Guest Author - Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie
Many people wonder why Hispanics immigrate to the North. When Hispanics from the lower areas of the Americas arrive, many are confused why they recall so fondly in tales the way life used to be in their former homeland. In this article, I will try to bring some understanding as to this question as well as to try to bring some light the question with an insider’s perspective. Many Americans and now Canadians do not quite understand the phenomena of Hispanics in their midst. In this lack of understanding, many wrong stereotypes are cast as well as rifts in what could be potentially a beneficial arrangement for everyone.
Let me begin dissecting this question of Hispanics migrating by telling a story that was once told to me by a friend who had emigrated from Mexico. This is a funny, yet sad, parody of the image, then reality that Hispanics in the United States deal with.
There once was a man who came across the border of The United States. He was walking, as he was poor and came to the States looking to find his fortune. About a mile or so into the States, he saw on the side of the road a one hundred dollar bill. Now this man had been walking for some time and was very tired. He thought to himself, “I am even too tired to bend over and pick this money up; I’ll just pick up the next one I come across seeing as the streets are truly covered in wealth and gold.” He never saw another dollar bill on the street again.
The idea of the story is that many if not all migrants come to us looking for a better life financially. Many times Hispanics coming to us do so with disillusioned ideas of what life in the United Stated and Canada are really like. Much of this disillusionment comes from movies and media that portray a very different life than what the average American or Canadian experiences themselves. They view life in the United States as full of potential and share the same dreams and hopes that many of us ourselves have.
The average Hispanic immigrant believes that by coming to the United States or Canada, through hard work and dedication can make a better life for themselves as well as their family. They come seeking work, education and a comfortable way of life. To be able to go to work and afford the bare essential in life and a few modest extras is the expectation. With the harbored hopes and dreams of one day owning their own home, possibly owning a business and having your family live comfortably is the dream and hope they share with those of us who already live in these lands.
Many arguments arise that these Hispanic Immigrants will come and take jobs from those who are citizens of these areas. Some look upon Hispanic Immigrants as uneducated and a burden on society. Many fears arise from the lack of understanding between the races, which live in the areas to which Hispanic Immigrants wish to relocate to. Let us look for a moment at each one of these issues without arguing the point and see if on some point each side does not have merit.
To the idea of Hispanic Immigrants taking jobs from Americans or Canadians, let us examine what types of jobs the average Hispanic Immigrant takes upon arriving to the United States. Usually as an immigrant, there is a language barrier, which must be overcome before any real opportunity can be offered, and consequently the immigrant, even if qualified to fill higher positions is usually forced into a lower position in the job market. This, in all fairness, is true of any immigrant from another country unless immigration is for the sole purpose of working in said position.
So what types of positions do these immigrants take upon coming? They take jobs such as farm workers, house cleaners, office cleaners, plant workers, seasonal workers, childcare providers, street vendors, dockworkers, man for hire and a variety of other lower skilled labor that few of us, if we are honest, would be willing to fulfill yet the demand for such services remains. None of these positions is appealing to the average American or Canadian as we have the advantage of tailored education and language that makes positions we desire out of the reach of the average Hispanic Immigrant and equally makes these positions unappealing and us overqualified.
I will agree that there is an abundance of people who could benefit from taking these positions and coming off welfare programs but the fact also must be acknowledged that these same people also look at these positions as unappealing and therefore refuse them, which is their right to do so. Many of these people rather take advantage of the system by remaining on the social service programs, which in and of itself opens up a whole new debate or upon the end of their time, accept the offer to upgrade their skills and seek a higher paying position which no one can deny is beneficial to society as a whole. This is a debate that I will pass on. I will at the same time use it to reiterate the point that with a high demand for services that we can not do without in some instances and choose not to do without in other instances are over qualified to perform or are too spoiled by the social systems which we have enacted and are rightfully to date entitled to by law. To this end then, can the debate really be held, that Hispanic Immigrants come to the United States or Canada to take jobs from Americans or Canadians? If we are honest, we can say that each of us is lucky enough to live in a land where these jobs are considered menial and opportunities abound for us in other areas so we either by choice or by qualification exclude ourselves from these areas of the job market. Yet, the demand for the services are still place upon our society by those of us who need or desire these same services yet are unwilling to fill this demand as we are overqualified for these positions, once again, thankfully so.
Like our forefather, Hispanic Immigrants come to this land and make great sacrifices to remain here. Not all Americans or Canadians have the great legacy of fighting wars. Some of the greatest wars were those who came to this country on the same ideals as those of our Hispanic counterparts. Dreams of a better life and to have the comforts as Hispanics today are seeking. The need driving them to a foreign and hostile land where at one point they were looked down upon as they took the menial jobs of service paving the way for future generations to prosper. Now as these lines have prospered the demand for services has risen and the available worker to fill the positions has diminished. A cycle birthed this country and the promise that the Statue of Liberty itself attests to. The Great American and Canadian dream of a better life. Though these two countries boast a vastly different lifestyle, the dream yet remains a reality to many of us.
