Archive for Labor Issues

Why are there so many Americans against Latino immigration?

The U.S. Census reports that the number of American Indians or Alaska natives represents 1.5% of the total population of the United States. The other 98.5% of the American people must, by definition, be composed of immigrants or descendants of immigrants. In a country where almost everyone comes from somewhere else, why are we so insistent on restricting immigration? Who decided that the people already here “legally” are okay to stay, but anyone else does not belong? Unfortunately, most of the resistance is directed towards Latino immigration because we are the newer immigrant group; yet, if you analyze this a bit, Latinos are perhaps more entitled to this land. Please hold on the casting of stones for a minute or two.

Most of the new immigrants coming to our country are Latinos from Mexico and Central America; and most of them end up settling in the Southwest. If you take a good look at the typical Mexican or Central American immigrant you cannot help but notice that they have dark skin, dark hair, and other features that are consistent with the characteristics of the American natives. Many are, in fact, direct descendants of two great native Indian civilizations: the Aztecs and the Mayas. In addition, most of what is now the Southwest was annexed to the U.S. in the 1840s under the so called Manifest Destiny- a mistaken and now outdated belief in which the U.S. was said to be “divinely ordained” to expand its territory by taking over land. Interestingly, most of the land that was annexed under Manifest Destiny was already inhabited by the people we now call Mexicans. Why are we so perturbed today in seeing Mexicans crossing over a border that we imposed on them to reach a land that was originally theirs?

I know, I know, I’m simplifying quite a bit; but I’m just trying to make a point. In reality, the conquest of the West was much more convoluted and one can argue that we were defending Mexicans against other oppressive conquerors like Spain and France. It is also a known fact that Mexicans were on both sides of the conflict. The Battle of the Alamo, for example, was fought by Mexicans on both sides… but I digress. What I’m trying to say here is that if we study the reasons behind the strong feelings against illegal immigration with our analytical side of the brain we may conclude that the only reason why anyone in the U.S. would be opposed to immigration is because it does not make economic sense. However, many analysts have concluded that illegal immigration does not pose a negative effect on the U.S. economy.

The most respected recent studies show that most Americans would notice little difference in their paychecks if illegal immigrants suddenly disappeared from the United States. That’s because most Americans don’t directly compete with illegal immigrants for jobs. … Illegal immigrants seem to have very little impact on unemployment rates. Undocumented workers certainly do take jobs that would otherwise go to legal workers. But undocumented workers also create demand that leads to new jobs. They buy food and cars and cell phones, they get haircuts and go to restaurants. On average, there is close to no net impact on the unemployment rate. … There are places in the United States where illegal immigration has big effects (both positive and negative). But economists generally believe that when averaged over the whole economy, the effect is a small net positive. Harvard’s George Borjas says the average American’s wealth is increased by less than 1 percent because of illegal immigration. (Excerpts from Q&A: Illegal Immigrants and the U.S. Economy by Adam Davidson – NPR /

I propose that the negative feelings against illegal immigration have little to do with what can be surmised using our analytical brain. My contention is that these strong opinions against illegal immigration are being fueled by an emotional response to the way Latino immigration is affecting the American culture. People have difficulty coping with change and it is always hard to simply accept unsolicited change. The Latino culture has grown very rapidly and many Americans feel that their own way of life is being threatened by what foreigners are imposing. And, as I mentioned on my prior post, immigrants are no longer melting into one amalgamated pot. Ignorance regarding the Hispanic culture also results in fear, prejudice, and discrimination.

So, if you are Hispanic and people say to you “why don’t you go back to where you came from?…,” remember that they may not be rejecting you as much as they are trying to protect themselves; but then again, you may have to answer as Paul Rodriguez did in one of his stand-up comedy skits- Do you mean El Paso?

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Latinos are too focused on material success

Over the past 25 years I have spoken to thousands of Latinos. As a professional interviewer specializing in the U.S. Hispanic market, my job is to ask questions and to listen carefully. I have heard Latinos speak of their dreams and aspirations. Some have related stories of how they grew up in this country; often struggling to fit in. Others have spoken of what motivated their migration from Latin America; and of the difficulties, frustrations, and obstacles encountered in their quest to achieve that elusive “American Dream.” The majority does not feel accomplished. Why? The sad reality is that most Latinos, and especially new Latino immigrants, are bound to have a hard time achieving their dreams because they are often too focused on achieving financial success.

Hispanic immigrants work very hard to succeed in their pecuniary dream quest. To “make it here” is very important to U.S. Latinos. Many came to the U.S. leaving behind their family, their friends, their land, and their culture. Coming here was a sacrifice. They endured that sacrifice in order to financially live a better life and, most importantly, to provide a better life for their children. In fact, most often when Latino parents are asked about their personal goals and ambitions they answer by saying that everything they do is for the purpose of providing a better life for their children. This tendency of self-sacrifice is especially prevalent in the Hispanic female.

While Hispanics work very hard to achieve their American dream, many find it very difficult on their families. In many cases, it is the Latino male who arrives in the U.S. first. Their original thinking is to make enough money to return to their families. As time goes on, many men find it more feasible to bring their family to the U.S., while they continue their pursuit for financial independence. Even at this stage, many new immigrants continue with their plan of making enough money to return to their homeland. The reality, however, is that most immigrants end up staying. Once they live in this country for a few years, they start to release those bonds with their country of origin by strengthening ties with a new homeland. These new ties become stronger when new immigrants have children born in the U.S. The parents decide to stay for the sake of their children.

Latinos try to succeed by working very hard. The men often have two jobs and find it difficult to spend quality time with their families. They often leave most of the child rearing responsibilities to their wives. While the traditional Hispanic mother always stayed at home and contentedly bore most of these responsibilities, the new Latina immigrant finds herself with very little time to raise her children. Latinas often complain that life in the U.S. is too fast and stressful, and that they lack the large support network of family and friends that exists in their homeland. They also see themselves forced to work out of the house, or motivated by the American culture to pursue a career of their own. In trying to do it all, their children end up suffering. The parents cannot do it all and supervise the children appropriately.

The lack of parental supervision is a growing concern in the Hispanic community. There are many two-income and single parent households. These families often have difficulty supervising their children after school. Additionally, tired parent who are franticly fixing dinner at night and preparing for the next day may not be taking enough time out to inquire about their children’s activities and/or school issues. These Latino families lack the support offered by extended family members in their country of origin. Back “home” there was always a relative willing to assume the parental responsibilities if needed.

To make things worse, many new Latino immigrants relocate to urban neighborhoods in big cities where crime, drugs, and other negative societal influences abound. In their country of origin Latinos often lived in smaller towns where everyone knew everybody else. Their children were protected there because everyone kept an eye on them. If your child got in trouble, the story would get to you through the Latino grapevine. I have heard many Hispanics tell me that they were devastated when they found out that their child was into drugs or involved in gang activities because they “had no idea.” Many blame the American society for their children’s problems and do not see themselves being at all responsible.

The problem is that it is not in the true Latino nature to place all of their life emphasis on financial success. In fact, when I ask Hispanics about the most important things in life, they are likely to mention God, family, and health. It is rare when a Latino says that money is the most important thing in life. What is ironic is that most Latinos seek financial success to be able to provide a better life for their children; and in doing so they end up placing their children in danger. At the end, most Latinos agree that success is not measured by material possessions; many prefer to measure success by the legacy they leave to their children. A legacy that is not necessarily a financial inheritance; but rather an appropriate upbringing based on respect, good morals, and proper values.

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