For those opposed to immigration, Miami is a nightmare. Miami is the de facto capital of Latin America; it is a city where immigrants dominate, Spanish is ubiquitous, and Denny's is an ethnic restaurant. Are Miami's immigrants representative of a trend that is undermining American culture and identity?
Drawing from in-depth fieldwork in the city and looking closely at recent events such as the Elián González case, This Land Is Our Land examines interactions between immigrants and established Americans in Miami to address fundamental questions of American identity and multiculturalism. Rather than focusing on questions of assimilation, as many other studies have, this book concentrates on interethnic relations to provide an entirely new perspective on the changes wrought by immigration in the United States. A balanced analysis of Miami's evolution over the last forty years, This Land Is Our Land is also a powerful demonstration that immigration in America is not simply an "us versus them" phenomenon.
This Land Is Our Land Immigrants and Power in Miami
It's Not a One-Way Street
On Thanksgiving Day 1999, a six-year-old boy, Elián González, was found floating on an inner tube three miles off the Florida coast. He was reportedly surrounded by dolphins and, more surprisingly, in spite of being in the water for three days, he was not sunburned at all. The U.S. Coast Guard spotted the boy, along with the two other survivors of a vessel that had been carrying fourteen passengers from Cuba. The other eleven, including the boy's mother, had apparently drowned. The Coast Guard immediately transferred Elián to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. The two other survivors were rescued after they swam to Key Biscayne, a few miles from downtown Miami.
Two days after the boy was found, Elián's father in Cuba declared that he wanted his son back. Under normal circumstances, the sole surviving parent's wishes are the last word on such matters. However, there is nothing normal about dealing with Cuba or Cuban Americans. Miami Cubans passionately argued that Elián's mother had died to give the boy freedom from Castro's dictatorship and that he should be permitted to stay in Miami with his great uncle, Lázaro González. After a considerable delay and interviews in Cuba with the boy's father, on January 6, 2000, Janet Reno announced, "This little boy, who has been through so much, belongs with his father." It was not only the little boy who went through so much during those six months; the community where the events unfolded would never be the same either. The drama preceding and following this decision cemented, in the eyes of the nation and the world, Miami's reputation as a city deeply divided along ethnic lines, where ethnicity and immigration combine to create an unstable fulcrum of power and prejudice, and where new arrivals to this country, rather than being disenfranchised, are empowered enough to be regularly accused of prejudice against long-established residents. In this type of community, sometimes heralded as a preview to twenty-first-century United States, Elián's saga served as a magnifying glass, highlighting and at the same time kindling the tensions that have been building up over the past forty years of mass immigration into Miami.
The story of Elián González is worth recounting here, at the beginning of our volume, because it brought even the most peripheral citizens of the region face-to-face with profound issues of identity, power, and prejudice. For nearly everyone, African Americans, non-Hispanic whites, and many other immigrants, the overwhelming question raised by the months of taking sides over whether Elián should stay or go was, "What does it mean to be an American?" For Cuban Americans, even those who never held tightly to the typical anti-Castro dogma, the question became, "What does it mean to be a Cuban in America?"
After Reno announced the Justice Department's decision, Miami's Cuban community declared that it would unleash massive protests. "Let's take action immediately with the objective of paralyzing Miami and paralyzing the airport," urged Alberto Hernandez, a director of the Cuban American National Foundation, speaking to other leaders of the Cuban exile community at a meeting following the announcement. On January 6, hundreds of Miami's Cubans blocked intersections throughout the urban center and cut off access to the Port of Miami and the airport. The "political correctness" of Miami's Cuban community in demanding that Elián stay in the United States was transmitted throughout the world by Miami-Dade County mayor Alex Penelas, who proclaimed at a press conference that county law enforcement officers would not cooperate with the federal authorities in reuniting Elián with his father. If violence broke out, he warned the Clinton administration, "We hold you responsible." The county mayor's comments particularly alienated Miami's non-Cuban communities. At a Town Hall Meeting organized by ABC-TV's "Nightline" on the campus of Florida International University, a non-Cuban speaker from the audience chastised Mayor Penelas for his comments by reminding him that "he was elected to represent all of the citizens of Dade County."
Ultimately, the issue was resolved by force. Before the sun rose on Saturday, April 22, the day before Easter, agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) stormed the house of Lázaro González to retrieve Elián. The small number of observers on the scene fortunately gave only token resistance to the well-armed strike force. Pictures of the raid circumnavigated the globe via internet, television, and newspapers. A few hours later, Elián was reunited with his father.
The Miami Cuban community vilified the U.S. government. A Miami Cuban professional in his late twenties exclaimed, "It's a betrayal. They betrayed us. We've been the most loyal supporters of the U.S. How could they do this?" A sobbing Bertha Garcia, a Cuban American who had lived in Miami for thirty-eight years, proclaimed, "I thought it was the most unbelievable thing that I've seen in my life in the United States done to a poor family with a poor house." Cuban American pop stars Gloria Estefan and Andy García expressed their support for Elián remaining in the United States. Even moderate, broad-based organizations like the Cuban-American National Council, criticized the government's strong-arm tactics in a public statement: "We know no precedent for such an extraordinary operation, and cannot understand why the Justice Department deployed a commando tactical force, armed with semiautomatic weapons, face masks, and tear gas, that broke into the home of an innocent American family, the same family that the Justice Department itself had previously entrusted with Elián's care." Seventy Cuban-American leaders of twenty-one exile organizations called for a citywide strike on the following Tuesday to "send a message of pain to the federal government and the nation about Elián's seizure." They sought to turn Miami into a "dead city."
Throughout the Latino sections of Miami, they had a dramatic effect. In the heart of Little Havana, along Calle Ocho, nearly all businesses were closed as they were in Hialeah, the most thoroughly Latino municipality. Crowds gathered on the sidewalks, and long convoys of vehicles slowed traffic, especially at key intersections. Vitriolic anti-government placards condemned the raid, calling Clinton a communist and Reno a lesbian. Cuban flags were everywhere; many also displayed the U.S. flag but flew it upside down.
"We are staying away from work as a way to express our outrage, not only over Elián but also against what we see as a major change in U.S. policy—one that indicates an improvement in relations with Fidel Castro," declared Carlos Rodriguez Nuñez, a retired paint-store owner who was one of the few pedestrians on Calle Ocho (officially Eighth Street), the main street of Little Havana. A Cuban American pediatrician closed his practice for the day. One of his sick patients visited a non-Cuban pediatrician for treatment. The non-Cuban pediatrician called the Cuban American pediatrician for information on the case. The Cuban pediatrician took advantage of the call to assail for nearly an hour the non-Cuban pediatrician for working that day, passionately declaiming that no one did or could understand the hurt and pain of exiled Cubans.