Following this thought, we can move to the question of a burden on society, as we know it. As I have pointed out the providing of a vital role in our quality of life, the mere fact that Hispanic Immigrants fill these roles relieves a great burden from our society and allows us to pursue high goals while still enjoying the conveniences of having these services available. A clean house after a long days work. Fresh fruits and vegetables previously never dreamed of year round at our fingertips every time we go shopping. Affordable clothing and goods always available and reliable. Leaving the cleaning of the office to hired help, so high paid labor can focus on high technology and progressing the company’s goals. A babysitter to care for your children in house so they always have the comfort of home which is by far the best scenario, once only afforded to the elite sect of our society. The list goes on and on but the fact remains that Hispanic Immigrants not only fill these roles but do so cheerfully and efficiently.
As these immigrants work and live amongst us, they likewise pour money back into the system by becoming a consumer. Taxes are levied even upon the illegal immigrant as well as the legal when they pay taxes while purchasing as we all do. The difference is that the illegal immigrant is not entitled to the advantages of tax credits as we are nor are they offered health insurance at their place of work. In any case, the cost of health insurance is a struggle for the average skilled worker and even if offered would be out of reach to any of the service industry afore mentioned, whether they be Hispanic immigrants or Citizen born. To be sure, that in all areas and populaces there are those who will burden a society, much can be said of our own, yet the fact remains that immigrant Hispanics come to these countries in search of work and through hard work and sacrifice to contribute to the society in which they reside.
The greatest obstacle I feel for us all is the fear of not understanding each other. The fear of changes to come that we are not completely in control over. The fear of loosing our position in society to a rival. A fear of rising crime. All of these fears are valid fears, though not necessarily valid in consideration of Hispanic Immigrants.
So the question is really are we willing to take up the providing of these services or deny ourselves a style of life we have all grown comfortable with for the sake of remaining in the position of opposing the influx of immigrants into our society? I personally have benefited from these services as we all have as well as have benefited from being the offspring of immigrants as well as First Nations People, which is truly a heritage we all share. I agree with screening immigrants and do promote seeking higher levels of education for those of us who are born into these countries yet at the same time I still acknowledge that immigrants are not a threat to me as I both choose and am over qualified for the services which I desire and demand from the society in which I live.
With each migration of another race or culture to our own, we are offered more not less. We are given more strength and opportunity as a society to grow and have an even brighter future. Be cautious in how we proceed to be sure but proceed we must. The demands for these services will only increase as our children exceed us in education and income, as will the children of Hispanic Immigrants who decide to make the United States their home. As our society grows so will the demands for these services as our quality of life will surely grow better for having worked hard towards this end. So why would we not welcome, if only for a short stay, those who are willing so gladly to perform these services to our benefit?
If we can come to realize that we need the services or at least desire the services that Hispanics, through the same hardships as those who have ancestors who hale from other countries, are willing to come to our land and provide us with, then I think that the basis for acceptance on both sides can be attained. Moreover, if then, these Hispanic immigrants come, make this their home and raise viable families that contribute to the growth and strength in our communities and add the rich diversity that has long been a boasting point in both the United States and Canada, why should we feel threatened by the not so phenomenal desire of Hispanics to migrate north?
In our midst, due to migrating factions, we have a wonderfully colorful land, where the average life is easy to palette and travel within our borders offers a small taste of the world. Is it not then inevitable that we would and should see the migration of Hispanics to our land where they are both needed and desired even if we are not willing to openly admit to such?
If we accept that they come to this country much as our forefathers did, seeking a better financial life then the longing they share with each other of how things are back in their homeland will be easy to understand and becomes less offensive. After all, do we not likewise lament the passing of youth and how things used to be in our younger years? It is a revisiting of more innocent times, when life was sweeter though the opportunities were not as abundant. Then such is the way of youth.
I only hope that it can be achieved that in the Hispanic Immigration, that we would stand blameless for the attempts at forceful eradication the way of life of those who were there before we came. Hispanics only wish to come to this land, and share it with those who both have a need and unspoken desire for that which we can and surely will continue to bring with each new wave of migration. Would it not be better then to be honest and work together towards a stronger and more diversely rich, in all ways, society than to remain in opposition to that which we have ourselves created?
The answer apparent is to embrace cautiously one another. Hispanics are a product of and have been with us from the beginning. Little acknowledged also before immigration to the continent was ever begun our forefathers were here. It is inevitable and good.
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Lamentations of the Caves By Rebecca Cuevas De Caissie