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Mexicans have been immigrating to the States for centuries and the immigration either legal or illegal has implications on the American society. The policies developed throughout the years have attempted to control illegal immigration, but nothing has wiped the slate clean. United States administration under President Bush was under negotiations with Mexico on how to jointly stop unlawful Immigrations and provide a legal way for immigration, but illegal immigration has still gone up since then. President Obama and President Donald Trump have initiated policies and programs aimed at reducing illegal immigration, and it is evident through history that both sides of the equation need to be considered. The United States has to understand the reasons why illegal immigrants come into the country, and it also has to differentiate between Mexican-Americans and Mexicans in the country illegally. Any policy that will show effective management as to consider Mexico and Mexicans and come up with a way to bridge the economic gap that created this problem in the first place.
Mexican Americans in America makes the second largest Mexican community coming second only to Mexico itself (Wikipedia, 2017). Most Mexican Americans reside in the state of California and Texas. Originally, Mexican Americans came to exist during the Spanish colonial times, where Hispanics of Mexican descent came to live in Colorado, California, and Texas. They then adopted English as their first language. The Americanised Mexicans settled in the southwest as colonial settlers, and they established a local government in Texas, but they were still under Spain. The Tejanos desired independence, so they started the Texas Revolution where United States colonialists revolted against the central government of Mexico. Mexico at this time encouraged Mexican Americans to settle in Texas which was a colony of Mexico, and with time, there were more English speaking Mexicans than the original Tejanos. The increased numbers of the new arrivals made the Mexican government to restrict any more immigration from the US, and then the Mexican government put a band on slave trade which in turn angered American slave traders and slave owners. The Americans together with Tejanos rebelled against the Mexican government and the great Mexican-American war was fought, and Texas gained its independence. The independence of Texas, however, changed the tides for Mexican Americans because, after time, there was no political representation of Mexicans in the new state of Texas.
In California, the Presidio and Catholic Mission of San Diego established the first Spanish settlement. More Spanish settlements were established, but the new population preferred to stay close to the coast as opposed to the interior. In this new land, there were many opportunities as farmers working on their farms or in ranches working for colonialists. In 1983, the Mexican government took control of the missions and the relationship between Californios and Americans changed from good to bad where war erupted over the years. The Mexican-American war was followed by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo of 1848, and the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 brought California under the US. The Californios lost their land during this time, and this was the start of Mexican oppression in the US (Wikipedia, 2017).
Immigration to the United States has been going on for centuries to access the American labor pool. Mexicans come in search of jobs and immigration numbers have been going up because of illegal immigration. Immigration of Mexicans into the U.S has been going on for a long time and to solve the problem, understanding the cause is the first step. The United States government has had policies and sanctions to prevent the illegal immigration policy that will work needs to differentiate between new arrivals and those who have already stayed in the States so long that they have built a life. The issue of immigration has been dealt with by cooperation between Mexico and U.S.A. The cooperation tried to prevent the increase of illegal immigrants in the country and create a legal way for immigration. This policy worked for a period and the new era of Donald Trump was ushered in.
Immigration is coming to a new country for permanent residence. People have been emigrating from Mexico to the United States for a long period of time and this is because of the economic situation in Mexico. Thousands and thousands of people leave Mexico to go build a better life in the United States. This means, finding a job that were unavailable in Mexico and better living standards that they lacked in Mexico. Currently, there are over 11.7 million immigrants from Mexico living in the United States and most of them are illegally in the country. Illegal immigrants may be called criminals who should be thrown out of the United States but they came to the US because they love their families. They came to provide for their loved ones and who can blame them? Illegal entry into the country, however, the reasons, is a crime and the United States has measures in place to prevent this illegal immigration (Centre, 2017).
Social conflict theory views the society as containing groups that are not equal hence conflict arises rather than consensus. There are powerful groups and weak groups and the powerful groups use their power to attain more wealth and power to continue to exploit the weaker groups. These conflicts play an important role in change and development in the society. There is no political system without a powerful group being over a weaker group, and there is no business without competition which arises from the question of power. Conflict is the engine of change, and it is an ongoing dialectic where conflicts bring contradictions which are sometimes solved, and other points of conflict are discovered. This is an ongoing process and Mexican-American history revolves around this perspective. At first, Mexico owned Texas, and with time, conflict with the Americans arose, and Mexico lost Texas showing that the United States was more powerful than Mexico. The Tejanos who helped in attaining the independence of Texas were later viewed as a minority because they were of Mexican descent, this showed the second point of conflict which arose. History itself is proof that change arises from conflict and even if these contradictions were resolved, other points of conflict would be discovered, and the society keeps developing that way (Haralambo & Holsborne, 2008).
