A Fascinating Study on Mexican Immigrants Who Can’t Speak Spanish

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Picture a Mexican immigrant, and several images generally come to mind. The average American might imagine tacos and his or her gardener, for instance. To this, of course, would be added the ubiquitous sound of Spanish. Almost every American links Hispanics and the Spanish language together. There is reason for this; after all, most Hispanics do have origins from countries which are Spanish-speaking. With regards to Mexico, Spanish is indeed the national language. It would not be, and is not, unreasonable to assume that the typical Mexican immigrant speaks Spanish.

What happens, however, when those Mexican immigrants can’t speak Spanish?

The result is the topic of a fascinating study titled “Indigenous Mexicans in California Agriculture.” This study was “a partnership between a group of farm labor researchers and the Indigenous Program of California Rural Legal Assistance.” It is a fascinating and informative read, and I highly recommend it for anybody curious.

The Mexicans that the study examines are indigenous Mexicans – the descendants of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations conquered by the Spanish. Much like Native Americans, “Native Mexicans”  suffered enormously under their European overlords. Unlike the Native Americans in the United States, however, the indigenous peoples of Mexico were too powerful and numerous to be wiped out altogether. More than ten million indigenous Mexicans still reside in the country.

Like African-Americans in the United States, these people have suffered tremendous discrimination ever since the Spanish conquest. They traditionally have occupied – and continue to occupy – the lowest rung of Mexico’s social ladder. They are poorer, often much poorer, than the typical Mexican. Many reside in remote villages with terrible road connections. Many also speak only their indigenous languages and have trouble speaking Spanish, the national language of Mexico.

In recent years, many indigenous Mexicans have begun immigrating to the United States to work in agriculture, especially in California’s Central Valley. These are the people whom the study examines, and there are several very interesting notes in the study.

Firstly, the unfamiliarity of some indigenous Mexican-American immigrants with speaking Spanish (let alone English) greatly hurts them. It is somewhat arresting for a person to imagine Mexican immigrants unable to speak Spanish, which is why the study is all the more fascinating. These lead to some very remarkable situations. As the study states,

Some complained of outright discrimination due to the inability to speak Spanish well.  One 60-year-old Triqui-speaking woman in Greenfield complained that the foreman waved her off pretending like he didn’t understand her when she complained in broken Spanish that he was undercounting her pounds picked.   Another 54-year–old Triqui in Santa Rosa complained that other workers and foremen made fun of his Spanish language skills humiliating him in front of other workers.

Due to their weakness on Spanish, some medical clinics in Central Valley have started to hire interpreters with knowledge of indigenous languages (such as Mixteco). This is obviously complicated by the fact that there are multiple indigenous languages. The task is also made difficult because certain medical concepts simply don’t exist in the native language. The study furthers describes this problem:

In Oxnard, one highly accomplished interpreter who is trilingual in English, Spanish and her native Mixteco explained that there no words in Mixteco for numerous medical conditions such as asthma, tuberculosis, anemia and diabetes. As for women’s health, there are often no terms for certain body parts, particularly those relating to the reproductive system, or for procedures such as, for example, a cervical examination.

This is another quite remarkable situation that the study uncovers.

All in all, it is clear that these immigrants face a tremendous challenge. Indigenous Mexicans are on the bottom of the social rung in Mexico. Just imagine their social position in America – a country much richer and more powerful than Mexico. They are the lowest of the low here.

And yet, for all that, it is clear that indigenous Mexican immigrants are still much better off in America than in Mexico. The study spends much time talking about the poor conditions these immigrants labor in. For instance, almost none own houses; most rent extremely crowded, subdivided places. Here is one such picture of an overcrowded, ill-maintained residency:

By American standards, this is obviously a very hard-off residence. The immigrants who occupy it are obviously poor. The image is, indeed, meant to convey shock about the poverty of indigenous Mexican immigrants to respectable middle-class America.

Yet compare these conditions to the ones found in Mexico:

By these standards, the “poverty-stricken” immigrant in America is living in paradise. America is just so much richer that even the poorest of the poor do much better than poor Mexicans. That is, of course, why these indigenous Mexicans are immigrating to the United States. It would take something on the magnitude of the Berlin Wall to overwhelm that enormous incentive.

 

 

A Fascinating Study on Mexican Immigrants Who Can’t Speak Spanish

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Picture a Mexican immigrant, and several images generally come to mind. The average American might imagine tacos and his or her gardener, for instance. To this, of course, would be added the ubiquitous sound of Spanish. Almost every American links Hispanics and the Spanish language together. There is reason for this; after all, most Hispanics do have origins from countries which are Spanish-speaking. With regards to Mexico, Spanish is indeed the national language. It would not be, and is not, unreasonable to assume that the typical Mexican immigrant speaks Spanish.

