Ways of being and belonging

Immigration is the driving force behind many of the most significant changes in the United States and the world. The movement or migration of people is nothing new; indeed if we look at the human record, it reads like a patchwork of individuals coming and going over large swaths of land for hundreds even thousands of years. The scholarship presented here lends itself to issues surrounding immigration and education- such scholarship weaves methods to represent such diverse immigrant communities in the United States. The immigrant population of the United States today numbers 55 million people (Foner, Rumbaut, & Gold, 2000): 27 million are considered first-generation immigrants and 28 million are U.S. born children of immigrants (49). These numbers alone reveal the importance of establishing scholarship for and with the current immigrant population in mind.

Immigration patterns of the 1990s and 2000s saw an unparalleled number of immigrants from all over the non-European world enter the United States, adding to an already diverse population (Passel 2011). By the year 2000, the U.S. population grew 13.2% (1990 and 2000), from 248.7 million in 1990 to 281.4 million in 2000. This increase was not steady across different population categories. For example, the growth in the Hispanic population was 57.9% from 22.3 million in 1990 to 35.5 million in 2000, and that of the Asian population was 72% (from 6.9 million in 1990 to 11.9 million in 2000) during the same time span (30). Needless to say, these figures represent a historical framework indicative of the flow of various cultures, languages, and experiences into the United States. From this vantage point, we can witness the natural and culturally diverse world of ours with groups of people moving in and out of communities from the past into the present.

 

Education & Immigration Scholarship

Within this body of research, I examine a community of Iranian immigrants who face an onslaught of bias-not only because of religious beliefs but also for being from a country often used as the scapegoat for American international politics. This work, conducted in New York City, asks how Iranian-American immigrants make sense of who they are in an unfamiliar place while engaging in a process to renew the physical, emotional, and cultural aspects of their identity in the United States. By focusing on how second-generation Iranian-Americans transfer pieces of American culture into their cultural practices, and by what means (if any) they maintain the symbolic traits of Iranian heritage (Bozorgmehr, et. al. 1993, Ansari, 1992, and Mobasher, 2006). Previous work has noted that this community has established a sense of Iranian and American identity that is expressed through the accumulation of symbolic capitals, as well as social and cultural advantages (Bozorgmehr, M., Sabagh, G., & Sabbagh, G., 1988). This work contributes to the study of immigration and education, in so far as it will develop new scholarship about Iranian immigration and its various modes of incorporation and how this incorporation impacts on American society.

Discourse on Immigration

Today, the relationship between theory and society specifically immigration and education scholarship are bridging the gap between understanding and representing the hardships of immigration and thousands of harrowing accounts of struggle. Perhaps, now, more than ever, this type of scholarship is more valuable to understanding the issues facing immigrants today. Unlike the last great wave of European immigration at the turn of the twentieth century, which was halted by the passage of restrictive legislation in the 1920s and by the back-to-back global cataclysms of the Great Depression and World War II, the current flows show no signs of dwindling. However, the United States is presently tittering between reestablishing excessively harsh legislation that would drastically limit immigration versus a progressive immigration movement. Despite the political discourse on the matter, the United States remains the leading destination for a world on the move. If the xenophobic narrative remains the likelihood of this country becoming a beacon of hope may instead change to a country where immigrants are no longer welcomed.

Current political events in the US force us to confront the xenophobic behaviors of the American population and to critically analyze the consequences of them. The rhetoric of the political bigotry and social bigotry landscape is pretty blatant. Our current President-elect, Donald Trump, has made outrageous claims. Such as, suggesting that a Mexican judge should not hear a case involving him because of the magistrate’s Hispanic background. He has described life in the black communities as a never-ending hell of crime and poverty, and implied that all Muslim immigrants were potential terrorists. It is our duty as scholars as well as human beings, our human right, and our requirement, to be a voice, a movement, a picture, a story, and a media outlet and to remember and remind us that inequality and hegemony are grossly present in the world today. We need to awaken a greater consciousness of class conflict, racial injustice, economic inequality and global arrogance. The advantages of working together with large segments of the population to include representations of identity, culture, and knowledge can increase the success of today’s newcomers.

There are the past and its continuing horrors: violence, war, prejudices, monopolizations, political power in the hands of liars and murderers, building prisons instead of schools, poisoning the press and the entire culture by money, to name a few. We can choose to make a change, or we can just watch. Ensuring a dialog that includes the voice of educators, students, parents and the entire community is where change will be met. The challenge then is to use pedagogical theories to understand the outcomes of immigrant groups and for raising questions about and responses too social and political conditions. Especially important is the societal issues regarding inequity, racism, poverty, and the slew of social injustices surrounding immigrant communities, which only heighten the value of education and immigration scholarship.

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