|Open Your Eyes: Review of the Literature|
Latino immigrants are often seen as a burden to society in the United States. There is often a misconception that immigrants are here to take over the United States and its resources. Many people believe that they have had a negative affect on the work force for Americans, when in fact studies show that they have only helped industries grow. These immigrants suffer during their trip to the United States and when they arrive here, they still continue to face challenges. They face discrimination, racism, and of course the fear of being deported back to their native countries. People need to fully understand what immigrants face, from the start, in their journey to the United States, all the way into their experiences living here. Latino immigrants in the United States pay a heavy price for the simple desire of a better life for themselves and their family.
The Immigration Effect
It is important to understand how impacting the wave of Latino immigration has had on the United States. In “The Second Great Wave; Hispanic Immigrants Are Changing the Face of Central Jersey,” Brand (2000) shows that the recent rise in Latino immigration is changing communities in New Jersey. He starts off by talking about a packed church on Nassau Street that is filled with people from all over including Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba. Two years ago, only one-third of the church was filled; a decade ago, the service was not even conducted in Spanish. He uses the church service as a reflection of Latino immigration to New Jersey. In Brand's interview with Pedro Rodriguez, a recent immigrant, Rodriguez says that he did not have a job but that was the least of his worries. Rodriguez spent $3,000 and risked his safety for a small chance that he could cross the border and make some money for his family back home. His fear, like the fear of many other immigrants, is that his trip will be in vain and that the authorities will send him back.
In “Race and ethnicity: latino/a immigrants…,” Price (2012) contends that Latino immigration over the past 20 years has impacted race today. Latino immigrants have merged into the traditional black-white race relationship. Like other groups in the past, they face problems due to their race and heritage. Labor relations and racial stereotyping have become a theme involving many Latino immigrants (Rotella, 1991; Vidal, 1980).
The rise in population in the United States is the reason why Price chose Latinos as her demographic. Price informs us that as of 2003, Latinos account for 16% of the US population, surpassing African-Americans as the most numerous minority. Culturally, Latino immigrants are even taking over an African and Creole identity of New Orleans. In terms of labor, Latino Immigrants are taking over the work force and are preferred by white employers.
What The Media Wants You To Think
The creators of the blog, “The Sequel Immigration,” discuss the whole process of immigration and how it is portrayed by the media and others. The site is run by four bloggers who don't give out their real names but go by the names of DaftClubJustice, alexis.rae.miller, Kate Richardson, and Brad. Their landing page includes a picture of them photoshopped in a mariachi band. Under the picture includes the purpose of the website which is to inform their readers about Latino Immigration over the Mexican border and how the media portrays this. From the first time I clicked on the page, I found it very interesting. Their background, a collage of different political cartoons, is most intriguing. Throughout the blog, you will see different political cartoons about Latino immigrants that satirize the way the media portrays as criminals.
Given the bias and false representations promoted by the media, it is important to understand not only what other people think of Latino immigrants, but what Latino immigrants think of themselves. In “Latino immigrants and the U.S racial order: How and where do they fit in?,” Frank, et al (2010) discuss a new racial boundary within the Latino communities. There is a new conflict between assimilated Latino immigrants and dark-skinned Latino immigrants. Many immigrants who were respected and thought of highly back in their country face a different situation when they arrive to the U.S based on their skin color. Some Latino immigrants have decided to integrate with either whites or “blacks” instead of establishing themselves as their own race. They usually decide which side of the White/Black line to favor based on the color of their skin. The writers included a study that was conducted by The Latino National Political Survey (1989 to 1990) in which they found that immigrants more fluent in English, and with longer time spent in this country, chose to be identified as a separate Latino racial category.
Immigrants in the Work Force
Latino Immigrants face harsh work conditions and do the jobs that other people won’t do. In "Battling Discrimination and Social Isolation…,” Negi (2013) talks about the stress the many Latino day workers face in this country. Undocumented Immigrants make up more than three-quarters of the day labor force. Negi conducted a focus group in which they surveyed 150 Latino Day Laborers and asked them certain questions about their lives. Over 63 percent of them were victims of wage theft while twenty-six percent also received verbal and even physical abuse. Latino Day Laborers also felt some of the local and federal policies were targeted directly at them like the anti-solicitation ordinance which prevented them from soliciting work on public streets. This policy affected them because now they are unable to get jobs and unable to provide for their families in the U.S and back home.
In “Immigration and American Jobs,” Porter (2012) discusses the impact that Latino immigrants have had on the United States workforce.
Obama promised to push for a law that would give immigrants access to legal jobs but instead he deported a record number of illegal immigrant workers even though immigration has not led to fewer jobs for American workers. Instead of negatively affecting society, Latino immigration has had a positive impact on the economy. They bolster the profit of American firms as well as reduce prices of products and services due to them providing employers with a new labor source. The wave of immigrants from 1999 to 2007 impacted the national income per worker, raising about $5,400 a year.
Immigrants Versus the U.S
Outside of the workforce, Latino immigrants face a series of issues that impact their daily lives. In “Latino immigrants: Patterns of survival,” Zuniga (2002) discusses the experience of immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants and how they adjust to the way of living in this country. Zuniga gives background information on the change in rate of immigration throughout the 1900s. Not only does Zuniga talk about Latino immigrants prior to their migration, but he also informs us of their experience while living in the United States. In a case in San Diego, for example, two citizens decided to “hunt down” Mexicans.
Some Latino immigrants are lucky to even obtain a job while others aren't as lucky. “The Unheard” is a documentary created by Tania Cervantes (2009) which shows the struggles of immigrants in this country. She starts of with question “Why are they really here?”. One of the men she interviews says how there is no future in Mexico and goes on to explain how the dollar is worth more than the peso. They don't worry about the conditions they are living in; they worry about providing for their family back home. She then asks “What they do?” in this country. There are many different responses: one man says I pick up garbage and dig dirt. Another says that he picks up cans because he rather do that than rob. One man talks about how he can’t get a job because he can't get legal documentation so employers deny him immediately. What Cervantes does often is insert quotes or promises made by the United States in their constitution for equality in order to critically document the many ways immigrants have struggled in this country.
People judge the lives of Latino immigrants on a daily basis based on what they see on television (Anchell, 2013). They don't fully understand what a Latino immigrant goes through everyday only for a few measly dollars. What they're really here for is to make this country a better place and work hard to support their families.
How to Cite this:
Bautista, U. (Fall 2014). “The Ultimate Latino Experience.” Digital Spectrum: First Year Digital Essays, Stories, and Projects, 2,1. Retrieved from https://johnjay.digication.com/digital_spectrum/by_Uber_Bautista
Edited by Stephanie Velasquez