Hispanics in the United States have a history rooted for centuries. Many different cultures make up this group dubbed ‘Hispanics’, each with their own identity, culture, and struggles. However, they do group together in a common fight to gain a more stable and positive foot hold in the U. S. Mexican Americans seem to have the strongest and yet weakest position in the United States. Their presence is clouded with negative images of ‘all Mexicans’ being illegal aliens or harboring illegal aliens. They appear to dominate the news more so than other Hispanic groups, causing many people to assume all Hispanics are Mexican. Shaefer, 2006) Mexican Americans are able to maintain close ties with the homeland merely due to the close proximity of the country. European immigrants could only visit their homeland maybe once in a life time, but Mexican Americans are able to visit a few times a month. (Schaefer, 2006) Family is an important factor to Mexican Americans. This also causes immigrants to keep close ties with the homeland as they contact, visit, and send money to family members still in Mexico. This often causes more issues politically and economically as money and people continue to flow over the border in both directions – legally or illegally.
This is still compounded by Mexico now allowing dual citizenship so many immigrants can be both U. S. and Mexican citizens at the same time. (Schaefer, 2006) Mexicans immigrate to this country because they believe they will have a better life in the United States. Despite constant struggle because of racism, life is better for many Hispanics here. Mexico is riddled with a large drug and crime problem. Many Mexicans strongly endorse and support Mexican President, Felipe Cauldrons’ harsh stance against drug traffickers and dealers. (Ahorre, 2003) Puerto Ricans, unlike Mexicans, have a more difficult time getting to this country.
The island nation is 1,000 miles south of Miami, Florida. While this is more difficult, thousand of Puerto Ricans still immigrate to the mainland. At one time, Puerto Ricans settled in inner-city neighborhoods in New York, Newark, Chicago, and Philadelphia. However, they have recently moved to many rural areas. (Carmona, 2009) Politically, Puerto Rico holds an important part as they fight for statehood or outright independence from the United States. Puerto Ricans themselves are almost split down the middle on which side they support. Either way, Puerto Ricans truly want to regain their cultural identity. Schaefer, 2006) Similar to Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans lag far behind White Americans in education and health care. Often times, these two Hispanic groups are forced to attend schools that are vastly under-funded. This adds to the viscous cycle of poverty that surrounds these two groups as they struggle to gain a higher footing in the United States. (Schaefer, 2006) Puerto Ricans have made a huge impact in the United States. Amazingly, Jose Ferrer, a Puerto Rican, was selected as the American citizen with the best English diction in the entire United States!
That alone tells how far Puerto Ricans have come in our society, despite the fact that they still struggle to get out of the poverty level. (Carmona, 2009) Cubans are the third largest Hispanic group in the United States. Cuban immigration issues are founded by economic issues that the group presents, but mostly because of the ties to Communist run Cuba. The Cuban-American National Foundation has a strong anti-Castro propaganda as Cuban-Americans pay close attention to the happenings in their home land. Many say they would return to Cuba if the communist regime was overturned. Schaefer, 2006) In education, Cuban Americans have collage graduates rates twice as high as other Hispanic groups in the U. S. Many Cubans come to this country already high educated and skilled, but even second-generation Cubans fare better in school testing than other Hispanic people. (Schaefer, 2006) Cubans have created strong affects on the economy, especially in Miami. Immigrants turned Miami into a town booming with activity and economic strength. (Schaefer, 2006) Dominicans are often forgotten as they are grouped together with Cubans or Puerto Ricans as they come from the same region.
While the Dominicans came to this country for similar reasons as the other Hispanics groups – political and economic unrest – they immigrated much later than their counterparts. Now, more than 1 million Dominicans live in the United States. (DR1, 1996) Statistically, according to the United Nations Subcommittee on Human Development, Dominicans are the poorest ethnic group in the U. S. Most of the Dominicans that arrive in this country are from the rural areas of the Republic and have very little formal education. (DR1, 1996) Unlike other Hispanics, Dominicans have not assimilated to the American culture the same way as other groups.
Spanish is the language of choice and preference for many Dominicans and they struggle to learn English. They often refer to themselves as “Dominicans” only not as “Dominican Americans” regardless weather they were born in the United States or not. A common ideal among Dominicans is that their stay in the United States is only temporary in order to make money. (DR1, 1996) Generally, Hispanics of all types have very strong family and religious ties. This is the support they fall on in times of hardship and struggle.
Family dynamics may appear different than other Americans, but in fact they are quite similar. Some see a stronger family connection as Hispanics, and especially Mexican Americans keep in touch with family in their homeland and often live with extended family all in the same house. Some say that this is merely due to the poverty level among Hispanic people, not having a stronger family connection than other Americans. Differences can be seen in the political arena also, as many Mexican Americans support the Democratic Party and Cubans generally support the Republican Party.
Mexican Americans did start their own political party in Texas called La Razda Unida (LRU). It offered alternatives to the views and ideals of the Democratic and Republican parties. (Schaefer, 2006) Puerto Ricans and Dominicans also have color gradient, as in they see people on a scale of light to dark, not stark contrasts like White or Black. This is due to racial fusion over centuries with Africans and other ethnicities to create identities that struggle to find a place in the United States as they are neither, “Black” nor “White” by American definitions.
Puerto Ricans are less likely to shove people into one out of two racial groups but rather focus more on class. (Schaefer, 2006) Each group of Hispanic people has their own culture and traditions. However, they are often lumped together under the term “Hispanic” or “Latino” because of so many similarities. Poverty levels, struggles with language, and a strong tie to their own culture cause non-Hispanics to view this group as all the same. Each group – each person – came to this country for their own reasons and had different struggles at different times.
Carmona, Manuel H. (2009). Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Crucial Force in America. Retrieved from http://www.hispanicvista.com/HVC/Columnist/mhernandez/092509_Manuel_Hernandez_Carmona.htm Schaefer, Richard T. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Groups (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. DR1.com. (1996). Dominicans in America. Retrieved from http://dr1.com/articles/dominicans.shtml Ahorre.com. (2003). Mexicans in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.ahorre.com/dinero/hispanic/study/mexicans_in_the_united_states/