I am a descendent of Mexican American and Irish Americans and I chose to explore the history of the Mexican immigration to the United States. I have found that the Mexicans that immigrated to the United States faced many obstacles and suffered through a great deal of discrimination from the Americans. The immigrants dealt with a severe dual labor market during the early to mid 1940’s in the United States. There was also a definite portrayal of redlining with the Mexicans immigrating to the United States. The Mexican migrates had several issues that they faced upon trying to first enter the country and even today there are still many things that they have to face if they wish to enter and become a part of the United States.
There are currently approximately 5.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States that hail from Mexico; according to the U.S. census of 2008. Mexico also currently represents the largest source of immigration to the United States they also have the most undocumented immigrants. Do to this large population of the Mexican immigrants there was a negative connotation attached to the Mexicans living in the United States. The media is where the negative image came from. They have been discriminated because of their race, culture, language and ethnicity. One of the biggest reasons though they faced discrimination was because of the illegal immigration. Many citizens of the United States were and are upset about the way these immigrants enter the country and think that it is unfair. The Mexicans faced a great extent of discrimination while trying to make a better life for themselves in the United States.
The dual labor market that the Mexican immigrants faced was a very tough one; there were several obstacles that they constantly had to overcome. Demographically the Mexican Americans are highly urbanized, young, disproportionately blue collar, and poor. The immigrants have many things going against them and it is hard to overcome these obstacles due to the fact that they are limited in the income that they can make in the United States because of their lack of education, language barrier and poverty that they have to deal with. Their occupational gains are slow and have an enormous sensitivity to the economic conditions in the United States.
With all these issues that they faced everyday there was still the fact that the immigrants could not get the United States citizens to accept them openly to their country as contributing, working citizens. The 1940’s is when the media really started negatively portraying the Mexican Americans. This is following the Great Depression where over 500,000 Mexican immigrants were deported from the United States back to Mexico. However the Mexican entered World War 2 hoping that by fighting for their country that they resided in would help to show their loyalty to the United States, but it did not. Over 300,000 Mexicans fought in the war and when the war ended and everyone came back thousands were turned away from medical facilities when they needed attention for the wounds that they acquired while fighting the war to protect the United States. These soldiers were not welcomed back into the United States and were still considered disloyal foreigners in the country.
With all this going on the Mexicans still continued to migrate to the United States by the thousands some legally but most of them illegally. In 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act grandfathered in approximately 2 million formerly undocumented Mexicans that were in the process of acquiring legal status in the United States. Since this happened the process of gaining legal citizenship to the United States has become easier for the Mexicans and the United States has also been more accepting of the Mexicans into the country.
After reviewing the information that I found about Mexicans immigrating to the United States, I think that I can identify more with the mainstream culture that I live in now. I have deep sympathy for the experiences that the past immigrants had faced. The biggest reason that I think I relate more to the main stream culture is because I was raised in a predominantly American household and practiced American cultures and grew up in American school systems. I also never faced the discrimination that the Mexican immigrants did because I really don’t look of Latin descent. Also I truly believe that things are getting better for all immigrants in the United States and I hope that things keep moving in that direction.
Mexican Immigration to the U.S.; the Latest Estimates
Passel, Jeffrey March 2004
Mexican Americans, Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Moore, Joan W.; University of Wisconsin Milwaukee