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La Otra Cara de America

Book Review

 

Title:

La Otra Cara de America

Author:

Jorge Ramos

Publisher:

Editorial Grijalbo S.A., Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico, D.F.

ISBN:

970-05-1220-7

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

May, 2001

Rating:

La Otra Cara de America demonstrates how the United  States is viewed by both documented and undocumented immigrants of Hispanic  origin. The book uses a number of first-hand accounts to expain the problems  and prejudices that confront them upon arriving in America. This book is written  entirely in Spanish.

The fastest growing ethnic group in the United States is the Hispanic population. This book describes why this is occurring by examining birth rates and immigration trends. A number of chapters in the book give specific information about individuals or groups from each Spanish speaking country,  and first-hand stories by immigrants give a glimpse into their thoughts before  and after arriving in this country. A large amount of coverage is also given to the trials and tribulations immigrants encounter when trying to obtain proper paperwork, jobs, and living conditions.

Get more information at Amazon.comMany of these people encounter extensive prejudice, with even naturalized citizens being treated as illegal aliens by bigoted law enforcement agencies. Xenophobic attempts to halt the immigration influx are discussed including the infamous California Proposition 187. Several chapters show that some immigrants may not  be welcome in America, but they are unable to return to their homelands due  to war, natural disaster, and political reasons. Also detailed in this book and rarely understood by non-Hispanics are the cultural differences of the different ethnic groups and how the larger community is essentially non-cohesive in nature,  with some immigrants speaking neither English or Spanish, making their assimilation into either society even more difficult. The first-hand accounts rendered in  this book highlight the effects of stereotyping and prejudice on individuals  at a more personal level.

Throughout the book, Mr. Ramos presents a number of strong arguments opposing commonly held perceptions about immigrants from  Mexico and Latin America. Some of his counter-arguments concern the dependence of immigrants on the welfare system, draining money from the U.S. economy, taking  jobs away from U.S. citizens, and why they come to the United States in the first place. The social, political and economic consequences are discussed for each ethnic group of immigrants, and the counter-arguments that he fashions seem fairly convincing when examined from a neutral viewpoint.

This book is a good advanced level reader for students of the Spanish language, or for native Spanish speakers. It provides valuable insights into the current immigration policies of the United States, their effects  on those wanting to come here to better their lives, and does a good job of examining the impact of social change at both the macro and individual levels. It is recommended reading for anyone wanting to learn more about the viewpoint of Spanish speaking cultures in the United States.

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