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The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic
Studies, founded in 1973, is organized under the Smithsonian's Division of Science. The Research
Institute focuses on immigration flows which have
been affected by legislation since 1965. It also
explicitly includes American extraterritorial
jurisdictions among its scholarly concerns.
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, Director
Stephen R. Couch, Research Coordinator
D.M. Mortimer, Program Coordinator Bettv Dyson, Administrative Assistant
Constance M. Trombley. Secretary
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution, Washington. D.C.. 1976
Caribbean Immigration to the United States
RIIES Occasional Papers No. 1
?t Edited by
RoY S. BRYCE-LAPORTE DELORES M. MORTIMER
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1976
@ Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution 1976
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 76-46748
TABLE OF CONTENTS
"The United States' Role in Caribbean Migration: Background to the Problem"
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte
"International Migration and the Political Economy of Underdevelopment: Aspects of the Commonwealth Caribbean Situation"
Hilbourne A. Watson 16
"Migration from the Caribbean to the States: The Economic Status of the Immigrants"
Ransford W. Palmer 44
"Black Immigrants and the American Ethos: Theories and Observations"
Dennis Forsythe 55
"Puerto Ricans in the U.S.: Growth and Differentiation of a Community"
Centro de Estudios Puertorrique~os, CUNY 83
"Haitian Immigrants in Boston: A Commentary"
Pierre-Michel Fontaine ill
"West Indians in Los Angeles: Community and Identity"
Joyce Bennett Justus 130
"The Caribbean Expatriate: Barriers to Returning -Perspectives of the Natural Scientist"
Theodore A. Bremner 149
"Perspectives on the Total Utilization of Manpower and the Caribbean Expatriate: Barriers to Returning"
Edwin H. Daniel 158
"Professional Migration: The Brain Drain from the West Indies and Africa -- Abbreviated Remarks"
Rawle Farley 169
"Caribbeans in America: Some Further Perspectives on Their Lives"
Delores M. Mortimer 182
"Caribbean Migration to the United States: Some Tentative Conclusions"
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte 193
Christine Davidson and Hubert Charles 205
APPENDIX: Research Note on the U.S. Virgin Islands 251
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 257
The Smithsonian Institution was created by an Act of Congress in 1848 to carry out the terms of the will of James Smithson of England, who had bequeathed his entire estate to the United States to "found at Washington ... an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."
Today, the Smithsonian Institution is known throughout the world as a special kind of museum which excels as a center of scientific, historical and anthropological research. As a
center of higher studies,, it has a growing interest in contemporary phenomena. In 1973 the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES) was founded within the Division of Science. The Institute's mission was to include consultative services as well as to stimulate, facilitate, disseminate and carry out research on contemporary immigration to the United States. The scope of this work, while focused on movement of major immigrant groups into the continental United States since passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, also included explicit concern with the extra-territorial jurisdictions of the United States as both recipients and donors of contemporary migrants.
As part of its stimulating and disseminating efforts, RIIES has sponsored or participated in various public presentations and professional seminars on the subject of the new immigration to the United States. In addition, it seeks to communicate studied statements of academic scholars and provide direction in the study of those issues and areas concerning contemporary immigration which should be brought to the attention of public officials, private institutions, professional groups, and other members of the general public having special interest in or responsibility for immigration policy or service delivery to immigrant groups.
In the view of the Research Institute, the new immigration represents the newest extension of the continued historical
process of the peopling of the United States. However, this particular movement represents a qualitative change in characteristics and patterns, relative to its pre-1965 predecessors. In generaltheir countries of origin are emergent, developing and either dependent or subordinate in their relations with the United States. Traditional Western and Northern European countries, ana even Canada, have been replaced by Mediterranean, Asian, Latin American and Caribbean countries as the major sources of U.S. immigration. The new immigrants are phenotypically, culturally, and linguistically very visible compared to either the main stock of native-born Americans or the traditional immigrant population. Therefore, they face and pose challenges quite distinct from those of their most recent predecessors. This is so perhaps because of their high visibility and cultural variance. Certainly worries about unemployment and limited economic opportunities, in addition to a growing expression of resistance toward further population growth, also contribute to the distinctiveness of their experiences.
The United States finds itself confronted by the dilemma of an open-door policy tradition toward immigration on the one hand, and on the other hand a growing "politics of resistance" and alarm toward the continuation of such a policy. Unfortunately, the controversy proceeds without reasoned debate or scholarly depth. None of the various sides of the arguments or issues has been fully identified or pursued. Most of the policy research and ensuing recommendations proceed without benefit of a broader examination of the problem. Instead, what is done is to proceed with a limited view of what immigration and its policies mean to the various levels of American society (in short- and long-run terms), or what it means to immigrants themselves, their countries/regions of origin, the larger international economic and diplomatic role of the United States relative to such countries/regions, and the reverberation of all these factors on American society, culture, economy and image. Though undoubtedly significant and complex, such reverberations need not be totally negative or undesirable.
This volume on recent Caribbean migration to the United
States is the first of a series of occasional papers intended to highlight particular angles, areas or aspects of the new immigration within the comprehensive framework through which the new immigration is viewed by the Institute. The Caribbean is not a new source of U.S. immigrants. But, several of the nations now involved figure heavily among the sources of recent immigrants -legal and illegal. This new migration from this particular area is neither isolated, discrete nor mechanistic. It is not simplistic nor one-sided in causes or consequences, patterns or problems. Perhaps more than any other source area of the new immigration (save perhaps Mexico) the movement of peoples of Caribbean origin to the United States is intrinsically and specifically related to a history of North American policies and attitudes toward that region -- its land, labor force, economy and politics.
Immigrants from the Caribbean or West Indies have made several contributions to the history and development of the United States, in numerous spheres of activity. Individuals from the islands have participated in the early settling of the frontier, the battle for independence, industrial and technological inventions, athletic, artistic and scholarly endeavors, local and ethnic politics, and even diplomacy. Caribbean immigrants and their offspring are believed to hold a disproportionate share of successful and leadership positions among the non-white minorities in this country. And, precisely because they have operated within defined structures of society and have sought to resolve their problems and achieve their ambitions within the context of such superimposed larger ethnic or economic status categories as black, poor, urban, Spanish-speaking, nonwhite, etc., they are seldom viewed as immigrants or sub-ethnics by the larger society.
