Current Debates

Are Hispanic Americans Assimilating or Are They Changing American Culture?



As we saw in Chapter 8, immigration from Latin America—and especially from Mexico— has been voluminous in recent decades. Will these new immigrants adapt to American culture or will American culture adapt to them? Will they adopt traditional American values and the English language or will Spanish persist and Latino values become predominant?

We have been asking questions like these since the opening sentences of this text and we have examined evidence in this chapter that suggests that assimilation in general and language acculturation in particular is generally proceeding at the “usual” three-generation pace for most Latino groups. However, these facts will not be persuasive to everyone and there is widespread concern that American culture cannot survive in its present form. For example, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished and prolific political scientist, argued in his influential book Who Are We? (2004) that large-scale immigration (particularly from Mexico) is leading the United States away from its historical roots and its central values. The Internet is rife with similar thoughts, some measured and thoughtful, others clamorous and verging on hysteria. Presented below are a variety of viewpoints on the topic, drawn from different political views and several scholarly sources.

As usual, a variety of viewpoints are presented for your consideration. We begin with an article written by Samuel Huntington, the political scientist mentioned above, which argues that American culture is threatened by Latino (particularly Mexican) immigration, followed by two more selections that express similar concerns. We then consider the viewpoint of political economist Francis Fukuyama, who takes issue with Huntington, and end with a report that argues that contemporary immigrants are following roughly the same patterns as in the past.



Huntington’s Argument

The article is lengthy, so you will want to skim it for the points most relevant to this debate. In particular, examine his “six differences” between contemporary and past immigrations, his points about Spanish as a second language, the section “Blood is Thicker than Borders,” and his concluding section.

An article by former U.S. congressman, presidential candidate, and political activist Tom Tancredo, which argues that Latinos are not assimilating

An article from the VDARE, a conservative, largely anti-immigrant blogspot, which argues that Latinos are a threat to American culture.

The article by Fukuyama, taking issue with Huntington 

A report by Myers and Pitkin which argues that contemporary immigrants are following roughly the same assimilation patterns as in the past.


Read the introduction and summary carefully and skim the rest of the report. In particular, pay attention to the evidence they present and the sources  of the data they use.



  • Analyze these arguments in terms of assimilation and pluralism. Which of these authors – if any – are using Gordon’s model of assimilation? Can these issues and concerns be expressed in terms of pluralism? How?


  • What issues do Huntington, Tancredo, and Francis (on the VDARE site) raise about the assimilation of Latinos and Mexicans? Does the information presented in this chapter tend to refute or confirm their concerns? How?


  • What points does Fukuyama make in response to the arguments presented by Huntington? What evidence does he present to back up his points? How convincing is the evidence?


  • What evidence is presented in the report by Myers and Pitkin in support of the idea that assimilation is proceeding today as in the past? How convincing is the evidence? Is the evidence consistent with the evidence presented in this chapter? How?