January 10, 2005

NEW ITALIANS (via Robert Schwartz):

Dominicans Take Their Place as an American Success Story (SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN, 1/05/05, NY Times)

All but invisibly to much of Anglo society, the percentage of Dominicans age 25 or older with some college education more than doubled from 1980 to 2000 to 35 percent of American-born Dominicans and 17 percent of Dominican immigrants, according to a new study by Prof. Ramona Hernandez, a sociologist who directs the Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY. (For all Americans, the percentage with some college is 52, the study found.) These accomplishments occurred even though, of all the ethnic and national groups in CUNY, Dominican students were from the poorest households and had the least-educated parents.

Clearly, however, those parents are investing their children with some classic immigrant aspirations. "We came here to make it," said Professor Hernandez, who moved to New York herself in her late teens. "When we leave home, we really leave. This is it for us. You have this immigrant courage, energy, desire."

Parents who work at draining jobs for meager wages - janitors, cabbies, seamstresses, hairdressers - point to their own toil as the fate their children must avoid. A popular Dominican aphorism, mindful not only of low-wage labor but the presence of some Dominicans in drug-dealing, makes a similar admonition. "No quiero ser una más del montón," it says, which translates as, "I don't want to be part of the pile."

Ms. Arias remembers her father's rewarding her with $10 and a dinner of the savory soup known as sancocho for every A on her college transcript; he cried on the day she received her acceptance as a transfer student to Columbia University. Mr. de Jesus's father took such pride in Robinson's graduation from Baruch College that every afternoon for a month before commencement exercises he would put on his only suit.

In the 39 years since the United States reopened its doors to large-scale immigration, it has become sadly routine to hear and read criticisms of these arrivals from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean Basin and Latin America as somehow more clannish, less devoted to America and the English language than their European forebears in the period from roughly 1850 to 1920. Any cursory look at the nativist lobby's publications and Web sites would lead one to believe that post-1965 immigrants, especially Hispanic ones, present nothing less than a threat to the republic.

BUT if it is accurate to call Korean immigrants the new Jews - a largely educated, urbanized population in its homeland that rapidly surged into higher education and the professions in America - then the Dominicans may be the modern-day equivalent of the Italians. In this case, the peasantry has come from the Cibao valley or the Santo Domingo barrios instead of the Mezzogiorno, but the upward mobility through public education and small business follows the same trajectory.

Of course we tried to keep the nativists Italian and Irish grandparents out too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 10, 2005 8:07 AM

Immigrants from all over the milky way are welcome if they want to come here, work hard and become un-hyphenated Americans. Dominicans, Koreans, whatever. Leave your hyphens at home. We're all Americans here.

Posted by: erp at January 10, 2005 9:43 AM

The Dominican day parade is one of the best parades in NYC. Fifth Avenue or Ave of the Americas depending on where they hold it takes on the aspect of a Caribbean Carnival. There's music, dancing, singing, pretty girls in various stages of dress and undress and a whole lot of fun.

The comparisons between the Hispanic immigrants and those of the Mezzogiorno are just too obvious to be ignored, but a descendant of immigrants from the Mezzogiorno like Tom Tancredo will certainly try.

Posted by: Bart at January 10, 2005 12:05 PM

In a more recent post about the Cabrini Green projects you talk about New Deal/Great Society "bad ideas". How does Ted Kennedy's 1965 Immigration Reform Act fit into this? This legislation would have never seen the light of day if Republicans had done better in 1964.

I am an American citizen who wasn't born in the US, and let me tell you that most people I know, natives and foreign-born alike, believe that the current levels of immigration are insanely high.

You can find progressive/all-is-sunlight articles from the NY Times that talk about success stories, but by and large immigration is a costly enterprise. Costly in terms of tax-payer funded public services (emergency hospital care, bilingual "education", welfare, etc.). More dear are the ideological costs: victimhood, socialist gimme mentality, and, of course, the elephant in the living room: "the great religion of peace". See if the New York Times mentions the contents of the first paragraph in one of their diversity missives:

I can accept your point if you say that mass immigration is good for business. It is, after all, generally a catalyst for cheaper labor costs. Most people don't object to immigration per se; they object to its current massive numbers. Why are the numbers so massive? Because a do-gooder liberal like Ted Kennedy re-engineered the immigration system into a joke, even by loose bureaucratic standards of the day.

Posted by: Leonidas at January 10, 2005 1:39 PM

We moved uptown to a neigboorhood with a lot of Dominicans in 1980. I remember talking to the handyman Angelo while he was fixing a radiator about the upcomming election. I caught an earful about the Democrats and Abortion. I began to have some hope that the Country had a future.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 10, 2005 1:55 PM


I don't care about business--I want more Americans.

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2005 4:35 PM


It is patently wrong to blame all the hobbling welfare programs, which citizens impose on non-voting immigrants, on those non-voting immigrants. However, you are correct about the need to bar Muslims from entry into the West until they cease their nonsense.

Posted by: Bart at January 11, 2005 6:44 AM