How do some groups make the leap from being identified as "immigrants" to "Americans?" Is it the passage of time or something more?
We wanted to talk about the topic after a recent New York Times Room for Debate.
Ruben Martinez, English professor at Loyola Marymount University, joined The Daily Circuit Thursday.
"I am the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, and I've inherited my elders' ambition to 'make it' it in America as well as their anxiety over whether they would ever really fit in," wrote Martinez in The New York Times. "Ours is not the archetypal mid-20th-century path toward 'assimilation.'"
Nell Irvin Painter, author of "The History of White People" and a Princeton University American history professor, also joined the discussion. She contributed to the Room for Debate:
Before the civil rights revolution of the mid-20th century, lack of whiteness kept the first great wave of (involuntary) immigrants -- the Africans -- and their descendants on the margins of American life. Without votes, they could not influence policy or work jobs in the public sector. Without steady wages, African-Americans remained poor. Still today, black race often serves as a proxy for poverty in public discourse, while whiteness stands for middle-class status ... The recent presidential election, in which Latino voters figured prominently in the Obama coalition, marks a watershed in their move into acceptance as Americans. The children of Latino immigrants, some becoming teachers and police officers, are treading a familiar path from the margins into the center of Americanness.
When does an immigrant feel truly American? Comment on the blog.
READ MORE ABOUT IMMIGRATION AND IDENTITY:
Crossing the line between 'immigrant' and 'American' (New York Times)