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Andres Galindo

UWRT 1102-046
Professor Ingram
April 20, 2015
Are Latinos living in America in disadvantage?
The United States is known to be a country full of opportunities, a country in
which people come to and are able to make money and be successful. However,
sometimes all these dreams and expectations are crashed as new immigrants in the
United States struggle to attain jobs and face difficulties paying all their expenses. The
view that everyone in America is wealthy and successful can be deceiving, and only a
few get a chance to actually make a lot of money while the rest of the people do not get
paid half as much as the wealthy people do. Many Latinos come to America with the
idea of having a chance of making a life for them similar to native born Americans,
however, they are at a noticeable disadvantage as cultural differences, economic
inequality, and the documentation process interfere with all their expectations.
Andrea Hugg, graduate student from the university of Washington stated that,
According to 2005 census estimates, foreign born immigrants now make up 12% of the
U.S. populationone-fifth of the population when children of immigrants are included
and by many accounts the most recent influx has not ended (Hugg, Latin American
immigrants) As the people from Latin America move to the United States, they are
confronted to the differences between the American culture and their own culture. The
traditions held in Latin American countries are not shared by the United States as each
country has its own lifestyle. For example, in Latin American countries, people tend to
be more family-centered and sometimes they would rather spend more time with their
families than working at their jobs. The support given by ones own family drives

people to do better at their jobs and keep fighting to achieve success. However, once
people move to a different country, they do not get to see the family that supported them
throughout their lives and tend to lose motivation as they are confronted to different
things everyday.
Another cultural difference that becomes notorious for new immigrants as they
make the transition of moving from a Latin American country to the United States is
that the hours spent working tends to be longer in America compared to other nations.
In some cases, people that move to America have to get two or three jobs in order to
provide for their families, which leads them to spend more time at their jobs than at
home. This cultural difference affects Latinos as they are used to follow the traditions
of their own countries instead of the traditions held in the United States. The time it
takes to assimilate to a new culture depends on certain factors such as the place where
they live, the job they have, and their own personality. There are people that can
assimilate to a culture faster than others because they live a similar life than the one they
used to have in their countries. On the other hand, there are people that were never able
to recreate the life they had in their countries in the United States, so they had to adjust
their lifestyle to the one in America. Even though The United States is a place full of
different cultures, these cultures combine and form a new one that is completely
different from all of the rest. While the American culture is influenced by a lot of
different cultures, especially from different European countries, the people in Latin
American countries tend to follow traditions that were not influenced by European
nations, but were held by the native people of each nation.
In some cases, language barrier is also a huge factor that stops Latinos from
making any progress in their lives in the United States. According to Laurie Olsen,
researcher and technical assistance on educational equity: Learning English is not just

a matter of decoding an alphabet, learning vocabulary, and hearing subtleties of accent

(Olsen, Learning English and America). Not everyone has the chance of going to school
in the United States in order to learn English. In most cases, the people that come to the
United States have to work several hours, making it impossible for them to study
English. Also, whether someone can learn English or not depends on each person as
everyone learns in a different way. By not knowing the language, some jobs become
unobtainable as they require people proficient in English. Luis Fraga, an affiliate
professor of the University of Washington said that : The most frequently cited barrier
is a problem for many immigrants from non-English-speaking countries is English
proficiency; Language is the most difficult barrier, moving up and making more money
depends on speaking good English (Fraga, Latinos live in America). This leads Latinos
to work at factories and industries that they would not have worked at in their home
countries. Some Latinos tend to choose these jobs because they do not need to speak
fluent English in order to work in said places. The problem when working at factories is
that they involve dangerous physical work for several hours a day while receiving a
very low wage rate. Sometimes, this hourly wage is not enough to pay for all the
expenses in a familys household, which forces people to take more than one job at the
same time. Fraga also stated that: Alternatively, persistently poor showings on a variety
of social indicators may suggest the presence of one or more structural disadvantages,
structures that transcend generations and exact a toll on most Latinosthose coming of
age in the late 1980s and those today, twenty years laterin a similar manner (Fraga,
Latino lives in America).
Economic inequality has been a problem in the United States for many years.
Not only Latinos are the ones affected but different ethnic groups are also affected by
this situation. For years, a selected group of people were the ones that obtained most of

