For many immigrants, becoming an American has been shaped by American’s and the American government’s identification of them racially. Latino and Hispanic immigrants are one race in particular that often has trouble adjusting to life in America. Most Latinos that wish to come to America have a much different view of America than Americans do. They see America as this wonderful place with endless opportunities, money and freedom. Yet, once they actually come to America, Latinos usually find it is not what they had expected. Many of them struggle to find jobs, struggle to find a place to live, and have a hard time fitting in.
America may have a far better economy than Mexico, but Hispanic immigrants rarely get the jobs or the pay that they hope for when they come here. It can be nearly impossible for some immigrants to find work at all; sometimes because of their race and other times because of their lack of experience or their lack of education. Many Latino immigrants get stuck with jobs that most American’s do not want, like fast food restaurants, housekeeping jobs, farming, and landscaping. These jobs rarely give good pay, forcing them to get two or even three jobs just so that they can afford to feed their families. In the book The Circuit, Francisco Jimenez writes about his family struggling to make it in America many years ago. Jimenez writes about leaving Mexico to come to America as a child and constantly having to move in order for his parents to find work. In one chapter Jimenez says, “After stopping at several places and asking for work, we found a rancher who still had a few cotton fields left to be picked. He offered us work and a tent to live in. It was one of many dark green tents lined up in rows. The labor camp looked like an army settlement”(Jimenez 54). Like many immigrants today, Jimenez and his brothers had to work on the farms instead of going to school to help support his family.
On top of trying to find jobs and money, immigrants also battle with fitting in. They are looked down on by many Americans because they are a different race with different traditions and cultures. Americans frequently accuse Hispanics of taking all of the available jobs; leaving none for anyone else. In an article entitled, “’Is This a White Country or What?’”, Lilian Rubin talks about the way white Americans and natural-born citizens feel about immigrants. Rubin writes, “For whites the issue is compounded by race, by the fact that the newcomers are primarily people of color. For them, therefore, their economic anxieties have combined with the changing face of America to create a profound uneasiness about immigration”(Rubin 227). Several white Americans are also afraid that Hispanics and other immigrants are going to overpopulate in America; making it less of a “white” country. Rubin explains, “Americans have always worried about the strangers who came to our shores, fearing that they would corrupt our society, dilute our culture, debase our values”(Rubin 227). Hispanics are too often misjudged for trying to find jobs and for coming to America.
They must live in a country where a majority of the population tries to segregate them from the white society. In another article called, “Best of Friends, Worlds Apart”, Mirta Ojito describes two friends who drift apart because they are different races. Ojito writes, “The two men live only four miles apart, not even 15 minutes by car. Yet they are separated by a far greater distance, one they say they never envisioned back in Cuba. In ways that are obvious to the black man but far less so to the white, they have grown apart in the United States because of race. For the first time, they inhabit a place where the color of their skin defines the outlines of their lives-where they live, the friends they make, how they speak, what they wear, even what they eat”(Ojito NYT-3-1).
For Latino and Hispanic immigrants, leaving their native country to come to America is not always what it seems. They face a lot of disappointment when realizing that America is not the perfect place that they pictured it to be. Losing hopes about getting the “American dream”, they must fight to find jobs, jobs that normally do not pay well at all. For immigrants, finding a place to live and raise a family can be an extremely difficult, especially in society where white people are seen as superior. Some children have to give up their education to help their families make money. For most Latinos and Hispanics, coming to a new country means leaving behind important traditions to find their place in a white country.
Jiménez, Francisco. The Circuit. New York: Scholastic, 1997. Print.
Paula, Rothenberg. American Culture, Identity, and Public Life Course Reader. Worth Publishers, 2013.