It can be said that as a group the people of the Caribbean suffer multiple levels of ethnic invisibility. They suffer much disregard and discrimination, together with native-born blacks and other non-whites. And, even when they may be treated as part of the larger group with certain favors and redresses, their particular needs, concerns and desires as sub-ethnics or as
a composite immigrant group are less known than the successes they achieve and the services they render as individuaZs. At other times the problems they present as a group are exaggerated over the contributions and potential they represent. Hence, it is not often considered that a sizeable proportion of the early slave population in the United States was brought from or secured in the West Indies before coming to perform forced labor in the U.S.; that the bulk of the labor force which built and manned American enterprises in Central and South America were from the West Indies; that a sizeable contingent of West Indians entered the U.S. labor market as temporary migrants and permanent residents to provide labor for firms, farms and factories at a time when the local labor supply had been diverted by war needs or saturated by industrial booms. Then, there are many Caribbean peoples who come as U.S. nationals from extra-territorial holdings (such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), nativeborn North and Latin Americans of West Indian ancestry, Cuban and Haitian refugees, and Dominican immigrants (including illegals and part-time students), and who continue to contribute to the working and professional forces in this country.
Today there is a general increase in visibility, marked by a heightened awareness of consciousness and identity, among most immigrant and ethnic groups in the United States, perhaps throughout the world. Caribbean peoples are no exception. The latter's increased visibility, however, is compounded by recent circumstances and characteristics which are particular to them; that is, the assertion of Civil Rights and affirmative action demands by non-white minorities in the U.S.; the aggressive pursuit of independence and self-determination by emergent nations in Africa and the Caribbean; the sharp and sudden increase in the number of Caribbean immigrants to the United States; and, the accompanying alarmist outcries from certain elements in this society to such an increase, which is often assumed to be largely illegal and competitive.
In the majority, the papers in this volume were prepared by scholars of Caribbean ancestry or who are indeed immigrants themselves. As a sub-group, they have suffered special forms of
invisibility in the past -- apart from that which they have suffered along with the larger group of which they are a part. of course, their works tend to be treated with the same general disregard that the policy-making sector directs to the academic community. However, within that latter community itself, they suffer the special denial of outlet, opportunity, legitimacy, and weight reserved for most scholars from so-called minority groups. This, then, further reduces their potential for appealing to important elements of the policy- and decision-making sectors in this country and even in their countries of origin. Yet, immigration is a phenomenon with which Caribbean-originated scholars are intimately acquainted; it is an issue and subject which many have approached with deep professional and political concern even prior to its recent resurgence in prominence among academicians.
Through this collection of papers RIIES wishes to provide the readership with a glimpse of the range of thought and profundity of concern held by many Caribbean immigrant scholars.
They neither complete the spectrum of positions nor represent the full breadth of thinking on any given position. The first
section is comprised of four papers prepared by members of the Institute staff or participants in its seminars; the second contains solicited papers and commentaries by some of the Caribbean-originated scholars now involved in on-going research about West Indian immigrants or related subjects; and, the third section is a selective bibliography of recent works in the field. Hopefully, both the subject matter herein discussed and the individuals whose ideas are expounded will be seriously considered in the deliberations now taking place on the proper role of the United States in the face of continued migration of Caribbean peoples to its cities and countryside.
RIIES feels deep indebtedness to many persons who contributed to the completion of this manuscript. It here expresses sincere gratitude to Mrs. Constance M. Trombley for her
constant commitment to maintaining the highest degree of excellence and professionalism. Appreciation is also extended to Mrs. Bernice Abram and Mr. Joseph Freeman, respectively, of the
Smithsonian Personnel Division and Duplicating Division, and, to Ms. Joyce Mortimer of the overseas Liaison Committee of the American Council on Education for consultative services as we endeavored to complete this manuscript.
Neither the above nor any of the statements which follow represent official policy or opinion of the Smithsonian Institution. The editors and their fellow contributors hold sole responsibility for their collective and individual works.
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte
DeZores M. Mortimer
The United States Role In Caribbean Migration:
Background To the Problem'
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte
The most comprehensive definition of the
Caribbean region is a geographical delineation which includes all the islands located in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic littoral of mainland countries whose shores are touched by its waters. Technically, this area is referred to as the circum-Garibbean and may sometimes be extended as far west as the Mexican rim of the Gulf, south to the eastern shorelines of Brazil and northwest to embrace Bermuda and parallel rimlands and islands on the North American coastline. The general characteristics of the nations and territories of the area include small, powerless yet developing countries with a background of colonial plantation slave systems. Further, the economies are still dominated by single cash-crops or raw products of basic commodities, service establishments, and foreign investments. Also, for the most part, there is a preponderance of people with noticeable African and/or European ancestors superimposed over an almost extinct Amerindian rural type intermingled with Asians, Jews, Arabs, and other Old World ethnic groupings, thus representing various combinations of racial mixtures.
The area's friendly, cosmopolitan, but generally poor, people reflect plural cultures, creolized languages, and are involved in the deepest throes and ferment for economic and political self-determination.
The inter-relationship between the Caribbean territories, especially the islands, and the United States pre-dates the revolution of 1776. From colonial times through the Civil War the islands constituted an important vertex of the triangular Atlantic trade between England, its North American colonies, and its Caribbean holdings. West Indian plantations produced sugar, molasses, spices and rum; gold and jewelry were amassed by raiding English buccaneers who plundered the Spanish Main; and slaves were seasoned for use on the plantations of English colonial North America. The islands also played an important role as a reference point in the anxieties and deliberations which North Americans experienced as they debated the ethics, efficacy, and the economics of slavery, and later, of emancipation.