About one-third of the students in public schools stayed home in a district that is over fifty percent Latino. At Florida International University, the local campus of the state university system, which has a student body that is more than fifty percent Latino, about seven hundred administrative and support workers participated in the stoppage—including President Modesto Maidique, a Cuban American. At least a few businesses closed out of fear after receiving threats of bombs or boycotts. Two Hialeah businesses—Denny's and Kmart—received bomb threats for staying open. Denny's closed after the second threat. Kmart remained open, but had police sweep the store. A Winn-Dixie grocery store in a mixed but primarily Latino neighborhood was evacuated after receiving a bomb threat. Even one church had to close because of threats. St. Kieran's Catholic Church, a mostly Latino congregation in Coconut Grove, closed after the church secretary received an anonymous call saying that the church would be bombed if it stayed open.
Miami's Cuban Americans had believed that the United States supported them in their efforts to defeat Castro's communist regime. They viewed themselves as the most stalwart of all Americans in opposing communism and thus supporting U.S. interests. They further viewed themselves as strongly contributing to U.S. society both by being successful economically and through their intense civic engagement, as reflected in their high rates of naturalization and their ability to elect Cuban American officials locally. Moreover, they strongly believed that living in the United States away from one's parents was preferable to being in Cuba, even with one's parent(s). They pointed to the "successes" of the Pedro (Peter) Pan project, sponsored by the Catholic Church in the 1960s, in which Cuban parents voluntarily sent their unaccompanied children to the United States because they feared that the Cuban government would take them away and "brainwash" them. They claimed that Elián's father was under duress when he asserted that he had freely decided that he wanted Elián to return to Cuba. Given the widely documented human rights abuses of Cuba's Castro regime, they had been confident that the U.S. government would not force Elián to return to his father, and they were shocked when the INS forcibly removed Elián from his Miami relatives' home. For all these reasons, they saw the U.S. actions as a "betrayal," a breaking of the implicit contract in which they not only were staunch anti-communists but also had successfully integrated economically and politically.
The mayor of the City of Miami, Joe Carollo, condemned the INS raid and in its wake succeeded in obtaining the resignation of the non-Latino white city manager along with the police chief. Cuban Americans replaced both. The mayor of Hialeah, Raul Martinez, the most heavily Latino municipality in Miami-Dade County (and the United States), announced that Cubans should not allow themselves to be stepped on by other minorities and that they should consider forming their own political party. He asserted that Cubans had worked hard to build the community and they had nothing to apologize about. He went on to demand that the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Penelas, stand up to the black community. "The time has come to say: It's like this. How many federal programs have been put in place, how many state programs have been put in place, to help the blacks and the blacks haven't done anything. And the so-called black leaders have taken the money."
In contrast, non-Cubans viewed the Cubans as ungrateful immigrants who had been allowed to enjoy the freedoms of the United States and then attacked it by flying the U.S. flag upside down and condemning U.S. authorities who only wanted to reunite a small boy with his one surviving parent. Cheryl Lynn Conrad declared, "Janet Reno did what she had to do—uphold the law. The raid was very well executed. They were in and out very quickly with minimal risk to the child." She added that the defiance of the González family forced the hand of authorities. Others in immigrant communities took the opportunity to highlight that the INS behaves similarly in hundreds of immigration cases every year and no one takes a second look—until the victims are Cubans.
Accordingly, the strike following the raid had little economic impact outside of the Latino neighborhoods. The county's two major economic engines, Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami-Dade, remained open. While the airport saw no signs of the strike, the port slowed down, as hundreds of truck drivers stayed home. County transit buses and Metrorail operated regularly but carried fewer passengers than usual. Reportedly, only one out of ten Miami-Dade County employees stayed home. At lunchtime, the only major evidence of a strike along Ocean Drive in South Beach was the closure of Lario's on the Beach, the restaurant owned by Cuban American singer Gloria Estefan.
Nevertheless, the strike upset many non-Cubans. Potter Walker, an African American, declared that Cuban Americans who closed their businesses were being "ungrateful to our government by not working today." The following weekend counter-demonstrations emerged in non-Latino neighborhoods. These counter-demonstrations brought together an unlikely alliance of good ole boys waving confederate flags and proudly holding signs exhorting authorities to "send them all" back, next to African American families reminding Mayor Penelas that "you represent us too, mayor." Within a week, flag stores in Miami claimed they were running out of both American and Cuban flags, especially the small ones that people mount on their cars. The Miami Cubans were chastised across the board by non-Latinos as ungrateful, unforgiving, and unpatriotic. "Why are they waving Cuban flags?" said a colleague from New York. "If they are so adamant that he stay here since this place is so much better, why not wave American flags?"
The Elián case even affected the 2000 election. It was an election in which African Americans in South Florida, as in the state as a whole, turned out in record numbers to vote for Al Gore, the Democratic Party candidate. It was equally an election in which Cuban Americans turned out en masse to vote against the Democrats. Ever since President Kennedy ordered the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, Miami's Cubans have overwhelmingly voted Republican. Democratic presidential contenders have never won Miami Cubans' votes. Bill Clinton did make inroads, capturing as much as 40 percent of their votes in 1996. However, in 2000, in the wake of Elián's forcible return to Cuba, more than 80 percent of Miami Cubans voted for Bush, who won Florida, and thus the presidency, by only a few hundred votes.
Interested and disinterested observers watching these events must have asked themselves, and any who would listen: What's with Miami? What's with these Miami Cubans, perhaps America's most successful immigrant group, certainly the most successful Latinos, complaining about the U.S. government betraying them? Are they a bunch of ingrates? Some interpreted the behavior of Cubans as par for the course, the arrogance that has characterized the most successful Latino immigrant group since the beginning of its mass arrival in the United States in 1959. Cubans, as equal citizens of this country, should be respectful, if not accepting, of its laws. Others, more mercifully, expressed respect for the position of those who, even after forty years of exile, refuse to negotiate principles for popularity; those who face what they consider to be unjust laws and declare that " the law is an ass."
America welcomed Cuban exiles when they fled Cuba in the wake of its communist revolution. The U.S. government showered unparalleled benefits upon them: retraining and recertification for professionals, scholarships, travel expenses from Cuba to the U.S., permanent residence status, and business loans. They took advantage of it all. Miami Cubans exercise political control of the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, and the Miami Dade County public schools. They have ample representation in the state legislature and hold two seats in the U.S. Congress. Moreover, they wield enormous influence over U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba. Arguably, by 1990 it was clear that these first-generation immigrants and their children had made it in America more quickly than any previous immigrant community in American history.
