Thursday, 30 January 2014

Hispanic/Latino Immigration

American Studies Blog Week 3

With an awareness of the issues raised by Huntington, find, post and analyse any TWO websites dealing with Hispanic/Latino immigration, one PRO, one ANTI. Compare how they address the issues. Look for advocacy websites, with a strong point of view, not news reports.

            In his paper, “The Hispanic Challenge”, Samuel Huntington, a conservative political scientist, makes it clear that he fears that if Mexican immigration were to continue at the current rate, America would no longer retain its nature as an English-speaking country with a core Anglo-Protestant culture, but would instead become a nation of two cultures and two languages: an English-speaking America and a Spanish-speaking America. He provides several reasons why this would be the case, the main one being the scale of Hispanic immigration, which has led to Mexican-Americans no longer considering themselves a minority, and thus no longer feeling the need for cultural assimilation. How far do the two websites under discussion here reflect these fears about the impact of Hispanic immigration and what policies do they recommend for dealing with the issue?
            The American for Immigration Controls (AIC), founded in 1983, describes itself as an “American non-partisan grassroots activist organization”. Its general aim it to stop and deport what it calls “illegal aliens” who sneak across the border into the United States from Mexico. It strongly advocates the strict enforcement of current immigration laws and secure control of the border by the federal government so as to “secure our nation from terrorists, drug smugglers, and illegals”. It believes this can be achieved if the government increases funding and manpower for law enforcement organizations and US border control. The AIC has very similar views to Huntington, asking how many more immigrants America could “educate and assimilate into our land” without “destroying the cohesiveness of our language and culture”. It claims that the “The great American “melting pot” has begun to melt down” and criticizes Senator Ted Kennedy and the Johnson administration for passing the 1965 immigration law that brought about huge waves of immigrants. It concludes by stating that if action is not taken to stop immigration, “the United States will be united no more!”
            The American Immigration Council (also AIC) is a pro-immigration organization whose self-proclaimed mission is to “strengthen America by honouring our immigrant history and shaping how Americans think and act towards immigration now and in the future”. In addition it claims to exist so as to “promote the prosperity and cultural richness of our diverse nation”. It hopes to achieve this by means of education through the information it provides, and by supporting immigration policies/laws that reflect what it believes are American values and that honour fundamental constitutional and human rights. It defines its fundamental position as the belief in the dignity of an individual that should know no boundaries and a conviction that America’s moral and ethical values must be reflected in the way the country welcomes immigrants. It clearly has no concern about the possibility of the U.S. becoming divided into two separate communities by greater Hispanic immigration, and it does not put the enforcement of border security at the top of the agenda.
            What is interesting to note about both websites is that they seem to ignore the issue of the political aspects of this debate, and focus instead on the practical and ethical issues created by Hispanic immigration, legal or illegal. But the impact that Hispanic immigration has had on the U.S. in terms of politics is evident, as seen in the importance of the Latino vote to Obama’s election and re-election as President. Hispanic voters tend to favour the Democratic party rather than the Republicans because the Democrats have historically had a more relaxed attitude to immigration, which is still the case today. It could be said that conservatives such as Huntington and the AIC website are aware of this, but nonetheless they do not overtly make such views public, and resort instead to masking their political concerns by focusing on the possibility of two different nations arising in America, so as to induce fear among their supporters and sway public opinion in the Republican party’s favour.
            So we can see that Hispanic immigration is a key issue not only in terms of cultural assimilation but also in the field of politics. This makes it an even more controversial and complicated issue. Nonetheless, an article from the Immigration Policy Centre (IPC, the research arm of the American Immigration Council) is very persuasive in arguing that the enforcement of laws is not a solution. It rightly claims that those who lobby for the enforcement of laws fail to recognize or rather ignore the fact that the current immigration laws do not work, and that it is only reform of immigration policies that will stop illegal immigration. I agree that the problem is fundamentally a practical one and that any solution to dealing with Hispanic immigration must be workable, given the huge number of illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. Their presence makes the U.S. already a divided country (between citizens and non-citizens), which Huntington says he fears will be a future possibility. The real problem is how to solve the problem of those already inside the country illegally in a way that does not encourage even more Mexicans to want to cross the border in the future. Mass deportations aren’t a realistic option here. The best way to do this would be to make Mexico a more attractive country to live in, and the U.S. could probably do more to help. It is these kinds of practical solutions that need looking at, rather than people just supporting or opposing immigration as a principle, possibly with the hidden aim of promoting a political agenda.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Hispanic/Latino Immigration