In understanding Mexican-Americans and immigration into the United States, it is important to understand the social conflict theory. The higher class will at all times try to maintain their privileges and power to maintain their status. They do this through influencing politics, education, and institutions to limit any access from what’s theirs. The less powerful class has it different as they have no privileges and wealth to protect and so their main struggle is to gain access to the wealth and power that the powerful class has. They do this through accessing education, political parties, and powerful institutions. The Mexican-Americans are a minority group in the United States and to better their current position, those already in the US get multiple jobs. Mexicans immigrating to the US try to better their life by going to a better land, a land of opportunities for everyone. Personally, I never have had to deal with this oppression.
This theory helps me to analyze the reasons why the number of immigrants is so high. There is inequality of life in the US and Mexico and to bridge that gap, immigration seems to be the answer. An answer it is, but whose answer is it. Mexican-Americans whether they immigrated to the US or were born citizens are victims of Immigration issues. They are in the United States to change their fortunes but are the American citizens aware of the number of immigrants who enter the country daily? Are they willing to accept these immigrants into their country and is immigration good or bad for the American people?
The theory provides possible reasons for immigration and possible reasons for the reaction of the American people towards Mexican-Americans. The analysis is done by race, social structure, and political policy. There are two sides of this argument where on the one hand, restriction in immigration causes better working opportunities for native workers which is evident through the decrease of job opportunities with the high rate of immigration. The value of jobs decreases since business owners can hire cheap labor from immigrants and the natives suffer inadequate job opportunities. Increased rate of immigration will threaten the American culture like the English language may fade away. On the other hand, immigration improves the economy since more people are in the workforce and this means higher productivity. The immigrants also act as an additional market for goods which is good for business. The two arguments form the reaction of American citizens towards Mexican-Americans.
The United States Constitution gave the Congress the power of naturalization and the Naturalization Act of 1790 allowed immigrants who had lived in the country for two years and had lived in the same place for a year, to apply for citizenship. Anyone was white, passed the required credentials and was of good conduct was allowed to be a citizen. Times have changed and the limitations to become a citizen evolved and eventually, Mexicans could be American citizens. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed, and any employer who was found with unauthorized immigrant would face penalties, but this act didn’t account for the immigrants who were already in the United States. The immigrants couldn’t leave either hence they entered American societies and worked any jobs they could find. Since the immigrants are illegal, working conditions were very poor, but they still worked as they needed to earn a living. With time, the immigrants have been fully integrated into American societies as they have permanent jobs and their children are American citizens. These people are not citizens, but they have lived in the U.S. for so long that going back home is out of their minds. They will prefer an opportunity to be identified as permanent residents of the States rather than a temporary deal where they will return home after a period of absence (Alden, 2017).
Mexico has for a long time tried to establish legal status for Mexicans living in the United States without authorization. Mexico has also been trying to obtain legal access to the US market for Mexicans. Before the September 11 terrorist attacks, there were negotiations between the United States and Mexico. These negotiations came to a halt as the attitude of US changed. 5.3 million Mexicans are living illegitimately in the United States, and for a long time, the US has had legislations to control the situation. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) gave about two million Mexicans US citizenship, and since then, immigration rates have only gone higher because of the illegitimates. The numbers are always going up because there are social and labor recruitments that help migrants to enter the country and find jobs, for a certain amount of money of course. The United States has increased enforcement on the southern border and entry through air or sea has a lot of red tape on it. This has led to longer stays of unauthorized Mexicans in the United States, and there has been the increased entry of women who want to join their husbands in America and children are brought along too. This longer stay in America leads to permanent residency (Papademetriou, 2004).
All the legislation and sanctions that the U.S. has employed has not been working, and a bilateral approach to migration should be adopted. Mexico contributes about three-fifths of all American immigration, and this makes it ideal to become a partner in a bilateral approach. The United States and Mexico would jointly engage in solving border crossing and security issues. The United States had previously embarked in promoting economic growth in Mexico through a Partnership for Prosperity, and this makes an ideal partner for the bilateral approach. With this relation, the capture of illegal immigrants will be more effective and deport them to their hometown to discourage future illegal immigration.