The Elián affair brought to light many of the strains of their relation to current U.S. laws and national opinion. Those engaged in this controversy were talking, indirectly, about the dynamics of assimilation, about how they view the process of becoming American. They were also confronting one of the most important issues in contemporary America: to what extent and in what ways can America absorb the current great wave of immigration? The Elián affair encapsulates the central argument of this book: that immigrant assimilation is not just about the immigrants changing themselves and becoming American. Rather, assimilation also entails a reciprocal effect: immigrants are not assimilated until the rest of America accepts them as part of America. In heavily immigrant communities, the threshold of acceptance might be different than in a community where established residents predominate, but the process is the same: each group has its take on what it means to be American, but the criteria is a negotiated one.
Our Research ProblemThe core of our research question is encompassed in Woody Guthrie's 1940 song "This Land is Our Land," which serves as the title for this volume. While Woody's populist message was primarily an explicit class analysis, the core of his message is given a new ethnic dimension today, as waves of new immigrants, from Latin America and Asia rather than Europe, claim portions of this land as their own. We focus on a corner of the frontier society developing at the edge of the "gulf stream waters" and explore how diverse immigrant groups strive to make this land their land.
In the following chapters, we examine face-to-face, daily contact between immigrants and Americans in three arenas in Miami: business organizations, workers at their workplaces, and high-school students in schools. We examine not only highly successful Cubans, but also Haitians, who have encountered far more difficulties in Miami, and other Latin American immigrants. We focus not only on how established resident white Americans respond to immigrants, but also on how Miami's African American population reacts.
The predominant concern of immigration research has been immigrants' economic impact and their assimilation. Continuing the research trajectory started with the Ford Foundation's Changing Relations Project in the late 1980s, we seek to shift the debate on immigrants from their economic impact and their relative levels of assimilation to the interaction between newcomers and established resident Americans. Such a focus incorporates consideration of economic impact and assimilation, but extends the debate to include the social impact on both established residents and immigrants, along with the attendant cultural friction and tension that has become part of America's historical legacy as a nation of immigrants. Miami is home to both black and white immigrants, some highly successful and some struggling to survive, and a diverse resident population that includes many who claim an immigrant heritage.
Miami is also a city that many Americans perceive as having been taken over by immigrants, and in reaction to those perceptions, the city spawned the contemporary English-only, immigrant backlash movement that reverberated throughout the United States. All these characteristics make Miami not only dynamic and exciting, but also a strategic research site. As in Miami, the wave of immigration since the mid-1960s has already affected most major urban areas in the United States. It is now beginning to filter down to smaller cities and towns, too. What Miami now confronts either already challenges or soon will challenge other cities.
This chapter describes how, within one generation, immigration has transformed Miami from a declining retirement and tourism center for North Americans into the northern capital of Latin America. The beginning of this process can be traced to January 1, 1959, the day the Cuban Revolution triumphed on the island ninety miles from U.S. shores. On that date, Cubans began their migratory waves to the Florida coast and other cities in the United States. The extraordinarily generous welcome afforded Cubans not only allowed them to achieve unparalleled rapid economic success, but also strained relationships among all groups in Miami. African Americans argue that Cubans received the fruits of the civil rights movement. Working-class white Americans frequently either fled the city or initiated a backlash, which included the English Only movement. White American business leaders expressed frustration and confusion that Cubans and other Latinos could succeed without really learning English or joining mainstream American business and civic organizations. Non-Cuban immigrants, such as Haitians and Nicaraguans, commonly feel that they are discriminated against compared to Cubans. These reactions are not unprecedented. We summarize how the reaction to and treatment of Cubans and other immigrants in Miami parallels America's long-term ambivalence towards all immigrants.
In contrast to the predominant theories of immigrant adaptation, which emphasize assimilation and economic adaptation, we argue that these theories no longer adequately conceptualize the problems occasioned by immigration in Miami. Instead, we outline our own theoretical framework, which stresses interaction between immigrants and Americans.
American AmbivalenceAmericans seem always to be of two minds about immigration. Immigrants are celebrated in popular culture and myth. Moreover, the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty are not empty rhetoric. Virtually every American is aware of their personal family ethnic heritage rooted in immigration, whether their ancestors came to pursue economic or political freedom or were forced to come as slaves. Temporal and psychological distance from one's personal immigration history, along with pride or shame, affect reactions to new immigrants. Two attitudes have revealed themselves in the public debate: open generosity versus nativism and racism. The United States has always either kept the door open or attempted to close the door, albeit with a substantial crack.
The United States is the leading country in the history of the world in terms of immigration. Between 1820 and 2000, over sixty-five million immigrants were admitted into the United States. Currently, the United States is one of the few countries in the world with an official immigration program. During the 1990s, immigration to the United States averaged nearly one million a year, a figure that exceeded the combined total for all other countries allowing immigration.
At the same time, immigrants have always provoked some degree of ethnocentric backlash. As historian John Higham (1988) has pointed out, at various times in American history, anti-immigrant sentiment has flared up, producing nativist excesses. Early English colonists disparaged French Huguenots for being French and Catholic, and the Scotch and Irish for not being really English (Jones 1960, 44). German immigrants to England's American colony evoked particularly passionate phobias. Belonging to pacifist sects, such as the Amish, many German immigrants sought seclusion from rather than assimilation to Anglo American ways. They prompted Benjamin Franklin to challenge, "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of Anglifying them?" (Weaver 1970, 50).
Immigrants were not, of course, the only manifestation of alterity that concerned English settlers. Colonists also feared those whom they had displaced, the Native Americans. Puritans considered Native Americans who assimilated by converting to Christianity as a potentially subversive, dangerous force and attempted to exterminate them in the 1670s (Dinnerstein, Nichols, and Reimers 1979, 5, 9). One hundred years later, the United States Constitution originally denied citizenship to Native Americans. Early Americans also considered African slaves and their descendants as inferior and incapable of assimilating into Anglo American culture.
Following the founding of the republic, the Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans agreed that too many foreigners might drown American institutions. They disagreed, however, on which foreigners constituted the most important menace. The French Jacobins and Irish radicals most intimidated the conservative Federalists, while the Jeffersonians censured the French royalists and other aristocratic groups (Dinnerstein, Nichols, and Reimers 1979, 67). Nevertheless, the United States did not pass restrictive immigration laws until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which not only prevented Chinese from immigrating to the United States, but also made them ineligible for naturalization.