Latinos United for Immigration Reform (LUIR) is a website in favour of Hispanic/Latino immigration. They describe themselves as a “campaign led by Latino leaders and organisations from across the political spectrum, representing business, labor, community, faith and civil rights advocates coming together to urge the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that is based on the following principles: provides earned legalisation and a path to citizenship for hardworking undocumented immigrants and their families; Promotes economic growth by creating workable legal immigration channels aligned to the needs of our economy while upholding labor protections; Preserves family unity and reduces family backlogs; Restores the rule of law through smart enforcement that improves safety, prevents discrimination and respects due process.”
The website uses facts in order to argue claims made by people like Huntington are simply not true, for example, Huntington quotes Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican in Tucson, Arizona, as saying that he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of the South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work”… and the high level of immigration from Mexico sustains and reinforces the prevalence of Mexican values among Mexican Americans. The website however evokes the fact that during the 1990s immigrants developed more than one-third of Silicon Valley high-tech start-ups and that Between 50% and 70% of the nation’s 1.2 million agricultural workers are undocumented, and U.S. citizens will generally not take such jobs, even in difficult economic times.
Americans for Immigration Control (AIC) is an American non-partisan grassroots activist organisation with more than a quarter of a million members; which further add that they are citizens of all races, creeds, and colours. The organisation was founded in 1983 and promotes “stopping the millions of illegal aliens who sneak across our border from Mexico every year.” 
The organisation summarises itself as being about encouraging concerned citizens to join in their efforts to secure America’s borders, not, however, before astutely stating their collective anger at Mexicans dubbing them “illegal aliens” and typecasting said people as terrorists, drug smugglers, and simply illegals. The AIC further states, “If we don’t take action now, the surging flood of legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America will soon form a majority in California and the Southwest. Some of these Latino militants are already organizing to form those states into a new nation called AZTLAN. If and when that happens, these United States will be united no more!”

Although the LUIR gives valid and well constructed points in its advocacy for Hispanic/Latino immigration, its would appear that should they ever encounter a group such as the AIC not much would seemingly be resolved since the American for Immigration Control typically demonstrate a hispanophobic attitude, thus issues such as those raised by Huntington will persist.

Hispanic/Latino Immigration

Pro-Immigration Website -

I have chosen this as my pro-immigration website for Hispanic/Latino's as they aim to fight for the rights of these people through the legal system by laws and bills. They are primarily based in Chicago, and help to create  policies to help improve quality of life for Hispanic and Latino people within the area. They aim to use the community and means of education to improve the lives of the Hispanic and Latino community, and to fight the segregation from this community and others in the area. 

There are some key programmes they have developed in aiding Hispanic's and Latino's. The first of which is a VAWA, which stands for Violence Against Women Act, which advocates that those who have been victims of domestic violence can be entitled to immigrate into the United States in order to live free from violence and fear. Another programme is for immigrants to be able to bring their families into the country with them, so they can be together and reunited. 

However, this website is not without it's criticisms. To gain help from this organisation in legal matters, you have to be prepared to pay a fee, as you would if you were looking for legal assistance elsewhere. This therefore suggests that this is not so much a charity, but a company, despite using volunteers. Therefore, although it is pro-immigration, it would suggest that it is only for those who can afford it. However, this organisation does help to create a good sense of community within Chicago for Hispanic and Latino immigrants, especially through the use of community projects. 

Anti-Immigration Website -

The Minuteman Project is composed of a group of people, who operate within the law to support the enforcement of the law. They advertise themselves as being "multi-ethnic" in their mission statement, in order to avoid being called racist. Founder of this project, Jim Gilchrist, is a veteran of the U.S Marine Corps, which draws on the national pride of the forces, and is a keen republican. He claims to have set up the project as a result of frustrated efforts to get the government to enforce existing immigration laws. 

