Illegal Latino immigrants searching for the American Dream
There are many reasons why Latin Americans migrate to the United States, and not all of them are related to the American Dream. An undetailed historical overview gives a good sense of the devastating consequences of United States political and strategic actions on the future of countries that otherwise would have gotten politically, economically, and socially organized coming from an entirely different place.
It is important to notice that United States actions have not always been related to the aftermath of World War II. For example, by 1846, the United States took over almost half of Mexico; in 1898, colonized Puerto Rico; first installed a naval base in Cuba and, later on, invaded and occupied it in 1906 and 1912; invaded and occupied Nicaragua in 1912 for two decades; in 1915, invaded and occupied Haiti for almost two decades; invaded Dominican Republic in 1916 for about eight years; overthrew Guatemala’s elected government in 1954; organized the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961; and supported and backed more than one decade of military dictatorships in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina—the list continues. Think of El Salvador.
These strategic and political takeovers simply propelled the future of these countries in a spiral of economic and social failure and disintegration, traumatizing or simply disappearing people and entire families. The chain of sorrow, the historical trauma, and the breakdown of hope unleashed had an impact that generations to come will feel and rebuild, including at the political, social, and economic decision-making. It is inevitable.
You wonder where else could Latin Americans go to if they had to escape so much? Even now, inevitably, geographical proximity to the United States opens real possibility to reaching safety and hope.
Latin American immigrants are considered to be a fast-growing and diverse group, accounting one-sixth of the population. Latin American consumers and businesses contribute to United States economy with billions of dollars every year, also contributing a large amount of revenue to the government. Latin American workers take on jobs that probably very few would want to take. The story behind the produce that delight millions of Americans is not a cliché. Latin American farm pickers spend endless hours—on their feet, using their hands, under the breaking sun—for just the bare minimum wage with no benefits.
Latin American immigrants and their families, as much as any immigrant in the United States of today, are faced with a shift in immigration perception and policies that could literally destroy all they have and love, beginning with the capacity to be together as a family and see their children grow. Just think of DACA. President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration—filled with hateful and racist rhetoric—impulsively informs immigration police, instead of answering to the complex immigration landscape with a well-thought-out plan that could address the intergenerational legacy of American actions as well as real American economic and social needs.
We have such fragile memories. Years of suffering by generations before us and based on the same alleged accusation have taught us nothing. The outsider is still the one to blame for what does not work. There is such resistance to be accountable and see that many of the consequences of American economic decisions are here to rob the future.
When was the thought of bringing American manufacture for cheaper labor to other countries conceived and by whom? Who thought of creating such large corporations that no small business owner would be able to make it? Who decided that the richest should be concentrated in the very top just like in medieval times, bringing the rest of the people to the brink of hunger and despair? Even the thought of building a wall at the southern border of the country to stop illegal Latino American immigrants from entering United States is medieval. Is that the way to guard a castle that is crumbling? Shouldn’t you be trying to figure a new foundation that could support all those living in it?
Throughout history, the United States has also demonstrated possessing immense generosity and capacity for repair, yet this power and its gifts are buried under an irrational greed that even place Americans as “the new outsiders.” They just cannot see it yet.
I wonder about your thoughts right now. I wonder if you ever considered yourself as the outsider. I understand the complexity of seeing through the other’s eyes, especially if their culture, values, and religion are fundamentally different from yours. In my heart, diversity is the internal edge that may produce what creates change in the future and all these powerful things that we—the immigrants of the world—are searching for. This is, for me, what makes America and any other place in the planet great.
What are your thoughts about Latino immigrants in America? Share your insights in the comments section below. You can also reach me through Twitter, and for more updates, please check out my Facebook page and Goodreads
You might also be interested in what happens in my book, Mommy, Tell Me, Why Did You Come Here? Check it out!
Planas, Roque. 2015. “19 Reasons Latin Americans Come to the U.S. That Have Nothing to Do with the American Dream.” HuffPost, August 6. Accessed December 25, 2017. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/18/immigration-latin-america_n_5168356.html.
White, Gillian B. 2015. “Are Hispanics Finding a Better Life in the U.S.?” The Atlantic, November 16. Accessed December 25, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/11/are-hispanics-finding-a-better-life-in-the-us/416211/.