There is no single Latino immigration story
While many Latina and Latino immigrants arrive in the United States seeking work and opportunity, their reasons for immigrating—and methods of arriving—vary. Some immigrants are fleeing war and violence; others are motivated by economic hardships. Many decide to immigrate to access education and a better quality of life for future generations. Historically, U.S. immigration policies, wars, economic conditions, and political shifts have shaped patterns of immigration. Thus, Latino immigration stories will continue to evolve, and Latina and Latino immigrants of diverse nationalities will keep shaping U.S. history.
Click on the button below to learn more about the Immigration Stories exhibit case in ¡Presente!
Stories from the Past
Latinas and Latinos have been immigrating to the United States for centuries! Explore these two immigration stories, one from the 1800s and another from the 1950s.
Not all immigration journeys happen by choice. Some Latinos and Latinas, like award-winning Uruguayan printmaker Naúl Ojeda, were forced to leave their countries. In the 1970s, amid growing political turmoil in Uruguay, Ojeda began his life in exile. He lived in several countries before settling in Washington, D.C. Ojeda described the creation of his distinctive woodblock prints as a "dialogue” between himself and the wood.
S. Anesta Samuel grew up in the Panama Canal Zone. Her father moved from Montserrat to work on the canal. The U.S.-controlled Canal Zone was racially segregated, and Black Caribbean workers were paid lower wages. As a teenager, Samuel rejected this system and opened her own beauty salon. In 1950, she immigrated to Brooklyn, New York. There, she founded a scholarship organization for Panamanian students, called Las Servidoras (later renamed The Dedicators).