In 1911, in the midst of the greatest immigration wave in U.S. history, the United States Immigration Commission, better known as the Dillingham Commission, issued a forty-two-volume report with copious social and economic data. Considered moderate at the time, the commission nevertheless invidiously contrasted immigrants from Northern Europe with those from Eastern and Southern Europe. Eugenicists, such as Madison Grant in his The Passing of the Great Race (1916), argued that Anglo-Saxons, Nordics, and Teutonics should not contaminate their "racial purity" by marrying "lower types," such as Poles, Italians, and Greeks. Grant and his contemporaries conceived of each of these European regional groups (that is, Nordics) as fundamentally different. With the advent of World War I, fear focused on German immigrants—not on their racial purity, but on the more immediate political question of whether they were loyal to America or to Germany. Long before the multicultural wars of the 1980s and 1990s, the Literary Digest, one of the most important periodicals of the time, declared in 1915 that the "hyphenate issue" was the most vital one of the day. For example, presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both asserted that German Americans had to become either Germans or Americans (Higham 1988, 198). Politicians such as Frank Houx, governor of Wyoming, asserted, "We are 100 per cent American in the State of Wyoming, and we are going to remain 100 per cent American" (Higham 1988, 194).
This climate gave birth to the anti-immigration agitation of the 1920s, the high-water mark in the history of American nativism. On May 26, 1924, the first permanent limitation on immigration was enacted in the form of the nationality origins quota system (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1997, A.1-24). Intended to keep out Jews, Italians, Slavs, and other "undesirable" immigrants, the law succeeded. Tragically, the law later made it difficult or impossible for many Jews and others fleeing the Nazi genocide to enter the United States. The Great Depression also depressed immigration. Since most immigrants were labor migrants, a decline in employment opportunities reduced the demand for immigrant labor. The restrictive immigration laws, followed by the Great Depression, combined to reduce immigration until well after World War II. Accordingly, public concern over the adaptation and assimilation of immigrants receded.
The end of Word War II initiated prolonged economic prosperity. The Slavs and other new immigrants, supposedly essentially different from earlier immigrants, had evidently lost their distinctiveness and become white Americans. The Civil Rights movement also affected attitudes toward other groups. The blatant racism of the early twentieth century diminished. In 1965, Congress reformed the restrictive immigration law by repealing the old quotas, thus allowing for much more diversity among immigrants. In 1995, immigrants to the United States came from more than a hundred different countries, and concerns over the impact of immigration have reemerged. To many, immigrants again constitute a threat to the integrity of the United States and its cultural identity. Some observers worry not about immigration per se but about the multiculturalist turn that immigration may reinforce, which they fear may lead to national fragmentation. The historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. asserts, "The American Creed envisages a nation composed of individuals making their own choices and accountable to themselves, not a nation based on inviolable ethnic communities" (Schlesinger 1992). A more frankly ethnocentric reaction to the new immigration is contained in a recent bestseller, wherein the English immigrant Peter Brimelow asserts that recent immigration is likely to "transform and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy . . . the American nation" (1995, xv). The racial fears of the early twentieth century have been transformed into cultural fears.
And yet, Americans have hardly uniformly disparaged and vilified immigrants. Many observers have viewed the impact of aliens positively. As early as 1782, the French immigrant Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur claimed, "Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world" (Crèvecoeur 1782, 54-55). One hundred years ago, as America confronted its largest ever influx of new immigrants, nearly all of whom were not of British origin, the Carnegie Corporation commissioned the department of sociology at the University of Chicago to produce a series entitled Studies of Methods of Americanization (Kivisto 1990). The study concluded that the prospects for assimilation were good in the United States because, unlike Europe, there were no classes in the new country and immigrants arrived as individuals, not as groups. The famous American immigration phrase, the melting pot, comes from Israel Zangwill's 1908 play of that title, which states, "The Real American has not yet arrived. . . . He will be the fusion of all races, perhaps the coming superman (Zangwill 1921, 33; quoted in Parillo 1994, 12).
In the current debate, for every text denigrating immigration, such as Roy Beck's The Case Against Immigration (1996), there is a counter, such as Sanford J. Ungar's Fresh Blood (1995), which emphasizes the positive contributions of America's new immigrants. Even within the Republican Party, the strongest political hope of the anti-immigration camp, views are divided. Anti-immigrant and immigration restriction proposals almost invariably originate in Republican ranks. Nevertheless, some key Republican leaders, most notably George W. Bush, are advocates of continued immigration. Similarly, Rudolph Giuliani, the Republican mayor of New York City, unabashedly championed restoring government benefits to legal immigrants.
In short, America both welcomes and rejects immigrants. We champion our history of immigration both rhetorically and pragmatically. Politicians and others repeatedly remind us that we all (except for American Indians) are of immigrant stock, and we continue to receive more immigrants than any other nation. At the same time, many commentators, politicians, and others express fears that today's immigrants cannot assimilate, that they cannot or will not become Americans, that they will undermine America's culture, values, and institutions. Social scientists interested in immigration have devoted most of their attention to precisely this question of assimilation.
The Dominant Theory: AssimilationAssimilation became the academic term for the popular phrase "the melting pot." Amidst the last great wave of massive immigration to the United States, from the end of the nineteenth century through the restrictive laws of the 1920s, when popular opinion demanded the closure of U.S. borders, two sociologists, Robert Park and Ernest Burgess, argued that a natural process of assimilation would ease conflict and integrate immigrants. In the original academic formulation of the argument, Park and Burgess (1921) contended that there was a universal cycle of race relations that began with conflict and progressed through competition and accommodation to end in assimilation, the intergroup mixing and sharing of experiences that would induce the replacement of immigrants' ethnic or minority identity with an American temperament. Their focus was on the interaction between groups and the apparently inevitable outcome of assimilation, a comprehensive loss of immigrant identity, and the assumption of American ways, a basically one-way street.
Park and Burgess contributed to the foundation of the Chicago School, which intellectually confronted the challenge of immigrants who had been flooding into Chicago and other major American cities. Through the application of the tools of the relatively new field of sociology, they contested the then dominant view that asserted that immigrants were inherently inferior and detrimental to America. By combining direct empirical observation with analytical generalization, they redirected emphasis to the social and psychological adaptation of immigrant groups. In the process, they established many terms, such as assimilation, that have reverberated through countless other investigations and that continue to guide analysis of immigrants today. Park and Burgess attributed a central role to the interaction between immigrants and Americans through their cycle of race relations: conflict, competition, accommodation, and eventually assimilation. Subsequent research, however, shifted emphasis to the individual actions of immigrants.
The intellectual trajectory established by Park and Burgess culminated in Milton Gordon's Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins (Gordon 1964). Following Park and Burgess and their successors, Gordon viewed assimilation as the expected outcome, a natural consequence of the immigrant experience in America. He depicted two stages: (1) Acculturation, in which immigrants shed their native language and view of the world, replacing them with English and an American cultural outlook. In Gordon's view, acculturation was a necessary precondition for the second stage. (2) Social assimilation incorporates substages of first interacting with established resident Americans and then having them as friends, close associates, and eventually marriage partners. Classical assimilation theory's assumption that acculturation precedes social assimilation corresponds closely with popular American expectations of immigrant progress. It supports the calls for English Only, which views maintenance of a foreign language as an impediment to assimilation.
