The Economic, Social, and Emotional Toll of Removing Temporary Protected Status for Immigrants

The Trump administration continues to take steps to remove protections from certain immigrants groups. Today, it announced that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for certain nationals of El Salvador, affecting ~200,000 immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than 15 years. They will be returning to a country that has one of the highest murder rates in the world as well as a rampant gang problem. Many of the immigrants facing deportation have U.S. born children who now face the possibility of seeing their families torn apart.

Many of these same immigrants play a huge role in farm labor. Farmers are concerned how this, and the loss of other immigration protections, will negatively affect their ability to find laborers to work their crops.

Looking at your own neighborhood and university, which of your neighbors, students, colleagues, friends, and communities are affected by these removal of protections?

Below are books that relate to how immigrants have affected their communities, how immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy, and how immigration and deportation affect children and their families. And consider using the #ImmigrationSyllabus: UC Press Edition to prepare lecture discussions for your courses discussing immigration, labor and work, race relations, families, politics, and much more.

Immigration and Deportation
Labor and Work
Children and Families

 

 


Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States

by Luis Escala, author of Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States with Rafael Alarcon and Olga Odgers

This guest post is published during the American Sociological Association conference in Seattle. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on August 23rd.

In recent times, the topic of migration has had a key role within media coverage of the US elections, particularly the case of Mexicans in the US. In this media frenzy, the anti-immigrant narrative has gained considerable significance, emphasizing the allegedly undocumented status of all this population, as well as their never-ending mobile character. While this narrative has gained considerable support among the public, much less attention has been paid to the opinions of sociologists and other scholars who have emphasized not only the contributions of Mexican immigrants to American economy and society, but also the sometimes subtle, sometimes invisible efforts carried out by them to integrate into this nation. This book aims to document the experience of many of these immigrants in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, a key destination point for millions of immigrants from all over the world, as well as to examine and explain the different ways in which this integration takes place.

For the authors, this experience involved multiple complexities that were beyond the traditional approaches on immigrant integration at hand, which led them to analytically split this concept into four different dimensions (economic, social, political, and cultural integrations), aiming to highlight the different traits and paces they involved among Mexicans in the LA region. By the same token, given that immigrant integration involves a process, we considered in our study not one but three different cohorts of Mexican immigrants, from three different regions of origin, whose arrival in LA took place at different times, thus facing different circumstances throughout the Angeleno history during the second half of the twentieth century. In addition, as Mexican scholars who work and live at the Mexican city of Tijuana, in between the American and Mexican Californias, we were aware of the multiple ties these migrants kept with their region and nation of origin, an aspect that definitely shaped their integration experiences.

But why is this important? While different politicians, anchormen, and even scholars have targeted these ties, together with their low socio-economic status, poor educational attainment, and extended undocumented status of Mexican immigrants to portray them as eternal aliens, living self-contained lives that run parallel to American mainstream society, the fact is that becoming Americans have gained considerable centrality for them. Gone were the times when circular migration between Mexican hometowns and a vast array of Californian cities was dominant, and those who arrived before or during 1986 IRCA legalized their status, and the settlement process of these immigrants took place in a vast scale. And even for those Mexicans who arrived later to the US, their aspirations and life projects were oriented towards settling in their new places of destination and integrate into their new societies. The fact was that by the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, the context of Mexican migration to the US had considerably changed, due in part to new immigration policies in the US and their severe enforcement but also to the significant rise of crime and violence in Mexico.

Throughout our interviews, Mexican immigrants provided compelling stories on the ways in which they and their families aim to integrate to the different spheres of their lives in Los Angeles. Working long hours in increasingly precarious jobs, these men and women portray not only the vast array of predicaments they cope with and their strategies to deal with the inherent challenges of living in a hugely extended metropolis, but also their aim of settling down and their quest to become one more in American society. Nevertheless, this aim involves a process that is necessary to examine in detail, for all the complexities it entails: on the one hand, they procure the preservation of their traditional culture; but, on the other, their life courses as immigrants in a new society have led them to a significant redefinition of their social and cultural boundaries.

In this sense, our book comes in handy to an array of audiences in an era in which Nativisms have amplified a particular image of Mexican migrants in the US, while obscuring or even neglecting the relevance of their aspirations to integrate into American society. Both activists and interested readers in the subject, as well as faculty and students in different fields of social sciences will find expert analysis and opinions on the socio-economic and demographic data on the immigrant population of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Region, but most of all they will find persuasive arguments through the voices of the Mexican men and women interviewed for the writing of this book.


Rafael Alarcón has a PhD in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

Luis Escala has a PhD in sociology from UCLA and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

Olga Odgers has a PhD in sociology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales-Paris and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.


What Citizenship Means to Mexican American Women in Los Angeles

Immigration has been a key issue in the 2016 presidential elections. In Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States  authors Rafael Alarcon, Luis Escala, and Olga Odgers shed light on the different facets (economic, social, cultural, political) of an immigrant’s integration process.

Alarcon.MakingLosAngelesHome

Our Zacatecan interviewees who arrived in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s were mostly undocumented. Although they entered a solid regional economy supported by a manufacturing base that offered plentiful permanent, well-paid, unionized jobs, the interviewees’ first jobs tended to be in worse-paid occupations with poor working conditions. …

Among women finding jobs in canneries processing fruits and other foodstuffs, Marcia worked in a fish-canning plant for more than three decades. But it was not easy for her to get this job in 1966: ‘I went every day with my husband, at four in the morning, to a room where everyone who wanted to work had to sit and wait . . . until we got work, and then we stayed put where we got it . . . we spent thirty-six years working there. My husband died and I kept on working to keep going. . . . When I left, in 2001, I was making $6.75 an hour. We never got ahead in there.’ 

Marcia is a US citizen, never was undocumented, and is now collecting retirement income.

As the Zacatecan interviewees began to acquire work experience, learn English, make employer contacts, and regularize their immigration status, it was found that those who became naturalized citizens or legal permanent residents were achieving relative occupational mobility at a higher percentage.

Among the business owners, Rafaela stands out. She arrived in Los Angeles in 1988, is a naturalized citizen, and is married with children born in the United States. In Zacatecas she was a cosmetologist and, although she didn’t want to keep working in this field, she needed to do so and later became the owner of a beauty salon: “I never really liked cosmetology. I did it because my mother told me I had to learn a trade. In Los Angeles, I wanted to work as something else, but talking with other women in laundromats and with my neighbors, they told me they were making $3.75 an hour. I said, I’m not working for $3.75, no way . . . some of them worked in restaurants, others in factories, one woman packed candles, another one sewed in a clothing factory where they paid her five cents per piece . . . my husband made $3.75 an hour too, which was the minimum wage in those days.

Rafaela tells how she found her first job: “I saw a beauty parlor with a sign that said ‘se habla español,’ so I went in and told the owner—a Salvadoran, twenty-one years old—I was a cosmetologist in Mexico and I wanted to work. ‘I’ve got five years’ experience,’ I said.” During the interview the owner asked Rafaela to cut the hair of three young men from Jalisco, and her work was good enough to get her hired right away. “That was Thursday, and by Sunday I had $70 in tips and $430 in pay because I got 60 percent of what I took in.” In 2008, twenty years after her arrival in Los Angeles, she owned a salon and had four employees.

Learn more about how other Mexican American immigrant women have made Los Angeles their home in Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States available now.