Undocumented Latinos: Facts, Daily Life, and Experiences Essay

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The overwhelming cases of undocumented Latino migrants in the United States have been given so much attention lately in current media as several issues unraveled like wildfire about illegal aliens. Cases of Mexicans getting caught crossing borders, students being deprived of the right for U. S. education, job posts being withdrawn, workers getting exiled, and pensions and benefits being compromised; these are just few of the issues that positioned undocumented migration under the long, agonizing limelight of U.

S domestic and foreign policies (Greenhouse 1). This research is a collection of facts and data on this issue of undocumented migration focusing on Latino immigrants. Furthermore, it presents relative experiences of migrants, their current status as illegitimate members of the society, and their ways of coping with daily life undocumented. In this light, this research argues that the considerable number of undocumented Chicanos is to stay as a trend in the United States for as long as there are opportunities that would allow them to pursue such stature.

Also, with these trends in the illegal migration of Latinos and the experiences that these undocumented migrants have accrued within the course of history, issues on legalities might just not be an issue for them for as long as they find comfort in the country even without any legal consent. There are two general types of migrants in migration literature: sojourners and settlers (Passel 183). Those who intend to dwell on the desired destination country are referred to as settlers. The sojourners, on the other hand, have a different level of attachment to the destination country.

They are the ones who intend to return home after staying for some time in the destination. In some cases, sojourners return back and forth from the destination to their home country as a result of events in their stay that might have had required them to prolong their transactions in the country, which also means better opportunities. Most of the Latinos such as Mexicans pursue a sojourner type of undocumented migration since travel is not much of an issue because of the marginal distance of their home country to the U. S (Passel 183).

However, along with these two types of undocumented migrants, another type has been coined in the literature of migration: the migrant commuters. There are cases wherein Mexican migrants choose not to reside in the United States. Instead, they cross the U. S. -Mexican border on an almost daily basis to pursue their career in the country. This however, is not as significant as the former types. Yet, this type has been considered in a quite high demand in border labor markets (Passel 183). On the initial trips of undocumented Mexican migrants, they rely primarily on social ties (Singer and Massey 561).

These social ties help them across the border. With help from ties, the probability of arrest is lessened. Eventually, as they gain more experience in crossing the border, the reliance on assistance from these ties is gradually eliminated, and their ability to cross the border becomes more independent. The decision of residing in the United States by most Latinos is predominantly caused by the broad opportunity provided by feeder networks in Mexico (Passel 184). The opportunity offers access to jobs and housing to aspiring migrants to the United States.

Since most of undocumented Latinos start as sojourner migrants, gradually, they decide to shift to being settlers. This decision is further facilitated by these feeder networks. In a study made by Lesko Associates in their Final Report, there is an estimated 8. 2 undocumented aliens in the United States, 5. 2 of which are in Mexican decent. According to Jeffrey Passels Undocumented Immigration, more than seven of these Mexican migrants in eight were adult males; less than one in eight, on the other hand, involved an adult Mexican woman or a child (Passel 183).

The vast majority of these migrants emerge to be commuters or sojourners rather than settlers. They are from what one writer has called the floating pool of labor that moves back and forth across the border in response to economic conditions (Passel 183). In the most recent study, there has been an emergence of a consensus with the number of undocumented settlers from Mexico. This consensus quantifies no more than 1. 5 to 2.

5 million undocumented Mexicans who are currently settling in the United States, and younger Mexicans are the ones who are apparently crossing the border to pursue jobs that needs younger workforce (Passel 186). Almost 21 percent of the undocumented Mexicans are under age 15; 70 percent are aged 15 to 39; and only 9 percent are over age 40 (Passel 191). There is an estimated 68 percent of undocumented Mexicans who reside in California, and a fewer 13 percent in Texas (Passel 192). These differences are probably attributable to a different mix of settlers, sojourners, and commuters.

The longer staying migrants from Mexico have a higher probability of settling in California, and those who are sojourners or commuters would probably be found in Texas. These most commonly believed jobs, which are perceived traditional and stereotypical that Mexican migrants pursue, are said to be in the field of agriculture. However, this categorization of undocumented immigrants is not the case in recent times at all. Nowadays, there are migrants representing different groups of occupation and different levels of wages (Passel 193).

In recent studies, the largest cluster of Mexicans is pursuing jobs in the field of Manufacturing. Relatively, one-third of the male migrants are in this work category, and about two-fifths are female migrants. Moreover, there are still undocumented migrants found in different sectors where they are most likely expected. There are about one-sixth of the male migrants and one-tenth of the females in agriculture and mining; one-tenth of the males in construction; and one-eight of the males in food-retailing (Passel 193).

Also, there are undocumented Mexicans who are found in other sectors in considerable proportions. About one-twelfth are in the field of wholesaling and nonfood retailing; one-sixth of female Mexican migrants are in the business and personal services; and remarkably over one-tenth of the undocumented female are in the field of finance, public administration, and professional services (Passel 193). These types of jobs are opportunities that most Mexican migrants consider highly valuable.