The Minutemen can often be seen patrolling the border between the US and Mexico, as a deterrent to those who may be immigrating through the border. They are completely opposed to the idea of aiding illegal immigrants by providing them water, and there have been reports and claims that they have been violent towards illegal immigrants crossing the border. 

One thing I found humorous about this website was the link to donate money to this project, with suggestions up to $5000! The website doesn't really seem to put across a good argument, it seems to mainly be helping people to identify how and where people may immigrate into the country. They also seem to be mainly focused on illegal immigrants, and fails to recognise that many Hispanics and Latinos are actually legal in the US.

For pro-Hispanic/Latino immigration, I have chosen the advocacy site MALDEF, which stands for Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The website is laid out in a clear and professional manner. MALDEF aims to help immigrants and Latinos assimilate into American society and become a productive, and protected, part of it.
Unlike Huntington's article, which sees America as founded solely upon the values of white, British Protestants, MALDEF states that immigration is at the core of American identity, thus acknowledging the fact that the citizens who contribute to what America has become come from all over the world. MALDEF also strive, through their project Truth in Immigration, to refute the stereotypes that have arisen about Latino immigrants, both legal and illegal. In his article, Huntington states that Latinos are lazy and uneducated, but MALDEF have proved that they see education as important. It was due to MALDEF that Latino children of illegal immigrants were able to go to public school for free in Texas. They also promote fair employment practices, showing that Latinos are hard-working and do have a use for education. MALDEF creates a picture of immigrants who have come to America seeking a better life, but who are held back by prejudice, stereotypes and unfair practices, not by their own failings as Huntington's article suggests. The use of videos, accounts of law suits MALDEF has helped win, and the professional tone of the website make it very convincing.

For anti-Hispanic/Latino immigration, I have chosen the website V-Dare, the most famous collaborator of which is anti-immigration activist Peter Brimelow. Like MALDEF's website, the site is clean and professional in layout. However, the 'about' page fails to say anything describing what the organisation does, instead relating the story of Virginia Dare, who was the first English child to be born in America. To me, this seems like it is skirting the issue of what the website is really about, which is immigration, as if they are afraid of admitting what they are arguing for. Looking deeper, it can be seen that the page is advocating the superiority of the early white settlers. The Native Americans are mentioned, but nothing written about the way in which their land was taken from them. Instead, speculations that the 'lost colony' to which Virginia belonged assimilated with local Native Americans, are used to subtly mock people who believe in multiculturalism - such as calling them naive and fantasists. The writer is taking examples from history, which superficially makes it appear that what he says has credence, until it becomes obvious that his historical anecdote has nothing to do either with his argument or what the website is about. He also states that "immigration enthusiasts" are ignoring the statistical consequences or immigration, yet he also ignores them by not using any statistics.

Similarly to MALDEF, the people who write for V-Dare see themselves as victimised by the stereotypes that surround them. In their FAQ section answering the question "Is V-Dare white nationalist?" they stress that they are just civilised, reasoning, educated people who love their country. They then go on to attack anyone who might call them racist, saying that the term is just used by liberals who are losing an argument. Hiding behind this attempt at humour suggests that they know their position against Latino immigrants is racist, but are unprepared to admit it. Some of their arguments are convincing on the surface - such as the protest that they are just being stereotyped instead of listened to - but underneath they seem to avoid talking about the real issues and have no substance to their arguments, and nothing to back them up.

Border Patrol Websites
The anti website that I have found is simply called “US Border Force,” a group open for members to join, that contests issues with immigration into the USA. The website contains its own mission statement in which they explain their desire for tighter restrictions on who can get in the country. Terrorism, crime, welfare fraud and a burden on health care are cited as factors in which America struggles to host as many as “4 to 10 thousand immigrants entering the country everyday.”
The group aims to make their views heard in Congress by polling, petitioning and lobbying, mainly on the Internet, but also on a grass roots level. There is even a newsletter that can be read and downloaded on the webpage, however after checking the date to be Summer 2011, it is hard to imagine its popularity. The group is clearly well known to some politicians, with those who have particularly strong views on the subject such as Ron Paul having quotes on the page for visitors to look at.

The website is convincing in the sense it is clearly a high functioning group that post regular updates and blogs to keep their opinions strong and present in their follower’s minds; however when looking at some posts, the views they express can come across as overly dramatic and exaggerated such as a picture of headstone signifying the death of America.

