed on the newfound land.

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