The number of migrants in the USA has increased in the last twenty years. Most of the migrants come from the neighboring nations. In 1970, the number of migrants in the USA increased by four folds. The Mexican and Central American migrants alone increased by twenty folds. Most of the migration from Mexico, Puerto Rica and Cuba are illegal migrants. Most of them have no legal documents. Mexicans form the largest number of immigrants (Brick and Rosenblum 2). Out of the 38.5 million people that entered into the USA, 11.5 million are Mexicans. Sixty two percents of these consist of unauthorized immigrants. The Mexicans and the Central American immigrants alone constitute about 37 percent of all immigrants in the US. Sixty percents of illegal immigrants are Mexicans (Brick and Rosenblum 2). The increased demand for low income labor in the USA led to this high influx of immigrants from the south.
According to the 2010 US Census results, Mexicans formed the biggest number of this population. Their total number was 31,798,000 followed by the Puerto Ricans 4,623,000, Cubans 1,785,716, and Dominicans 1,414,000. This shows that the percentage of Mexicans Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and Central Americans 60 percent, 10 percent, 3 percent, 2.3 percent, and 5 percent respectively. Among the Central Americans, the largest group was the Salvadorians, 39 percent followed by Guatemalans 22 percent and then the Hondurans 13 percent (Brick and Rosenblum 2).
The assimilation and integration of the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population into the mainstream US life has not been easy for these groups of people. Many differences in aspects of life exist between the average US lives. Most of the new immigrants are more distinct than the older immigrants. These differences exist in their demography, economic status and poverty levels education, occupation, social, cultural and political participation. The extent of similarity between the US natives and the immigrants is significantly low.
One crucial difference in the life of these immigrants is in the family structure. Their families are much larger than the common US families. The average family size in a foreign born Hispanic migrant family is five compared to three in the USA family. The data on marital status of the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population indicated that more than fifty percent of this population composed of married people, lived in family households. Women led household formed 17 percent of the households in this population compared to 12 percent of the total population (Angel &Tienda 510).
The 2000 Census data indicated that, the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population were younger than the general US population. The demographic data showed that the there is a difference in the sex ratio between these groups of people and the total US population. The number of females was smaller than the Hispanic males when compared to the total US population. At the same time, the median age of this group was much lower than the than the general US population. The median age for the total population in the USA was 35.4 years while that of Hispanics was 26 years, about nine years younger. The number of Hispanic under the age of 18 years and 65 years was 33 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. On the other hand, that of the general population was 25 percent and 12 percent respectively. The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans were the most likely to be younger (U.S. Bureau of the Census 5).
Citizenships of the US people determine their participation in employment, elections and political positions. The place of birth of most Hispanics is in the USA. Sixty percents of Hispanic populations has its places of birth in the USA. The 96.5 percent of Puerto Ricans were natives. Most of the populations (7 out of 10) have naturalized citizenship compared to the 9 out of 10 of the general population. 23 percents of Central Americans are natives. 41 percent of the Cubans alone attained citizenship by birth and formed the biggest percentage among the Hispanic groups (U.S. Bureau of the Census 8).
The general population of USA is literate. However, literacy levels among the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population are low. The percentage of those who have attained a high school education or more than that was more than 81 percent in 2010. Those who had attained Bachelor’s degree formed 25 percent of the total population. In general, the Hispanics are less educated than the other US population (Tienda & Mitchell 24). Only 55 percent of this group of people consisted of high school graduates. Only one out of ten had at least a bachelor’s degree.
The Hispanics have a high probability of not completing high school or college. Amongst this group, the Puerto Ricans have the highest level of literacy. 63 percents of them has a high school education, followed by Cubans 62 percent, Dominicans 52 percent, Central American 47 percent, Mexicans 46 percent, and Mexicans 46 percent. The attainment of post high school education varied among these groups of people. The Cubans topped the group with13 percent, while the Mexicans had the least percentage of about 8 percent (Tienda & Mitchell 24).
Despite that, most of these populations entered the USA in search for jobs; most of them are less likely to be employed than the general population. According to the 2000 statistics on the labor force participation rate in the USA, over 71 percent of all men and 58 percent of all women in the country participated in the labor force (U.S. Bureau of the Census 5). There was a higher percentage of labor force participation among the Latinos than in the general participation. It was high for Central Americans 76 percent, and lowest among the Cubans 63 percent. Immigrant women participation is much lower than that of men. In 2009-2010, the percentage of Mexican women involved in labor force was 47. There were more men than women involved in labor force among the Hispanics (17 percent difference) compared to 13 percent of the general US population. Mexicans and Central Americans had a higher gender gap than the other groups while fewer Dominican women than men participated in labor force (U.S. Bureau of the Census 5).
Participation of the second generation in the labor force is slightly different. There is smaller gender gap in these generations than in the first. Women in the second generation are more likely to be employed (62 percent) than in the first one generation (54 percent) (U.S. Bureau of the Census 7). More women of Hispanic origin have a proportionally higher chance of managerial or professional jobs than their male counterparts. Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, and the Central American men work mostly in the production, transportation and material moving (27 percent) than in the managerial or professional works (13 percent) (Tienda & Mitchell 24).
