When it comes to the concept of “America”, many people think of the USA, while some others may think of the continents North and South America. From the perspective of Antonio Hernandez, an undocumented worker from Mexico, “America” means a struggle for opportunity for immigrants, where jobs are scarce and health isn’t guaranteed. The New York Times article “The Way North” examines immigrants’ experiences in the United States, in both how they are able to prosper and how they are prevented from prospering. In this article, Antonio Hernandez states “People say this is a land of opportunity, but a lot of time there are no opportunities, no jobs”. Hernandez cites the legal struggle for citizenship as a major obstacle for immigrants, saying: “An American with papers has much more opportunity than an American without”. From my perspective, this source portrays the US as unfair to immigrants. I agree with Hernandez’s view, because many people who immigrate to the US work labor intensive jobs that citizens benefit from, while receiving little to no pay and rights.

On the other hand, some undocumented immigrants have found success in the US. In his article “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant”, Jose Antonio Vargas details his experiences as an undocumented immigrant breaking into the journalism business. Although he became properly educated in the US, and earned a successful career in the US, Vargas recounts his times of anxiety, worrying how close he is to being caught and losing his rights. In “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant”, Vargas explains: “I grew more aware of anti-immigrant sentiments and stereotypes: they don’t want to assimilate, they are a drain on society“. The story Vargas tells in “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” further supports the idea of an unfair treatment of undocumented immigrants, people who are under the constant threat of losing their jobs, or even deportation.

To me, America means a divided nation, composed of culture, history, art, and politics. Living as a young adult in the current age, I’ve grown up during an age of political hostility and regional separation of ideas. Furthermore, one of the most crucial topics that caused this political hostility is the debate on immigration, especially surrounding immigrants who have no legal status. By comparing Antonio Hernandez’s story with Jose Vargas’ story, we can see a strong anti-immigrant theme in the US, no matter if the person in question is an impoverished day laborer or a well-respected journalist. Although I understand some people’s concerns about immigration in the US, I empathize with people like Antonio Hernandez and Jose Vargas, considering the legal dangers they have to deal with just to get a chance at opportunity in this country. American literature can be defined as any text/piece of literature that comes from or is about the US. Even literature that strongly criticizes American ideas, like There There by Tommy Orange, is American literature because it discusses topics related to the US. Similar to There There, Antonio Hernandez’s and Jose Vargas’ texts are crucial for pushing forward the discussion of American topics.


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