The Great Migration Essay Sample
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- Category: migration
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The Great Migration Essay Sample
“My name is Angeles,” she said as her eyes welled up with tears as she began narrating her story. Her voice, slightly accented, foretold the heritage of her roots, however, from a distance, you would never be able to tell the path from which she came. Her innocent blue eyes pierced into the light revealing a sense of wary and uncertainty as she pushed back her long light brown locks behind her ears. Angeles Moran, a 44 year old Mexican immigrant began to shed some light on her journey that began almost 30 years ago. “ I wasn’t the face of poverty that most people embody when visioning the Mexican culture. Even when people look at me to this day, they could never imagine that I am Mexican. I have blue eyes and light brown hair. I could very well pass for an Anglo woman. Half of my siblings have green or blue eyes, and I’m not speaking of these characteristics as if they are a privilege, but I believe that they helped soften the blow of racism and various obstacles that came along my way.
The pride that I have inside illuminates everything of a Mexican, but my journey to this country was not a pleasant one even 30 years ago. I come from a well to do family from a small town near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We had money. Well, we didn’t live a lavish lifestyle but we had more than most, however, even though we were comfortable, my grandparents and even my father saw the country crumbling. I fell in love with my husband Rafael when I was only 15. We courted for almost 4 years before we were married. During that time, my husband moved to Mexico and joined the military and he sporadically came back to Mexico to see me. My father urged me to join my husband as soon as possible, but I was stuck between leaving my family and starting a new life in somewhere I had no idea about. My brothers and sisters eventually moved to the U.S. and before long, I was the only child left. My siblings painted fairy tale stories of people skipping about the streets and holding hands and of jobs that could bring in millions of dollars each year. So I took that chance, but no one told me how hard it was to get into the country. By that time I was pregnant with my first child, Susan, and I applied for a Visa.
It took me 2 years just to get approved all the meanwhile, I was being asked inappropriate questions, like who was the father of the child I was carrying, and when I replied that it was my husbands, they insinuated that it wasn’t even his child. I was so appalled. Meanwhile, I used to sneak back and forth from United States to Mexico just so that my husband could see our daughter. I know that it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I couldn’t let my daughter grow up without knowing her father during the most important years of her development as a child. I just couldn’t bear it. My parents eventually jumped on the bandwagon and tried to rightfully gain entrance into the United States and they were turned down for their visas after years of waiting.
My parents didn’t do the right thing either by illegally crossing the border, but they got in and they’ve been here since. I have obtained my citizenship, but I see how other Mexicans like myself are struggling to lawfully gain entrance to this country and get turned down just like I did. Therefore, they resort to illegal entrance into the United States and I don’t blame them. We have something to attribute to the society that was ours to begin with. I don’t understand what’s wrong with letting us in.” ( personal interview 2008). This is one of the many stories of Mexican Nationals who underwent the century long infiltration into the United States. Angeles Moran, now 44, has a Master’s degree in education and teaches Spanish classes in an Southern Illinois high school, and although most Mexican immigrants currently do not legally enter the United States as Angeles did, the exertion that she endured 30 years ago is still problematic today.
Although many Americans see immigration as a modern day problem, it is not fairly new to the United States as the history of Mexican migration to the U.S. is radically eternal, dating back to almost a century. Mexican migration began during the early 1900s as Mexico’s government and indigenous Mestizo population clashed due to the misappropriation of land to wealthy hacendados. During this time, Mexico’s social system was based on a capital feudalist system in which there were many discrepancies over land ownership. Large estates were in control of smaller estates where many Mestizos dwelled. Emiliano Zapata, the namesaked grandson of the Mexican Revolutionary says that “the land was given to the people, all right,” says Emiliano. “Under the ejido system, a plot of land was handed to peasant villages and communities, and each one appointed a commissar to preside over it. Then the politicians bribed or co-opted the appointees and politicized the whole thing. The local party bosses would get the commissars to inflate the price of public works in their villages and towns, splitting the excess money with them.
The commissars would also ensure that the ejidatarios gave political support to the party” (Alvaro Vargas Llosa A4). During this time, Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz was in power. Diaz initiated and permitted the hostile control of lands that belonged to the Mestizo population. By 1910, the country was engaged in a revolution that was directly assimilated towards President Diaz. Emiliano Zapata, a then 30 year old Mexican national was witnessing the harsh reality of a long needed revolution. After losing his father at age 17, Emiliano took leadership of ranching the family’s plot while simultaneously avoiding an impoverished lifestyle in his hometown of Anenecuilco, Morelos. When hacendados under President Diaz began to burn villages and illegitimately take control of land belonging to Mestizos, Zapata began to get involved, thus, creating a radical group called the Zapatistas in addition to the Liberation Army of the South. With these forces Zapata attempted to overthrow President Diaz with the assistance of prospective Presidential Candidate Francisco Madero. Ultimately, Madero defeated Diaz, but Zapata’s vision was not yet realized.
