diversity | April 22, 2013

The New America: Marcelo Suarez-Orozco On Immigrant Children In The NYT

How well do Americans assimilate immigrant-born children and teens that arrive in the country at a young age? It's a question that diversity speaker Marcelo Suarez-Orozco doesn't think is asked enough. In an opinion piece he wrote for The New York Times, Suarez-Orozco mentions the case of the alleged crime of two Chechen brothers in the Boston Marathon bombings. Suarez-Orozco makes a staunch point to note that the brothers' motivation "surely is not the fault of the schools and may never be known." However, he does say it raises important questions about the paths immigrant children take based on the support they are given to succeed in their new homeland.

The two boys, he writes, were approximately 15 and 8-years-old when they immigrated to the United States. These two were not a part of his large-scale 1997 study of newly arrived immigrants. However, Suarez-Orozco says they do fall in line with the types of children he researched for the study. They were both "[born] to families displaced by war or strife, [experienced] multiple-stage (including back-and-forth) migration, [and] language difficulties and entry into harsh urban environments where gangs and crime are temptations," he writes in the article. Whether these factors are applicable to the teenagers' alleged actions or not, it does beg the question of how similar circumstances are affecting immigrant students. "The broad lesson—assimilating immigrant students into the fabric of society through academic, psychological and other supports," he writes, "should inform educators and policy makers in the decades ahead, when immigrants and their children will account for most of the nation’s population growth."

It is important to keep in mind that the implications of admitting asylum seekers into the country "without providing a scaffold of support undermines the promise of America," he argues. A prominent voice on immigration and diversity-related issues, Suarez-Orozco provides a wealth of information about the way America's population is rapidly changing—and why addressing that change is vital to the prosperity of the nation. In his landmark studies, numerous research papers, and thought-provoking keynotes Suarez-Orozco addresses the systemic issues that need to be improved to ensure newcomers to the country are equipped to succeed in their new home.

Up Next

environment | April 21, 2013