20th/21st Century Immigration and DMV: Blog Post #6

Young Ethopian Immigrants

This article focuses on the assimilation of one half and second generation, non-White immigrants and the creation/reconstruction of racial and ethnic identities. Ethiopian immigrants made up the largest group of African immigrants in the DC area during the 1990s, making up 25% of the population and 22% of the overall US population. To find out how this assimilation process works, author Elizabeth Chacko interviewed 20 different people between 2002 and 2003 of 1.5 and 2nd generation immigrants living in the DC area. These interviews started off small and, as a result, the “snowball” technique came into play. Interviewees ranged in age from 18 to 27 years old. Chacko writes that assimilation is successful when immigrants have the ability to identify with and feel at home in the host society, gradually being steered into “the American way of life” (493). These forms of assimilation are usually multifaceted. Chacko writes that some immigrant groups maintain their ethnic cultures and identities, while some follow a path of upward mobility and assimilation into the White middle-class. For non-Native Blacks in the US, there is a resistance to not identify with American Blacks due to prejudice. Many second generation immigrants struggle with identifying as “Black” or as “African American” because they are both but yet are made to pick. Because of this, there are inconsistent identifiers, but parents try to be active agents in reinforcing the traditional cultures. With this second generation of immigrants, culture and pride are more internalized and they are continually engaged in the process of identity creation and recreation to reflect currently lived realities.

Honduran Women in Alexandria

In this article, Allison J. Petrozziello focuses on how migrant women from Honduras send their earnings back home and that some see this as the solution, or silver bullet, to poverty and women’s empowerment. Many migrants fleed to the US due to economic havoc after hurricanes and with the introduction of economic structural adjustment policies. Worldwide, remittances have totaled around US$440.1 billion in 2010, with US$325.5 billion being sent to developing countries. Petrozziello writes that there is a feminization of migration and that migrant women have become autonomous workers who provide for their families and end up sending a higher percentage of their income home than men – women send around 19% home and men send around 14% home. She writes that there must be a gendered analysis of migration in order to understand the potential effect, change, and development that these remittances could have on Honduras. In order to see if this were true, three months of field research was done among 20 transnational families in the US and in Honduras. The 1980s saw Hondurans migrating to the US in large numbers – one million in 2010, 600,000 of which were believed to be undocumented. Of these migrants, men felt more pressure to work and provide for their families. Many women migrants came due to gender inequalities in the labor market and have experienced domestic violence, divorce, and/or abandonment by a spouse. The functioning of these transnational families relies on the reproductive labor of women in Honduras who are taking care of those that the migrant women left behind. It is believed that the reason women send more money back home is that they feel a stigma/guilt from not being there with their children. But the earning capacity is hindered by employees recruitment process, depending on males for sponsorship, which channels the women into particular jobs and roles.

Asian Indians in Washington, DC

This article discusses first generation Asian immigrants. Elizabeth Chacko writes that these immigrants are at least partially assimilated through being highly educated, English speaking, have an economic success that surpasses that of white, native US citizens, and have a strong sense of ethnic identity. Chacko writes how this FG group seeks to negotiate their identities and membership in the US and find their public and private places. These identities become hybrid, meaning that they are fluid and are constantly in the process of becoming, but are never predetermined or preconceived. Chacko explains that ethnicity is complex with multiple aspects of identity. Within these spaces, there are authentic senses of identity in private spaces. Chacko does this through interviews with 30 different immigrants from 2010-2011 who have been in the US for 17-26 years and in between the ages of 39-54. These candidates were found through personal and professional connections/networks. She goes on to discuss that there are different identities for these immigrants between the public and private spaces. These spaces can also determine ones’ American-ness or their Indian-ness. Public spaces tend to be more open and accessible to more people, but these immigrants tend to gravitate towards others who were brought up like them. Assimilation, compared to the two other articles, is done via socioeconomic integration into the middle-class society. Life, though, has changed for Asian Indian immigrants after the events of 9/11. Since then, this group has continuously had to underscore the American aspects of their identity. Chacko concludes by explaining how Asian immigrants have to develop hybrid identities that allow them to selectively embrace aspects of Indian and American cultures (126).

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