The shocking success of the Haitian slave
revolution, which resulted in the second independent state in the Americas; the calculated emancipation of slaves in the British Caribbean following a four-year period of apprenticeship; the contemplations of Lincoln
as well as Delaneyand other influential Americans who saw parts of the Central American coastline and the Caribbean islands as targets for black colonization schemes; and actual settlement by small groups of black freedmen in the area represent early forms of special meaningfulness that the Caribbean area has had for the United States.
Perhaps the first official declaration by the
United States of special interest in the area took the-form of the Monroe Doctrine, which purported to prevent further colonization of the continent by European powers. However, later treaties, policies, and attitudes emerged which not only stabilized the colonial relationship of given areas to given metropolitan states, but elevated the United States to the level of a colonial power as it acquired territories,
proclaimed protectorates, exercised rights of intervention and negotiated rights of transit in the area.
The advances made under a conviction of
Manifest Destiny, victories in the Spanish-American War, and the practices of "Big Stick" policy had very clear and telling impacts in the shaping of the history and development of the Caribbean area. With United States acquisition of the Panama Canal and the establishment of banana and other plantation or business systems by American overseas companies in various parts of the region, the islands acquired a new importance within the United States imperialist system. They became a protective flank for its southern underbelly and its Central American interests. Since then, the area has gained an incomparable reputation as the target of a wide assortment of American interventions and, by the Second World War, it was to be the host of a multitude of bases and the United States military might.
In fact, the wider Caribbean region still comprises the only overseas area in the hemisphere with large de jure American dependencies, operating civilian American settlement colonies or military enclaves which are subordinated to American Federal regulations and distorted versions of American culture and institutional systems. In most cases, native peoples and alien immigrants are utilized largely as work force, deprived of full American citizenship rights, and suffer discrimination and stigmatization which effect their status with their regional peers. American and alien populations housed or employed in such jurisdictions receive the wrath, envy, distrust, and disdain of their native cohorts. Yet they are treasured as consumers by merchants, sources of revenue by government, and added financial support by relatives and friends.
This situation is further complicated because
for some time in their early development such American
enclaves and jurisdictions represented significant centers of employment, facilities, services, and standards not duplicable by the local national governments. Hence, there has developed a similar ambivalent response by the host nations to the settlements and enterprises. In that sense, problems the U.S. had encountered in the use of the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra as bombing targets represent similar extremes of the problems Dosed by Chaguaramas, Guantanamo, the Canal Zone, and Puerto Rico.
Thus, there already exists a special historical United States attitude toward and impact on the Caribbean, which at least implicitly represents a policy, hopefully, of the past. A glance backward suggests that not all but certainly many of the policies and attitudes of the United States toward the Caribbean were based largely on the simple, clear objective of protecting and advancing U.S. interests. Whatever benefits or improvements accruedto the Caribbean states (in return for the special services or resources they were conceived to offer to the United States) were largely incidental or compensatory in nature. However, the one-sided nature of this situation had as much to do with the stagnated colonial status in which most of the islands were found until recently, and a history of both a limited notion of development and a myopic view of governmental commitment or public accountability in the so-called independent states of the region.
The Caribbean region of today increasingly is becoming one of emergent nations, developing economies, and politicized populations. It seems fair to anticipatethat the relations between the United States and these countries will not decline but will be intensified and become more delicate. The saliency of America's potential proximity and, in some cases, its presence has heightened and spread among all sectors and corners of the region. Whatever the reactions to this saliency, they do not involve disregard. The United States can expect greater
demands and more intricate designs to be made upon it as Caribbean peoples become more assertive in attempting to define the North American r6le within their programs for self and national interests.
Any effort to formulate or execute a regional policy by the United States in the Caribbean must take into account not only this historical perspective, but contemporary complexities which underlie the region. Despite its many commonalities, the Caribbean must also be seen as a region comprised of states with different levels of political development stemming from varying historical colonial ties and, in recent years, some new structures of government and new directions or emerging economies, political ideologies, and diplomatic postures. Such complexities minimize the utility of a definition based simply on geographical delineations.
A more appropriate breakdown would have to
include (1) the independent island states of the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, TrinidadTobago, Grenada as well as Guyana and Surinam which are located on the South American mainland; (2) the various island dependencies, including Belice and French Guiana,
which operate as non-sovereign states or subdivisions of larger metropolitan systems located outside the Caribbean
area, i.e., the United States, Great Britain, France and Holland; and (3) on occasion, those independent mainland states whose offshore islands and Atlantic littoral are closely related to states in the first two categories because of overlapping populations, culture, trade, communication, ethnic identity and growing consciousness of mutual economic and political interests, vis-a'-vis the United States.
Finally, a special case must be made for Cuba which, in addition to being an independent island state, represents a socialist revolutionary government with unique ties with the Soviet Union rather than the traditional
capitalist metropolis of the West. Cuba does not merely provide inspirational and subtle support for leftist regimes and revolutionary forces in the region; it also explicitly competes with the United States as a model and center of political influence in the Caribbean -- as each has tried to isolate the other as undesirous and unnecessary to any larger inter-American community of nations. These complexities will have consequences for any attempt by the United States to engage in negotiations, treaties, policy implementations, and monitoring of international agreements in the region.
A specific issue of common concern to the
Caribbean is population growth and its associated economic and political problems. Whereas these are still viewable as projected challenges for the future in the United States and some of the mainland states of the Caribbean region, they are perceived as a dilemma facing most of the islands at the present time. Among various approaches tried by Caribbean peoples and their governments in response to the economic imbalance are (1) family planning and birth control programs, (2) economic development,
(3) tourism, and (4) voluntary migration.
Since the beginning of the last decade (actually just following the Cuban revolution) the Caribbean area has been contributing an increasing number of "immigrants" (very broadly defined) to the American territories -the continental United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Some of these people are of legal status, others are not; some locate permanently in the latter areas, but many utilize these islands as stopovers to settle finally in the continental United States. And, the two islands themselves provide a substantial number of immigrants (sociologically defined) to the mainland.