Gordon's formulation also reflected a profound shift from Park and Burgess. Interaction between immigrants and established residents faded from view. Gordon emphasized the individual immigrants as the prime movers in assimilation. From his perspective, individuals separately assimilated and the sum of individuals' actions produced assimilation of immigrant groups. Gordon's analysis conformed well with the experiences of the immigrant flows from Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, whose second- and third-generation offspring had apparently assimilated by the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Gordon's work appeared. The 1960s, however, saw an ethnic resurgence, most obviously by African Americans in the civil rights struggle, but also by numerous hyphenated white Americans. Glazer and Moynihan (1970) described the "unmeltable ethnics," such as Italians in New York, who maintained their distinctiveness and separation. Yet, subsequent research demonstrated more melting than Glazer and Moynihan apparently saw (Alba and Nee 1997).
The ethnicity of white ethnics was typically more symbolic than fundamental. They did recognize their foreign roots and ate distinctive national foods. However, their ethnic expressions were usually limited to special occasions and to foods that had been absorbed into American cuisine. In contrast, those whom Americans defined as racially different—blacks, Latinos, and Asians—were more likely not only to maintain symbolic ethnicity but also to experience difficulty in being accepted by and assimilating into mainstream, established-resident white American society. As the color of immigration changed, the apparent problem of assimilating immigrants reemerged and presented far stronger challenges to the standard views of assimilation.
In 1965, changes in immigration law brought many more, and mainly non-European, primarily Latino and Asian, immigrants to the United States. Academic attention has centered on whether immigrants are succeeding economically and on the economic impact their presence has on the United States. The 1997 National Academy of Science report, for example, fixes exclusively on assessing the economic impact of immigrants. This report concludes that the economic effect of contemporary immigrants is positive overall for the nation, but it also admits that local governments shoulder an immediate burden in the areas of the cost of schooling and health care for low-wage immigrant workers and their families. In cities where low-skilled immigrants and minorities are concentrated, the report also concludes that they compete with each other for jobs.
The National Academy of Science report reflects end-of-the-century policy debates that often focus on the cost-benefit ratio of immigration. Recent changes in policy, including certain provisions of welfare reform (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996) and the 1996 Immigration Act (the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996) reflect the desire to curtail the net cost of immigration through limiting immigrant access to benefits and services and/or transferring some of the costs to the immigrants themselves or their countries of origin. Welfare reform, for example, originally eliminated food stamps and supplemental security income (SSI, which goes to disabled and elderly individuals) for adult legal immigrants, although these provisions were reversed about a year later. The 1996 Immigration Act expanded the basis for denying immigrant visas to persons deemed likely to become a public charge by considering factors such as age, health, family status, financial resources, education, and skills.
These policy initiatives and their associated, although usually implicit, theoretical perspectives miss the issues raised by the Elián affair, discussed at the beginning of this chapter. The economic adaptation and impact of immigrants are important, but they are not the only significant features of immigration. The fact that immigrants succeed economically does not mean that Americans will accept them. Moreover, the new immigrants can succeed economically without first acculturating. Heavy Spanish accents come from the most successful as well as struggling immigrants. Miami is different from Chicago in the 1920s. Immigrants succeed economically without acculturating, yet they still confront prejudice and discrimination. Economics cannot capture the full story of the impact of immigrants, especially in a place like Miami, where immigrants insist on taking Woody at his word.
Miami: Capital of Latin AmericaAt a 1998 event held by the University of Miami and the state of Florida to discuss plans for educating a "multilingual workforce for the twenty-first century," the university's newly installed dean of education, an import from a university in the north, spoke of language diversity as a problem that people in his former area of residence would soon be encountering. The faculty member moderating the conference gently reminded the dean that in Florida multilingualism is viewed as an asset, and promised to continue to educate him.
In Miami, multilingualism is an asset. Not only are Latinos the demographic majority, but they also have considerable economic and political power. Latinos are the majority in some Texas cities, such as Laredo, El Paso, and San Antonio, and in border areas, such as California's Imperial Valley, but there they lack the clout they have in Miami. It is easier to find a job, to shop, just to get things done, if one knows Spanish. It is also much easier to advance economically if one knows English. Miami is truly multilingual and multicultural (Garreau 1981; Levine 1985; Portes and Stepick 1993).
Miami has many foreigners, almost all with roots in Latin America and the Caribbean, and its economic focus is on Latin America and the Caribbean. Miami has the highest proportion of foreign-born residents of any major metropolitan area in the United States, proportionally 50 percent more than either Los Angeles or New York. Over 70 percent of Miami's population are either first-generation (48.6 percent) or second-generation (22.9 percent) immigrants (Portes and Rumbaut 2001). In the 1980s, Latinos achieved a plurality, and by the early 1990s an absolute majority, of the population in Miami-Dade County. By the 2000 census, Miami-Dade County was nearly 60 percent Latino. With about 600,000 Cubans, Miami-Dade County contains the largest concentration of Cubans in the United States, and Cubans have always constituted a majority of the local Latino population. Beginning in the 1980s, other Latino immigrants also began settling in the Miami area. Nicaraguans, first fleeing the Sandinista regime and then the Contra war against the Sandinistas, made Miami the largest Nicaraguan settlement in the United States with over 100,000 people. In the wake of every crisis in Latin America, the Miami Latino population grows. In the 1990s, Colombians fleeing the drug wars took up residence in Miami. In the late 1990s, Peruvians and Venezuelans sought refuge from political uncertainty. With these continuing influxes, Miami's Latino population continues to grow both absolutely and proportionately (Boswell 1994; Viglucci, Yardley, and Henderson 2001). By 2000, Latinos had even become the largest minority statewide, surpassing blacks (Viglucci, Driscoll, and Henderson 2001).
But it is not just the number of foreigners that makes Miami the de facto capital of Latin America. Even more important is what Latinos are doing in Miami. Miami's Latinos have made Miami the economic and transportation gateway of the Americas. While Miami has only five percent of the total U.S. Latino population, it has close to half of the forty largest Latino-owned industrial and commercial firms in the country. Only New York has more foreign-owned banks than Miami. Nearly 50 percent of U.S. exports to the Caribbean and Central America and over 30 percent of U.S. exports to South America pass through Miami. Miami's Free Trade Zone is the first and largest privately owned trade zone in the world. Miami's airport is the top U.S. airport for international freight, with more nonstop cargo flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than Orlando, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa, and New York's Kennedy Airport combined. The airport also has more airlines than any other airport in the Western Hemisphere, and it is frequently easier to get from one Latin American country to another by going through Miami than by flying direct. Miami also has the largest cruise port in the world, transporting primarily U.S. passengers on vacations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America while many of the citizens of those same countries are immigrating to Miami. While Miami may not be a global city equal to New York or London, it is assuredly the economic capital of Latin America (Nijman 1996a; Nijman 1996b; Nijman 1996c; Nijman 1997), and its Latino immigrants made it so.