The relation between the two nations can only be effective if the current immigrant population is accounted for and future illegal immigration is prevented, and provision of an adequate legitimate way of immigrating is established. The current illegal immigration population consists of people working, living and even studying in American communities and to identify and deport these individuals would cost billions of dollars and damage the civil and other rights. A national registration of unauthorized immigrants gained support in Congress, and employment would determine the permission to stay legally. This would only last three years. This plan would depend on the willingness of the illegal immigrants to come for registration, and this doesn’t cover security concerns. The policy developed should encourage all immigrants whether interested in temporary or permanent stay to register, and it should guarantee that this registration will not be used against them in the future. The policy should offer a chance for temporary settlers to have a permanent settlement by showing a steady job, payment of taxes and fluency in English (Kandel & Wasem, 2016).
The United States granted over one million legal permanent residency and two-thirds of family reunification visas were approved. Also, president Obama began the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that offers a two-year temporary stay and work permits to those immigrants that arrived as children and have no criminal record, and these documents can be renewed after two years. Obama also tried the same for parents of American citizens, DAPA, but it was never activated as it was revoked by the Supreme Court. Donald Trump initiated a program where undocumented immigrants were deported home regardless of whether they were criminals or not. He then said that he intended to keep the promise he made to the American people during his campaign and the removal of ‘bad hombre’ is part of it. Donald Trump also ordered federal agencies to construct a physical wall to remove any possibility of Mexican immigrants entering the country. Customs and border protection reported a 36% drop in illegal border crossing and this has been attributed to Trump’s administration. The Congress, on the other hand, has considered immigration and America’s demand for high and low skilled labor and the fate of a million immigrants who lived in the country. No relevant decision has been made in recent years (America, 2017).
The illegal immigration solving however, is a continuous process. President Donald Trump promised the American people that the border between Mexico and America will be secured by a big giant wall and that he will do anything to solve the illegal immigration and make America great again. The President ordered federal agencies to start the construction of the wall but that was on January and we are now coming to end of the year and we don’t know the progress. We also don’t know how the registration of illegal immigrants is fairing and if it is effective. The issue about Mexico paying for the wall is also unknown even as Donald Trump threatens to remove their foreign aid.
The research I’ve done on Mexican-Americans and immigration/oppression issues has shed light on the long-ignored factors that are key to solving immigration issues. Immigration arose because Mexicans since the 18th century have been going to the southern parts, that is Texas and California and with Americanisation of these parts Mexico and America became two different nations yet so close to each other. The economic situation that Mexicans live in push them to immigrate to earn a living. Through social conflict theory, the conflict between America and Mexico has caused immigration problems, and these issues have been recurrent in history. It is important that both countries and the world understand the cause before solving the problem. The life of an illegal immigrant comes to perspective and policies have to understand why he is immigrating to solve the problem of illegal immigration. In the 18th century, Mexicans moved to America and adopted English as their first language, and they became Mexican-Americans, and since then, the immigration rate has only gone up. The policies to handle immigration issues failed to differentiate between Mexican-Americans who are citizens by birth and the illegal Mexicans in the country. Recent years have seen policies from President Bush to President Donald Trump and both force and diplomacy are key to solving illegal immigration and Mexican oppression.
- Alden, E. (2017). Journal on Migration and Humna Security. Journal on Migration and Humna Security, 5(2), 481-490. doi:http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index,php/jmhs/article/review/94
- America, R. (2017, September 6). COUNCIL on FOREIGN RELATIONS. Retrieved from The U.S. Immigration Debate: http://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-immigration-debate-o
- Centre, P. R. (2017, March 2). FACTTANK news in the numbers. Retrieved from What we know about illegal immigration from mexico: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/02/what-we-know-about-ilegal-immigration-from-mexico/
- Haralambo, M., & Holsborne, M. (2008). Sociology Themes and Perspectives (Vol. V). HarperCollins UK. Retrieved May 12, 2019, from http://www.amazon.com/socilogy-Themes-Perspectives-Haralambos-Holborn/dp/0007245955
- Kandel, W. A., & Wasem, R. E. (2016). U.S Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends. Congressional Research Service. doi:7-5700
- Papademetriou, D. G. (2004, March 1). MPI Migration Polict Institute. Retrieved from The Mexico Factor in U.S. Immigration Reform: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/mexico-factor-us-immigration-reform
- Wikipedia. (2017, October 13). WIKIPEDIA The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Mexican Americans: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Americans
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