The website that is more positive about the border patrol is the page people can go on to apply for a job as a patrol agent. As a way of recruiting more members, the website is clearly quick to show the successful work that goes on, with a success story about a woman who stopped a family of illegal immigrants getting into America on the homepage. They show the people who work there to be welcoming to those who enter legally and able to stop those who try to get in illegally, as a way of preventing terrorism.  As I would have expected, the webpage is unsurprisingly patriotic in its claims of protecting America, but unlike the website above, it is quick to compliment the work that the Border Patrol Agents do.
Customs and border force has been running for over 10 years now and is responsible for patrolling 7,000 miles of land between the USA and Canada, and more importantly Mexico. The process of working for the border force requires fitness and drug testing and a long series of interviews.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

K-12 Web Project on Immigration

American Studies Blog Week 2

For your post, locate and analyse any K-12 (American school system) web project on immigration. Does your choice follow the Melting Pot, the Salad Bowl, or the Tapestry-Mosaic?'s%20fair/face.html

             Using the analogy of a tapestry or mosaic to describe the nature of American society and culture is felt to be appropriate by those who believe that just as individual threads of different colours can be woven together to form the picture in a tapestry, or fragments of stone of different shapes and colours can be combined to make the picture in a mosaic, so the different ethnic groups and subcultures in American society join together to create a unique national identity. The K-12 web project on immigration made by the Kennedy Center, an institution that provides schools across the United States with teaching materials and classroom support etc., clearly reflects a belief in this concept, as is very obvious in the opening sentence of the lesson plan which states that “American culture reflects a mosaic of all the many cultures that make up the United States.” This makes it relatively straightforward to analyse the lesson plan in detail to show how it provides further evidence for this belief, but it also raises the question of why children in the United States are increasingly being taught in this manner today.

The learning objectives of the lesson plan make it clear that the primary aim of the project is to expose children to different cultures by teaching them the words, music and foods of different immigrant groups in the hope that they will go on to “Express understanding of the value of diversity in a poem or drawing”. This reflects the importance that is attached to teaching children to recognize and celebrate the different cultures that are to be found in America today, something that clearly corresponds to the concept of the mosaic and implies that there is some overall grand design, some kind of harmony to be found amid the diversity. The suggestion that those being taught should listen to or read the poem “Face to Face” by Anita E. Posey in class is clear and irrefutable evidence that the project/plan follows the Mosaic concept, since the poem is preoccupied with convincing listeners or readers of the rightness of the idea of accepting and celebrating different cultures.

On reflection, it is not that surprising to find that this web project on immigration embodies a belief of the American society as a Tapestry-Mosaic, since there are powerful forces in the U.S. today that wish to see those who will soon become citizens adopt an attitude that allows them to embrace its diversity. This can be attributed in part to the fact that the older concept that represented America as a melting pot has been refuted on the grounds that it was more representative of the ideology of “Anglo-conformity.” Here the election of Barack Obama as President in 2008 can be seen as contributing powerfully to this change in attitude among many adults, and therefore also in the education system.

K-12 Web Project on Immigration

The K-12 web project based on immigration I chose to look at is from Walworth Jt. District #1, Walworth, Wisconsin. The school has created a task in order for its students to gain an understanding of what it was like for people who immigrated to America during the years 1890 to 1920.

The project consists of four sections; A Timeline, A Boy’s Journey, Tours of Ellis Island, and An Immigrant’s Friendly Letter. The task explains that the students are to create a timeline of American immigration, read and listen to first-hand accounts of what it was like to immigrate to America, read a story about a young boy named Seymour Rechtzeit who left Poland to journey to America in 1920, and to create a fictional immigrant and write a friendly letter to a person living in the country that they emigrated from in order to explain what it was like to immigrate to America during the years 1890-1920.

The project allows the students to grasp a full understanding and appreciation of immigration into America during said time. Certain aspects of the project, such as the story ‘A Boy’s Journey’, is introduced to further increase their knowledge in a way that is more personal and relevant to the students since the story is about a boy around the same age as themselves.

