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A New Study Shows That Children Of Migrants Are Able To Achieve The ‘American Dream’ Within A Generation

One of the foundations of the social and historical construct of the United States of America is the idea that everyone who arrives, regardless of their race, creed or life circumstances, can build a new life. Popular media is inundated with stories of people who looked for a second (or third!) chance and became financially stable and socially respectable through hard work. Many small and large businesses are owned by migrants who made America home and have contributed to the economy. Others are as hard working as it comes! (you probably know a few share of hombres y mujeres trabajadores!). 

But migrants have also been historically demonized, even more so during the Trump administration and its iron fist approach to immigration, which borderlines racism in that it targets mostly people coming from the Global South. But the idea of migrants being a threat is old and feeds hate. However, a new study proves that social mobility is still a key element of the migrant experience. 

Science doesn’t lie! A new study argues that the adult children of migrants move up the social scale.

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A study conducted by Stanford University’s Ran Abramitzky; Princeton University’s Leah Platt Boustan and Elisa Jácome; and the University of California Davis’ Santiago Pérez  reveals that particularly the most economically challenged migrants show upward social mobility down the generations. The children of migrants do better than their parents, so the huge emotional, physical and intellectual efforts of migrants pay off down the road. The researchers gathered census data, publicly available administrative data and federal income tax data. They traced the income of millions of parents and offspring, all the way dating back to 1880. 

The results highlight a revealing fact: children of migrants progress further than the children of people born in the United States.

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It might be surprising for some, but the children of migrants advance further up the social scale than the sons and daughters of people born in the United States. In particular, this trend is present in the lowest socio-economic sectors, which shows that hard work still pays off even if the economic situation in recent times (ever since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008) has been dire to say the least. 

So what is the “American Dream” anyway?

This data contradicts the Trump administration’s populist rhetoric, which asserts that rather than contributing, migrants drain the system. The paper reveals that migrants generate wealth and inject dividends into the financial system. They are living, breathing examples of the American Dream. This term was coined by historian James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book “Epic of America”. French historian Alexis de Tocqueville defined it as “The chance of anticipated success”. The idea, which is in the ethos of the foundation of the United States, has suffered a few hits along the way, but seems to remain relevant according to the data. 

So why do migrants succeed? It goes beyond mere cultural traits.

Credit: The Ringer

Many people assume that having a strong work ethic is the only explanation for migrant success. But it is far more complicated than that. It has to do with location primarily, according to the researchers. Because migrants don’t have deep roots in the host country, they are willing to locate in the hubs where there are more opportunities.

As reported by Vox, Leah Platt Boustan, one of the authors said: “We don’t even have to reach for these cultural explanations. A lot of it has to do with immigrants being willing to move anywhere and choosing locations where there are growing industries and a good set of job opportunities for their kids. Those are choices that immigrants are making that are different from the US-born and that could be a feature of immigrant success.”

The trend continues regardless of the ethnic background, a push against racist notions that some migrants are better than others.

The researchers concluded that this upward mobility is present regardless of the ethnic background of the parents who arrived in the US. There are some pretty misleading notions that, for example, Asian immigration is “better” than Latin Americans or Africans.

This harmful notion has been perpetuated by popular political discourse, with even President Trump saying that some people come from “shithole countries” like El Salvador and African nations, while advocating for more migrants from Norway. But misconception is far from the truth, as Vox reports: “In fact, immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, and African nations such as Nigeria are all performing better than the US-born. And in past waves of immigration, immigrants from Norway actually performed worse than the US-born”. Wow, nothing like some good old social science to counter racist views. 

Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

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Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

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Tuesday marked a new era of leadership in Guatemala as the Latin country swore in Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative doctor and former prison system director from the right-wing Vamos party. The 63-year-old won the presidency on his fourth attempt back in August with bold promises of changing a corrupt government and restoring the rule-of-law in city streets. 

“Today, we are putting a full stop on corrupt practices so they disappear from the face of this country,” Giammattei said at his swearing-in ceremony that had a five-hour delay.

His ceremony somewhat overshadowed by delays and protests against ex-President Jimmy Morales, who for four years dodged accusations of corruption. The scene of protestors throwing eggs and voicing anger at the outgoing administration was a reminder of the displeasure against the country’s deep-seated political corruption. It’s also a key reason why many are looking to Giammattei to bring change to the struggling country. 

As Giammattei takes office, there are questions on what his presidency will mean to Guatemala in the short and long term as issues over the future of an asylum deal with the United States comes into focus. 

One of the biggest issues confronting Guatemala and one that Giammattei will have to address early is the Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) that was signed by Morales last July with the U.S. government. The agreement, which was highly opposed in Guatemala, lets U.S. immigration officials send Honduran and Salvadoran migrants that are requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection here instead. There is now increasing skepticism as reports say that the U.S. wants to expand the deal to include Mexican asylum seekers as well.

Last year, there were many Guatemalans that were part of a 3,000 migrant caravan that made its way up from Latin America to the U.S. The caravan consisted of people that were looking to claim asylum and became a symbol of the growing migration crisis at the southern border. President Trump frequently attacked the caravan and eventually threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala if it didn’t agree to the asylum deal.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute, “as of Friday, 128 Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers had been sent as part of the agreement,” with only a limited number actually applying for asylum there and others returning home. Giammattei has previously said that he’s willing to make changes to the agreement but on Tuesday said he would revisit details later. 