Only 9 years into the Mexican Revolution, Zapata was ambushed and killed. It was not until 80 years after the revolution that Zapata’s vision was realized when the Mexican government relinquished land to the rightful owners. Although not as aggressive as current Mexican immigration, the start of the Mexican revolution is when the majority of Mexican immigrants began to cross into the United States, in order to escape the remnants of a broken society. Additionally, many Mexican Americans were already occupying present-day California, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada since before the Mexican- American War, as these areas were initially part of Mexican territory. Alvaro Vargas Llosa states that although history paints Zapata as a socialist, he was anything but. He was a womanizer, a drunk, and a part-time bandit. Zapata genuinely wanted his people to own their land and yet ironically, some of his children tried to enter the United States in search of something more (8).
Many profligate measures have been taken in order to prevent and reduce the amount of illegal immigrants that travel inside of the United States, including stricter border patrolling across the U.S.- Mexican border. While Border Patrol agents have subsisted since 1904, the tangible foundation of the U.S. Border Patrol was implemented in 1924 by congress in response to a rise in illegal immigration. Even though currently, border patrol officers are responsible for securing the American-Mexican border to restrict the flux of Mexican immigrants from entering the United States, the forefront basis for societal border patrol implementation was to keep Chinese immigrants from entering the country. “In March 1915, Congress authorized a separate group of Mounted Guards, often referred to as Mounted Inspectors. Most rode on horseback, but a few operated cars and even boats. Although these inspectors had broader arrest authority, they still largely pursued Chinese immigrants trying to avoid the Chinese exclusion laws” (Border Patrol History). The first pioneer of border patrol was Jeff Milton, whom has been accredited as ‘ the first immigration border patrolman’.
The Prohibition era in which the 18th Amendment Prohibition act of 1920 heightened the need for border patrol as the flow of immigrants and illegal substances such as alcoholic beverages posed a threat to lawful society. Consequentially, on May 28th, 1924, congress passed the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924, authoritatively and publicly recognizing the border patrol as an active procreate agency of the United States government. During the early years of the agency’s existence, only 20 officers made up the entire task force, whom utilized horses and concentrated on the Texas-Mexican border and the Canadian border near Detroit, Michigan. However, those mere 20 officers grew to over 400 in less than 2 years of operation. With Franklin Roosevelt’s combination of the Bureau of Naturalization and the Bureau of Immigration in 1933, the first Border Patrol Academy was instituted in 1934, which students were trained in detainment and horsemanship. World War II prompted an coveted escalation for the demand of more border patrol agents, thus simulating the use of motor vehicles, nevertheless, horses have always been the preferred method of transportation when encompassing rugged terrain in tandem with alacrity and muted noise.
After years of distention at the Mexican border and an diminution in illicit immigration at the Canadian border, many units were transferred from north to south, hoping to produce a lapse in illegitimate U.S. entry, however, from 1952 to the present, border patrol efforts have augmented just as the amount of illegal aliens. By the 1990s, illegal immigration was deemed unmanageable. This can be accredited to the almost century long offset of The Mexican Revolution of 1910. During the revolution, the ongoing war between Mestizos, indigenous Native Americans, and the government over the deeds to lands prompted internal warfare between radicals and government. The long battle between the people and the government finally ended during the 1990s when local governments finally granted property to the rightful owners, conversely, after 80 years of struggle for land, industrialization caused old farming techniques to become inept, consequentially producing the inability to generate a profitable existence.
Many of those whom owned land sold it and moved into urban cities. Urban cities, overcrowded and inflated, consequentially caused many to seek a life across the border in the United States, however due to the strict regulations regarding immigration, many Mexican nationals, take a chance for a better life by entering the United States illegally. Nonetheless, The United States Border Patrol, an extension of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has persevered over time, generating several operations including “Hold the Line” and “Gatekeeper”, that have provided the necessary security of our nations borders. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created, thus conjoining customs and border patrol departments together entitling this section the CBP. Additionally, the CBP is responsible for securing the entire nation, including ports. “Prior to the Terrorist attacks of 9/11, the primary focus of the Border Patrol was on illegal aliens, alien smuggling, and narcotics interdiction” ( Officer of Border).
Although post 9/11 border strategy was to stop the flow of terrorists into the country, the focus continues to be on illegal Mexican immigrants. Burnor reports that “Over the past decade, tension at the US-Mexican border has heightened as an enormous influx of Mexicans has entered the southwestern United States. According to a study conducted by Mexico’s National Population Council (CONAPO) in 2001, an estimated 3.5 to 5 million Mexican immigrants enter the United States each decade. Approximately 400,000 Mexicans cross the border annually, of which 175,000 are legal. The remaining 200,000 to 300,000 enter the United States illegally, primarily seeking employment and higher wage rates. This movement of Mexican workers into the southwestern United States has affected US-Mexican relations, particularly in Mexico” (8).