There is a vast difference in occupational participation between the general US population and the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population on the other side. Hispanic women in general have a lower percentage of employment in professional jobs than all women in the USA. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, women 16 years and above from these groups of people have a 23 percent chance of getting these jobs compared to 36 percent of all women in the country. Sales and office jobs are available to the Hispanic women almost at the same level with all women. Conversely, these women are likely to be working in the service industry compared to all women from the country.
There are more differences than similarities in the economic characteristics of the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American immigrant population. Income of a population with less than five percent of people aged 65 and above is most likely to come from earnings. In general, the economic status of these populations is low compared to the general US population. The standard of living is equally low. The median income of a family from these groups of people is lower than of the average US family. Within the group, there are considerable variations in the economic status. In 1999, the median income of the US household was about $50,000 a year while that of a Hispanic family was $34,000 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). A Cuban in the USA is likely to come from a family with an income of $42,000 highest among the Hispanics while a Dominican is likely to come from a household with an income of $28,000.
The relative earning between Hispanic male workers employed in all year round worker is lower than that of US male workers. At the same time, the corresponding earning of their female counterparts is equally low. The 1999 statistics showed that Hispanic male and Hispanic female annual earnings in the USA were $25,000 and $21,600 respectively compared $37,000 and $27,000 of US male and female worker respectively (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). The amount of income also varies between the first and the second generation immigrants. For instance, the income of second generation Central American immigrants doubles that of their first generation.
From the data, it is clear that Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and the Central American population are comparatively poor. Cubans have a low poverty rate almost the same as the rate of the entire US population. The poverty rate of this population is much more than the rate of general US population. Low education levels, poor jobs and low income among theses populations are the main cause of high poverty rate. In addition, temporal migration experienced by the Mexicans is to blame for the higher poverty levels among them.
Poverty rate in the USA was about ten percent ten years ago while that of Hispanics was 23 percent. Among the Dominicans, one out of four people live in poverty, while among the Cubans; one out of seven people live in poverty. There is high child poverty in these populations compared to the total US populations. One in every three Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans less than 18 in the USA live under poverty levels. Apart from child poverty, old Hispanic people over 65 years experience higher poverty levels than the elderly US citizens. In general old-age poverty levels in the USA was 10 percent in 1999 while that of the Hispanics was double the figure.
Poverty rate does not improve from one generation to the next. The common causes of low income, economic status and high poverty levels in the various Hispanic groups are due to the size of households and the level of education. The Mexicans have households with more members than any other Hispanic subgroup. Other factors include legal immigration status, phenotype and household structure (Schlesinger 53).
Another difference in the life of the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population from the mainstream US life is the housing and living conditions. The low income earnings coupled with lack of permanence in the jobs affect the houses the immigrants live. Apart from the Cubans, the Hispanic migrants live in rented houses. The percentage of them that own houses are small relative to the general US householders (U.S. Bureau of the Census 3). More than two thirds of the US households live in their own houses either built on their own or purchased. On the other hand, out of every ten Hispanic migrant households live in renter-occupied houses. By 2000, 80 percent of the Dominicans immigrants lived in rented houses followed by Central Americans (68%), and Puerto Ricans (66%).
There are a lot of similarities among in the culture of these groups of immigrant, but differences exist with the entire US population. The immigrants did not change the native cultural activities and religion (Schlesinger 53). Catholicism is still the dominant religion among these groups. The Hispanic culture is still dominating in their lifestyle.
Most of them maintained their indigenous languages. Only one out of ten Mexicans speaks English. More than 67 percent of the Hispanics under the age of 18 years speak a language other than English in their homes. The percentage is high in those above 18 years 80 percent for all Hispanics and 89 percent among the Cubans (Vigdo n.pg). Most of them prefer to use Spanish or one of their indigenous languages in their day to day communications between themselves, a reflection of their originality. The use of Hispanic expressions such as “Tex Mex” still persists in their language. More than 20 percent of the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American population speak English in less than well.
The political participation among the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and the Central American immigrant population is minimal compared to the non-Hispanics (Vigdo n.pg) . 28 percent of Cubans associates themselves with the Republican Party much higher than the Mexicans (28%), Puerto Ricans (11%) and Central Americans (7%). On the other hand, 50 percent of the Puerto Ricans considered themselves Democrats compared to the 29 percent of Mexicans, Central Americans and the 20 percent of the Cubans. 25 percent of all Hispanics considered themselves Independents.
The political participation in the US political is significantly small. This is due to the legal status since most of the immigrants are illegal. Most of them are unable to vote or contest for political positions. However, there are various politicians of the Hispanic origin mostly of the second generation who contested for Senators and others appointed Governors.
From the discussion, it is evident that life of most of immigrants from the Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Central America differs significantly with the common US life. The differences outweigh the similarities in many ways. Some of the differences are in languages, religion, culture, education and economic status. In summary, these immigrants have a low economic status than the general US population; they are less educated than the natives; live in rented houses and most of them are in low income jobs. In addition, their households are relatively larger and younger than the US households.