In fact, voluntary migration has been a traditional characteristic of Caribbean people since the middle of the last century. It has been directed toward areas of
employment in times of economic difficulty and to places with political flexibility during times of governmental crisis. It may well be that a migration-mobility syndrome has been absorbed into the ethos of the Caribbean people and is an inadvertent policy of their governments. Both the movement and its syndrome are selective, however. Whether inter- or intraregional, they generally entailed as ultimate targets the traditional capitalist metropolitan states of Europe and North America. Sometimes, the intermediate targets were islands or mainland countries of relatively higher development or standards of living in the region, which are themselves satellites of the very same metropoles. Seen from this perspective Caribbean people are pulled and displaced by conditions, forces and activities emanating from the target societies. Also being suggested is a coexistence of a counterpart to the syndrome and at least in ambivalence in police of the metropolitan target societies to movement of peoples from the Caribbean. Such complexity and dynamics of these perceptions across boundaries, the manner in which they impinge upon international relations, the exchange of resources (human and otherwise) between the Caribbean and the United States, and the policy implications of all this are the subjects which demand thorough understanding.
Early migration of Jamaicans to the hemispheric mainland under American auspices began with construction of the Panama Railroad in the 1840's. George Roberts, the West Indian demographer, indicates that 146,000 Jamaicans alone left the islands for other parts of the continent at the turn of the century, 46,000 going to the United States and the remainder to Panama, Cuba, and Central America to provide labor for American-owned enterprises. Between 1820 and 1970, about one million (2 percent) of the legal immigrants into the U.S. were from the non-Latin West Indies.2 R.B. Davidson indicates that 82,084 British West Indians left the islands for the United Kingdom between 1950 and 1960. George Beckford estimates 280,000 persons to have
emigrated from the English Caribbean between 1960-1970.
In 1960, there were 265,398 immigrants in this country, 14,047 (5 percent) from the Caribbean islands, including Cuba and the Dominican Republic, but not Puerto Rico or the American Virgin Islands.5 By 1965 the United States Congress had passed its most recent comprehensive immigration law by which the single-nation quota system was replaced by hemispheric ceilings. For the first time independent countries of the Western Hemisphere would undergo a general limitation on the movement of their populations into the United States. At the same time, however, some of the Caribbean countries which had experienced a regional limitation of 800 per year due to the McCarran Act were to be relieved as they became independent. Thus, the new American law, the emergence of new nations in the Caribbean and, of course, the reclassification of large numbers of Cuban refugees as residents resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of Caribbean immigrants in the U.S. 6
In 1970, of 373,326 immigrants to this country, 65,521 (18 percent) were from the same set of islands. The number of legal immigrants from the area had more than quadrupled itself and its proportion had tripled with Cuba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic each sending more than 10,000 legal immigrants to the United States' shores.
By 1973, there were 64,765 (16 percent) immigrants from the Caribbean. And, in 1974, there were 394,861 immigrants of whom 61,284 (16 percent) were West Indians. Even if this may be indicative of a leveling off of Caribbean immigrants to the United States, it represents an astounding number or proportion to the total group of immigrants entering the country legally with permanent resident status. State Department information suggests that the interests of Caribbean peoples to enter and the probability of their entry into the United States continue
to run high. The data show th at 43,572 immigrant and 90,457 non-immigrant visas were issued to applicants from the independent states of the Caribbean in 1972, as respectively compared to 40,009 immigrant and 137,747 non-immigrant in 1974. 7
Political crises in Cuba, Haiti, and the
Dominican Republic have contributed to major waves of refugees, and some have since become legal residents and even citizens of the United States. Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders, both Caribbean people but United States citizens as well, came in the thousands each year as migrants and settlers to the mainland. And, from Mexico, Central America, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela came others, thousands of whom one cannot verify as being from the Caribbean littoral or of Caribbean ancestry.
In addition to those Caribbean immigrants who entered the country legally as resident aliens, or have since then obtained such status, there are many others residing here as legal non-immigrants, 403,299 of whom were from the Caribbean islands. The 1972 statistics show a total of 5,171,460 non-immigrants legally in the country, 484,340 of whom were from the Caribbean islands. The 1974 figures on illegal immigrants are less reliable. Reports estimate two to eight million-illegal immigrants, mostly of Latin extraction, with the circum-Caribbean being a major contributor.
A total of 311 persons from the independent states of the Caribbean were deported, and 4,943 more of them were forced to depart in 1974. Perhaps hidden in these figures are persons who viewed themselves as temporary or circulatory immigrants anyway. (Between 1965 and 1974, a total of 6,285 West Indians including Belice and Guyana were deported from the United States constituting, about 6 percent of the total deported population). And, the order of top three sources and overwhelming reasons for deportation of these people remained constant. In descending order the leading sources were Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Trinidad-Tobago and Belice. It is significant
that the overwhelming number of cases involving Caribbean people were categorized by immigration officials as those who "failed to maintain or comply with conditions of non-immigrant status," those who entered without inspection or by false statements, and those who entered without proper documents. This usually means that they were found working without permission or that when caught they were discovered to have entered the country illegally in order to obtain gainful employment. To this en d, it was instructive that most of the Caribbean migrants were not expelled as security risks, vagrants, wards of the state, insane, incapacitated, addicts or criminals.
At present, Cubans constitute a very small
number of illegal immigrants or deportees, which may be largely due to their special refugee status. However, with the recent cessation of the airlift program and despite the anti-hijacking agreements, it will be interesting to see if a noticeable increase in illegal immigration and deportation will occur among them. Also, it should be interesting.to see whether large-scale Cuban imrmigration to the Soviet Union or other industrialized socialist countries will take place in the near future. As for the present, with the exception of Yugoslavia and Poland, there seems to be no comparable massive movement of immigrants among the socialist countries. The heavy movement of refugees from East Germany and Hungary and streams of Jews from the Soviet Union to Austria and Israel are similarly more politically than economically motivated and compare with the exodus of Cubans in the earlier period of the Castro government. Whether the absence of voluntary movement from Cuba is a result of government restriction, economic satisfaction, political accomodation, or lack of personal resources is not presently known and constitutes an important item for research.
