Eighth graders at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School

Eighth graders, including Keaton Smith, far right, line up prior to their promotion ceremony on June 6, 2019 on the front lawn at St. Helena's Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School.

Mexican immigration as we know it today started around the 1930s and continues to this day. Why do Mexicans continue to immigrate to America and what has their influence changed? By looking into the differences between America and Mexico, why most immigrate, and the influence their immigration has had on America, the question of why immigration from Mexico to America continues can be answered. México and America are two significantly different countries. Though not geographically distant, the culture is not too similar. For one, Mexican homes frequently have financial trouble, and can’t keep a stable income for their household. This is due to jobs. Generally, adults don’t have a stable income that they can keep, and they do not get paid enough in their jobs if they have them. According to freedomfromhunger.org, “53 percent of Mexico’s population is poor (living on less than $2 per day), while close to 24 percent is extremely poor (living on less than $1 per day).”

In America, 21% (one-fifth of all working adults) are struggling. An additional financial difference is that the cost of living in México is much lower than the cost of living in America. The income to live comfortably for two people per month is $2,500. Comparably, in America, housing for a one-bedroom in the city of San Francisco, costs $3,721 every month. So the price is significantly different. Health care is also cheaper in México and supposed to be an overall better health care system than the one in the U.S.

Additionally, ethnic backgrounds are different. People in México are mostly Mestizos, which is a group of people made up of European, American, and possibly African descent. Mestizos make up 62% of the population in México. But in the U.S. we have a multi-ethnic country with mainly “white, African American, Native American/Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander, Asian, and Native Hawaiian, etc.” according to worldatlas.com.

While the two countries have different ethnic backgrounds, they also have a different way of life. As an example, the country of México is predominantly Catholic. This can change their way of life by having bigger families, getting married younger, and the daily lifestyle is heavily influenced by religion, while America is a predominantly Christian country. An additional difference is they speak a different language in México than America. They speak Spanish, while Americans speak predominantly English. “English is made of Old English, Danish, Norse, and French, and has been changed by Latin, Greek, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Dutch and Spanish,” (Wikipedia). So there is a similarity in the two languages. These are the differences between México and America.

People immigrate for many reasons, maybe they need more money or maybe they are escaping something — there are many different cases. There are lots of push factors for Mexicans immigrating to America, like poverty, corruption, natural disasters, war, gang violence, etc. Pull factors too, like America is also a thriving country which people want to live in, so they may not be escaping anything, they just want to live here. They may also have a personal connection like a job or family members that make them come to America.

In 2017, 11.6 million immigrants from México were living in the United States. This means that 11.6 million people had different reasons to come to the U.S., showing the reality of how many people are here or need to come here for some reason.

Immigration is also not easy, whether it is a journey here or the laws to keep you out of the U.S., it is one of the biggest risks you can take. The laws are strict and getting stricter on whether people can immigrate here legally. Some of the most common countries for people from México to migrate, besides the United States, are Guatemala, Costa Rica, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, etc. So this shows that people immigrate to many other countries than the U.S. They might go to these countries because they are closer to them, have less harsh laws for immigration, or maybe they have a personal connection to the country they go to. This is why people might emigrate from México and where they go.

Mexicans have had a long-lasting effect on some industries in America and have shown influence in film and other works of art. One example of their influence is in the wine industry (“Influence of our Southern Neighbor”). Because most people don’t want to do jobs like picking grapes and hard labor for minimum wage, without Mexican immigrants, the price of something like wine would go up because vintners would have to pay more for labor. Mexican immigrants will take these jobs to live in America.

Another example of Mexican influence can be found in Hollywood. A few examples are “Babel,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Children of Men.” These movies were all nominated for the Oscars in 2007. Mexican influence in America is important in certain industries and they are here to stay.

In conclusion, the reason Mexican immigration into America is still happening is because of better safety and economy, and less violence as some of the main reasons.

Due to this, some industries in America have changed, like the wine and film industry. Mexican influence is clear and here to stay, but we must also remember that the land we live on was also México’s before it was part of the United States. The history of México before America is still around us in the names of our towns, cities, and multicultural background, which all show this influence.

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Jimeneze and Uhlig are students at St. Helena’s Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School.