By Aby Sanchez
Higher education does not always equal liberation but having the time to invest in language and politics that affects oppressed groups does. Hispanic immigrants make up the largest portion of the foreign-born labor force. The work they do allows their children to have the time to access resources and theory that will benefit their community. Their efforts and sacrifices are going to change the world and liberate a working class group from oppression and exploitation caused by capitalism and a corrupt government.
Immigrants do the work most native-born people are reluctant to do. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Foreign-born workers continued to be more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations (23.3 percent versus 15.9 percent); natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (14.0 percent versus 8.3 percent); and production, transportation, and material moving occupations (15.0 percent versus 11.3 percent).”
These jobs immigrants occupy don’t offer benefits. Unfortunately what they do offer is low pay, long hours, no paid-time off, and bad working conditions. Hispanic immigrants’ strong work ethic and desire to support their family financially is why they continue to do this work.
Their employers and the government continuously exploit their services to make more money. Social and institutional barriers allow employers to get away with this since workers don’t have the leisure time to learn political language and learn their rights. The reality is many of these foreign-born workers are Hispanic and their efforts need to be recognized not just this month but all year round.
According to the BLS, “In 2018, there were 28.2 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force…Hispanics accounted for nearly half of the foreign-born labor force.” Hispanic immigrants have accounted for millions in the workforce, many of their jobs are considered “unskilled” by the capitalist world because they are not racking up millions of dollars from their trade. Yet capitalism and those in power thrive off of this exploitation.
A Pew Research Center (PRC) article found that many of these workers are coming from Mexico. “Mexico is the top origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. In 2017, 11.2 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from there, accounting for 25% of all U.S. immigrants.” This group has been poorly talked about in politics by the current POTUS and administration, but this group is doing the work that is making those same people rich. This work is also allowing their children the opportunity to go to college. Data form the PRC has found, “Over the past decade, the Hispanic high school dropout rate has dropped dramatically. The rate reached a new low in 2014, dropping from 32% in 2000 to 12% in 2014 among those ages 18 to 24. This helped lower the national dropout rate from 12% to 7% over the same time period – also a new low.” Children in higher education are not better than those who can’t access it or choose not to go but for many Hispanic immigrant parents, getting their children into higher education is a major goal and they are achieving it. Their work is making change already and it will create more change as time progresses.
As a daughter of Hispanic immigrants, I see their exploitation everyday. I see their tired faces, their work ethic, their continuous sacrifices to support my education and I know I am not alone. Without this work and sacrifices made by these parents their children would not be able to dedicate time to their education and accessing political language and knowledge that will help bring justice to their community and parents. That is why I am dedicating this article to all of those Hispanic parents who are defying the odds.
Your work does not go unnoticed. I want to thank you for all that you do. You will see justice, if not in this lifetime, the next. The revolution is now and change is coming.