Immigrants: Should they adopt American values? Melting Pot, then and now: Once, Ellis Island was jammed with immigrants penned in with secure fences in the island’s main hall—until inspectors had verified their status and deemed that each immigrant was likely to melt into the American pot. (Many were sent away for political as well as health issues.) Today, however, Ellis Island is a very popular part of the National Park Service and a source of American pride for a diverse array of visitors. (Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)If immigration policies attract migrants with money to invest or businesses to start, should they be expected to adopt American values as they locate here?

In times past, this wasn’t even a question. Strict assimilation into the dominant culture was presumed to be the path that all immigrants and their children would inevitably take. The iconic image of the melting pot, which we’ve seen and discussed before on, was rarely questioned.

Is this still true today?

Most Americans today believe that immigrants should adopt American values, according to the national surveys I’ve taken over the years. More than 70% agree with the ideal of the melting pot.

It’s interesting to consider what values relate to differences in opinions about this issue. Americans who value respect for all faiths, ethnicities, and races are less likely to say that immigrants should adopt American values. Similarly, those who value more economic equality between people agree that immigrants need not adopt American values.

In contrast, Americans who strongly value national security and believe that America has a moral destiny are more likely to say that immigrants should adopt American values. So are older Americans. Age is a factor: Younger respondents tend to disagree with older adults.

Should immigrants adopt American values?

Which values would you emphasize?

Is assimilation more or less important today than it used to be?


AND CLICK ON the “Now You Can Find Us on Facebook” link in the right-hand column.

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email