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The below was a commentary at :

http://allisonkaplansommer.blogmosis.com/

I found it to be an interesting point that I don't believe anyone has every picked up on.  While I agree and disagree with various points I do feel that it was worth putting up on the site as a guest columnist.

 

I read your comments and they were pretty good.

However I believe we need to put more focus into how technology has changed immigrants. Many like to emphasize how immigrants built our country but they were of a different nature than most of them are now. They came to BE AMERICANS but most often than not today’s immigrants JUST come to get a better job without wanting to forget their allegiances to their home country. They come to America with an “I only work here” attitude”.

Like I said, up to say the early 20th century, coming to America was quite a sacrifice. You might take your wife, your children, but practically everyone else, the people you grew up with, your friends, your cousins, even your brothers and sisters and parents, all those people you were leaving behind FOREVER. You might be able to send a letter back to them once in awhile, that might get back to them, but since lots of people couldn’t read or write, for most, when they left, they left, breaking that connection forever.

And the journey itself to America was very hard. For Europeans it meant getting on a ship (like you saw in Titanic) in 3rd class, that was very crowded, that had very poor hygiene, and not much good food to go around. And then when you got to America you were inspected for disease and if there was any hint that you might be sick, well back went..

Once you got to America there was no turning back. You were there to either sink or swim. So after making such sacrifices it is easy to understand why being part of this new land was so important to them. And the fact that they couldn’t keep in contact with what was going on in the old country, with their friends and family, made it easier for them to break their allegiances to the old country and place their loyalty and their futures with America.

Now, however, for most immigrants coming to America means a ride in a jet plane where sure I guess the in-flight movie could have been bad or the meals undercooked, but isn’t anywhere near the experience of being in a 3rd class area of a Titanic like ship. And once they get off the plane they can call home to tell their parents how the trip was. With the Internet they can read web versions of their local newspapers in their own language. They can email friends and family on a daily basis. Even more quickly than daily for with instant messaging contact with the friends and family is instantaneous.

With satellite TV there are whole stations that dedicated to the culture of your country. You could really maintain a lifestyle that was almost like you had never left except for work of course and some other times when you had to go out into the new society you would now be living it. But if you want to watch the latest cricket match from your country well perhaps there is a satellite station that is broadcasting it live or perhaps you have to have a friend back home tape it or perhaps there would be some way through the Internet to see it. Perhaps it is overstating it by saying you can make it just like home but you can make it damn close.

And if you ever get too homesick, home is just an airplane ride away. Going back to visit the home country isn’t something that your grandson gives to you as a gift for your 80th birthday. It is something you can do once or twice a year – perhaps even more. Strengthening those bonds that need to be broken before it is possible to transfer allegiances

Anyway, I believe technology is why fewer and fewer immigrants break old allegiances now days as they did in past generations and why we as a nation need to reconsider the very concept of naturalization to see if it can make sense in this modern age.

And besides, in the past there were fewer people in America and much more room to expand. That’s just not the case now.

Posted by Sean at September 10, 2006 10:33 AM