Immigration is not a recent phenomenon yet we talk about it a lot these days.
It is important to remember the reasons that got attracted first immigrants to the USA, the country of freedom and diversity, in the first place. A lot of people wanted to escape war, poverty, religious persecutions (the Pilgrim Fathers) and saw, still see today, in America the nation of opportunies. A better life. A better job. A chance to start living a new and good life. To start from scratch and climb up the social ladder. It also brings cultural advantages (food, language...) for the American nation itsel, preserves its good reputation and shapes its future.
However, things are not so simple. A lot of immigrants are seen as threats, thieves, criminals and are given menial jobs, as if they were unskilled. It really tells something about America. Yet their impact on the economy is also very important : the companies need them as they consume quite a lot. All Americans may not have realised it yet but they ill-treat them while needing them in a lot of ways. Kinda ironic, ins't it ?
Even though some immigrants try to integrate in the society, a lot of them feel deeply attached to their origins and don't want to forget them. Some areas in America are even kinda split in two as for the language : in Los Angeles for exemple, most people know how to speak Spanish as it is close to the Mexican border.
I wanted to share with you a poem that was written in 1977 by Sergio Elizondo, titled She.
She speaks English,
She raps English,
She reads English,
She sits English,
Pero quiere en español,
Sueña en español,
Piensa en español,
Va a la church en español,
Juega en español,
Works in English,
Siente en español,
Drives in English,
Hace cariños en español,
Runs in English…
Se mece en las curvas de sus pasos en español.
Mira, ¡Ay!, ¡Mira! en español.Duerme, duerme chula,
Únicamente en español.
As we can see, Elizondo uses a contrast between English verbs (other words as well) and Spanish ones. Spanish actions are always linked to affective reasons ("sueña en español" = she dreams in Spanish...). We can guess that the "she", who could be any immigrant, feels split between her current life in America (for exemple), where she works, is integrated, and her Spanish roots. She doesn't want to ignore them and even though her new life is in America, her mind and heart still are in Spain. And I think this is an important aspect of immigration. Integration is important when you're moving to a new society, with new rules and traditions, but you should never forget who you are, where you come from, the country you used to live in is a part of you in the end.
In a text that we've studied in Spanish literature class, the protagonist, Pedro, who managed to go to California for a better job and better opportunies, goes back home in Zacatecas (Mexico) and tells his girlfriend about his experience in America. He thinks that American traditions are really weird and that Americans are kinda crazy even though he got used to them and their habits.
It's an interesting thing to focus on different perspectives, different cultures and on the issues that people have to face in adapting themselves to a new life style and dealing with two identies at the same time. It's not always easy and conditions can be difficult. It was particularly hard for Pedro for exemple to find a job and when he eventually did in the agriculture area, he discovered other Mexican's poor living conditions : poor and ill-treated, doing low-paid & menial jobs insufficient in supporting themselves.
Immigration has its advantages but we shouldn't forget the drawback and the hard reality that remains as for their situation.
Thanks for reading !