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Lesson Summary 12 America in the Twenty-First Century

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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.
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