Essayon patterns of immigration
Thepopulation of the Latino community in the US has grown from justabout six million as of 1960 to over 50 million as per the 2010census. This growth has mainly been achieved through immigration withthe resident population also driving a significant percentage of thegrowth through birth (Jordan 2011). Today, Latin- Americanimmigration continues with both legal and illegal immigrants crossingover into the US for a number of reasons. Predominantly, economicfactors have been the main reason for crossing over to the US.However, the US government has enacted stringent measures to controlthe number of legal and illegal immigrants crossing over to the USfrom Latin America. In fact, there has been several high profiledeportation cases reported in the media involving deportation ofLatinos including unaccompanied children ho present themselves at thevarious border points. This paper looks at the pattern immigrationand its effect on the US as a country and other Latin Americancountries.
Thehistory of Latino migration has complex origins complicated by theformation and expansion of the US as a country. For some period intheir history and more so during the US-Mexican war of 1846-48, thedemarcation of the border between the two countries was uncleartherefore nearly impossible to identify immigration. Nonetheless,after the war, Mexico signed a treaty in which it ceded almost athird of its territory to the US. The US consequently acquired statesof California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas,and parts of several other states. Estimated 75000-100,000 Mexicancitizens who lived in the ceded territory and who chose to remainthere were offered blanket naturalized citizenship into the US(Gutiérrez2014).
The19thcentury did not register another major influx of immigration untilthe California Gold rush of 1848-1855. James W. Marshall was the manwho discovered gold in California with mining commencing in 1849.This discovery led to a huge migration to California with anestimated 300,000 people from other US states and from abroadcongregating to California at the prospects of employmentopportunities in the new industry and other supporting industriessuch as the rail system and agriculture. Over 10,000 Mexican crossedover into the US and settled in California. This added to the alreadyexisting population of Latinos who had been naturalized as UScitizen. The year 1849 thus marked an important history in Americanand Latinos history in the US and was even the origin of the term49ers in reference to the year and the immigrants who arrived thatyear. The rest of the 19thcentury did not record any major incidence in immigration of Latinoswith each decade between 1840 and 1890 recording an average of3000-5000 Latino immigrants (Gutiérrez2014).
Economicexpansion in the US towards the end of the 19thcentury and the beginning of the 20thcentury reignited Latino migration. In fact between 1890 and 1900,100,000 Latinos crossed into US territory. The Mexican revolution of1910 created political tension in Mexico and several industriescollapsed. This increased immigration into the US in search ofpolitical exile, employment and friendship and family reasons. Thecoming of the second war also saw an increase in immigration. Thiswas necessitated by increased manufacturing and military labordemands. Agriculture for instance was expanded to cater for themilitary while gun, automobile and artillery production were pushedto an all time high. The Latinos provided additional and affordablelabor resources needed. The physical proximity of Mexico and the linkwith the US through rail served as an incentive immigration andtravel into the US (Gutiérrez2014).
By1920, the American population of Latinos was about half a million.The beginning of the Great Depression in 1930 caused economictensions in the US. This actually reversed immigration with manyLatinos laid off as industries collapsed chose to go back to theirhome countries where the economies were not fairing any better. Others were forcefully repatriated to their countries by the USgovernment keen on save jobs for the locals. Close to 500,000 Latinoswere repatriated back home. The end of the great depression saw theimmigration revert to its old pattern. Texas, California, and Arizonawere the most preferred destinations for the Latinos. This basicallyas a result of the family and friendship ties largely connected tothe original batch of naturalized Latinos after the realignment ofthe US Mexico border. Other major cities such as Detroit and Chicagoattracted large populations of Latinos. However, immigration recordsfrom this period are somehow unclear on definitions of Mexicans andLatinos as Mexico and the US had not harmonized their racial andethnic classification systems. The Second World War and the economicboom that followed have been most significant in driving Latinoimmigration. The influx of Latinos and other immigrant populationssaw the US government introduce stringent laws to cap immigration(Hispanic trends project 2014).
Thereis a raft of stringent laws to control immigration. Latinos have beenconsequently affected. However, it must be noted that immigration lawis not a recent policy. The US has enacted laws t cap immigration offoreigners to 3% of those already in the country as early as 1921.The naturalization act and been in force as early as 1798. All theselaws have impacted and reduced the number of Latino immigrants.However, the determination to immigrate into the US has not subsided.As a consequence, many have resulted to illegal means to gain entryinto the US. The government has thus created bodies and dedicatednumerous resources and personnel to guard its borders. TheImmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and BorderProtection (CBP), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) andthe citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are some of theagencies that are mandated to enforce immigration laws. These bodiesand laws have directly affected Latino immigration patterns byreducing the numbers and forcing many Latinos to turn to illegalimmigration. For others, some families have been separated and inother cases some illegal immigrants already in the US have opted forvoluntary repatriation. Some voices have viewed the American policieson immigration as racist or ones that promote racisms. This is basedon the fact that he polices assess people mainly on their nationalityand secondly on their race to predict their nationality.
Thewar on drug and drug related violence taking place in Latin countrieshas influenced Latino immigration patterns.As of august 2014, theUS government reported that there were 52,000 unaccompanied childrenapprehended at US border points since October 2013. Majority of thesechildren claim to be fleeing drug war and drug violence in theircountries. Mexico for instance has reported thousands of deaths fromgang related violence. The large resourceful drug cartels and gangsin Mexico have waged war of epic proportions against innocentcitizens. Just this November, José Luis Abarca, a mayor of southwestern Mexican town was reported to have colluded with a drug cartelto murder college students who were holding peaceful demonstrations(Archbold 2014). Such cases have forced innocent people to fleetheir own countries for their own safety. Majority of these peoplecross over to the US either legally or illegally.
Thenumber of Latinos in the US can only go up despite repatriationmeasures and more stringent laws of immigration. According to 2011data, of the 52 million Hispanics, over 33 million were born in theUS compared to 21 million in 2000 and another 18 million born abroad.This shows that the population of Latinos in the US is bound to growmore broadly from births in the country rather than by immigration.Other estimates predict that by 2050, the Latino population in thecountry will constitute 29% of the population (Hispanic trendsproject, 2014). Such figures are bound to worry the political elite.In fact, many political experts attributed president Obama’s win inthe last two previous elections to the swing Latino vote. Whethersuch effects will influence future immigration policies and patternswill be critical.
Theabove discussion shows clearly that economic and social reasons havebeen the main drivers of immigration into the US. The advantages ofbeing in the US illegally supersedes being in their own countrieslegally for some. The economic and social disparities between LatinAmerican countries and American countries are to blame for thecurrent immigration pattern. However, it is not yet clear whethereconomic development and employment opportunities in Latin Americawould reverse the immigration.
Archbold,Randal. Investigators in Mexico Detain Mayor and His Wife OverMissing Students. NewYork Times.Nov. 4, 2014. 2014. Web.
Gutiérrez,David.AnHistoric Overview of Latino Immigration and the Demographic
Transformationof the United States. NationalPark Service.Nov. 6, 2014. 2014. Web.
Hispanictrends project. PewHispanic.Nov. 6, 2014. 2014. Web.
Jordan,Miriam. Births Fuel Hispanic Growth. WallsStreet Journal.July 15, 2011. Nov. 6, 2014.