the wealth in the country while the rest of the people struggled at obtaining jobs and did
not have enough money to pay all their expenses. Latinos, especially those who are new
to America, tend to be truly affected by this inequality as they try to get jobs and are not
able to because preference is given to native born people of America. The central focus
of the dream for Latinos is the financial security that comes with regular employment
Despite the fact that there are Laws designed to prevent the said preference, the
attempts to follow this Law are not sufficient enough as many people do not like to
follow the rules. According to Fraga, The final part of the dream for Latinos is to be
treated fairly and respectfully by others (Fraga, Latino lives in America). In most cases,
people born in the United States tend to have the wrong concept about Latinos as the
image portrayed by the media of Latinos is inaccurate. Since most of the things that the
media shows to Americans come from countries like Mexico, and other Central
American countries, Americans tend to generalize and think that all people from a Latin
American country are from Mexico. They make these assumptions without knowing
that every country in Latin America is different and that the traditions held in Mexico
are completely different from the traditions in other countries.
These generalizations tend to contribute to the xenophobia that some people
have toward immigrants from Latin America, and then they tend to translate to the
workforce as Latinos struggle at getting jobs. Manuel Pastor, Sociology professor at the
University of Southern California, Latino households, for example, are more than 20%
more likely than the average household to earn under $15000 annually and are nearly
30% more likely to earn less than $25000 annually. On the high end, Latino households
are only one third as likely to be earning more than $75000 on an annual basis (Pastor,
Immigration). These statistics show that, the amount of money that Latinos earn each

year is less than the amount of people from other ethnic groups make. The proliferation
of employable people can depress labor market wages. According to Tom Roberts, Low
wages may certainly be viewed as a source of strain because under such circumstances
it is more difficult to accumulate significant economic capital, breeding economic
distress (Roberts). As immigration increases in the United States from Latin America,
the labor force gets bigger and fewer jobs become available as the people that already
live in the United States try to get the same jobs. The amount of jobs in the United
States is limited, and when more and more people start getting into the country, there
will be fewer spots available and more people will be unemployed. Also, the United
States economy has not done well recently and sometimes even people that are born in
the United States cant get jobs.
Finally, the documentation process is another problem faced by many Latinos in
the United States. Some people spend years trying to get their documentation right with
no success as this process is slow and, at times, inefficient. Also, the documentation
process to become a legal resident of the United States takes a really long time as you
need to have a family member or friend living legally in the United States. In many
cases, even if you have that person that can give you residency, you still have to wait
some years to actually get the permission to come. Confronted to this, many people
decide to enter the United States illegally because they have the expectation that things
will get better once they move to the States. However, once they get here, they live with
the fear that they will get caught, send to jail and kick out of the United States. Not
only are they scared that they will get caught, but also they will not be able to apply to a
lot of jobs because they require legal residency in the States. Thus, they are forced to
work at factories in which they get paid an insanely low wage and are required to do
back breaking tasks. Not only they have to work for long hours, but the conditions in

which they work at are really unhealthy. The possibility of a worker to get dangerously
sick increases as they have to spend a lot of time in the same unhealthy place. However,
since factories usually do not need any prior documentation, these are the only places in
which people with no documents can work at.
The public has to become aware of what is currently going on in order to make
any changes. United States president Barack Obama has been trying to pass an
immigration reform, but the people in congress had disagreed and this reform has not
been passed in the government. Obama cant force Congress to accept a reform, what he
can do is present bills to congress and hope that they agree. The time has come for a
massive immigration reform, one that promotes people hoping for a better life, but at
the same time makes America feel secure in their borders.
People from Latin American countries move to the United States full of dreams
and expectations of how wonderful their lives can be. However, once they get here, they
are confronted to reality and live in perhaps even greater poverty than their home
countries as they are not able to attain jobs and make money to pay for their expenses.
When a government system forces millions of people to break laws in order to achieve a
happier life for them and their families, then it is time for these laws to change. People
need to remember that the United States is a country of immigrants and that by
shunning out others we reject the very thing America is, a home, for those looking for a
better tomorrow.

Works Cited

Pastor, Manuel. Immigrants - UNC Charlotte." Login to Atkins Library - J.

Murrey Atkins Library - UNC Charlotte. August 1, 1995. html.
Fraga, Luis Ricardo. Latino Lives in America Making It Home. Philadelphia,
Pa.: Temple University Press, 2010.
Roberts, Tom. "E-Journals A-Z - J. Murrey Atkins Library - UNC Charlotte." EJournals A-Z - J. Murrey Atkins Library - UNC Charlotte.
Hugg, Andrea. "E-Journals A-Z - J. Murrey Atkins Library - UNC Charlotte." EJournals A-Z - J. Murrey Atkins Library - UNC Charlotte.
Olsen, Laurie. "Learning English and Learning America: Immigrants in the Center of
a Storm." Taylor & Francis Online. June 24, 2010.