Despite negative propaganda regarding the flux of immigrants from Mexico, both legal and illegal, those immigrants are responsible for states such as California, Utah, and South Carolina’s economic boots and strong industrial cogency over the past 10 years. In fact, Jan Collins admits that a study conducted under Douglas R. Woodard of Moore School of Business in South Carolina, called Mexican Immigrants: The New Face of the South Carolina Labor Force. The study examines the economic and financial characteristics of Mexican immigrants in South Carolina, where the Latino population grew by 273 percent between 1990 and 2003, compared to 78 percent for the United States as a whole… South Carolina’s Latino population consists of over 400,000 people, 210,000 of which are Mexican (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5313/is_200607/ai_n21392977). Woodard’s study also highlighted awareness of the strong economic backbone that the Mexican population have introduced with their presence and buying power which entails over $4.4 billion each year. Additionally, in Utah, Mexicans have also added over $67 million in taxes to the state, not counting federal taxes.
In conclusion, currently, there are over 4 million Mexican immigrants that enter the United States each decade. Although this trend is numerically overwhelming, the history behind immigration is not a modern issue. Dating back to 1910, the begin of the Mexican Revolution, Mexican immigrants have come to the United States to escape the remnants of internal warfare. During this time, Mexican President Porfirio Diaz and radicals were in the first stages of war over discrepancies of land ownership. Many working men such as Emiliano Zapata took action against corrupt government officials. Emiliano Zapata, born in 1879, was only 30 years old when violence erupted around his hometown of Anenecuilco, Morelos. Zapata began a radical group called the Zapatistas and over the course of many years, they attempted to stop the corruption that plagued the country.
However, before his vision rationalized, Zapata was ambushed and killed in 1919. His dream was not realized until the 1990s when deeds were distributed to their rightful owners. By this time, many of the ranchers were forced to sell their lands because of elite farming techniques that had been taken over by industrialism. Simultaneously, urban cities became overcrowded and inflated, thus causing many people to seek a better life in a foreign land: The United States. Whilst many negative aspects have ruled judgments towards Mexican Immigrants, evidence shows economic boots that have greatly benefited states and the federal government. For instance, South Carolina has over 400,000 Latino immigrants, both illegal and legal, and over 200,000 are Mexican. Those same immigrants have compiled over $6 billion annually in retail sales in South Carolina alone. In Utah, Mexican immigrants have accumulated over $67 million in state taxes. As many Hispanics attest, gaining lawful access into the country has become an almost impossible feat that takes years at a time. Additionally, The Border Patrol under the Department of Homeland Security has also made many advances in order to prevent the illegal entry into the United States nearly impossible as well.
The United States Border Patrol, enacted in 1924, began as a small task force compiled of only 20 officers whom utilized a horse and gun, to initially prevent the entry of Chinese immigrants into the country. However with under the 18th Amendment Prohibition Act of 1920, the heightened need for Border Patrol to stop the illegal smuggling of alcoholic goods and illegal aliens led to the recruitment of over 400 Border Patrol agents by the late 1920s. Under President Franklin Roosevelt, the combination of The Bureau of Naturalization and The Bureau of Immigration in 1933 prompted the establishment of a Borer Patrol Academy in 1934. Current Border Patrol methods of travel across the border include SUVs, helicopters, ATVs, and horses. Unlike motor vehicles, horses have always been utilized because of their swiftness, ability to accommodate agents on rugged terrain, and their ability to go unnoticed due to the lack of noise that they produce. Pre- 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the purpose of the Border Patrol was to detain and discourage the entrance of illegal aliens onto U.S. soil.
With the creation of The Department of U.S. Homeland Security in 2003 after the 9/11 attacks, the sole purpose of the U.S. Border Patrol has been determined to locate and apprehend any terrorist subjects and to secure America‘s ports and detain terrorists and terrorists material. The Border Patrol has utilized many tactics to prevent people from crossing including deterrence. Not only has the Border Patrol attempted to keep out illegal aliens, they have also made drastic attempts to keep crime down in border communities, thus providing a better quality of life for all. Currently, with the aid of the government and the media, the focus has once again turned from terrorists to Mexican immigration, putting the hub of Border Patrol back down south towards Mexico. While the feuding over immigration continues, it seems that good people like Angeles Moran will be stuck on the in the middle of the old, trying to find something new beyond the border.
“Border Patrol History.” Department of Homeland Security. 15 Jul. 2003. 14 Apr. 2008 <http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/border_security/border_patrol/border_patrol_ ohs/history.xml>.
Burnor, Emily. “Under the Fence: US-Mexican Immigration Issues.” Harvard International Review 27.2 (2005): 8+. Questia. 15 Apr. 2008 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5009768974>.
Carl, Tracy. “Illegal Immigration Drops.” Deseret News 12 Aug. 2007: 12+
Collins, Jan. “Mexican Immigration.” Business and Economic Review Sept. 7 2006: <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5313/is_200607/ai_n21392977>.
Llosa, Alvaro Vargas. “History of the Mexican revolution shows why migration will continue.” Deseret News 7 Nov. 2007: A4+.
Moran, Angeles. Personal Interview. 13 Apr. 2008.
Office of Border Patrol. “National Border Patrol Strategy.” Sept. 2004. 15 Apr. 2008 <http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/border_security/border_patrol/borde r_patrol_ohs/national_bp_strategy.ctt/national_bp_strategy.pdf>.
“Zapata, Emiliano.” UXL Newsmakers. (2005). FindArticles.com. 15 Apr. 2008. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gx5221/is_2005/ai_n19141378>.