Colombian Immigration to America Nicole University Of Phoenix ETH/125 Katherine Ruberto In the early nineteenth century the first known Colombian immigrants settled in New York City. Among these immigrants were nurses, accountants, lab technicians, and pharmacists. The Colombian Civil War called “La Violencia” of 1948 where more than 250,000 people were killed in total after the popular presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated forced many to flee Colombia and settle in America. The ongoing struggle with Colombia’s government and the recession also pushed many Colombians to migrate.
Between 1960 and 1977 about 116,000 Colombians came to America. Because of the signing of the Immigration Act of 1965, Colombians as well as other potential immigrants of other countries were brought to a halt when there was a limit placed on how many visas were handed out. The fact that visas were limited to only 20,000 visas per country a year along with the high unemployment rate in Colombia put pressure on many families. Colombians that were able to come to America on a temporary based visa became illegal because they stayed beyond the allotted time. As a result the rate of undocumented immigration soared: estimates of those living in the country without permanent residency status ranged from 250,00 to 350,000 in the mid 1970s” (Sturner, n. d. ). The Immigration Act of 1965 was later revised to allow more visas to be issued. Colombians settled throughout the country in areas such as New York, New Jersey, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Washington D. C. The late 70s and early 80s brought many Colombians to Miami, Fl. that is a city that thrives on Hipic cultures and is very accepting of immigrants.
Miami is a city that most people will speak Spanish before they even speak English, so for immigrants this allowed them to communicate and learn skills easier than in other parts of the country. The 80’s and the 90s proved to be a tough time for Colombians. America became more advanced technology wise, therefore the work immigrants performed was no longer needed. Another factor hitting Colombians hard was the recession of 1981. Americans felt that immigrants were a financial burden on the country and it became a pressing issue.
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As the Guerilla violence escalated in Colombia more Colombians fled to America. During that time, my mother had been traveling to New York to visit her father and I was born there practically by accident because I was suppose to be born in Colombia. My family suffered a tragedy when two of my uncles were murdered and we received threats not to go to the police or they would take every family member out. I am the only one from my family that was born a U. S. citizen, but I recall when my mother would have to tell people that I was an American Citizen in order to receive my health care and other things.
It was like people looked at me differently because I had a Colombian last name. When I was young my mother made it a point that I learn English since I was about four years old because she knew that America was very discriminating against those that do not speak English. My mother knew first hand how limiting it is to have a degree in another country that is not worth anything here. My grandmother was a detective in Colombia, yet when we came here she had to clean houses because that career was worthless here.
Because we came during the escalating drug war that was going on, we did feel that people stereotyped us. Even today when I tell people where I am from, they say an ignorant comment about my country and the drug that it is mostly connected to. People do not know how many lives and families were innocently ruined because of a war that is uncontrollable and is still going strong today. Because of the resentment from the American Society felt towards immigrants Proposition 187 was passed which denied health care, education, and other services to undocumented immigrants.
In 1999 the federal court ruled that Proposition 187 was unconstitutional and their decision was not appealed by the state of California. I would say that I culturally identify with my Hipic roots because it is attached to my family. We all want to preserve our family roots and values so that we can pass them on to our future generation. When my family comes together we cook Hipic food and listen to Spanish music. Colombians are known to speak the best form of Spanish, which is known as “Castellano” and we have a heavy accent.
For my family it has always been important that we preserve the language since we are around many other Hipics and we tend to pick up their form of Spanish. In “Castellano” the words that we use are very different from the Spanish that a Cuban or Dominican would use. I love the American mainstream culture because I have spent the majority of my life here and grew up listening to Britney Spears, and watching Boy Meets World, and Full House. America is a great country for opportunity and although I was born here, whenever anyone asks me where I am from, I always smile proudly and say, “I am Colombian. Reference Page •Berube, Myriam. (November 2005). (Online) Migration Information Source. Available http://www. migrationinformation. org/Profiles/display. cfm? ID=344 (Retrieved Dec 4, 2011) •Sturner, Pamela n. d. (Online) Colombian Americans. Available http://www. everyculture. com/multi/Bu-Dr/Colombian-Americans. html#b •(Retrieved Dec 4,2011) •Colombia’s Civil War (Online) PBS. Available http://www. pbs. org/newshour/bb/latin_america/colombia/timeline. html (Retrieved Dec 4, 2011)
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