The project concludes on describing America as ‘a true “melting pot”. We are a country rich in ideas, tradition, and customs, which have come from the thousands of immigrants who have made the journey to America.’ Thus, the students concluded from the project that they perceive America as not so much like the salad bowl or the Tapestry-Mosaic, but the more traditional notion of a cultural melting pot with a homogeneous society.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

K12 Project on Immigration

This link I have found is to a K12 project on immigration from the American Immigration Law Foundation, and details a lesson plan for teachers teaching this subject. It is packed full of activities to get the students involved and actively learning about it. The task is aimed at 4th to 8th graders, set over a couple of weeks. The objective of the project is stated as "To make the study of immigration a meaningful experience for my students and to give them the opportunity to discover how important the immigrants have been to our culture." I feel that this is a great objective, as it gives students the opportunity to go away and find out about immigrants in a way that impacts them, by having them find out about their own heritage to show how important immigration was and still is to the United States.

An example of a task each student is asked to complete, here it is an Immigrant Profile

Tasks within the project include getting the students to use the Ellis Island website to find the origins of their ancestry, and interviewing relatives to find out about their own personal history. Part of the project is re-enacting the moment of immigrants coming over to the USA, giving students a chance to experience what it would have felt like. The end result of the project is each member of the class giving a short presentation on their findings about their own heritage through immigration, and why immigration is important. This is a brilliant way to get students physically involved with discovering the importance of immigration, getting them interested in where they individually come from and how immigration plays a vital part to American heritage and culture, by getting them to think about it on a personal level. 

In terms of whether this project looks at immigration from the viewpoint of either the melting pot, the salad bowl or the tapestry-mosaic, I think that this completely depends on the approach taken by the teachers and the findings of the students. If it leans towards more of one than the other, I feel that melting pot may be the approach here, as it emphasises that although all the students have unique backgrounds, they have all blended together as Americans within the classroom. The difference which may arise between the heritage of some students may however point more towards the tapestry-mosaic theory, showing how the mix of cultures co-exist in society, but do all fit together. 

K-12 Immigration Project

This is a web project made by a 10th grade American History Class. It covers from 1607 to the present day, which shows that school students recognize immigration as a present thing, rather than something purely historical.

One of the sections of the project is titled "Assimilation? If so, to what degree?" The fact that assimilation has been used in the title suggests a presumption that immigrants would and will assimilate and become like those who were born in America - or as the project writers refer to them the "normal population of America". This supports the 'melting pot' theory. However, it does mention that some immigrants retain their own languages and customs, which would support the tapestry-mosaic theory, with people retaining their individual cultures, but working as part of America. The conclusion that it draws is that some immigrants will become fully Americanized, whilst others will still hang onto their customs and language.

In another section, it is implied that the only way to really get along in America is to become fully Americanized - "Everybody that came here wanted to assimilate as fast as they could and become Americans". Again, referencing the melting pot. It is as if that is the only way for the immigrant to get along in America, even if as a theory it is not achievable. It also suggests that those who looked different from the "average" Americans, i.e. white English-speakers, had a harder time. It is written in the project that "when the[y] saw someone who was different racial tensions occurred", suggesting that some of the tensions were based on skin colour, although this is not explicitly stated.

Web Project on Immigration

The web project on immigration I have looked at is from a Nevada school in which students are encouraged to look into the laws on immigration in America and decide for themselves what the legislation should be. The project provides a brief historical overview explaining European immigration in the colonial era and a more modern overview of people from all around the world coming to America.
What is useful about this project is it’s ‘Issues to Consider’ section where both positive and negative ideas are expressed. Like many, I have always thought that the main appeal of America to immigrants is the economic prosperity that it promises however, as explained in the project, “cultural differences and language barriers” often get in the way of integration, rendering the ‘American Dream’ of earning good money much more difficult. An argument it also brings up is how prosperous is the economy anyway in modern America? This is an interesting point seeing as this was the main factor for immigration in the 20th century, however recently America’s economy has ‘matured’ and the possibility for “rapid economic expansion” have been somewhat dimmed.