The experience with illegal Latin American
immigrants and political refugees shows that unilateral action is not sufficient to prevent the onrush. If political or economic reasons should prompt the United States (or Canada) to close its ports and borders to such immigrants, other political or economic reasons
will obligate local governments not to discourage the exodus. ,Without the movement there could be violent explosions throughout the Caribbean archipelago in a few decades. And, the United States (and Canada) would have to be prepared to confront the kinds of difficulties presented by massive streams of refugees, rather than mere waves of immigrants, from its southern neighbors. In addition, such explosive situations could have the potential of re-entangling the United States and other Eastern and Western metropolitan states in the politics of blatant intervention and causing regression in the present development of and aspirations for independence in the Caribbean.
At present, emigration is viewed ambivalently as both problem and solution from the Caribbean perspective. No clear conclusions have been arrived at as yet as to whether it constitutes a safety valve or brain drain, a desired investment or necessary loss, potential legacy or perpetual linkages. In each case, perhaps, it represents both. Even if one but not the other, it demands carefully thought out policies and the preparedness to meet with their respective results.
For the United States this new immigration also poses serious dilemmas, particularly that movement from the Caribbean with its very special history and potential for future complications. It has brought to the forefront, once more, the historical strain which exists between the myth of egalitarianism and open door reception toward foreigners and the fluctuating tides of racist and exclusionary sentiments which have characterized immigration laws and politics of this country from its formative periods. It challenges the accuracy of claims regarding the saturation state of the job market, and the prudence of policies of limited employment and zero population growth. It questions the sagacity of cutting off at this time what has been a traditional source of new talent, new ties, new cultural enrichment, and new citizens in an ever-cosmopolitanizing society.
Also, the new immigration complicates the task of responding to the political demands of national minorities and poor sub-populations for more effective service and rapid, equal and meaningful participation in the economic and political mainstream. Yet, based upon sensitivities derived from their own ethnic experiences in the U.S .,many of these minorities would be torn by feelings of victimization to further unfair and discriminatory practices if restrictive measures, continued exploitation or special penalties were directed at potential emigres -- even to protect opportunities for said national minorities. Moreover, despite the felt and confirmed challenge that the increasing presence of new aliens may represent and the alarming outcry against, it from certain quarters, it is quite obvious that beyond the commonly accepted motives and misconceptions which may have brought them here, there are (1) objective aspects of the American economy which are also responsible for their presence; and (2) sectors of that economy which rely and capitalize on the immigrants' presence.
Finally, some governments and parties in the
Source countries rely upon the departure of these immigrants and on the relief or returns which may follow. Further, the current movement of peoples from the Caribbean to the United States is not simply a matter of the "pull" of curiosity, ambition, sentimental ties, or the search for opportunity, safety and better living conditions. The movement also reflects the "push" of structual economic and political limitations within the source countries and various combinations or levels of "push" and "pull" resulting from the many systemlic inequalities between such countries and the United States. These various levels of subjective and objective determinants are not always recognized or expressed by immigrants, admitted by representatives of governments, or consciously inter-related by scholars. There is also reason to believe that there is greater compatibility between perceptions and the contextual
realities of migrant experiences than might be indicated in some of the following papers. This, too, is a matter for further objective analysis within a broad interpretive framework.
Thus, American efforts to deal intelligently with the new immigration from the Caribbean requires a fuller understanding of the larger role of the United States in the economic development and international relations of the region. Moreover, it requires a commitment to reevaluate that role candidly and drastically change it if that is deemed necessary. In doing so it will be desirable to hold an exhaustive hearing of learned and public opinions and carry out a comprehensive examination of the important implications of various levels of policy decision and public action-- international, national and local -which relate to the new immigration and its meaning for the future of this society, the participant peoples and nations, and the future relations among them all.
iThis is an excerpt from a larger article entitled, "Redefining the Role of the United States in Caribbean Migration and Development," in Basil A. Since, ed.," Contemporary International Relations in the Caribbean, Kingston, University of the West Indies, Institute of International Relations, 1975. For related works by the author, see
United States-Caribbean Policy, Part I, Hearings before the SubCommittee on Inter-American Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-third Congress, Second Session, September 19 and 21, 1973. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1974. Reprinted in Continuities, New York: C.U.N.Y., Black Studies Depratment, Spring, 1975.
2George Roberts, The Population of Jamica. Cambridge University Press, 1957. See also Hubert J. Charles, "Patterns of West Indian Emigration, 1880-1970," mimeographed paper presented at the Atlantic History and Culture Seminar, Johns Hopkins University, 1976.
3R. B. Davidson, West Indian Migrants. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.
4George Beckford, "Socio-Economic Change and Political Continuity in the English Caribbean," (unpublished); Hilbourne Watson, "Migration and the Political Economy of Underdevelopment: Notes on the Commonwealth Caribbean Situation," (unpublished).
5All statistics on Caribbean immigration, deportation and naturalization obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, Annual Reports on Immigration and Naturalization Service. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974.
6R. S. Bryce-Laporte, "The New Immigrants: Their Origins, Visibility and Challenges to the American Public: Impact of the Immigration Act of 1962" (unpublished). See also Forsythe article in this volume.
7Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, United States Department of State, Report of the Visa Office. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1973.
International Migrat ion and t he Political Economy of
Underdevelopment: Aspects off the Commonwealth
Hilbourne A. Wafsan
This study primarily deals with emigration from the English-speaking Caribbean to the United States. As used herein the concept of migration of labor (export of labor) does not necessarily include students and dependents, although it is our view that the reasons why individuals from these two categories also emigrate are bound up with the general problem of underdevelopment. The concepts of migration of labor and export of labor will be used interchangeably, although the latter has a more forceful and direct application. Export of tabor as a term connotes a consciously rational policy designed and executed at the governmental level. Further, it may also be viewed as a policy which, even if engineered by private interests, obtains the support (direct or indirect) of the governments of the labor exporting underdeveloped countries and the labor importing developed countries.
