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Migration and Integration: African Americans and Mexican Americans in the U.S.

By amillian Oct 19, 2014 1232 Words

New in America Paper‏
September 2, 2014
Patrick Norman
New in America Paper‏

A number of African Americans and Mexican Americans gradually migrated into the United States with the development of agriculture in the country. Although the reasons for their migration were different, the African Americans and Mexican Americans share similar situations as they tried to integrate into American society. The choice to migrate into the US was mainly attributed to their need to look for better opportunities, new lives, admiration and obstacles.

Migration has a different meaning among African Americans, who had to go through a lot of suffering when they came into the country. They initially migrated into the United States as slaves and made to work in plantation and homes in the new world. They were also considered as commodities to be traded in the market. The working conditions of African Americans on the plantations were horrible even though they formed the foundation of the entire cotton industry. The conditions that African Americans had to go through when they migrated into the United States were detailed and explained in the book “In Motion: The African American Migration Experience.” The book gives a list of the first African Americans who arrived into the United States during the 1500s through the Caribbean and Mexico. This account is different from common knowledge, which indicates that they arrived through Jamestown in 1619. They settled in a number of southern states such as South Carolina, Florida, and Texas.

A good number of slaves found safe haven from their owners in the marshlands and the Bahamas. Some of them even started to live with Native Americans. They started to adjust and embrace the culture of the place where they established themselves. They learned the local languages and other dialects. The twentieth century saw a good number of African Americans increase their influence in history. They played a significant role the development of industrial areas, even as racism continued to remind African Americans of their suffering in the past. A movement was started that saw a number of laws being altered to integrate equality in society. The government was compelled to include African Americans due to the legal system that they were able to establish. The views and contributions of African Americans were included in the formation of cultural and social policies. The Harlem renaissance during the 1920s and the 1930s was the most significant input that resulted to the acknowledgement of African American culture and connected their culture with other cultures. The talents of African Americans in art, music, and literature started to emerge during the period. A number of authors were able to demonstrate their talents, which describe the experience of African Americans. It also resulted to the establishment of a number of African American political interest groups. These authors include Neela Larson, Zora Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston. Three of these political groups that emerged include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Nation of Islam, and the Negro Improvement Association. The African American culture also started to spread from the south. The culture and arts of American society were influenced by African, Haitian, and Caribbean cultures. The situation further enriched the culture of the African American population despite the adversity they faced along the way. This demonstrated the experience of African Americans when they migrated into the United States.

At the start of the twentieth century, Mexican Americans were able to easily enter into the United States. An emergency quota act that was ratified by the United States allowed Mexican Americans to travel freely into the US. This act also limited the migration of citizens coming from countries in the Eastern hemisphere. Special allowances were even given to Mexicans by the US government due to the immigration law enacted by the US. The implementation of the immigration law gave credence to the significance of the labor provided by Mexicans, which enhanced the US economy. The act invalidated the literacy test that was enforced on Mexicans by farmers. However, this special allowance was cancelled following the economic crisis that affected the United States in 1929. Americans found it difficult to be employed due to the Great Depression, which resulted to an anti-immigration sentiment and compelled many Mexicans to go back home. Barricades were also set up between Mexico and the United States.

However, the Second World War resulted to a labor shortage, which resulted to the creation of a bracer program that allowed Mexicans to work in the agricultural industry in the United States. A good number of Mexicans were able to receive allowances along with minimum wages. The situation was temporary and was only implemented while many American men were out in the battlefield. The United States did not allow the families of the braceros to join them to guarantee that they would return to their homeland. However, many Mexicans were compelled to become illegal immigrants since they did not want to go back to Mexico. These illegal immigrants were able to stay employed and eventually made enough money due to the bracer program. By 1954, the United States was compelled to handle the increasing number of illegal immigrants. Operation Wetback was started together with a naturalization service and border patrols that immediately deported illegal immigrants. However, the operation was stopped due to a number of issues that included maltreatment of Mexicans and violence. The children of the illegal immigrants that were born in the US were also deported together with their parents. The labor shortage that was still prevalent among companies resulted to the establishment of factories in Mexico. The factories were called maquillas or maguiladoras, which was beneficial for both the United States and Mexico. Among the benefits that Mexico received were the sending of equipment for the factories. The value of equipment was untaxed. The equipment was also sent as a whole instead of being transported one component at a time. The border between Mexico and the United States was the first barrier that illegal Mexicans had to deal with if they want to go into the US. The border extends from Tijuana, Baja California and Imperial Beach California along the western side until Brownsville, Matamoras and Tamaulipas, Texas along the eastern side. It goes through different terrains that included major urban areas and harsh deserts. Most of the Mexicans who were able to cross the border settled in the states of Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Colorado. Mexican Americans played a role in the development of cities along the southwest, including Tucson, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Although a good number of Mexican Americans were not able to go through formal education, they were able to contribute to the development of the Midwest, from Michigan all the way to Kansas. They provided labor for the steel factories and railroad system. Since the Mexicans were willing to provide labor in the valley in the southwestern states, their culture had a significant influence in these areas. Their contribution allowed the valley to become one of the richest valleys in the world. Mexicans also made some significant contributions in sports, language, demographics, fine arts, and politics. References George Washington University by A Etzioni - ‎2000 –

Coverage: 1964-2008 (Vols. 51-95)
Links to External Content: 2009-2012 (Vol. 95, No. 4 - Vol. 99, No. 1) Published by: Organization of American Historians

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