Alan E. Martin
October 9, 2019
In the novel “The book of Unknown Americans” it shows how some people who immigrant to America have a hard time finding good paying jobs or sometimes they hardly find any. At times they involve themselves in illegal activities to make a living in America due to not finding any jobs or jobs that hardly pay anything. One example from the novel can be Benny Quinto who immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua. While in Nicaragua he felt a calling from God “I heard God calling my name from up in the clouds somewhere, man and I thought he was telling me I was the chosen one.” (Henriquez 44) which led him to train as a priest in Nicaragua. But as soon as Nicaragua was getting worse for its poverty there, Benny decided to immigrate to the U.S. He managed to make it in Arizona with a few others in which he had to share a room with. As many other immigrates, finding a job was difficult for him. Until one of his roommates introduced him to drug dealing. He started drug dealing in the streets of Phoenix AZ, in which he was able to pay off his debt and earned great money. Soon later he was caught up with other problems that came with his job, one of them was that he got in a fight with one of his clients and got stabbed multiple times. Of course, after that experience he decided to move on and decided to move to Delaware in which he would find a job working in a restaurant.
Meanwhile some immigrants who had good jobs in their homeland, take jobs that they don’t like, either for visas or because they have a difficult time finding jobs. One perfect example from the novel is Arturo Rivera from Mexico. The life Arturo had in Mexico was successful, he even had his own construction business. (25) Until the day his daughter, Maribel, fell from the ladder and got a brain injury. Him and his wife, Alma, decided to move to the U.S. because of the education Maribel needed was not found in Mexico. A couple of days after arriving to the U.S. Arturo started to work in a mushroom farm in which they were also going to give him and his family, visas. But the work there is horrible, Arturo had to pick mushrooms from small boxes in a dark warehouse for 10 hours straight with little to no breaks. (25) A few moths later Arturo was fired from his job for no reason and without him obtaining a visa. Besides having to endure a terrible job he didn’t like, he got fired unjustly, while in Mexico he had a good life managing his own construction business but did all this for his daughter’s future.
While other immigrants who learn English have a better chance of getting jobs than immigrants who don’t know English at all. “According to the Census Bureau, about 5 million native-born Americans have limited English skills. An additional 20 million foreign-born US residents can’t speak English “very well.” This lack of facility with English is one of the major reasons many immigrants turn to jobs that don’t require extensive language skills—migrant work, for instance—and that means far lower pay than they need to take care of themselves and their families.” (Ackerman) In fact another example from the novel could be Rafael who is the head and provider of the Toro family. After coming to the U.S. from Panama he got a job in a restaurant as a dish washer, but as time went by, he was promoted to be a cook. Sadly, the restaurant he was working in closed, due to being out of business. (205) Soon after Rafael found a job distributing newspaper due to him knowing how to talk English got him a job easier even though he lacked other skills. (223)
Arturo can be an example of an immigrant who knows no English and is struggling to find a job. In which it shows in the novel that Arturo would go store to store to ask if they had any jobs available. But instead all that came his way were people who would laugh at him for not being able to talk English some of them were raciest about. Week after week he would get the same results, in which affected the way he and his family lived. Which made them make drastic changes like having to take a shower every other day and eating rice and beans or sometimes just oatmeal day after day. Also, they even tried to replace tea with hot water to drink and stopped going to stores that were too expensive for them and limited what they would buy because of the financial crisis they were facing. (182-183)
Alike the novel these days they are many people who struggle to get jobs. Either because they were fired and deported back because of corrupted companies and governments or because of language barriers. But one thing is alike within all immigrants, is to be able to make a living here in America and go after their own American dream.
Ackerman, Martin. “Why Immigrants Should Learn English.” Industry Buzz, 2 May 2017, http://industry-buzz.com/immigrants-learn-english/.
HENRIQUEZ, CRISTINA. BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS. VINTAGE, 2015.