It must be pointed out that we are not
*Revised version of paper prepared for the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies of the Smithsonian Institution for presentation to the panel on "International Migration as a Policy Issue: The Western Hemisphere," XVII Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, Toronto, Canada, 25-28 February 1976, chaired by Dr. Roy Bryce-Laporte.
attempting to state that migration as a process involves the one-way movement of people from underdeveloped to developed countries. Historical evidence confirms that many skilled persons have emigrated from developed countries to the underdeveloped areas so as to found colonies and establish and operate mines, plantations, manufacturing industries, banks, hotels and other concerns belonging to multinational (monopoly) enterprises based in the former countries. Our concern is particularly with the context in which migration takes place from underdeveloped capitalist countries of the so-called periphery to the developed capitalist countries of the center. The migrants' conceptions and interpretations of why they emigrate are in and of themselves important topics of research. However, the nature of this particular study limits us, at this stage, to helping to generate ideas that can be applied to the development of a general set of theories relating to examination of Commonwealth Caribbean political economy.
Before proceeding it is necessary to discuss, briefly, some of the concepts which are central to the line of thought developed in this study.
Governmental support for export of labor is based on social, political, economic and monetary considerations. Unemployment is at one and the same time a social and an economic problem. Failure to solve this dilemma can lead to serious political difficulties including unrest that might create problems for the political order. This is not to say that the political dimensions of the problem begin to emerge only when the political order is being directly challenged. The point is that the unemployment dilemma is rooted in basic political decisions that are made in order to pursue a given economic policy on industrialization, for example. If the economy must divert scarce resources to maintain the unemployedthe
ocia costs become more apparent since these costs carry fundamental implications for economic planning in underdeveloped capitalist societies. While the export of labor helps to regularize the problemit does not solve it. It is probably the remittances that are received by dependents that have the most positive monetary impact. These remittances tend to help the government in the form of additional foreign exchange.
West Indian governments pursue population and employment policies that include conscious and rationalized efforts to export a portion of their population including working people and dependents. Our main argument is that this export of labor and the policy that informs it are part of that phenomenon we call underdevelopment. Even if it is taken for granted that working people (and we use this term to include all people who must sell their labor power in order to survive) emigrate from underdeveloped countries in search of better employment and training opportunities, it is still necessary to identify the contextual basis of this emigration. Such an attempt at identification cannot be undertaken in isolation from the developed capitalist countries with which the underdeveloped countries are linked to form the world capitalist system. Hence, underdevelopment and development within international capitalism are two sides of the same coin. Concretely, therefore, emigration from underdeveloped countries to developed countries is a reflection of the nature and direction of the process of accumulation on a world scale.
In qualitative terms, to appreciate the nature and direction of world capitalist accumulation we must first come to grips with the problem of the international division of labor. An appreciation of this phenomenon is indispensable for an understanding of the problem under consideration. The present epoch
of capitalist imperialism has seen production structures from imperialist countries exporting technology to underdeveloped countries. This occurence, however, should not be allowed to result in a fixation upon form thereby causing a failure to understand the content hidden behind the form. In other words, one must be mindful of the qualitative and quantitative relationships that exist between interconnected phenomena. More specifically, the export of production structures to underdeveloped countries by monopoly capital should be seen in terms of the competition between capitalists and imperialists to gain further control of markets, resources and profits in the host countries. Therefore, despite the apparent redirection of the process of accumulation toward the underdeveloped countries, the fact remains that such a phenomenon does not expose the essence -- that technology, capital, and know-how bear monopoly capitalist patents and are sources that augment exploitation of labor for profits. In most of these instances the host countries rather than being importers of foreign capital, generate profits within their borders on indigenous capital to further accelerate the process of accumulation on a world scale, a process in which the qualitative advantage works in favor of the capitalist class in the economies of the center.
From World War I to the end of World War II large numbers of West Indians migrated to the United States. In general this kind of immigration helped to alleviate the labor shortages that existed in the U. S. economy. Many of these West Indian immigrants, along with Afro-Americans from the southern United States' "Black Belt" and European laborersworked in northern factories and contributed to the war effort. During World War II alone about 100,000 British West Indians were recruited and sent to the U. S. to work as factory and farm laborers. 1Since that period
several emigration schemes were developed with the cooperation of West Indian and metropolitan governments (U. S., Britain and Canada). Through these labor export schemes West Indian governments have provided labor for factories, plantations, transportation, and household requirements (domestics).
Within the last fifteen years the categories
of laborers that emigrate from the Caribbean have been expanded to include large numbers of professional, technical and other skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers (doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, cabinet makers, carpenters, masons, gardeners and for
examDle). The fact that Commonwealth Caribbean countries have been referred to as "labor exporting economies" speaks to the emigration of a sizeable portion of the active labor force of these economies. Emigration schemes and other forms of active support for emigration have become essential features of what passes for population/employment policy in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
The Contextual Situation
The point of departure for a concrete analysis of the problem of migration must reflect an understanding of the international division of labor between the two basic components of the world capitalist system. The dynamic of this world capitalist system that is made up of exploited underdeveloped countries, and the more or less developed capitalist countries peripheral formation and formations of the center -- is the process referred to as "accumulation on a world scale." The nature of this international division of labor between these two basic components can be seen from the distribution of economic roles and functions: primary production in the "periphery" under foreign domination with the external market
dominating the economic process, and the production of producer goods, manufactures, technology and related services in the economies of the center with the dominance of the internal market as the dynamic feature.
