There are over 56.5 million Hispanic living in United States, data as of 2015 that equivalents to 17.6% of total U.S. population. Among them 11.7 are living without legal documents and are considered “illegal immigrants.” These are people from different Spanish speaking countries like Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, etc. Why do these people leave their house and come to United States overcoming countless obstacles and pain risking their own life? Through numerous interviews, statistics, research they find one reason among many other common in all immigrants, “To live The American Dream.” Millions of these immigrants live below poverty in the U.S. They don’t have work authorization or valid papers to work or join schools. Most of these immigrants usually work getting paid under the table with no benefits and below the minimum wage. Is this The American Dream they come to United States for?
The border separating the United States and Mexico drifts for 1,933 miles from the little Gulf port of Brownsville to the sprawling city of Tijuana and the suburbs of San Diego. Until late into this century, the border was unmarked, unnoticed and unpatrolled by anything except stray livestock and vultures. Thousands of Latino citizens migrated to U.S. during that time unnoticed and even the government granted legal status to Mexican workers if they stayed with their employees during World War I. Even the legal deportation was handled by local authorities until the Border Patrol was formed in 1924. Between 1942 and 1947, 32000 to 62000 workers legally crossed the border each year to work on U.S. farms and in U.S. sugar factories. Another 130,000 were recruited to lay and replace ties and rail and do other railroad maintenance. These workers were paid 15 to 20 times of what they would be paid in their home country/ Mexico. As these people returned home and were now prosperous and known, other people decided to follow their footstep and wanted the same success, but the applicants were far more that the program to accommodate and by 1944, many of those who couldn’t acquire bracero status had decided to cross the border and find work on their own. These migrants followed known paths, crossing into areas of southern Texas and New Mexico which for many years had had predominantly Mexican population. Unlike the Bracero they were poorly paid and barely accepted as human beings by the landowners and employers.
Many were turned over for deportation. They were suffering through whipping dust and rain storms, had to huddle on the banks of irrigation ditches to sleep and been cheated of their earnings. Each year after World War II more workers crossed the border, many of them winded up in fields and sugar factories as far away as Michigan. As of an interview one migrants said, “All that is necessary for a migrant network to develop is for one person to be in right place at the right time and obtain position that allows him to distribute jobs and favors to other community.” Slowly not just the Mexican but from other regions people started to travel up to the big cities and slowly cross the border, families after families. Members of poorer urban families also began to consider “heading for the dollar.” Eventually, they winded up in cities like Los Angeles, El Paso and San Antonio where there was opportunity for domestic and food service employment.
Hundreds of interviews and experiences of Latino immigrants, politicians, law officers, employers explain, immigrants come to United States for countless reasons that is for employment, safety, better lifestyle, education, etc. Latin America has gone from a period of prosperity to a period of peril. Between 2004 and 2013, the region experienced extraordinary economic growth and social progress but recently the continent has faced global economic crisis, foreign investment has slackened, and monetary policies have become less expansionary. This year, economic growth in Latin America is to be expected to be lower than last year for the fifth consecutive year. Undoubtedly, Latin America is one of the most economically agitated regions in the world. Not just economically, Latin America was known as an epicenter of global terrorism and world’s most violent region. People suffers everyday due to homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking, drugs, etc. Of the 20 countries in the world with the most numbers of murder rate, 17 of them are Latin American countries, as are 43 of the top 50 cities. (News report from the Igarapé Institution.) Studies have found that inequality, unemployment, dislocated families, poor government services, easily available forearms are considered the reasons for the such high violent rates in Latin America. As a result of these mentioned reasons, Latinos migrates to its closest getaway i.e. United States.
Let along the obstacle to come into foreign land, these immigrants had to go through a lot physical, psychological and emotional stress over the years. With the wave of immigration, numerous Spanish speakers of the Latino population in United States doesn’t speak English, this rises various obstacles in finding jobs, communication among employees and employers. This was a definite fall back for the Latinos to adapt here. Also, speaking Spanish is becoming more dangerous in America, in the last few years, Spanish speakers or in the matter of fact any one speaking other than English in certain scenarios have gone through constant stream of race-related attacks, physical and verbal. Like in last January, a woman was kicked out of UPS for speaking Spanish in Florida, earlier that month an adult physically attacked legal South American immigrants (including a child), also in some cases they have been arrested. Then there was this case in Manhattan where a rich lawyer who verbally abused two workers working in a deli for communicating in Spanish and using words like ,”Go back to your country.”
Nevertheless, of all the risk, obstacles and even deadly experiences, each year there are several hundred deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border. At least, 2,300 children have been separated from their parents in the border. Still the number of Hispanic immigrants is believed to be raised by double in couple of decades. Sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of some of the first undocumented migrants to enter the United States are now judges and county supervisors, Major league baseball players, university professors, surgeons etc. But not all children of those early immigrants were successful, some continued to work on field, some join gangs or became criminals and went to prison, some continued to live in Spanish speaking community whereas some became “Americans” and merged into dominant English-speaking culture. As these sons and daughters are going on to whatever their life in U.S. brought, hundreds of thousands are still crossing the border. As the number increases, they must scramble harder for jobs and compete with those coming and those who have been here for years. From the border to Wisconsin, Minnesota, to Chicago, Washington, D.C. even Maine and Alaska and various Canadian provinces. They send money back to their families which is maybe $50-$200 is doing more finance to that country’s economy than any of its major industries or other economies.
- Fermoso, Jose. “Why Speaking Spanish Is Becoming Dangerous in America.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 May 2018, amp.theguardian.com/us news/2018/may/22/speaking-spanish-dangerous-america-aaron-schlossberg ice?fbclid=IwAR35oQ9wvekK6P1uUSjeCTTCUx5P8MBdke9Cc4UjHmPZZN
- Naim, Moises. “Why Dangerous Times Lie Ahead for Latin America.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 8 Oct. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/409675/.
- Schryer, Frans J. They Never Come Back: A Story of Undocumented Workers from Mexico. Cornell University. 2014
- Stout, Robert Joe. Why immigrants come to America. 2008
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