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The Immigrant Experience: The Mexican Americans


When Mexico ceded its northern territory to the United States in 1848, after two years of war, nearly 75,000 Mexicans became U.S. citizens. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants have crossed America’s border. Early immigrants found work as hired hands on farms, ranches, railroads and in mines. During the two world ward, many Mexican Americans moved to northern and Midwestern cities and obtained skilled industrial jobs. In recent decades, second- and third-generation Mexican Americans have pursued higher education, entered a variety of professions, and moved into the middle and upper class. Mexican American activists, such as nonviolent labor leader Cesar Chavez, have gained rights for migrant workers, encouraged political involvement, advocated bilingual education, and promoted ethnic pride. Today, Mexican Americans continue to add vitality to American culture, influencing everything from cuisine to music and art.