In an interview conducted by Leo Chavez in his journal Outside the Imagined Community: Undocumented Settlers and Experiences of Incorporation, anonymous migrant workers confirmed their higher regard to the opportunities they get in the United States as compared to that of in Mexico. Just as an interview by Chavez to Isabel Garcia (a pseudonym, for security purposes) demonstrates, even with the status of illegal settlement in the United States, it is still more favorable to reside in the United States than in Mexico. I came here because there is no work over there (in Oaxaca). Oaxaca has no factories, no large businesses to employ people.

When you do find work, its very difficult. You work from nine in the morning to nine at night for little pay and its hard to find another job. I was told that there were good wages here and that there was plenty of work for women. Right now I do housekeeping, but sometimes I do that and sometimes I dont. Its not stable (work). (unstructured interview conducted1 -15-89) (Chavez 263). One of the precautions that Mexicans do to avoid getting arrested out of their illegal status is a developed living situation that isolates them from the larger scale, a scale too risky to be in for their condition.

These undocumented Mexicans live in campsites that they consider highly secure even though it is isolated. In the interview by Chavez, Miguel Fuentez, who is residing at the same campsite as Isabel, reaffirms his contentment living in the campsite. I feel very happy here (in the campsite). Since I have always lived here I dont know where else to go. I dont even like to go to the market because if I go out, right away its back to Tijuana (because of apprehension by the authorities). So we pass the time around here roaming around, enjoying the scenery. We cant do anything else. (Unstructured interview1 -15-89) (Chavez 264).

However, there are still a vast number of migrants who reside in houses and apartments in just about anywhere in the United States. They live harmoniously within the boundaries of the country without any apprehensions of getting exiled. Jorge Diaz, self-employed cement and brick-layer and another interviewee of Chavez, lives in an apartment outside of a campsite and has established a better life in the United States. He, however, affirms that the life of an illegal immigrant still poses problems despite the comfort of living in the United States. I feel Im imprisoned because I cant go to Mexico to see my mother or my brothers and sisters.

So I feel deprived. But if I were immigrated (a legal resident of the United States),I wouldnt go to Mexico to stay. On the contrary, I plan to establish roots here. I plan to buy a house. But if I were able to leave the country, in three hours, on a plane, I could go see my mother for a weekend and then be back here with my family. (Unstructured interview1 1-20-861) (Chavez 264). Moreover, the agony of being undocumented does not end with Jorges case. Ramon Carillo, another interviewee of Chavez, further details some of the painstaking tasks that they have to go through everyday to cope with the life of being an illegal alien.

There are people who have suffered by not being able to go out. They have to buy food that is very expensive [from a lunch truck] or they dont have a lunch when they need one because they cant go out. They are afraid. (Unstructured interview1 1-20-861) (Chavez 264). All of these issues on illegality boil down to a single commonality; that is the lack of various form of state-issued documentation that authorizes an individual within or outside the confines of law (De Genova 438). For instance, the lack of a drivers license may serve as an immediate indication of a migrants condition of probable illegality of status in the United States.

These forms of everyday circumstances are the most probable forms of surveillance that seize illegal immigrants. (De Genova 438). These Latino migrants ” whether settlers, sojourners, or commuters ” and the issue on illegal migration might continue to subsist for as long as existing factors that generate this continuous trend are not thwarted by effective U. S. policy on cases of border crossing in its boundaries. These factors, such as the fervent existence of support groups, instigate illegal immigration in the United States especially on major sectors such as the Latino-Mexicans.

As cited in this research, these support groups comprise the social ties (paid coyotes, or friends, and families) and feeder networks which offer opportunities such as access to jobs and permanent residencies. Also, the job opportunities in the U. S. that seem to attract undocumented Latinos should be considered contributors to the trend; this includes the jobs that are widely offered to undocumented Latinos such as those in the manufacturing, agriculture, or mining. Provided that these kinds of jobs will continuously patronize undocumented employees, the trend will subsist.

Along with all these opportunities that these migrants deem valuable are apprehensions of possible arrest which consequently leads to exile. These apprehensions are evident in the daily lives and the experiences of the undocumented migrants. Latino communities such as campsites aid to the distress of possible arrest by providing them a chance to isolate themselves and diminish the chances of getting exiled. However, with this kind of lifestyle, there are still a lot of limitations imposed. All these support the notion that the migration of undocumented Chicanos might just continue as a trend in the United States.

This, nonetheless, is subject to the fact that all the opportunities are available, daily life and experiences are bearable, and circumstances are more beneficial.

Works Cited

Chavez, Leo. Outside the Imagined Community: Undocumented Settlers and Experiences of Incorporation. American Ethnologist 18. 2 (1991): 257-278. De Genova, Nicholas. Migrant Illegality and Deportability in Everyday Life. Annual Review of Anthropology 31 (2002): 419-447. Greenhouse, Steven. A Nation Challenged Compensation; Legal Residency Sought for Undocumented Victims Families. The New York Times. 18 December 2001. 4 December 2008

. Lesko Associates. Final Report: Basic Data and Guidance Required to Implement a Major Illegal Alien Study During Fiscal Year 1976. Washington, DC: Immigration and Naturalization Service Contract Report CO-16-75, 1975. Massey, Douglas and Audrey Singer. The Social Process of Undocumented Border Crossing among Mexican Migrants. International Migration Review 32. 3 (1998): 561-592. Passel, Jeffrey. Undocumented Immigration. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 487 (1986): 181-200.

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