With that in mind the class are asked to propose their own legislation for an immigration policy, focusing on: how many immigrants should be admitted? Should it be restricted to certain nations/races? How to enforce such policies? The class is split into three groups: immigrants, lobbyists and commission members, clearly as a way of getting the views from every angle to see which one is strongest. What is interesting is how they are advised to weigh up what was thought of immigration in the past, and how it is presented in modern day America.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Jackson's post copied to new blog - Redneck America

The Redneck Playground

The website I have chosen to look at is ‘The Redneck Playground,’ a site that is aimed at ‘rednecks,’ a term often used to describe white, southern and usually male Americans. The website is keen to establish redneck views and morales and also shows off some of their favourite things: guns, girls and cars.

I have heard the word redneck used many times to describe southern Americans, however I was unaware that a term I thought to be derogatory towards these people has actually been inherited by them as a title. The website is quick to banish stereotypes and has a picture of “what society thinks rednecks do,” showing a picture of the KKK, and a picture of “what they actually do,” showing them outdoors living off the land and then driving big cars. There is a feature laid out similarly to the Bill of Rights called “what a Redneck believes” with the first point being “I like big trucks, big boats, big houses, and naturally, pretty women.”

The ‘second amendment’ of this false Bill of Rights is their defence of the right to bear arms. This is what is most striking about this website and is the strongest definition of their identity in my opinion. Phrases such as “a gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone” and “if guns cause crime, then matches cause arson” seem very alien to me and suggests that this is what is keeping their identity in a bad light. Their belief that man has the right to bear arms is an example of why society thinks of rednecks in this way.

Ellen's post copied to new blog - Jewish American Identity
I have chosen to discuss Jewish Americans, and have located the AJC website, which is the Global Jewish Advocacy. Although called 'global', it was founded by Jewish Americans. They are dedicated to helping support Jews worldwide, which suggests that their identity as Jewish is more important than their identity as Americans. They don't seem to draw geological boundaries. Yet, on their page on Immigration Reform, they talk about how America is kept strong by supporting the right of immigrants. This shows that they have considered their identity as Americans. However, it is a view that might be thought un-American by others. For an example of this, the Americans Against Illegal Immigration Facebook page has a lot of overtly patriotic quotes, images and videos, showing that the American identity is bound up with not accepting people they consider to be outsiders.

There seems to be a constant struggle to reconcile hanging onto one's cultural past and also having an American identity. AJC executive director speaks of a "pluralistic yet socially cohesive America", which gives a view of America as lots of fractured identities trying to work together as a whole. This suggests that there is no one identity of 'American', but that each individual must construct their own identity out of many factors.

I found what the woman they are interviewing said about identity to be particularly interesting. She is against 'hyphenated America' in that she doesn't see why she should have to choose one particular identity out of the several that she has.She also refers to the place that she grew up in as being a "melting pot". She has embraced all of her possible identities, although whether she has allowed them to be subsumed under the one identity of 'American' is unclear. That is what the 'melting pot' would be all about, that nothing matters except being an American, but the fact that she is proud of her mixed heritage suggests that people still want to hang onto their individual identity beyond just being labelled as an American.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

African American Women

This organisation is called the National Council of Negro Women. It was established by Mary McLeod Bethune in 1935. It main aims were to provide women of African descent to be able to have equal rights and opportunities to be able to make a better United States.
It provides the resources needed to support young girls through their schooling and lead them into higher education and college and have a career. This is especially important as research shown by has suggested that African american communities are likely to be in poverty, as 45% of black children are reported to be in poverty. According to Janice Ferebee, BPDC Director, “Girls of African descent in the 21st century are faced with challenges that threaten their future including poverty, low academic achievement, poor self-esteem, teen pregnancy, high drop-out rates, media exploitation, sophisticated cyber bullying, and lack of positive leadership and mentoring.  and so the program is very important in helping these girls out of these situations. It has indeed successfully managed to provide girls with education and information about their health, as it addresses obesity rates within poverty ridden communities where it is most highest - for example in the state of Mississippi where it is the poorest and obese st state.   
Organisations like these show that there is a long way to go to enhance equality or even equal opportunities in the USA, as even though there have been civil rights from the 1950's and women's rights from the 70's these seem to not reflect the lives of many African American women. This shows their identity is more than being an 'American' as they are mostly seen as 'African American Women' and this is important as the ideals of having an American identity or what is defined as one, i e being free/equal opportunities is not naturally applied to them as it is to other 'Americans'.