Coming from a life of poverty and despair would be enough cause for anyone to search for a better life; a life in which there is a belief that all of your biggest dreams can come true. This is the belief that many immigrants have about the United States. They naively believe for it to be the “land of opportunity”. Originally the United States was founded and settled by immigrants. Many immigrants, such as Mexicans, Eastern Europeans, Jews, and others from countries around the world came to America to escape war, poverty, famine, and/or religious prosecution.
Some also chose to immigrate to take advantage of the opportunities and promises that America held. One such major group of people is Mexicans. Being a border line country neighbor to a country full of new opportunities has had a major influence on Mexicans and what they want in life. “During the late eighteenth century and early to mid nineteenth century, there was a [great] migration of people from China, Europe, Canada, Japan, and Mexico moving into the United States” (Henderson, 2011). This was a time period of growth in the United States, usually referred to as the Industrial Age. Skilled and unskilled labor was bountiful at this point in time; unfortunately the pay rate was very meager. Some of the jobs that were made readily for immigrants were Coal mining, Construction, railroad work, and manual labor jobs like farming. These were some of the jobs that immigrants had to pick from upon coming to this country.
All of them were hard working jobs with terrible work conditions, that didn’t pay a decent enough wage. “The average immigrant worker would receive anywhere from a $1.25 a day to $6.25 a week, which would calculate to be a hourly wage of about 30 cents” (Henderson, 2011). Almost all immigrants to the United States around this time were generally desperate for any job that they could get their hands on to and would do anything to get it. The immigrants were so used to the terrible conditions and pay they were already receiving in their homeland, that they were content with working for less than minimum wage in America. After all, Mexican immigration into the United States has been going on for a very long time. Some of the very first Mexican’s migrated to the United States in the early 1900’s during Mexico’s Revolution. The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 and lasted until 1921.
The United States kept out of the revolution although it did supply Mexico with weapons. Mexico was full of chaos, and there was no law or order within the country. Many early Mexicans left due to this factor, and went to the United States in search for a better life. When the United States entered WWI in 1917, there was a search for unskilled workers. During this time the U.S. was very welcoming and friendly to Mexican immigrants. But, when the United States was no longer in need of the Mexican workers they deported them back to Mexico. The U.S. sent mixed signals to the Mexican immigrants like this all the time. It was believed in the U.S. by governing officials that what may be necessary and beneficial at one point in time, may not be so at another. And, they acted accordingly to this fact. Many immigrants believed that the United States represented a place where there was opportunity knocking at every door step.
And, that it was the best place to find a good job and live out the life that they or their ancestors only dreamed about living. America was viewed as an open paradise to the immigrants. Some were told by those who had already ventured to the North that the United States was a “simple life, in which one could live like a king or queen”; but in reality immigrants were treated like slaves in the new country that promised them their dreams (Gutierrez,1996). The majority of immigrants that came to the U.S. for greater prosperity came from small towns deep within Mexico that didn’t offer much opportunity or ways for the people to live a prosperous life and/or be able to provide for their families. The 1917 Immigration Act established a literacy test and head tax, but these restrictions did not apply to Mexican immigration.