West Indian countries belong among these socalled "peripheral capitalist formations" and have exported labor under conditions of chronic structural unemployment. The governments of these countries are fundamentally of the neo-colonial type. In capitalist economies -- underdeveloped as well as developed -the laws of commodity production predominate and, in this respect, the main difference between center and periphery lies in how these laws operate based upon differences in the level of development of the productive forces, the nature of ownership of the means of production and the general nature of the operational relations between these two components of the world sys em. 2
Reference to the two components of the world capitalist system -- center and periphery -- does not restrict or eliminate the phenomenon of the class struggle. Division into center and periphery helps to dramatize the workings of imperialism specifically with respect to the international division of labor and accumulation on a world scale. Samir Amin provides a very useful characterization and analysis of the two components of the capitalist world system. He argues that what is distinctive about the monopoly capitalist socioeconomic formations is not merely the dominance of the capitalist mode of production but the dynamic of the internal market and the tendency for the capitalist mode of production to become exclusive. In these socioeconomic formations we, therefore, tend to find one mode of production -- capitalism -- which then becomes one with the existing socioeconomic formation itself. On the other hand, Amin argues that
the dominance of capitalism in the periphery does not
lead to its exclusiveness, since it is the external
market which provides the dynamics for whatever growth
takes place. It is this dependence on the external
market for economic growth and the absence of an
exclusive capitalist mode of production in socioeconomic formations of the periphery that permits precapitalist modes of production to co-exist with
capitalism in a more or less deformed and distorted
condition.3 Thus, within the capitalist world system,
capitalism predominates. But, by means of the imperialist
nexus, capitalism appears in developed forms as well as
This situation leads Amin to speak of socioeconomic formations of the periphery as formations
which continue to experience a blockage in the process of transition. This outlook breaks very sharply with
the conventional wisdom as reflected in that body of literature known as the bourgeois sociology of development. This ahistorical sociology of development
views underdevelopment as a passing stage in the
historical evolution of the countries of the periphery;
a stage already passed through by the technologically advanced nations. The outlook with which Amin is associated views underdevelopment as a phenomenon that is produced and reproduced and one which belongs
within the dialectical process of world capitalism.
As far as the literature on Caribbean economy
is concerned, W. Arthur Lewi5 is clearly identified with the ahistorical conventional view while others
including Lloyd Best and George Beckford have provided
useful insights in their work on "plantation economy"
-- insights which suggest that underdevelopment is also a dynamic process. This can be gleaned from
their notions of "metropole and hinterland" and
. "continuity in change" in the plantation framework.6
Their contribution, when given the necessary dialectical
reformulation, is helpful to an understanding of the relationship between the problem of underdevelopment and international migration.
Incomplete Perspectives on the Problem
A number of perspectives on the problem of international migration from the "periphery" to the "center" have been developed by various scholars. Among these perspectives is Hla Myint's "less alarmist view." Though Myint is concerned with the so-called "brain drain" (export of skilled and professional workers from the periphery to the center) his treatment of the problem can be extended to cover other categories of workers. In this context Myint seems preoccupied with the market mechanism as the regulator and allocator of resources including labor (labor resources tend to gravitate toward places where employment is available). Clearly the market mechanism cannot really tell us why workers emigrate in the first place because the causal factors for this situation are internal to the underdeveloped economies while the conditioning factors are both internal and external. More than that, it does not address the problem of the causes of underdevelopment with which this kind of international migration is associated. This problem as well as the answer to it can be grasped only when we proceed from a clear understanding of the nature of the international division of labor. However Myint, for conceptual and ideological reasons, is unable to come to grips with the dialectics of the process of world capitalism with its structural inequalities in international production, exchange and distribution. In this specific context it also reflects his failure to come to terms with the dialectics of underdevelopment and real conditions in the periphery.
However, it is interesting that analysis of the problem of migration from periphery to center has been associated with more general studies dealing with the relationship between
population policy and economic development: population pressure/capital accumulation/investment! economic growth.7 The general concerns of population policy and economic development studies as these relate to migration originate from the common epistemological foundation and the accompanying false consciousness that is so dominant in bourgeois social science, in this case "economistic science" (economics). It reflects the relationship between neo-classical synthesis and conventional underdevelopment theory. That is why underdevelopment is misunderstood and misstudied and that is also why appearances always seem to dominate essence with form prevailing over content.
In our view migration from the periphery is related to internal unemployment which must be explained in terms of how capitalism functions in those countries. Factors such as the nature of ownership of essential means of production, the level of development of productive forces, how surplus is used and where it accumulates, the major beneficiaries of capital accumulation and investment and the nature of the state, must all be taken into account.
The way in which the market mechanism works in these economies cannot really be explained separately from problems associated with underdevelopment, dependence and economic openness of these economies; in a word, it is linked to the role and function of these economies in the international capitalist division of labor and production. In effect, the fact that these economies depend for such dynamism as they have experienced upon externally oriented growth strategies also suggests their secondary position in the process of "accumulation on a world scale."
The Commonwealth Caribbean Situation
The economies of the Commonwealth Caribbean are underdeveloped capitalist economies -- peripheral formations -- which may also be classified as mixed export economies: mineral, plantation, tourist and peasant characteristics predominate according to country or groups of countries. For the most part, foreign domination and ownership of the essential means of production has been a fact of life and it has been dominance of the "overseas sector" (foreign capitalist sector) over the so-called residentialy sector" that has accounted for the weakness and parasitism of the latter. The low level of transactions and the marginal quality of those transactions between the two sectors is a feature of underdeveloped economies where growth is based on the external market. It is not surprising that the major contribution of the overseas sector to internal economic activity has come in the form of payment to government of taxes and royalties and payment of wages and salaries to workers. 8
The problems of unemployment, underemployment and the generally low level of the development of the productive forces in these economies, are all related to the nature of the existing socioeconomic formation. Foreign ownership within the existing mode of production is also an important contributing factor. Rationalization of the use of resources stems from the profit objective of the capitalists and also determines the kind of production technique that is employed. Therefore, the employment of sophisticated technology in industry, ongoing capitalist rationalization of agriculture (sugar industry) via mechanization, the relatively low employment-generating capabilities of the hotel and manufacturing sectors and the low level of the mobility of labor, point to
features of the struggle between capital and labor under capitalism. For the capitalist to realize a higher profit, ways must be found to reduce the wage of the worker relative to his own profit. Since the growth of the power of labor unions has tended to rule out the traditional methods of extending the length of the working day or reducing the wage rate, the capitalist has had to turn to the use of more sophisticated techniques: he seeks to raise the productivity of the worker by employing more machinery and fewer workers. The main effect of this in underdeveloped primary-producing export economies is to reduce the demand for labor in production.