What happens, however, when those Mexican immigrants can’t speak Spanish?

The result is the topic of a fascinating study titled “Indigenous Mexicans in California Agriculture.” This study was “a partnership between a group of farm labor researchers and the Indigenous Program of California Rural Legal Assistance.” It is a fascinating and informative read, and I highly recommend it for anybody curious.

The Mexicans that the study examines are indigenous Mexicans – the descendants of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations conquered by the Spanish. Much like Native Americans, “Native Mexicans”  suffered enormously under their European overlords. Unlike the Native Americans in the United States, however, the indigenous peoples of Mexico were too powerful and numerous to be wiped out altogether. More than ten million indigenous Mexicans still reside in the country.

Like African-Americans in the United States, these people have suffered tremendous discrimination ever since the Spanish conquest. They traditionally have occupied – and continue to occupy – the lowest rung of Mexico’s social ladder. They are poorer, often much poorer, than the typical Mexican. Many reside in remote villages with terrible road connections. Many also speak only their indigenous languages and have trouble speaking Spanish, the national language of Mexico.

In recent years, many indigenous Mexicans have begun immigrating to the United States to work in agriculture, especially in California’s Central Valley. These are the people whom the study examines, and there are several very interesting notes in the study.

Firstly, the unfamiliarity of some indigenous Mexican-American immigrants with speaking Spanish (let alone English) greatly hurts them. It is somewhat arresting for a person to imagine Mexican immigrants unable to speak Spanish, which is why the study is all the more fascinating. These lead to some very remarkable situations. As the study states,

Some complained of outright discrimination due to the inability to speak Spanish well.  One 60-year-old Triqui-speaking woman in Greenfield complained that the foreman waved her off pretending like he didn’t understand her when she complained in broken Spanish that he was undercounting her pounds picked.   Another 54-year–old Triqui in Santa Rosa complained that other workers and foremen made fun of his Spanish language skills humiliating him in front of other workers.

Due to their weakness on Spanish, some medical clinics in Central Valley have started to hire interpreters with knowledge of indigenous languages (such as Mixteco). This is obviously complicated by the fact that there are multiple indigenous languages. The task is also made difficult because certain medical concepts simply don’t exist in the native language. The study furthers describes this problem:

In Oxnard, one highly accomplished interpreter who is trilingual in English, Spanish and her native Mixteco explained that there no words in Mixteco for numerous medical conditions such as asthma, tuberculosis, anemia and diabetes. As for women’s health, there are often no terms for certain body parts, particularly those relating to the reproductive system, or for procedures such as, for example, a cervical examination.

This is another quite remarkable situation that the study uncovers.

All in all, it is clear that these immigrants face a tremendous challenge. Indigenous Mexicans are on the bottom of the social rung in Mexico. Just imagine their social position in America – a country much richer and more powerful than Mexico. They are the lowest of the low here.

And yet, for all that, it is clear that indigenous Mexican immigrants are still much better off in America than in Mexico. The study spends much time talking about the poor conditions these immigrants labor in. For instance, almost none own houses; most rent extremely crowded, subdivided places. Here is one such picture of an overcrowded, ill-maintained residency:

By American standards, this is obviously a very hard-off residence. The immigrants who occupy it are obviously poor. The image is, indeed, meant to convey shock about the poverty of indigenous Mexican immigrants to respectable middle-class America.

Yet compare these conditions to the ones found in Mexico:

By these standards, the “poverty-stricken” immigrant in America is living in paradise. America is just so much richer that even the poorest of the poor do much better than poor Mexicans. That is, of course, why these indigenous Mexicans are immigrating to the United States. It would take something on the magnitude of the Berlin Wall to overwhelm that enormous incentive.

 

 

Why Do So Few Americans Immigrate to Australia?

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In the minds of most Americans, Australia is a great place. The land down under has beautiful weather, a booming economy, and sights ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to kangaroos. What’s more, the culture and the language of Australia are as similar to the United States as any other country in the world, with the exception of perhaps Canada. What’s not to like about living in a country where everybody has cool accents?

Why, then, do so few Americans bother to immigrate to Australia?

Below is a very interesting table, taken from the 2006 Census in Australia (the exact table can be found here). It lists the top countries of birth for Australians:

Country of Birth Persons Australia                                        14,072,946 England 856,940 New Zealand                                    389,463 China (excludes SARs and Taiwan Province) 206,591 Italy                                          199,123 Viet Nam                                       159,849 India                                          147,106 Scotland                                       130,204 Philippines                                    120,538 Greece                                         109,988 Germany                                        106,524 South Africa                                   104,128 Malaysia                                       92,337 Netherlands                                    78,927 Lebanon                                        74,848 Hong Kong (SAR of China)           71,803 Sri Lanka                                      62,256 United States of America                       61,718

(Note: An SAR of China is a Special Administrative Region i.e. Hong Kong and Macau.)

