Icons of Latino America: Latino Contributions to American Culture (Greenwood Icons)

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Protestors picket a grocery store in , urging consumers not to buy grapes or lettuce picked by underpaid farm workers a. As Latino immigration to the United States increased in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, discrimination also increased in many places. In , California voters passed Proposition The proposition sought to deny non-emergency health services, food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid to undocumented immigrants. It also banned children from attending public school unless they could present proof that they and their parents were legal residents of the United States.

In , discussion began in Congress on proposed legislation that would make it a felony to enter the United States illegally or to give assistance to anyone who had done so. Although the bill quickly died, on May 1, , hundreds of thousands of people, primarily Latinos, staged public demonstrations in major U. The protestors claimed that people seeking a better life should not be treated as criminals and that undocumented immigrants already living in the United States should have the opportunity to become citizens.

Following the failure to make undocumented immigration a felony under federal law, several states attempted to impose their own sanctions on illegal immigration. In April , Arizona passed a law that made illegal immigration a state crime. The law also forbade undocumented immigrants from seeking work and allowed law enforcement officers to arrest people suspected of being in the U. Thousands protested the law, claiming that it encouraged racial profiling.

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In , in Arizona v. United States , the U. Supreme Court struck down those provisions of the law that made it a state crime to reside in the United States illegally, forbade undocumented immigrants to take jobs, and allowed the police to arrest those suspected of being illegal immigrants. The court, however, upheld the authority of the police to ascertain the immigration status of someone suspected of being an undocumented alien if the person had been stopped or arrested by the police for other reasons. They also have one of the highest birth rates of any ethnic group.

Although Hispanics lag behind whites in terms of income and high school graduation rates, they are enrolling in college at higher rates than whites. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, Asians were among the most despised of all immigrant groups and were often subjected to the same laws enforcing segregation and forbidding interracial marriage as were African Americans and American Indians. The Chinese were the first large group of Asians to immigrate to the United States. They arrived in large numbers in the mid-nineteenth century to work in the mining industry and on the Central Pacific Railroad.

Others worked as servants or cooks or operated laundries. Their willingness to work for less money than whites led white workers in California to call for a ban on Chinese immigration. In , Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act , which prevented Chinese from immigrating to the United States for ten years and prevented Chinese already in the country from becoming citizens. In , the Geary Act extended the ban on Chinese immigration for another ten years. In , California passed a law preventing all Asians, not just the Chinese, from owning land.

With the passage of the Immigration Act of , all Asians, with the exception of Filipinos, were prevented from immigrating to the United States or becoming naturalized citizens. Laws in several states barred marriage between Chinese and white Americans, and some cities with large Asian populations required Asian children to attend segregated schools. During World War II, citizens of Japanese descent living on the West Coast, whether naturalized immigrants or Japanese Americans born in the United States, were subjected to the indignity of being removed from their communities and interned under Executive Order The reason was fear that they might prove disloyal to the United States and give assistance to Japan.

Although Italians and Germans suspected of disloyalty were also interned by the U. None of the more than , Japanese and Japanese Americans internees was ever found to have committed a disloyal act against the United States, and many young Japanese American men served in the U. Although Japanese American Fred Korematsu challenged the right of the government to imprison law-abiding citizens, the Supreme Court decision in the case of Korematsu v.

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United States upheld the actions of the government as a necessary precaution in a time of war. When internees returned from the camps after the war was over, many of them discovered that the houses, cars, and businesses they had left behind, often in the care of white neighbors, had been sold or destroyed. Japanese Americans displaced from their homes by the U. The growth of the African American, Chicano, and Native American civil rights movements in the s inspired many Asian Americans to demand their own rights.

Discrimination against Asian Americans, regardless of national origin, increased during the Vietnam War. Ironically, violence directed indiscriminately against Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese caused members of these groups to unite around a shared pan-Asian identity, much as Native Americans had in the Pan-Indian movement.

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Asian American students also joined Chicano, Native American, and African American students to demand that colleges offer ethnic studies courses. In , in the case of Lau v. Nichols , Chinese American students in San Francisco sued the school district, claiming its failure to provide them with assistance in learning English denied them equal educational opportunities. The Asian American movement is no longer as active as other civil rights movements are. Although discrimination persists, Americans of Asian ancestry are generally more successful than members of other ethnic groups. They have higher rates of high school and college graduation and higher average income than other groups.

Although educational achievement and economic success do not protect them from discrimination, it does place them in a much better position to defend their rights. Laws against homosexuality, which was regarded as a sin and a moral failing, existed in most states throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


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By the late nineteenth century, homosexuality had come to be regarded as a form of mental illness as well as a sin, and gay men were often erroneously believed to be pedophiles. As a result, many men lost or were denied government jobs. The very secrecy in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people had to live made it difficult for them to organize to fight for their rights as other, more visible groups had done. Some organizations did exist, however.

The Mattachine Society , established in , was one of the first groups to champion the rights of gay men. Its goal was to unite gay men who otherwise lived in secrecy and to fight against abuse. The Mattachine Society often worked with the Daughters of Bilitis , a lesbian rights organization. Among the early issues targeted by the Mattachine Society was police entrapment of male homosexuals. In the s, the gay and lesbian rights movements began to grow more radical, in a manner similar to other civil rights movements.

In , gay Philadelphians demonstrated in front of Independence Hall.

Bruns, Roger 1941–

In , transgender prostitutes who were tired of police harassment rioted in San Francisco. In June , gay men, lesbians, and transgender people erupted in violence when New York City police attempted to arrest customers at a gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn.

New organizations promoting LGBT rights that emerged after Stonewall were more radical and confrontational than the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis had been. Although LGBT people gained their civil rights later than many other groups, changes did occur beginning in the s, remarkably quickly when we consider how long other minority groups had fought for their rights.

In , the American Psychological Association ended its classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. In , the U. It also prohibited superior officers from asking about or investigating the sexual orientation of those below them in rank.