A Two-Way Street: How Immigration Shapes Everyday Life in Silicon Valley

Tomás R. Jiménez
Date of Publication: 
April, 2018
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

"A Two-Way Street: How Immigration Shapes Everyday Life in Silicon Valley" is based on the author's research for his recently published book entitled, "The Other Side of Assimilation:  How Immigrants are Changing American Life," in which he explores the concept of "relational assimilation," described as a process of mutual accommodation whereby both immigrants and "established individuals" change as they adapt to one another over time. He defines "established individuals" as U.S.-born people with parents also born in the U.S. Because of its large population of immigrants (37 percent compared to a national average of 13 percent), Silicon Valley is a fertile place to examine these trends. 

The team of researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 179 established individuals of varied socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. By living or working in close proximity to immigrants, U.S.-born persons become more familiar with the experiences, cultural practices, and challenges of immigrants. "Proverbial strangers are not so strange after all."  In fact, "the prominence of ethnic culture generated reflections among established individuals about their own identity and heritage."  In some communities in Silicon Valley, even the meaning of whiteness has changed, suggesting "academic mediocrity and a lackadaisical approach to school," whereas "acting Asian" stood for the opposite.  The author ends on an optimistic note, suggesting that the process of relational assimilation, with its potential to reshape the beliefs, identities, and attitudes of established residents, will create a "new sense of normal" that bodes well for the future of the country. (American Immigration Policy Portal)


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Jiménez, T. R. (2018). A Two-Way Street: How Immigration Shapes Everyday Life in silicon Valley. Migration Information Source. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/two-way-street-how-immigration-shapes-everyday-life-silicon-valley