How Immigrants Deal with Discrimination Research Paper

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Race, Class, and the Immigrant Experience


Jose Angel N.’s “Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant” is a tale of an undocumented migrant whose circumstances typify the influence of the migration policy issue in shaping illegal migrants’ lives. Though the author earns upward economic and social mobility by doggedly pursuing education, his life is characterized by a shaky personal and legal limbo which serves to eclipse his occupational and academic successes. This stance definitely doesn’t convince all audiences of the need for a more empathetic immigration policy. In the end, the book might best function as a fine accompaniment to other undocumented migrant-related researches and literature for scholarly audiences (Emily 470). American migrant experiences are closely associated with individual migrants’ nationalities, socioeconomic standing and race. The writer bravely tackles a few stereotypes specific to Mexican migrants, in a candid and personal manner. Migrant stereotypes have remained a grave issue, whether in the case of Second-World-War era Japanese Americans, Chinese migrants employed on Western railroad lines, or Irish migrants towards the nineteenth century’s close. A discussion on immigration interweaves complex class and race connected issues (Moraine Valley 2). In this paper, undocumented migrants’ immigrant experience will be reflected on in relation to their class and race.


The US takes pride in being an immigrant-formed country, with an extensive history of effective absorption of individuals from all over the world. Migrants’ and their later generations’ effective integration has played a significant role in the nation’s rich, ever-evolving culture and economic vitality. The nation has accorded migrants and their offspring a chance to improve themselves and incorporate themselves fully into American society; in return, migrants have embraced American citizenship and identity, playing an important role in protecting the nation by serving in the armed forces, harvesting the nation’s agricultural produce, promoting technological innovation, and enriching all aspects of the nation ranging from its art and music to its cuisine and universities. The year 2015 marks a half-century since the 1965 Immigration Act (signaling the start of the latest mass immigration age of America) was passed. The act served to do away with the limiting quota system established during the 1920s, opening up legal migration to every nation worldwide and setting the scene for a drastic growth in migration from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Concurrently, the act limited legal migration from Western Hemisphere nations, thereby restricting immigration across the United States’ southern boundary, setting the scene for increased undocumented border-crossing. While the 1965 Immigration Act epitomized the 60’s era’s progressive ideals, the system the act gave birth to hampered integration prospects for certain migrants and their offspring (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and Committee on Population 1).

Limited physical mobility and opportunities

As José Ángel lacks a travel visa, he is unable to visit his home country, Mexico, without risking the life in America for which he has striven so hard (Marlan para 19). Laws limit the physical movement of undocumented migrants – they aren’t entitled to a driver’s license and risk the chance of not being able to enter the United States again if they cross its borders. While the shared travel restriction might appear to be a minor form of punishment suffered from one migrant generation to another, it is crucial to promoting their upward mobility and providing them avenues for building cultural capital. Undocumented migrants experience limited domestic travel ability as well, on account of the risks linked to driving without licenses and the risk of deportation. International travel is even more difficult as their re-entry into the country would need to be in the form of a clandestine crossing of a progressively more militarized border (Enriquez 944-950).

At one time, people dreamed of coming to the US and were drawn by its promise of an improved life and prosperity. This promise brought droves of individuals from their motherlands to America, where they wished to start afresh. The nation welcomed migrants from across the globe and accepted them as a part of America, whose diverse culture signified its melting pot. The American dream was built on innumerable anecdotes of individuals who came to the country with nothing, but bettered their life here. Based on what side of the subject a reader’s thoughts are on, Jose Angel’s book sheds light on the stereotypes facing America’s illegal immigrants. Despite the multitude of illegal immigrants from across the globe who come to the US, only one population segment has been addressed. The tale represents those who ought to be provided a chance at working for their dream. This account doesn’t only depict the author’s life but that of other similar individuals as well. It really accords readers a chance at understanding and hearing the viewpoint of numerous undocumented individuals who simply desire to live in America and fulfill their American dream.