The influence of Miami's Latinos extends beyond economics into politics. In 1983, Latinos captured a majority in Hialeah, the county's second-largest city. The Miami City Commission turned majority Cuban American in 1985 and has had a Cuban American mayor almost continually since then. In 1996, Alex Penelas became the county's first Cuban American mayor. In addition, by 1998, the County Commission achieved a Cuban American majority. The City Commission of Miami Beach, the county's third largest city, became majority Cuban American in the fall of 1999. Two Miami Cubans are in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Miami-Dade County state legislative delegation along with the Miami-Dade County School Board are dominated by foreign-born Latinos, specifically Cubans. Many of the area's most important private firms are headed by Latinos, including Miami Cubans. The largest Latino firm in the country, MasTec Telecom, is based in Miami. Miami also has the largest Latino real estate development company in the United States, the largest Latino-owned banks, and the majority of construction firms in the county. Latino representatives of the real estate and construction industries have become the movers and shakers in local politics. Miami-Dade Community College has more foreign students, mostly Latino, than any other college or university in the nation. The overall ratings of one of the three Spanish-language local television stations are higher than those of any of the local English-language television stations. Not only is the majority foreign-born, but also it firmly retains its Latino culture. Not only do the gardeners and busboys speak Spanish, but so do those who own the houses and patronize the upscale restaurants. One of the Miami-Dade County School Board members speaks English with such a heavy accent that native speakers of English complain they cannot understand him. Yet, these unacculturated Latinos have risen quickly. Indeed, never before in U.S. history has a first-generation immigrant group achieved such power in a major U.S. city.
Miami's immigrants are not all Latinos. Miami also has had a significant influx of Caribbean, primarily black, immigrants (Dunn 1997). Much of the original Black population that settled and built Miami at the end of the nineteenth century was from the Bahamas (George 1978; Mohl 1987a). Many Miami blacks who appear as African Americans to outsiders claim a distinctively Bahamian background. More recently, other Caribbean blacks have settled in Miami. Florida's Haitian population in the 2000 census was nearly 270,000, making it the largest in the United States, surpassing the number of Haitians in the New York metropolitan area. Jamaicans in Florida number almost 170,000. All of the growth in the black population in Miami-Dade County between 1980 and 2000 came from black immigration.
All these immigrants settled in an area in which few established resident Americans have deep roots. One hundred years ago, south Florida was isolated and unbearably hot and humid, with few people for the vast swarms of mosquitoes. The opening of the railroad in 1896 initiated links to the northern United States, which permitted the export of fruits and winter vegetables and the import of tourists and retirees. Miami grew primarily through Americans migrating southward, especially after the advent of air conditioning. White Americans relocated primarily from the Northeast and Midwest, and included many Jews. Through the 1970s, Miami had the largest Jewish concentration in the United States outside of New York City, and through the 1990s it had the largest concentration of holocaust survivors. Beginning in the 1970s, however, the number of white Americans in Miami (more specifically, non-Latino whites) began to decline as many moved out of Miami-Dade County. By 2000, they constituted barely over 20 percent of the region, considerably less than the nearly 60 percent Latino population and only slightly more than the black population.
Nevertheless, established resident whites maintained control beyond their numbers. The leaders of businesses with the most employees in Miami-Dade are 60 percent white. Seventy-five percent of Miami-Dade County judges are white. And in the county's major arts organizations, they constitute 89 percent of the leadership. Even on college and university boards and in political posts, white non-Latinos hold more than half of the positions (Branch-Brioso 2000a). While a large independent Spanish-language newspaper has long been based in Miami (Diaro las Americas), the most influential newspaper, the Miami Herald, is controlled by established resident whites. Even in elected positions, Latinos lag behind whites. A 2000 Miami Herald survey of 406 government positions found that whites held 51 percent of elected and top appointed jobs, while Latinos only had 32 percent (all but 5 percent were Miami Cubans; Branch-Brioso 2000a). Consistent with continued power and influence, established resident white professionals and executives have kept on migrating into Miami from other parts of the United States at the same time as working-class whites are abandoning the area. The Jewish population in Miami began declining as early as the mid-1960s (Moore 1994; Rudavsky 2000), and the established resident white population started dropping in absolute numbers in the mid-1970s. The number of established resident whites has declined ever since. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, emigration of whites increased even more (Yardley and Grotto 2001). Yet throughout this period, white professionals and executives have still been relocating in Miami. By the year 2000, the only areas in Miami-Dade County with a majority non-Hispanic white population were three affluent neighborhoods bordering Biscayne Bay.
Miami's African American population was more likely to have come from other regions of the South, such as northern Florida, Georgia, and Alabama (Dunn 1997). Their proportion of the population was consistently around 20 percent throughout the twentieth century. As black immigration increased in the 1980s, however, the proportion of African Americans declined. Since the 1980s, at least 25 percent of Miami's black population has been foreign-born (Boswell 1994) and of the 75 percent who are U.S.-born, a significant number still recognize a Caribbean heritage.
Miami's race relations have been undeniably southern. Until the civil rights movement at the middle of the twentieth century, Miami politics excluded blacks. Segregation was officially sanctioned, and brutality against blacks was not unknown (Mohl 1987a; Dunn 1997). Since the beginning of significant immigration in the 1960s, Miami has experienced repeated urban unrest, with major riots occurring four times in the ten years from 1980 to 1990 (Porter and Dunn 1984; Dunn 1997). Police brutality provoked each riot, and the local media interpreted them all as part of the general American story of race relations, that is, blacks responding to white police brutality. However, they also carried an undercurrent of tensions caused by immigration. In one riot, the primary participants were black Puerto Ricans. In another, a Colombian-born policeman shot and killed a Caribbean black. Moreover, since the 1960s, local African Americans have frequently expressed frustration that the gains of Miami Cubans have come at their expense, that Miami Cubans are just as racist—if not more so—than white Americans. African Americans and Haitians have repeatedly formed a united front against what they perceive as the racial discrimination in immigration policy that favors white Cubans against black Haitians.
