Immigration and Assimilation

Our taxi driver from the Amsterdam airport longed  to return to Turkey.  He had lived in the Netherlands 36 years, since age 2, but would  go back to Turkey in two years, when his son graduated from high school. He had nothing good to say about Holland:  too expensive, to many kids hanging out in bars and coffee houses.

He had returned to Turkey to visit  family, but had not lived there since he was a toddler.  I couldn’t help but think that he might be disappointed by Turkey.  Yes, it’s cheaper to live there, but a prosperous northern European city has many amenities that he may miss in a poorer country.

I think he–and the Netherlands–are missing out in something because he has not assimilated.  He says he is a Turk.  If you ask my wife, who moved to America from Sweden as a young girl, she’ll tell you she’s an American.  Fully assimilated (except that on Thanksgiving she tells me that if we’re  having turkey, I have to do  the cooking because "it’s not a Skandinavian dish.")

If this is what it means to have foreign immigrants in your country, I would be skeptical about immigration.  However, our record has been much more positive:  most immigrants have come to think of themselves as Americans.