Stanford professor talks immigration, US way of life in lecture series

Recently, the public discourse has been focused on immigration issues, such as Trump’s wall and the recent changes to DACA. Tomás Jiménez, a Stanford associate professor of sociology, spoke on campus Sept. 19 about his new publication “The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants are Changing American Life.”

Jiménez spoke at the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Recital Hall to students and enthusiasts. The book has been described in reviews as “brilliant” and “a game changer” on the reversal of immigrants and its effects on the “established American.”

“How many of you put up a Christmas tree?” he asked. “When you do, do you think ‘this is so cool we are celebrating the German heritage of the United States’?”

This is not most Americans’ thought process, but it is an example of how we assimilate to immigrant contributions.

Given the current political climate on immigration under the current administration, one would not find it hard to believe why so many would find Jiménez’s book so intriguing.

Jokingly, in the middle of his presentation, he stopped to look at his watch and asked, “Can you believe I went 45 minutes without mentioning [President] Donald Trump?” The room erupted with laughter over the irony.

Despite the controversial topic, Jiménez was able to keep his presentation on track by revealing his findings and keeping the conversation factual and informative. This still did not detour a Nepal international student from asking what his thoughts were on Trump’s immigration views.

“Don’t get me started on Donald Trump,” he responded. “We will be here all night.” His tone became more serious, “I don’t believe he appreciates immigration as much as he should.”

The student agreed with Jiménez by smiling and nodding his head, shaking his hand and then posed with him for a picture.

In a traditional sense, the definition of assimilation is the process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation. It may also include the state of being adapted and in most cases, it is the minority group adjusting to the dominant group.

Following that, a female student confronted Jiménez about his idea of assimilation proposed in the book of the dominant group adjusting to the minority.

Jiménez agreed with her but then divulged his idea of assimilation, saying his inspiration came from the early definition of the Chicago School of Sociology. The school defined assimilation as an interpenetration of groups until they see each other on like terms; without specifying which group adjusted to the other.

In his booming and commanding voice, library director Douglas M. Ferrier, who opened the night’s Presidential Lecture Series, asked for a round of applause for the distinguished Jiménez and presented him with a TAMIU gift, which he opened on stage. It revealed a leather-bound notebook with the Texas A&M International University insignia, which he graciously accepted.

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