The Immigration of Latinos and Hispanics into the American Region

-What Does the Future hold?

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Introduction

The current economic status of the world and the movements that are proposed to support the growing need for economic expansion has led to the current phenomenon of globalization. This represents the advanced state of communication (between and among previously isolated regions) that exists within the world today. In theory as well as in practice, globalization directly affects the culture and economics of the people within any human society (Heer, 1996).  One of the results of such advancement is the existence of immigration. All over the world, there are many countries that become host to several immigrants from neighboring areas.

Among the countries which have become a common host for immigrants is the United States of America and its surrounding regions (Heer, 1996). Although the immigration rules are not that easy to navigate, it cannot be denied that people have considered the said region of the world to hold the promise of economic and social advancement. Because of this, many see the United States as the land of their dreams and have determined that nothing—even tight immigration procedures—could keep them away from reaching their goal of residing in this country (Strum & Selee, 2004). Through both legal and illegal entrance to the country, many have been able to create possibilities with regard to living within the American regions.

There are several nationalities that have dominated the American states already since the year when the First and Second World War ended (Dominguez & Castro, 2001). Since then, the migrant practice of transferring from country to country has been causing both advantages and disadvantages for the United States.  As William H. Frey has commented:

“Clearly, Asian and Hispanic immigrants are spilling over into regions of the United States with which they are not normally easily associated. Today’s migration will carry the new minorities into labor markets in communities such as Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City and Colorado Springs” (1999).

According to this point made by Frey, it can be noted that the immigration rate in America does indeed affect the social aspects of living as well as the American society’s cultural heritage (Huntington, 2004; Strum ; Selee, 2004; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). Reports have shown that the highest immigration rates exist in the Hispanic or Latino communities, as this demographic prefers (for reasons ranging from economics to politics) to stay within the American borders rather than in their own country. Knowing that these people are the ones who are primarily causing changes within the country’s cultural and social fabric, it has been claimed that they too are the ones who are becoming the dominant groups within several states of the country. How can these claims be proven and how do the reports on Hispanic immigration affect the American way of living? These are the questions that will be addressed within the paragraphs that shall follow.

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The History of Latino Immigration in the American Region

The massive immigration rate of Mexicans towards the Americas dates even as far back as the exploration period of the Spanish empire (Dominguez ; Castro, 2001; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). The Spaniards were able to unveil to the Old World the beautiful land of America, and were thus more able than before to create external and affiliated communities known as colonies. However, the Mexicans did not prefer to remain within the United States area at that time, as they were sidetracked by the different riches of the lands over in the Pacific-Asian regions (2001; 1998).

However, during the later decades, the Mexican society gained freedom from the Spanish rule, hence according them greater liberties to live their lives the way they wanted to (Dominguez ; Castro, 2001). This freedom also allowed them the autonomy to support their own community. This autonomy, however, led to a more complicated move. They did not prefer simply to stay within their countries as they were disgruntled with the system of governance that was implemented then. Some were also dissatisfied with the landscape and other aspects of the country itself. Hence, when they found that the American regions best suited their needs, they began to travel northwards to the United States (2001).

Since then, every year, the immigration rate increases. As it has been noted through historical reports: “In 1900, the total Mexican-American population was estimated to be between 380,000 and 560,000. The early 1900’s saw a sharp increase in the number of Mexican immigrants as economic conditions in Mexico worsened…” (World Book and the Globe, 2005, HIHAI)

It was the chaotic situation in Mexico that forced the people to leave their own land and begin new lives in other countries (Dominguez & Castro, 2001). America was the primary target of the said minority. Miami, for instance, particularly attracted them because of the climate of the state and the Mexico-like ambiance in the said American territory. Texas too was a big target, as it required them only to cross the border at the Rio Grande. This state too shares the climate and landscape of Mexico. Furthermore, the Mexico-Texas border provided a route of entry for many Latinos, who traveled from further down as far as Central and even South America (2001; Tutorow, 1978).

During the late 1990’s, the immigration rate of Hispanics coming in the American territories tripled, and they began to invade the American society in large numbers. The World Book report also speaks of the period between 1970 and the 1990’s in which enormous numbers of Hispanic persons fled their war-ridden countries (such as Nicaragua and El Salvador) to enter the United States. Many of these persons were represented in the form of teenagers or children who had lost their parents in the warfare. These were refugees who were considered by many Americans to be in need of rescue from such conflict. Many were therefore granted asylum in the Country. (World Book and the Globe, 2005, HIHAI)

Now, the realization of both the advantages and the disadvantages of the situation are currently being seen. It might be noted that movements of social change are being created so as to cater to both the cultures of the immigrant Hispanic groups (one of the so-called “minorities”) and the interests of those who are natives of the land (Strum & Selee, 2004; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). However, because of the ratio of the number of the said immigrants, the balance of the systematic movements are feared to fail in their own way as the application of the said changes becomes more and more difficult. The difficulty of the situation has much to do with the fact that the strength of the Latino influence within the American society increases with the growth of the Latino population (1998; 2004).

