Lesson Summary 12 America in the Twenty-First Century
Lesson Summary 12 America in the Twenty-First Century 12.4 Americans Look to the Future As the twenty-first century dawned, American society looked very different than it had a hundred years before. The Immigration Act of 1990 had increased quotas by 40 percent and eased most restrictions. Since then, almost one million immigrants arrived in the United States each year. Most of the new immigrants were Latinos. They have had a profound social, cultural, and political impact. Asian countries make up the second-largest source of the new immigration. Some people worry that immigrants take jobs and social services away from native-born Americans. They oppose bilingual education, in which students are taught in their native languages as well as in English. Proponents of immigration argue that immigrants contribute to the economy and help the nation maintain its population. Much of the debate concerns illegal immigrants. The Immigration and Control Act of 1986aimed to stop the flow of illegal immigrants by penalizing businesses that hired them, but illegal immigrants still regularly cross U.S. borders. American demographics have changed, as many people have moved from the Midwest and the Northeast to the Sunbelt. The American family changed as well. Divorces and single-parent households are now more common than they were just 40 years ago. Affirmative action was created in the 1960s to help minorities and women overcome past discrimination by giving them preference in school admissions and job applications. Today, such programs are being challenged and in some cases, ended. Even so, women and African Americans continue to make social and political gains. More African Americans now earn middle-class incomes and hold college degrees. Women are protected against unfair treatment in the workplace. The 1994 Violence Against Women Act increased federal resources to apprehend and prosecute men guilty of violent acts against women. As the baby boom generation reaches retirement, falling birthrates mean there may not be enough workers to pay for their Social Security benefits. President Bush proposed privatizing Social Security. This change would allow younger workers to invest some of their earnings in individual retirement accounts. Opponents defeated his proposal and the debate continues.