Non-Citizen Immigrants

Overall, immigration and rights for non-citizens is an ongoing problem in the United States. There are so many rules and regulations for non-citizens, legally. Even when Hispanics do have their “papers” or citizenship they are automatically assumed by many in American society that they don’t. These assumptions are stereotypes perpetuated on Latinos.

The United States, over the last few decades, has become increasingly concerned about immigration across the US/Mexican border and is starting to become quite selective about who can and cannot obtain citizenship.

To begin with, we must acknowledge the differences between certain types of immigrants, migrant workers, and what it means to have these labels. According to Anne Shea, “The H-2A visa classifies farm laborers as non-citizens and ‘non-immigrants.’ This classification bars workers from the status of both ‘citizen’ and ‘immigrant,’ effectively ensuring their continued alien status within the United States, and establishing formal barriers to naturalization” (Shea 125). This definition shows the difference between those who are brought to the United States as workers and those who immigrate to the United States on their own. The people who are brought to the United States in the H-2A program do not have an opportunity to apply for citizenship, with the threat of being deported at any time, while those who immigrate to the United States and are not a part of the H-2A program do have the opportunity—although this does not mean that obtaining the citizenship is easy. Interestingly, the migrant worker does not necessarily need to be in this category—Estrella is a prime example of this. Though not everyone in Estrella’s family United States citizens, Estrella was born in the United States and, therefore, is considered to be a "legal;" however, her status as a citizen cannot keep her from the migrant life that she finds herself in.

Due to the animosity that surrounds immigrants or non-citizens, especially when attempting to apply the different labels that immigrants have, the discussion of the issue becomes quite complicated. Shea states that labeling people as ‘illegal aliens’ “reflects a long history within the United States in which immigration law has been racially discriminatory but also the manner in which citizenship has been defined as white” (Shea 129). Shea’s observations reveal the separation between citizens and non-citizens, or relating more to the Viramontes novel, whites and non-whites.

Works Cited

Shea, Anne. “Don’t Let Them Make You Feel You Did a Crime”: Immigration Law, Labor Rights, and Farmworker Testimony.” MELUS Spring 2003: 123-144.




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