Title

Immigrant integration in Canada and the United States

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2004

Abstract

Kymlicka is not alone among social theorists in his belief that multiculturalism is a Canadian distinctive. Even the Canadian government endorses his reading of official multiculturalism as the source of Canada's superiority in immigrant integration. Given that the United States is a parallel North American settler society, one subject to similar waves of immigration as Canada, Kymlicka refers to the American experience more than that of any other country in support of his thesis that Canadian multiculturalism is responsible for high levels of immigrant integration. He cites growing rates of naturalization, the lack of ethnically-based political parties, expanding immigrant demand for courses in English and/or French as a second language, ethnic residential dispersion, and an increasing incidence of ethnic intermarriage since the advent of multicultural policy in 1971 as among the principal evidence of the Canadian advantage. In Kymlicka's view, Canada is more successful on almost all of these measures than countries, the United States prime among them, which have not made an official commitment to multiculturalism. Indeed, he asserts that "Canada fares better than the United States on virtually every dimension of integration." Inasmuch as Kymlicka's argument is one of the most formidable offered by theorists of Canadian multiculturalism, it merits examination. In the process of doing so, I wish to offer a preliminary comparative reconnaissance of the Canadian and American experience of ethno-racial diversity, particularly that generated by immigration. Because Canadian multiculturalism addresses not only the integration of immigrants but of all visible minorities, on occasion the analysis considers racial minorities who are not of recent immigrant vintage or immigrants in the ordinary sense-i.e. the majority of African-Americans. This slight muddying of the water is unavoidable if one is to make concurrent assessments of multiculturalism and immigrant integration in North America.

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