Miami's relatively rapid transformation into the capital of Latin America confuses, frustrates, and frequently alienates both established resident Americans and Miami's immigrants. Latino immigrants who do not speak English feel that established resident Americans do not understand that it is difficult to learn another language, especially when low-wage jobs mean long hours in the company of other Latino immigrants. Bilingual Latinos think that White and Black Americans arrogantly fail to appreciate the value of knowing more than one language and do not respect Latinos for their bilingualism. Established resident Americans, when confronted with the growing number of recent immigrants who do not speak English, often conclude that it is in part because today's immigrants do not want to learn English or that they fail to appreciate the importance of English in the United States. They worry about ethnic balkanization or simply feel irritated about "feeling foreign in my own land." Such cultural issues animate immigration and language restrictionists' anxiety that America is becoming an "alien nation."
As immigration from Latin America continues, the situation in Miami is likely to foretell changes and challenges throughout the United States. Moreover, because Latinization has so thoroughly transformed the region, Miami presents a theoretically important case of immigrants successfully challenging the power structure of established resident Americans. Many of Miami's immigrants are different from former peasants and low-wage, unskilled workers who hope that their children can make it in America. Rather, many of Miami's first-generation immigrants arrived with significant levels of education and skills and have already succeeded. They have discovered that rather than ensuring complete assimilation, political and economic success may evoke American ambivalence and even rejection.
Refocusing on RelationshipsFor an immigrant to assimilate, to become an American, he or she must receive respect and acceptance from the rest of America, from the established residents. Similarly, whether an immigrant group becomes accepted does not depend solely on what the immigrants say or do. Rather, it unfolds from the interaction between immigrants and established resident Americans, those who were born and raised in the United States, who view themselves as the real or mainstream Americans.
In this book, we reestablish interaction between immigrants and established residents as a central focus, as the fulcrum for not only cultural struggles but also assimilation. Contrary to Park and Burgess, however, we do not argue that interactions progress through a natural, inevitable, and universal cycle from conflict through competition, accommodation, and eventually assimilation. Our research reveals that interaction sometimes proceeds relatively smoothly and at other times it is suffused with tension. Sometimes it is a process that produces individuals who appear to be mainstream Americans, and other times marginalized minorities emerge. Sometimes individuals and groups lose their distinctive cultural traits; at times native culture is expressed primarily in private in one's home or among one's co-ethnics; and for some, native culture endures, permeates, and alters established residents' American culture. Instead of reflecting individual immigrants' beliefs and actions, we argue that the quality and form of interaction depends upon the relative power of groups within a particular context.
While the Chicago School developed its paradigms by portraying immigrants from the point of view of established American society, the Miami perspective looks at the issue from the perspective of the immigrant groups, as well as the natives. In Miami, both the immigrants and the established resident Americans have changed, while not becoming the same. Based upon our research and experience in Miami, we intend to delineate the forces behind this variation and the specific contexts in which different expressions and outcomes occur by exploring three variables previously ignored in assimilation studies: power, context, and diversity.
By power, we mean the ability to control or influence others' behavior. During the great wave of migration at the beginning of the twentieth century, power relationships were unquestioned. English-speaking White Americans dominated, and thus controlled the nature of relationships and associated paths of assimilation. Big-city public schools were English-only, although in some rural areas school was taught in languages other than English, with, for example, German schools being common in Wisconsin (Piore 1979; Glazer 1993). Overall and especially in America's cities, immigrants were expected to speak English and only English in order to be accepted by Americans. The railroads, steel manufacturers, and stockyards all employed immigrants, but the owners and managers conducted business in English. Similarly, while immigrants gained influence in local politics through big-city machines such as Tammany Hall, their representatives in local government, state legislatures, and the U.S. Congress all spoke English as their first language. It seemed obvious that Americans set the rules of interaction and assimilation. To succeed, immigrants had to become Americans, learn the ropes using English, and only then gain acceptance and access to American-dominated institutions.
Now, at least in some locations, things have changed. Cubans have a power seldom achieved by first-generation immigrants. By the early 1990s, just thirty years after Cubans began arriving, they controlled the most important local political machinery and they had deeply penetrated the most important economic arenas. Some aspects of Cuban power are obvious, such as their representation in Miami's electoral politics and their impact on Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS). In contrast to the anti-bilingual policies instituted in California in 1998, MDCPS forcefully endorsed and advanced bilingual education. Every child is encouraged to become bilingual. Native English speakers are expected to take Spanish through elementary school.
Less visible power that we describe in subsequent chapters includes forceful efforts by mainstream Miami business organizations to recruit Miami Cuban businesspeople. It also includes the participation of Miami Cuban workers in an apparel plant's success at undermining American management practices. The power of the immigrants makes a difference both in relationships and in the path of assimilation. Americans cannot ignore Miami's Cubans and other Miami Latinos and assume the newcomers will become just like mainstream Americans. The Latino newcomers have less urgency to learn English, and there is a greater presence of Spanish and other aspects of Latino culture. Americans now have to adapt to the immigrants at the same time as the immigrants adapt to America.
Yet Miami Cuban power is more limited in other arenas. As chapter two will demonstrate, American business and civic leaders have vacillated and struggled with how to respond to the growth of the Cuban and Latino population. In spite of Latino economic clout, the largest private firms, such as the utilities and tourist industries, are still controlled by White Americans. Moreover, many Miami Cubans still feel as if they have not been completely accepted, they have not completely assimilated into the local society, feelings confirmed by the Elián affair. At the beginning of the new century, Miami Cubans debate whether they need to have a separate voice as "Cubans," or more generally as "Hispanics," or whether they should continue the struggle individually within the framework of mainstream institutions. Their power provides them with a voice, but it does not imply either assimilation or full equality, or even access to all arenas.
The American business and civic elite must negotiate with Miami Cuban business and political leaders. Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, Latino newcomers and established resident businesspeople came to realize that they share a profound interest in promoting and protecting a good business environment in Miami. Newcomers and established residents do not always define this interest exactly alike, but business and community organizations provide a context in which each informs and influences the other.
The gradual transformation of relationships leads us to strongly emphasize that relationships are very much processual. From year to year, week to week, and even day to day, relationships between groups change dramatically. Moreover, relationships do not inevitably progress as Park and Burgess described, that is, from competition toward assimilation. Relationships between Miami's Cubans and established resident White Americans have experienced innumerable forward and backward steps. As described in an earlier work (Portes and Stepick 1993), until 1980 many Miami Cubans thought they had assimilated, that Americans had accepted them. But the sudden influx of over 125,000 Cubans from the Cuban port of Mariel in 1980 created a vehement backlash against all Cubans, dramatically reversing the apparent good relations of Miami's Cubans and Americans. In the 1990s, many Miami Cubans assumed that they had gained control of their destiny, that their will would be the way, at least locally. The Elián affair revealed the limits on their power and the resentment that others held toward them.
Because of the variation in relationships across contexts, we have chosen arenas as our unit of analysis. We conceive of arenas as fields of social relations that contain significant social interaction between newcomers and established residents. There are numerous arenas in Miami where newcomers and established residents interact face-to-face on a daily basis. In Miami, we selected three institutional arenas: the work place, schools, and business and commerce. These embraced interaction among all of Miami's main groups: established resident blacks and whites, Cubans and other Latino newcomers, and Haitian newcomers.
