There’s an invasion happening in the United States. At least, that’s what Bobby Jindal is warning in his campaign stump speeches and television appearances these days.
“Immigration without assimilation is invasion,” the Republican hopeful repeats, and repeats often.
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Assimilation is a strong sentiment, especially coming from the son of two immigrants. “Learn English and adopt our values,” says Jindal, who is polling at less than 1 percent.
But invoking assimilation in a political context has deeper implications. It’s a pointed attempt to polarize voters along the issue of an emerging multiethnic society.
Assimilation harks back to the days of immigrants refusing to speak their native language to their children out of fear of prejudice. Become American, or what some people think is American, it demands.
“It really is a euphemism for brown people to become like Americans now,” says Cesar Vargas, the first undocumented immigrant to become a lawyer in New York.
In a Republican presidential primary dominated by a deafening anti-immigrant gushes of front-runner Donald Trump, minor candidates are trying anything they can to get a foothold. This is Jindal’s mistaken attempt.