The Changes Brought About by the Hispanic Invasion

It cannot be denied that as the population grows the system of the society of the American region changes along with it. The immigration’s strong influence within the said society has primarily made a radical change within the lives of the American natives. With the population rate of the Hispanic immigrants in the country, it might be considered that their voice has the potential to become even louder than the natives. The fear of many Americans is that there exists a future possibility that the Hispanics will soon become more confident and thus may take over the American region, as they have controlled the Central and South American regions (Suárez-Orozco, 1998).

Immigrants are supposed to be treated as primary minorities of the host country. However, because of the growing number of the Hispanics, they are now on their way to being considered the majority of the American population (Strum & Selee, 2004). Statistics support this particular claim:

Diagram 1: Population Statistics in America between the 1960’s towards the year 2000

(Source: Samuel P. Huntington. 2004, the Hispanic Challenge)

From the figures shown above, it can be observed that the population growth of immigrants in the United States in 2000 primarily results in a population boost within the Mexican group. According to reports, at least 35% of the said growth is as a result of birth, while the rest (65%) comes from massive entry of the Mexican immigrants that continues up until the present time (Skerry, 1993; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). These figures certainly substantiate the idea that the claims of the dominance of Mexican immigrants within the American society are all true. Many even consider it factual that, especially within the territories of Miami, the Mexican immigrants have already managed to create their own Hispanic communities called pueblos, where they even have their own local government (Suárez-Orozco, 1998). To many Americans, it is as though the Hispanics were creating a small replica of Mexico within the territories of the American region. Because of the numerous treaties that the American government has signed and rescinded, the possibility of keeping situations like this from becoming official seems quite impossible (Dominguez & Castro, 2001). Hence, Americans are now destined to live with the challenges brought about by the said immigration. Some of these challenges are explored below.

Education

Because of the radical immigration levels that have contributed to the current size of Mexican community living within the borders of America, several adjustments have been made within the educational system of the United States (Dominguez & Castro, 2001). It is likely that because of their status as minorities within the American society (which bring problems of employment, etc.) only a few among the Mexican community could afford to enroll their children at private institutions of education. As a result, public schools have become disproportionately filled with a population demographic that is primarily dominated by the minorities (Skerry, 1993; Suárez-Orozco, 1998).

The obvious conclusion to this is that the educational procedures of the said public institutions would be under pressure to adjust to cultural, social and linguistic needs the new population of students (Skerry, 1993; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). Of particular interest is the fact that not all of them speak the native language, English. Now it might be observed that Spanish-English classes have been implemented in order to cater to the Hispanic immigrants’ children. The uncontrolled development and spread of the “Spanglish” language (mixture of English and Spanish) is also obviously seen as part of the said change.
 

 

 

Table 1: “Education of Mexican Americans by Generation”

(Source: Samuel P. Huntington. 2004, the Hispanic Challenge)

From the data shown above, it becomes obvious that most of the Mexicans have been able to receive lower-than-average education from their own country. As a result, it could be expected that assisting them with their studies would pose a challenge to American educational institutions. Furthermore, considering that most of them are not accustomed to speaking in English, the pressures placed upon the shoulders of the American educators are increased even further (Suárez-Orozco, 1998). The result is that adjusting to the needs of the Hispanic minorities has actually served to aggravate the already chaotic situation within the educational system of American Public Schools.

Culture and Family

Hispanic intermarriage and the resulting cultural influence this has caused among the American nationals have had a strong impact on the American society. From reports, the following data have been derived:
Table 2: Hispanic and Asian Remarriage in America

(Source: Samuel P. Huntington. 2004, the Hispanic Challenge)

The impact of Hispanic intermarriage with natural born American citizens is noted to be rather influential in terms of their living (Dominguez & Castro, 2001; Skerry, 1993). Most of the said American men and women often feel inclined to adapt to some degree to the system and cultural procedures of the Hispanic culture into which they have married. In fact, what these figures also show is the degree to which the influence of the Hispanics on the Americans directly affects the tradition and cultures of the entire American society. This adaptation to the minority culture causes Americans, and therefore America itself, to become more Hispanic.

Work and Employment

Diagram 2: Profession and Employment Statistics

(Source: Samuel P. Huntington. 2004, the Hispanic Challenge)

In former times, only rank and file positions could be taken by minorities within organizational arrangements in the United States (Dominguez & Castro, 2001). However, today the figure of the surveys suggests that Hispanics are being granted a wider scope as it regards jobs and other employment opportunities (Frey, 1999).  From the diagram above and figures shown therein, it is observed that the increasing number of Mexican or Latino immigrants within the territories of the United States primarily worsens the situation in the American society. From this figure, it can be noted that Mexican are not, to a great degree, able to gain employment within professional fields of business. This indicates that they do not contribute significantly toward increasing the economic capabilities of the country, despite the fact that they massively increase in numbers within the country. This is indeed an indication that the immigrants from Mexico may not affect the progress of the American economy. However, they have the potential to have an adverse effect on the American community’s unemployment rate (Suárez-Orozco, 1998).  This indicates, therefore, that the growth rate of their population may even threaten the economic stability of the American community.