Methodology and Structure of the BookMuch public debate is based upon armchair observations: reading of the media and other sources removed from the face-to-face interactions of everyday life, such as the data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. census. We base our analysis, in contrast, on more than a decade of systematic, intensive, direct observation of how people actually get along on a day-to-day, face-to-face basis. Moreover, each of us has lived in Miami for more than fifteen years, spending nearly all that time intimately involved in living through and analyzing immigrant and established resident interactions. Not only have we engaged in research, but each of us has been involved in numerous community organizations. Specifically, this book began as the Miami component of a project sponsored by the Ford Foundation, Changing Relations Between Newcomers and Established Residents. That larger project took place in six cities: Philadelphia (Goode and Schneider 1994), Chicago (Conquergood 1992), Monterey Park in the greater Los Angeles area (Horton 1995), Houston (Hagan 1994), and Garden City, Kansas (Stull, Broadway, and Erickson1992), and Miami. It was designed specifically as an anthropological examination of the actual state of relations between newcomers and established residents.
The fundamental methodology of the research was participant observation complemented by intensive interviewing. In each arena, our general approach was to first do some open-ended interviews, usually with gatekeepers to whom we had to explain our project in order to gain access. We usually exploited that opportunity to ask questions about relationships and generally obtained positive evaluations of these. If one were to rely solely on formal interviews concerning relationships between newcomers and established residents in Miami, two contradictory images would emerge. On the one hand, those who represent important local institutions (such as the chamber of commerce or school principals) articulate a "can do" approach, usually avoiding the language of conflict. Diversity, in this approach, is positive, and conflict can be managed. Others, particularly those who have little power and are in positions that are inherently competitive (such as apparel workers) often relate highly negative stereotypes of other groups and blame these other groups (who could be either newcomers or established residents) as the source of Miami's problems, or at least those problems in a particular arena.
The subsequent participant observation provided numerous concrete examples that often contradicted the original interviews and provided guides to later intensive interviews, which were done toward the end of the research. At the work sites, the combination of participant observation among workers and interviews with managers revealed differences within the organization, as top-level managers glossed over established resident-newcomer differences, while floor supervisors emphasized established resident-newcomer conflict. Participant observation revealed that established resident-newcomer and Black-White conflict are undeniably present but largely controlled by the nature of the work and unwritten work culture. Other examples of the contradictions between the interviews and participant observation are discussed in the Methodological Appendix, where we also indicate who did which parts of the fieldwork. While all of this book's authors conducted fieldwork, we also incorporated graduate students, without whom this work could not have been accomplished. We would specifically like to thank Peggy Nolan, Hafidh M. Hafidh, and Steve Morris, along with Aline LaBorwit, Eddie Compas, Debbie Draznin, and Bernadette Copée. While we do not claim to know, let alone present, all aspects of immigrant and established resident relationships, we do believe that we have a firsthand, empirically-based perspective that reflects ongoing processes. The Methodological Appendix details our methodology and provides details of the broader project of which this research is a part.
Chapter two addresses the business arena. Because of the extraordinary economic success in Miami's Latino community, the arena of business assumes great importance in Miami. Nowhere else have first-generation Latino entrepreneurs been so successful, and nowhere else have established resident White business leaders felt so compelled to incorporate Latinos into business organizations. The business arena contains primarily interaction between established resident Whites and newcomer Miami Cubans. It provides an important complement to the more common focus on working-class immigrants. Specifically, it results in what we have termed reverse acculturation, when established residents self-consciously adopt some traits of the newcomer culture, in particular, learning Spanish and promoting Miami as the capital of Latin America.
Chapter three discusses interaction at the workplace. Most immigration, both historically and contemporarily, is labor migration, that is, immigrants who come looking for and expecting to work. For adult newcomers, Americanization occurs primarily in the workplace. We selected three different kinds of workplaces: a large construction site, an apparel plant, and two hotels with restaurants. All of these work sites have incorporated significant numbers of immigrants both in Miami and the rest of the United States. While most immigrants are labor migrants, few studies focus specifically on the impact that the workplace has. For immigrants to Miami, the workplace makes a huge difference, with workers in a unionized construction site assimilating a class-conscious perspective, workers in an apparel plant relying upon their Latino solidarity to resist what was to them a cold-hearted, American, bureaucratized reorganization, and workers in hotels and restaurants being fragmented from each other.
Chapter four presents our results from the schools. We selected schools because they have historically played a critical role in the process of Americanization. Moreover, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) led the nation in the 1960s in introducing bilingual education. MDCPS is the fourth largest school district in the nation (after New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago). But unlike these other urban areas, where growth was acquired gradually, the MDCPS has grown more than 33 percent during the 1990s. It incorporates more than 13,000 new students every year and is chronically and acutely overcrowded. Slightly over one-half of MDCPS students are Latinos (or what MDCPS calls Hispanics), and about one-third are black (or non-Hispanic black). The MDCPS figures, however, do not distinguish among different nationalities. MDCPS does not know what proportion of the black population identifies as Bahamian, Haitian, or West Indian, versus African American. The school where we focused most of our attention contained primarily interaction between African Americans and Haitians, two groups who came into only limited contact in our other two arenas, business and the workplace. Interactions between black immigrants and African Americans are relatively understudied, as the traditional literature focuses on non-Black immigrants. More recent literature examines Latino and Asian immigrants. There is some literature on the interactions between African Americans and Asians or Latinos, but virtually none that addresses African American and black immigrants. Important exceptions include Woldemikael 1989; Kasinitz 1992; Waters 1994; Waters 1999. At least one theoretical article argues that the assimilation of black immigrants differs fundamentally from that of white immigrants (Portes and Zhou 1993; Portes and Zhou 1994). Our examination of Haitian-African American interactions in the schools will indicate how critical race is for black immigrants.
We conclude in chapter five by returning to the theoretical issues introduced in this chapter to assess what difference it makes to come from a different country (for instance, Cuba versus Haiti), how power influences interactions, the complications of diversity, and the role of race. We conclude that while immigration does appear to inevitably induce some conflict, things can be much better. We indicate how perceptions can be more powerful than reality, how conflict occurs just as easily over cultural as economic matters, and that social class makes a difference in who is likely to come into conflict and who is likely to make accommodations. Finally, we suggest some ways to improve relations between newcomers and established residents, which include not only treating newcomers equally, but also encouraging ethnic-specific events and events that bring everyone together. We conclude that the multicultural wars fundamentally miss the mark in arguing that either one should promote ethnic culture or a common American culture.