The country, one of Latin America’s poorest nations, is a key part of President Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration and asylum claims. mostly from those coming to the U.S. Southern border. The issue for many living in Guatemala is how to let those seeking asylum when itself has become a major source of U.S. bound migrants. 

Poverty levels have only grown in the last 20 years and income inequality levels continue to be a big problem in the country. 

One of the big platform issues that Giammattei ran his campaign on was helping the shorten income inequality gap and poverty levels that have only grown in the last 20 years. Fifty-nine percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line and almost 1 million children under the age of 5 are believed to live with chronic malnutrition, according to the AP. 

There is also the rampant problem of street violence and cartel gangs that have had a major effect on the daily lives of many in the country. Giammattei plans to address this with reforms that include designating “street gangs as terrorist groups.”

“This is the moment to rescue Guatemala from the absurd. It is the moment to combat corruption and malnutrition,” Giammattei said on Tuesday in his first address to the country as president. “There is no peace without security, I will present a law that aims to declare street gangs for what they are – terrorist groups.”

There is hope that Giammattei will turn a new page in Guatemala that will see change come to all in the country that has faced uncertainty for years. But only time will tell if this is indeed new leadership or business as usual.

“We will bring back the peace this country so dearly needs,” Giammattei said. “We will govern with decency, with honourability, and with ethical values.”

READ: In Efforts To Double Latino Representation In Hollywood, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Unveils New Historic Initiative

Mexican National Jumped To His Death Off A Bridge After He Was Denied Asylum

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Mexican National Jumped To His Death Off A Bridge After He Was Denied Asylum

El Mañana de Reynosa / Facebook

To understand why undocumented immigrants will do everything in their power to get to the United States is to fundamentally understand what is at the core of their fears. They are not all seeking the “American Dream” or to have a better life, many are seeking to have a life free of fear and violence. For many people seeking asylum, it’s a matter of life or death. Remaining in their home countries means death, and there’s no other way of saying it. People are dying at the hands of gangs and the cartels. So, when people risk their lives to enter the U.S. without documentation, it’s because they have nothing to lose. The worst part of all is being turned away by the U.S. because some of these have nothing else to live for. 

A Mexican national in his 30s or 40s cut his throat and jumped to his death off a bridge across the Rio Grande after he was denied by the U.S. border patrol.

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The man, who has yet to be identified, committed suicide on Wednesday, Jan. 8, and according to several news reports, was seeking asylum. Reports say that he jumped off the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which is between the Mexican border city of Reynosa and Pharr, Texas. 

We attempted to reach information about his death via the U.S. border patrol. However, because the death occurred on Mexican soil, American officials do not have to comment about the death or include it in any of their reports. 

Mexican officials are investigating the death further.

Credit: El Mañana de Reynosa / Facebook

The prosecutor’s office for the Mexican state of Tamaulipas did release more information about the man saying, “He was attempting to cross to the U.S. side to request asylum. When he was denied entry, he walked several meters (yards) toward the Mexican side and cut himself with a knife.” The death occurred around 5 p.m. local time. 

It’s unclear why the man decided to take such extreme measures, but as we noted earlier, some of the undocumented people have said returning home is like facing death. 

According to footage made available to the Spanish-language publication, El Mañana de Reynosa, a video shows the man pacing back and forth on the bridge while officials attempt to calm him down.  The standoff lasted for about 15 minutes. Since the man was behaving dangerously, U.S. officials closed the gates to the border and stopped international entry. After the man jumped, the Red Cross arrived at the scene where he was pronounced dead. 

Undocumented people are facing even more hardships when getting denied asylum. Aside from “remaining in Mexico” until it’s time for their asylum hearing, some are now being transferred to Guatalama even if they’re Mexican.

Credit: El Mañana de Reynosa / Facebook

This week the Trump Administration announced that some Mexican nationals would be sent to Guatalama under near agreements between both country officials. 

“Certain Mexicans seeking humanitarian protection in the United States may now be eligible to be transferred to Guatemala and given the opportunity to seek protection there, under the terms of the Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement to NBC News.

To make matters worse, the outgoing Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said that agreement never became official. He said the U.S. would have to discuss the matter further with the new president. 

“It’s more than clear; in the agreement, it only lays out Salvadorans and Hondurans,” Morales said, according to Time magazine. “The United States has talked about the possibility of including Mexican nationals, but that they have to discuss it with the next government. In the last visit we made to the White House with President Trump we were clear saying that that negotiation had to be done with the new government.”

All of this disorganization by the part of the United States just complicates matters more for the vulnerable undocumented community. They seek to enter the United States, and getting turned away means more uncertainty than before. 

This is not the first time a person has committed suicide soon after being deported. 

Credit: @adv_project / Twitter

In 2017,  44-year-old Guadalupe Olivas Valencia also jumped to his death soon after he was deported to Mexico. He had been previously living in California, working as a gardener. 

READ: Trump Administration Plans To Send Some Mexican Asylum-Seekers To Guatemala And Mexico Is Fighting Back