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In all of History, the United States of America has always been the destination to many immigrants. The American dream as we all hear paints America as the place to be if one wants to achieve their dreams and better their lives and that of their families. In the colonial period, migrants mainly came from North Europe but with the beginning of the war, the numbers reduced sharply. Nonetheless, these numbers shot up again in the 1840 and 1850 years with most immigrants coming from Germany and Ireland due to the crop failing in their countries forcing them to look for greener pastures. Ney York became the settlement point harboring millions making New York's half of population of immigrants and they were beginning to intermarry with residents bringing up American born children. Today, immigrants are from all corners of the world and there are arrivals of more than one million in every year spread throughout America.
Immigration is a thorny issue that spurns controversy not only in Government but also among the people. Immigration however is significant in shaping some of America's past and present situations as well as way of living. In the past, most immigrants especially from Eastern Europe that is countries like Russia and Poland. Most of these people were the poor and uneducated and the industrial revolution of Europe was pushing them out. They came into America and due to the language barrier and lack of skills or resources; they were mainly used for labor and cheap labor at that. Immigrants at that time were viewed as domestic workers and did not enjoy the same rights as resident Americans did socially and also in schools and places of work. They were slow in assimilating themselves to mainstream American society slowing down their dreams of economic advancement they had come to America for. However, they brought with them different cultures that were with time assimilated into the American culture providing a colorful culture in mode of dress, food and also work. There was less hostility compared t today and immigrants seemed to accept their place.
Today, immigration has become dynamic and revolutionalized. There are new policies and reforms that try to incorporate the American citizens' lives as well as the lives of the numerous immigrants that flock our borders every other day looking for better opportunities. A large number of immigrants are a boost to the labor market as they are now equipped with skills. Migrants are more aware of their rights concerning dignity to human life and they seem to fight for their rights better. America is also exposed to numerous talents and goods and services that are advantageous and provide the thrill of new experiences that most people are looking for today through the immigrants. However, immigration is not all gold to America. Crime is on the rise and the economy is questioning on how many immigrants it can support and there are always debates as to closing the gate to immigration to protect American citizens' prosperity or control of the number of immigrants that come to the US every year.
Americans have got mixed reactions concerning immigration and in my opinion, these true colors could be seen during the economic recession. Many Americans take immigrants as equal citizens and human beings whose hard work should see them enjoy all that America has to offer. They are challenged by their hard work and this translates positively in going the extra mile in their lives. The new cultures and languages that come with immigration as well as religion are a fascination to some Americans who even assimilate these cultures into their own. However, some citizens are resentful and view immigrants as leeches and beneath what they consider normal Americans. They have stereotyped different communities as to what they should be in society and where they belong for example Spanish women are considered good maids and Mexicans are associated with good food and being waiters and cooks.
Gangs have also created a bad name where different immigrant communities are associated with one and this picture further brings resentment. The economic downturn saw people complain that the immigrants were taking up their job opportunities and there was tension as most immigrants were viewed as not worthy of their hard work in America as well as contribution to the economy. This however is not the view of the majority. The media especially is a propagator of immigration information and for most people in America, this is where we get our information from and in Films that further enhance stereotyping. We should be more autonomous and find out for ourselves the reality of the situation other than allowing others to influence our perceptions of immigration as most of it is for PR only and for sales without care of the influence they have on society. They are human too and we are all equal in God's eyes and thus no people should claim superiority over others irrespective of their ethnicity and experiences. We should give each other a chance.
In the book Coyotes, Conover the author paused as an immigrant and managed to cross the border twice learning firsthand about 'cayotes' who go through blood and sweat in sneaking in these immigrants who Conover argues that we should take a deeper look at other than the face value of the people who just clean our houses and pick our fruit. Conover manages to achieve his goal of making people sit and think of people as humans and viewing life in America through perspectives that most of us are not aware of. Conover in an interesting story visited Ahua catlan which is where most of the men he met come from and we are taken through what those families that are left behind go through. The indescribable poverty that they wallow in and their disintegrating lives. They just want to earn a decent wage in supporting their families and the trouble they go through to get to the United States where some men pooled money to fly to Los Angeles from Mexico and had to practice on mode of dressing and communication.
Reading this book wakes me up in my thinking and one is compelled to be human and look at these immigrants as people with a thirst to better their lives without disrupting others. They just want better lives for their children and families and we should not treat them as less of human beings in their struggle. My understanding and empathy has been made greater as there is so much more than what we hear from the media or from stories in society. These immigrants go through hell to get to America and even when they get here, it is a greater task to assimilate to the culture even with an education and skills they are forced to start with the most 'degrading of jobs'. They should be given equal opportunities and treated with respect as they are mostly working for a greater cause with numerous people depending on them back home. Most of them are here on behalf of others and it is the greatest sacrifice that one can make.