America places very, very low; there are sixteen entries (not including Australia) which send higher numbers of immigrants than the United States. In fact, there are more Sri Lankan and Lebanese immigrants to Australia than American immigrants to Australia.

What’s doubly strange about this is that it’s not as if Anglo-Saxon countries don’t send immigrants to Australia. England sends the most immigrants out of any other country to Australia, followed by New Zealand. Other European countries, such as Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Germany also send lots of immigrants to Australia. All of these countries are dwarfed by America’s population, and yet Australia receives much more immigration from them than from the United States.

Australia is a very small country in terms of population; more people live in Texas than in the entire country of Australia. It is also a country with a very high number of immigrants; about one-in-four Australians was born outside of Australia.

For now, it seems, very few of those immigrants will be Americans.

 

 

Why Do So Few Americans Immigrate to Australia?

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In the minds of most Americans, Australia is a great place. The land down under has beautiful weather, a booming economy, and sights ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to kangaroos. What’s more, the culture and the language of Australia are as similar to the United States as any other country in the world, with the exception of perhaps Canada. What’s not to like about living in a country where everybody has cool accents?

Why, then, do so few Americans bother to immigrate to Australia?

Below is a very interesting table, taken from the 2006 Census in Australia (the exact table can be found here). It lists the top countries of birth for Australians:

Country of Birth Persons Australia                                        14,072,946 England 856,940 New Zealand                                    389,463 China (excludes SARs and Taiwan Province) 206,591 Italy                                          199,123 Viet Nam                                       159,849 India                                          147,106 Scotland                                       130,204 Philippines                                    120,538 Greece                                         109,988 Germany                                        106,524 South Africa                                   104,128 Malaysia                                       92,337 Netherlands                                    78,927 Lebanon                                        74,848 Hong Kong (SAR of China)           71,803 Sri Lanka                                      62,256 United States of America                       61,718

(Note: An SAR of China is a Special Administrative Region i.e. Hong Kong and Macau.)

America places very, very low; there are sixteen entries (not including Australia) which send higher numbers of immigrants than the United States. In fact, there are more Sri Lankan and Lebanese immigrants to Australia than American immigrants to Australia.

What’s doubly strange about this is that it’s not as if Anglo-Saxon countries don’t send immigrants to Australia. England sends the most immigrants out of any other country to Australia, followed by New Zealand. Other European countries, such as Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Germany also send lots of immigrants to Australia. All of these countries are dwarfed by America’s population, and yet Australia receives much more immigration from them than from the United States.

Australia is a very small country in terms of population; more people live in Texas than in the entire country of Australia. It is also a country with a very high number of immigrants; about one-in-four Australians was born outside of Australia.

For now, it seems, very few of those immigrants will be Americans.

 

 

Court’s Ruling on Anti-Immigrant Law Undermines Our Values

On September 29, the Federal District Court in Birmingham upheld most of the sections of Alabama’s draconian immigration law in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, et al. v. Bentley, et. al., and blocked some significant elements of this far-reaching law. The decision made by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn clearly undermines the most fundamental American values of fairness and equality in that state. The law under review is considered by many civil and human rights activists and immigration advocates to be the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country.

Some of our partners have expressed a deep concern regarding  the federal court’s ruling. Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said that “[t]his decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.”  The SPLC, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and other members of their coalition are appealing the decision. 

In fact, the judge upheld a section of the law that requires local law enforcement to identify a person’s immigration status during arrests or traffic stops if an individual appears to be undocumented. The court also refused to block a requirement that public schools verify the immigration status of children and their parents. The judge, however, blocked other provisions of the law that would make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to work or to attend or enroll in public universities. 

Several states have attempted to implement similar laws that potentially exacerbate economic woes in already troubled times, and their residents know the dire consequences such measures could bring. Advocates concur that, even though it’s crucial to fix our broken system at the federal level, the state’s new anti-immigrant law will cause more problems than solutions. 

Unfortunately, draconian anti-immigrant laws and proposals are the product of a concerted effort in states across the country that seeks to demonize immigrants. Now more than ever, it is imperative to move a pro-immigrant narrative forward.  We at The Opportunity Agenda work to construct a common-sense dialogue on immigration, and our research and experience tells us that a pathway to citizenship that will expand opportunity to everyone is possible.

Here are our talking points on immigration and other resources on the Alabama law:

 

 

 

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