Migration Policy Institute
Rethinking National Identity in the Age of Migration
Patrick Simon, Director of Research, Institut national d’études démographiques (INED), and Researcher at the Center for European Studies (CEE) at Sciences Po, Paris
Cas Mudde, Assistant Professor, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia
Charles Kamasaki, Executive Vice President, National Council of La Raza
Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice
Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President, Migration Policy Institute
Large-scale immigration has led to unprecedented levels of diversity around the globe, transforming communities in fundamental ways and challenging long and closely held notions of national identity. The backlash against immigration has manifested itself in Europe in recent years partly through vocal criticism of “multiculturalism,” and in the United States as a growing tendency to conflate immigration and illegality. A chorus of European leaders has claimed that the very policies that aimed to weave societies together have instead split them apart, emphasizing difference rather than building community, while in the United States, immigration is increasingly a topic inspiring political discord and high emotion.
As people feel the social fabric of their communities fraying, they have tightened their grip on the things they hold most dear—their identity, language, culture, and values. In response, many countries have narrowed the rights to residence and citizenship and attempted to more rigidly enforce cultural conformity. These topics have been the focus of significant research by the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, including the relationship between immigration and nativism in Europe and North America.
How the anti-immigrant political movement and rancorous debates surrounding immigration will impact countries’ ability to build strong economies and vibrant, diverse societies is yet to be determined. This discussion focused on the factors and players that contribute to this environment, an analysis on the current situation in both Europe and the United States, and a discussion on its implications for community cohesion and national identity in European countries and the United States.