American history dates back in the early 16th and 17th century when immigrants started to stream in American and inhibiting the country not only economically, but also socially and politically. This paper will examine the effects of this kind of immigrant effect with close emphasis on the Mexican American. The role of administrative organs to curb the effect of the immigrant will also be examined and scrutinized. The relationship between the various groups in America especially between non-Hispanic whites and Mexican American will be analyzed into details. Lastly, the political and economic shifts witnessed in early 1920s will also be focused on.
Mexican Americans are also referred to as Mexicans and are the Americans of the Mexican descent. These Mexicans account for almost 12.5 percent of the United States total population. Most of these descended from the indigenous Europeans mostly the Spaniards and peoples of Mexico. Mexican Americans faced discrimination because of their ethnicity, poverty, culture, race, and because of using the Spanish language. This goes a long way to show the discrimination levels that were very high and very prevalent (Martha 11).
The Mexican Americans faced great tribulations, discrimination and trials because they still remained true to their briefs, cultural history and values. They were conservatives who migrated into the United States to escape from violent acts in their land due to Mexican Revolution. They migrated into the south Western area of the United States where they worked in high jobs that were demanding as laborers but were poorly paid and they then started to migrate to the Midwest in search of higher wages. The Mexican Americans were very proud people and this led to the high rate of discrimination towards them. They seriously believed in their ethnicity and researched and studied their history. They therefore clearly understood their history very well and hence safeguarded their original culture and therefore the non-Hispanic whites discriminated greatly against them. They did not give up their cultural individuality and they finally were able to colonize the southwestern part of the US (Barrow and Rouse 83).
The Mexican Americans faced great prejudice from the non-Hispanic whites. They were viewed and termed as worthless and lazy people who did not deserve any fair treatment or even justice. They did not deserve the benefits of the Americans according to the Americans. The prejudice feelings that they faced from the Anglos were so severe and serious but also the Anglos were known to be mean, greedy and conceited by the Mexican Americans. The Mexican Americans were known to belong to the second class citizens and were therefore to be segregated from the whites. In business, some and in fact many of the businesses did not serve the Mexican Americans. Other businesses served them together with the blacks such that the segregation was so serious. This segregation led to residential redlining and segregation which led to poor living conditions in places of high poverty rates (Allan and Maurguerite 1).
In schools, the children of the Mexican Americans faced severe segregation from the whites. They were segregated in classes and also in the schools. The whites did not find any reason of the Mexicans obtaining the higher education. Generally their education was quite poor. The reasons for the segregation in the schools include poor equipment, inadequate resources, shortened school years, limited access to higher learning, disproportionate expulsion, suspension, harassment and the non-enforced rules of attendance, and the failure to prevent the prevalent drop outs. The non-Hispanic whites viewed the Mexicans as a threat to their deserved wealth, well-being and good living (Policy Institute of California 1).
During the California Gold Rush, the Mexicans were more experienced than the Americans and had great success in mining the gold in California. The Americans intimidated the Mexicans with violence. Between the years 1848 and 1860, the lynching of the Mexicans was so immense because of the threat they gave to Americans. On 5th July 1851, Josefa Segovia a Mexican woman was lynched by being accused killing a white man who had broken into her house and tried to assault her. This shows us that the discrimination was so severe even in the judicial and political aspects. The Mexicans were denied the right to own lands and were displaced from their lands. They were denied the right to natural resources and were politically disenfranchised (Samuel 27).
In terms of race and ethnicity, the Mexican Americans were discriminated against and were not even recognized by the Census Bureau up until the year 1930. Previously they were only classified as whites and sometimes as other races. The Mexicans organized unions which would fight on their behalf, these were like the Mexican-American war then in 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe and in 1853 there was the Gadsden Purchase and all these extended the territory of US. These wars help us to realize the magnitude of the discrimination. Mexican Americans are of Hispanic ethnic group. They were monolingual, bilingual or even multilingual. The Spanish language that they used was thought that it would have way in the English culture of America. It is argued that the large number of linguistic homogeneity would erode the supremacy of English as unifying language in the country; it would also weaken the cultural values and would promote allegiances that are ethnic over the primary identification as Americans (Allan and Maurguerite 1).
The Mexican Americans were segregated even in the places that they lived. They lived under poor living conditions because they were thought to be of second class level in all that they had to do. The government gave them little attention and gave all attention to the non-Hispanic whites who deserved it at that time. The Mexican Americans were discriminated against because of their illegal immigration to the United States in the early periods. It was due to their behavior that they were discriminated against. The level of immigration grew higher raising the concerns of the Americans and could not allow them to enter United States. The Mexican Americans were mostly staunch Catholics and this brought adverse effects on them. The Americans discriminated against them due to this. The other territories were of people who were purely Protestants and this brought another difference that was tangible and very severe. They were often referred to as Indians by the Anglo Americans (Policy Institute of California 1).
They were also referred to as strike busters by them because they made their wages to decrease at a very high rate. The owners of the companies could not employ them at the same wage rate because the Mexican Americans were offering quite cheap labor to the same companies. This was quite serious and an economic and social reason for the resentment. There were also increased crime rates, violence and vagrancy. This was totally blamed on the Mexican Americans who had immigrated into the region. This made them to be resented because they caused the delusion of the moral standards in the area. This was however just a thought and had not been proved by any research but was just prejudices against the Mexican Americans. This led to the call of controls of the Mexican migration by the city chambers of business and commerce, nativist organizations, local welfare agencies and from the labor unions in the United States. They even went a higher notch and proposed Bills to regulate their coming in and limit their immigration but they were not ratified (Samuel 41).