The Hispanic Laws and Rights

Migration Policy Institute or MPI has been formed to regulate the effects of massive migration within the American society (Heer, 1996). In order to perform its duties well, the institution tries to implement rules based on certain regulatory policies. In this case, they follow the four pillars of research as follows:

• Migration Management

This procedure helps the officials of the organization find ways by which they might be able to regulate immigration and emigration of migrants from the country (Heer, 1996). It is noteworthy that through this particular procedure, the MPI seeks to aid the migrants in their understanding of the policies that become relevant when they attempt to fit in within the American society.

• Refugee Protection and International Humanitarian Response

The American society has almost always remained (even unofficially) open for the immigrants (Heer, 1996; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). It has been especially welcoming to those who seek refuge from the war-induced strife that they may be experiencing within their home countries. Through this pillar in the institution, the migrants are given the protection that they need from violent acts that could be done against them due to discrimination and other biased treatment within the society.

• North American Borders and Migration Agenda

The borders and migration agenda presents a method of helping the officials of the institution evaluate why the migrants intend to enter the borders of the country. This procedure helps regulators in making the decision of whether to accept individual migrants within its borders (Heer, 1996; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). The existence of these policies as guidelines makes it easier for the officials to determine whether the immigrants are worthy of the chance to stay in the country.

• Immigrant Settlement and Integration

A primary need of immigrants is assistance concerning comprehension of the adjustments that they need to make in connection with the immigration laws and procedures of United States. It is most likely that the policies of the country will new to the migrants. Hence, they will need to be oriented concerning what they are about to face if they choose to stay within the country.

These policies concerned with assisting and protecting the welfare and the interests of the migrants indicates that America is becoming an even more immigrant-friendly society (Heer, 1996; Suárez-Orozco, 1998). However, the U.S. government simultaneously aims to protect the interest of the current citizens of the country against further disruption to the socio-economic fabric of the United States. This is being done through efforts to remove immigrants who are a burden to the country. However, the actual situation today makes these policies hard implement fully, because of the numerous immigrants who are still able to enter the borders of the country in an illegal manner. The problems are increasing, and they become even harder to deal with as the years pass.

 

Conclusion

Immigration is extremely difficult to prevent, especially within the current era of progress in which globalization is at the center of human civilization. While immigration, does lead to socio-economic progress and cultural diversity, within the different communities of the world it has also had some negative result. The result of the immigration procedures has usually been the introduction of drastic changes into the lifestyle, culture, systems and institutions of the host country—here the United States. It could be considered, therefore, that the empowered immigrants, particularly the Latinos, who are currently residing in America, have the effect of diversifying the nation. However, for this effect to be broadly positive, more needs to be done to aid them socially and economically in their transition from their Latin American homelands to the United States.

The incursion that these Hispanics have made into the American society has heavily impacted how the new generation of Americans view their own country’s culture and traditions.     Certainly, while some worry that if the American government does not act promptly regarding this issue, America might become subsumed by the Hispanic culture, this is not likely to happen (Huntington, 2004). What does seem likely is that the growing Hispanic population will have the effect of enriching the American culture and lifestyle, making it more cohesive in its diversity. Changes in the policies that are utilized to examine immigration practices should indeed be closely evaluated if this favorable occurrence is to be achieved. In this way, the system used by the officials in assessing the reasons of the migrants’ naturalization should more purposively facilitate the assimilation of Hispanics within the American culture.
References

Domínguez, Jorge I. and Rafael Fernández de Castro. (2001). The United States and Mexico. New York: Routledge.

Frey, William H.. (1999). The United States Population: Where the New Immigrants Are.  http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itsv/0699/ijse/frey.htm. (May 10, 2007).

Heer, David Immigration in America’s Future: Social Science Findings and the Policy Debate (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996).

Huntington, Samuel P. (March/April 2004). The Hispanic Challenge. The Foreign Policy.

Skerry, Peter. (1993). Mexican Americans: The Ambivalent Minority. (New York: Free Press.

Strum, Philippa and Andrew Selee. (March 29, 2004). The Hispanic Challenge? What We Know About Latino Immigration. Division of United States Studies and Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Migration Policy Institute.

Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo M.. (1998). Crossings: Mexican Immigration in Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Cambridge: Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Tutorow, N. E. (1978). Texas Annexation and the Mexican War: A Political Study of the Old Northwest. Palo Alto: Chadwick House.

World Book and Globe. (1999). History of Hispanic American Immigration. http://www.worldbook.com/features/cinco/html/immigration.htm. (May 10, 2007).