The Mistreatment of Mexicans
Americans take many things for granted. For the majority of the population, life is relatively mild. People are normally not rich, but not poor, not ecstatically happy, but not too depressed either. One might say that the population generally has it easy, as compared to a large percentage of the rest of the world. It is for this reason that a great many people from other countries immigrate here. They are seeking a better life. Often, however, they get mistreated. Like the Mexican immigrants, who arrive here, only to be treated unfairly because of few opportunities, American prejudice, and Americanization. They do not come here to do harm, or to take advantage of Americans, or to do anything but find something better than their current situation. However, their experience here is often not as good as it could be.
First of all, the opportunities the Mexican immigrants are presented with are very poor. This is due in part to the fact that they "are willing to work hard for much less than they deserve" (Perea 2). So naturally, companies are going to take advantage of this. The normal available employment to the Mexicans is often so bad, as Harris points out, that is characterized by "harsh working conditions, enormous amounts of physical labor, and minimal remuneration" (190). This work, although not constantly, is often seasonal, like field work, picking fruit, and other such things that bring to mind slave labor. One man, picks strawberries for a living, at only $4.00 an hour (Ungar 137). Not only are the jobs horrible, the pay is worse. Most of the time, if "minimum wage is attained, then the worker can consider themselves lucky" because it is rare (Alexander 78). The wages for these jobs are low often because the companies know that people will go for them. Often, their workers are illegal immigrants anyway, and cannot request their rights. So whether or not the applicant is legal or not, "if they look Hispanic, then they get judged unfairly by the employer" (Nigel 46). Because of their appearance, Mexicans get judged as all the same, as Hing speculates, as uneducated, desperate, and hardworking (124). They are even sought after by potential employers because of this. One man speaks of finding some workers for a small job, saying, "I’m going to find some Mexicans for the job…they’ve got a good attitude, they work cheap, and they’re dependable" deliberately seeking out workers which he can overwork and underpay (Ungar 238).
Secondly, Mexican immigrants are badly mistreated by American prejudice. Something that fuels this prejudice is called nativism, which is "an intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign connections…a zeal to destroy the enemies of a distinctively American way of life" (Perea 1). Those that believe in nativism, nativists, are against immigration, and are especially against Mexican immigrants. They pose a great problem to Mexican...