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US Immigration: Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Philippines Essay

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Updated: Jan 25th, 2022

Introduction

Immigration statistics for the last few decades show significant changes in the United States’ “foreign-born population” in terms of socioeconomic, racial, and gender factors (Grieco et al. 2). Historical and up-to-date comparisons of immigration from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines can explain current trends, significance, and relevance of various factors influencing immigration and related processes in the United States.

Main text

Interestingly, the first wave of Mexican immigrants is connected with the US-Mexican war after which “Californians went from living in Mexico to living in the United States” (Stephen 66). The next waves of Mexican immigrants are mainly connected with internal demand for the workforce in the United States. Agricultural, transportation, and mining industries in the southwestern part of the United States needed Mexican workers in 1910-1930 with a pause due to the Great Depression (Stephen 68-70). The next wave refers to the period when World War II began and the “bracero program was created to alleviate wartime labor shortage”, but it finished only in 1965 (Stephen 72). After increased wage levels in the US agricultural industry in 1970-1980 cheap workforce from Mexico was in need again. Consequently, for a family reunion, the number of Mexican immigrants including illegal ones is significantly risen every year from the 1990s until now which poses a problem for the United States and demands new controlling requirements.

The origins of Philippines immigration lie in its historical and political links with the United States Philippines used to be first annexed by the United States in 1989 and then an insular area of the United States from 1934 until 1946. Speaking in favor of annexing the Philippines, Beveridge declared that “the United States served humanity as well as its expanding commercial empire in the Orient” (370). Therefore, during this period the flow of people from the Philippines to the United States was significant, though, not presented in number as being migration, not immigration. The second wave refers to the period after World War II, with 17,245 people in 1950-1959 compared to 4,099 people from 1940-1949. After the year 1965, the figures raised dramatically reporting 337,726 people in 1970-1979 compared to 70,660 people in 1960-1969. This increase relates to abolishing national origins quotas in 1965 (“2013 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics” 6).

Finally, Puerto Ricans are US citizens since 1917. However, in his speech given to the Associated Press in 1936 Campos demanded “retreat of the United States armed forces from Puerto Rico” and accused the United States of seeing Puerto Rico “not as a nation, but as island property” (27). The increase of Puerto Rican migration to the mainland started after World War II due to economic hardships, and never stopped as “in 2008 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 51.6 percent of all persons of Puerto Rican origin lived in the continental United States” (Duany 207).

According to Grieco et al., the origins of the most foreign-born population in the United State were European before 1960 and Latin American and Asian for the last 55 years. This shift is explained by “amendments to the Immigration Act in 1965 that abolished the national origins quota system” (Grieco et al. 3).

Nowadays, immigration statistics show the following: for the period 2000-2009 immigrants from the Philippines made up 5,3% and from Mexico 16,5% of the total immigrant’s number in the United States (“2013 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics” 10). Among the Latinos, Puerto Rico in 2008 ranks second after Mexicans with “4.2 million people of Puerto Rican descent residing stateside” (Duany 207).

In terms of cultural and racial factors, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are united in the Latinos or Hispanics group, which is not a minority in southwest states now. Hence, the change of this group perception by other states is needed. As to socioeconomic factors, Mexicans have to support their families back home; therefore, they send more money than Puerto Ricans. It can be explained by the fact that “Puerto Ricans are covered by unemployment and disability insurance”, they can apply for “Social Security, Medicare, and veterans pensions”; therefore, their standard of living is rather high, and they “do not feel as obliged to send money to their country of origin as Mexicans” (Duany 205).

The immigration statistics also show a trend of age change. Grieco et al. report that “in 1960, over half (55 percent) of all foreign-born were aged 55 and over, but by 2000, 20 percent were in this age category” (13). Besides, by 2000 two thirds of foreign-born were aged 18-54. Comparing Latin American countries, including Mexico and Puerto Rican, and Asian, including Philippines, Grieco et al. speaks of almost the same median age, yet contrasting these countries to the foreign-born in Europe as the figures state that “by 2010 81 percent of the foreign-born from Latin America and 73 percent of the foreign-born from Asia were under age 55 compared with 55 percent of the foreign-born from Europe” (14). Therefore, currently, immigrants to the United States are not only Latino American and Asian by origin but also young by age.

Conclusion

Although driven to the United States by some different internal political reasons, young immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, and migrants from Puerto Rico mainly seek workplaces and better living standards in the United States. From a historical perspective, the United States government and industries favor newcomers when economically needed.

Works Cited

2013 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. PDF file. 2014. Web.

Beveridge, Albert. “Defense of American Imperialism, January 1900.” Ideas and Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy. Ed. Norman Graebner. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964. 370-372. Print.

Campos, Albizu. “Speech Given Before the Associated Press, 1936 “Puerto Rican Nationalism.” Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings — An Anthology. Ed. Roberto Santiago. New York: Random House, 1995. 27-29. Print.

Duany, Jorge. “To Send or Not to Send: Migrant Remittances in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.” ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 630.1 (2010): 205-223. Print.

Grieco, Elizabeth, Edward Trevelyan, Luke Larsen, Yesenia D. Acosta, Christine Gambino, Patricia de la Cruz, Tom Gryn and Nathan Walters. The Size, Place of Birth, and Geographic Distribution of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 1960 to 2010. Web.

Stephen, Lynn. Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007. Print.

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