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They aren’t the freeloader stereotypes who merely wish to take and not give. They are the sort of individuals who desire a part of that life which makes America great; they desire a good education, family, a fine job, and to participate in everyday society. Even for individuals enjoying the experience of a life with the benefits derived from hard work, Jose Angel’s honest reflections speak of the humiliation linked to living undocumented “in the shadows” and their imprisonment in their own life (Bowles para 5-7). Undocumented workers’ vulnerability arises largely from their clashing legal standing. A majority of undocumented workers state that employers readily hire them as well as safeguard their rights, but they are basically restricted from working or residing in the US. Research scholars have shed light on the many impacts of this conflicting situation that worsens undocumented workers’ vulnerability and their hesitance to claim their extant rights. Firstly, migrant workers, akin to average low-salaried workers, clearly frequently lack adequate knowledge on work-related laws in the US. Linguistic barriers and the absence of culturally apt information reinforce the barrier (Gleeson 565).

Undocumented migrant pupils also struggle for opportunities by means of complex networks of social, policy, cultural, and political contexts. They are discriminated across contentious lines of class, geography, racialization, and most notably, citizenship. Furthermore, undocumented migrant pupils typically hail from households participating in the labor context (for instance, migrant agrarian workers) associated with restricted educational trajectories (Gildersleeve and Hernandez 2). Racial prejudice consistently creates and replicates economic and social disparities along ethnic/racial lines, intrinsically being the basic cause of the disease that overlaps other marginalization and oppression forms, thereby impacting migrants’ wellbeing. Research on the subject has underlined several elements of racism; an increasing number of studies concentrate on the link between wellbeing and individually facilitated racism. In particular, researchers emphasize everyday racism experiences.

Migrants claim opportunity, in general, and economic opportunity, in particular, is their key motivating factor for migration to the US. Other factors include improved personal and familial ?scal security and the means to better fulfill their basic requirements in the US. Mexico’s low wages and the US’s greater earning potential serve as strong incentives. But beneath this façade of economic opportunity is a profounder concern for the overall family unit, rather than for personal economic progress. A majority of men attempt at improving their children’s, wives’ and dependent parents’ lives as well (DeLuca, et al 118).

Lack of true freedom for undocumented immigrants

Akin to several other migrants, José Ángel also cites financial reasons for migrating to the United States. Like a few fellow migrants, he pursued the American dream— he learnt English, worked hard, and pursued a collegiate and university education. However, he failed to achieve true freedom, which is what undocumented migrants stand to achieve via the immigration reform. But this dream is probably not one that will come true in the near future. Ángel suggests that the absence of a chance at adjusting his legal standing gives rise to the following two potential outcomes for him: The idea of facing the first course – being separated from his family – is something intolerable for him. The second option – of shifting his family back to Mexico – proves nearly just as distressing (Marlan para 4-8). Migrant reception’s legal framework either channels them towards, or blocks them from, opportunities within their host society. With immigration-limiting attempts via stronger border enforcement or more stringent entry requirements typically ending in failure, the governments of receiving nations have been striving towards preventing additional migration through curtailing the rights of new migrants as well as their social service and employment access and increasing surveillance on them. Undocumented or irregular immigrants form the main target populations of such efforts. Still, an emphasis on the legal difficulties of migrants might cause one to underestimate the contribution of aspects like ethnic/racial background in shaping their experiences in the US. Therefore, researches conducted in the U.S have noted that racialization projects as well as immigration policies usually frame groups that share a similar background into one single “other,” overlooking key within-group disparities (e.g., Latinos….....

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Works Cited

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DeLuca, LA, et al. \"United States-Mexico Border Crossing: Experiences and Risk Perceptions of Undocumented Male Immigrants.\" Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health, vol. 12, no. 1, Feb. 2010, pp. 113-123. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10903-008-9197-4.

Emily R. Crawford, \"Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant by José Ángel N.,\" American Journal of Education 121, no. 3 (May 2015): 470-474.

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Gleeson, Shannon. \"Labor rights for all? The role of undocumented immigrant status for worker claims making.\" Law & Social Inquiry 35.3 (2010): 561-602.

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Horner, Pilar, et al. \"I put a mask on” the human side of deportation effects on Latino youth.\" Journal of Social Welfare and Human Rights 2.2 (2014): 33-47.

Marlan, Tori. “The Immigrant\'s Dilemma.” Chicago Reader, Chicago Reader, 18 July 2018, Web.

Moraine Valley. “One Book Text: José Angel N.\'s Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant.” Moraine Valley, 2016, Web.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and Committee on Population. The integration of immigrants into American society. National Academies Press, 2016.

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Provine, Doris Marie. \"Institutional racism in enforcing immigration law.\" Norteamérica 8 (2013): 31-53.

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