The Repatriation Program was founded due to the massive unemployment of the Mexican Americans and they were forced out of the United States. This brought out the idea that they were only needed when their labor was needed. This was discrimination of the Mexican Americans but they obeyed and left though they left behind the families that they had started while in the United States. The use of Spanish language was becoming widespread and it was a threat to the Americans. This was especially due to the intermarriage between the Mexican women and the immigrant males and their children learnt in Spanish. This would eventually erode the indigenous language. The politicians and nativist scholars The Dillingham Commission said that Mexicans were not desirable as the future citizens of the United States. Politicians and Nativist scholars feared mongrelization due to the by-product of contact with Mexicans. In 1925, a Princeton economics professor spoke of the future removal of Anglo Americans by intermarrying with Mexicans (Allan and Maurguerite 1).
The themes emerged again in 1928 when the congressional committee tried to set the limits on immigration from the western side hemisphere. The Congressman named John Box called for the restrictions on the prevalent Mexican immigration because he believed that the Mexican was the product of interacting with the Spaniard and the so-called "low-grade" Indians. The mixture, according to him, was a great and defendable obstacle to positive participation in the American democracy. The Mexican Americans are thought to be simple minded. It was even proved by test scores that the Americans were much better than the Mexicans. This as they said was due to cultural differences as well as genetic differences. They concluded that they were lower than animals and this was really hurting to the Mexicans but they could not give up and insisted on staying on and fight on for their rights. They achieved these much later. Mexican Americans were concentrated in the states that formerly belonged to Mexico (Policy Institute of California 1).
California, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas though they start creating communities in Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and other nations that are steel producing. Most recently, Mexican illegal immigrants have become the largest part of the workforce in industries such as meat packing throughout the Midwest, in agricultural products in the southeastern United States, and in the construction, landscaping, restaurant, hotel and other service industries throughout the country (Barrow and Rouse 85).
There were legal workers unions which Mexican-American workers affiliated themselves with besides the integrated umbrella of unions. The significant union struggle involved Mexican-Americans in the United Farm Workers' long strike, go slows and boycott aimed at grape growers in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys in the late 1960s. Its struggle forced César Chavez and Dolores Huerta into national prominence transforming from a workers' rights organization that helped workers get unemployment insurance to that of a union of farm workers almost overnight. The identification of Mexican American has also changed markedly throughout these years. Over the past hundred years Mexican Americans have championed for voting rights, voiced their concerns against educational and employment discrimination and advocated campaigning for economic and social advancement (Samuel 44).
At the same time many Mexican Americans have struggled and worked towards defining, maintaining and preserving their community's identity. In the 1960s and 1970s, some Latino and Hispanic student groups flirted with nationalism and differences over the proper name for members of the community Mexican Americans, or Hispanics became tied up with deeper disagreements over whether to integrate into or remain separate from mainstream American society, as well as divisions between those Mexican Americans whose families had lived in the United States for two or more generations and more recent immigrants. During this time rights groups such as the National Mexican-American Anti-Defamation Committee were founded (Barrow and Rouse 87).
Many of Mexican immigrants and the Mexican Americans heavily relied on and frequently relied on traditional medical practices and beliefs in resolving their health problems up until the first decade of twentieth century. In most situations, the physical ailments were easily eliminated or alleviated by the herbs or any other natural remedies or medicines. This was highly discouraged by the Americans who sought qualified medical practitioners. This shows a social reason why they were discriminated against. The Mexican Americans did not manifest congenital diseases that were group-specific but the rates at which they contracted certain maladies were considerably above the national average in the United States. Some of the diseases were more evident among some sectors of the population of Mexican American, while others were more common to the entire community (Allan and Maurguerite 1).
The incidence of diabetes was greater in the obese persons and through several studies it was proved that one-third of all the Mexican Americans fell in that category. This was the highest rate among the Hispanics living in the United States. Among the age group of 45-74, 23.9% had diabetes. The poor eating habits and the inadequate diets gave rise directly to this prevalence (Chávez and Torres, p. 235). The Americans feared that they would contract these diseases by interacting with them and this is why they discriminated against the Mexicans.
According to studies, 14% of all AIDS cases in United States occurred in the Hispanic community and by interacting with them; they were 2.7 times more likely to be infected with the virus than the Anglo Americans. The Mexicans were thought to be more alcoholic. Alcoholism afflicted Hispanics at three times the national mean. Mexican Americans suffered the highest rates. The alcohol abuse is 8% to 12% higher for all the age groups among the Mexican Americans as compared to the "non-Hispanic whites" in this category (Policy Institute of California 1).
The largest frequencies happen in those families of very low economic stability, and many of these afflicted are among the Mexicans. Cirrhosis of the liver is a prevalent cause of death for many specific individuals who abuse alcohol. The high frequency level for this disease is 40% higher among the Mexican Americans than among the Anglo Americans. This was another reason why they were discriminated against. Political participation of the Mexican Americans has been limited by discrimination in the past. In the early Southwest that is before 1910, a few number of Mexican Americans held official offices in state and territorial legislatures in Colorado, California, and in the New Mexico. However, these were often handpicked by the supreme Anglo Americans of the regions. In some other cases, Anglo American businessmen and business people who controlled the mines, railroads, and large ranches were more supreme than the local politics and state of the Southwest in the United States. The prevailing political structure was often manipulated to benefit these vested interests. During these first decades of the early twentieth century—to ensure Anglo American political control—Mexican American’s participation in the voting process was maintained at a low minimum level by the use of various discriminatory devices. Restrictive policies were among literacy policies, the poll tax, all-white primaries, and even coercion. In this atmosphere, only a few Mexican Americans were able to vote (Allan and Maurguerite 1).