A Comparison of Immigration Narratives Between Receiving Countries and Countries of Origin

The primary question I hope to answer is: what type of immigration narratives are being told by Central American countries of origin (such as El Salvador and Honduras), and how do these compare to the immigration narratives being told in receiving countries (such as the United States). This can also be expanded into a secondary question, which asks what impressions potential immigrants may have of the U.S. and its immigration policy. I will be answering these questions by analyzing articles sourced from three newspapers: the New York Times, La Prensa Grafica in El Salvador, and La Tribuna in Honduras. To gather data, I will use content analysis to determine the major themes of articles referencing immigration. In terms of attitudes towards immigration, articles will be classified as either “encouraging,” “discouraging,” or “neutral.” Articles will also be classified as opinion pieces or news reports, and categorized by their primary topics. These categories will be “economy,” “border crossings/border enforcement,” “crime,” “government policy,” or “other.” The major themes of Salvadoran and Honduran newspapers will then be compared with the major themes found in the New York Times. This area of research is significant because, as of yet, the media as a push/pull factor in immigration has received a skewed type of attention. While much research has been done on how receiving countries frame immigration, the way that countries of origin cover immigration has been pushed aside. If there’s a wide discrepancy between the two narratives (e.g. if Honduran newspapers present the U.S. as very tolerant of undocumented immigrants, but U.S. newspapers don’t express tolerant views of undocumented immigrants), we must ask if it would be beneficial to rectify the disparity and perhaps prevent confusion among immigrants and border officials.

Research in the Vatican

…or at least that’s what it feels like. I’m currently sitting in the New York Public Library, probably the most beautiful library in America, with a big stack of books next to me under its incredibly ornate ceiling and high vaulted windows.  I have a New York library card now and I feel oh-so-legit as I sit here with my pages of notes and my books filled with the stories of the people we come from. I didn’t realize when I started that immigrant poetry was both so popular and so hard to find. In the five (yes, five) hours that I’ve been here so far (I’m going to end up sleeping here) I’ve read poetry by Irish, Chinese, Russian, El Salvadorian and Jamaican immigrants, not to mention a slew of other writings by immigrants about their experiences. I’ve decided to loosen up a little on the strict poetry guidelines–I find that the theme of my research will probably be what these people left behind.

[Read more…]

The Huddled Masses: Immigration and Poetry in American Society

Immigration has been an integral part of American life from the first British steps off of the Mayflower.  Our society was founded by immigrants and supported by both immigrant labor, and a cultural hodgepodge of traditions from the many motherlands. With the opening of Ellis Island in 1892, New York became one of the most popular destinations, with demographics represented from every corner of Europe—and later, the world—arriving at its gates hoping to be granted admittance, as they did at Angel Island in San Francisco, and in Boston’s port. Immigration continues to be a hot-button issue today, with over a million new immigrants coming to America each year. This history of immigration has been filtered through the societal consciousness in a number of ways; newspapers, politics, and the arts have all found their own ways of responding. One of those responses has been through poetry. From the famous poem of Emma Lazarus that became a symbol for America’s acceptance of immigrants to modern elegies for the land left behind, poetry has been a powerful tool of both reflection and narration, of the colorful history of America’s immigrant roots. I will be looking at how poetry is used to translate the immigrant experience; I will be speaking with both new immigrants and people who deal with them on a regular basis; and then I will be synthesizing both of these things into my own poetry about these people and their struggles.