Employment opportunities in the so-called
traditional export sectors -- sugar, oil, bauxite -fluctuate and appear to be contracting while the new staples -- manufacturing (import substitution industries) and tourism - are not providing levels of employment required to absorb new entrants into the labor force. We must also bear in mind that the socalled residentiary sector is weak, parasitic and pays relatively low wages and with wages also tending to be fairly low in some other sectors. 9 The historical tendency in these countries has been (and this in spite of migration) toward the existence of a more or less permanent "reserve army of unemployed." Best, Levitt and Beckford have provided useful insights into the problems of plantation economy and their concept of "plantation economy further modified" contain positive implications for the theory of underdevelopment as we perceive it.
Primary production characteristics help to
explain why Caribbean economic growth and development have not been based on an internally propelled growth model. Also, the absence of a self-sustaining capitalism, and autocentric and exclusive capitalist formation, calls into question every aspect of postwar
capitalist economic growth strategy developed in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
It seems clear, therefore, that any reasonable discussion of the problem of emigration from the peripheral capitalist countries to the developed capitalist countries must begin with an understanding of the phenomena we have been discussin Ig. The existence of so'-called "surplus labor" and "unlimited supplies of labor" is not a natural occurence. None of this can be understood outside of the context of the nature and operation of the mode of production. It is incorrect to begin by perceiving an effect as the cause of a real problem. It should also be obvious, at least during the present period, that our primary production system, the new expanding sectors*, the import substitution industries which have not been able to transform the consumer habits of the upper class and petty bourgeois elements (in whose favor the distribution of income discriminates) and the export of surplus value as profits are features that stand in the way of the development of a dynamic employmentcreating economy.
In order for an economy to provide real
productive employment, there must be a clear material and objective relationship between production and real income. Unfortunately, this kind of relationship has not generally characterized most of the government-and private sector spending and economic activity in the Commonwealth Caribbean. This applies to the more depressed economies of the so-called Less Developed Countries (LDCs) and also to the MDCs. Thus, unemployment in these countries and the traditional practice of encouraging emigration as a safety valve for regulating unemployment are logical outgrowths and features of the political economy of underdevelopment in these peripheral capitalist formations. The solution of the population and unemployment problem is
bound up with the solution of the underdevelopment problem. It was partly the failure to realize this that led W. Arthur Lewis, over a decade ago, to arrive at the erroneous conclusion that economic development creates or can create unemployment.10 (But, of course, Lewis could scarely have concluded otherwise especially since he was performing the function of idealogue and apologist.) Many of his assumptions were made with little or no regard to the foundation of the concrete problems in the economies he was studying. Clearly, then, this perspective which is rooted in the notion of "economic dualism" does not enable us to come to grips with the emigration problem. It should be understood that we do not mean to suggest that the foreign countries to which the migrants go are not involved in promoting or encouraging immigration. In fact, immigration helps to reduce if not to remove certain critical shortages of skills in these economies from time to time. Nonetheless, to claim that economic development creates unemployment and to argue that this unemployment is linked to the malfunctioning of the social system is to demonstrate the height of the false consciousness of "economistic" science.
Another dimension that has not been given
adequate consideration is that which involves the type of relationship existing between labor organizations and political parties in the neo-colonial countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean. It is our view that this relationship is critical to the understanding of how both these governments and the labor unions approach and deal with the critical unemployment problem. Throughout these countries political parties are either directly affiliated with labor unions, as occurs in Jamaica and Guyana, or there is a close working understanding between the unions and the government as occurs in Barbados, for example. But,
further, in all of these countries control of the working class labor organizations is in the hands of petty bourgeois leadership and, in Jamaica and Guyana where the working class is organized and splintered along lines of political tribalism, the politicians have managed to relegate the objective interests ofthe workers to a secondary position. The class struggle in these countries has been divided between the economic class struggle under the supervision of labor leaders and the political class struggle headed by the politicians. The result is that the labor movement and the working class struggle are permeated by an economists outlook that is essentially petty bourgeois.
It has been becoming increasingly difficult for the governments and petty bourgeois labor leaders to maintain their undisputed control over the workers, both rural and urban proletarians. This is partly a result of deepening economic crisis and political irresponsibility which is reflected in growing social disaffection among the masses. But, the working class is still plagued by a dominant false consciousness that stands in the way of the rapid development of a class consciousness that is indispensable for the recognition of its objective class interests. Economism, economic and employment insecurity, and institutionalized bourgeois ideology are some of the real impediments. It is all the more obvious why the proletariat remains divided on a number of critical issues including the kind of economic order that is necessary for the solution of the unemployment problem. The kind of polarization that takes place around the proletariat in these societies is reflected in measures such as enactment of anti-working class legislation which occurred in Trinidad and Tobago in 1965 and 1972, and in Jamaica in 1974. And there is the practice by governments of holding the working
class responsible for low productivity and, therefore, low level capital accumulation and investment. Of course, these same governments have entered into all manner of unequal economic arrangements with foreign capital in the name of sponsoring industrial development as can be seen from the various incentive arrangements that now crowd the statute books.
All of this is related to our present investigationfor control over the working class is reflected in the ongoing adjustment and adaptation to imperialism, hence the accommodation of the foreign monopoly capitalist high productivity "enclave" sector. Foreign companies in the primary-producing sector and those engaged in the manufacturing sector, for example, pay higher wages than many "local" industries. Unequal wage rates tend to reflect unequal production levels across firms and industries, notwithstanding the "politics" of wage determination in these open dependent economies. But the profit motive of capitalist enterprise has been the basis for the ongoing rationalization of the economic production process. In the presence of foreign domination, the gains from higher productivity, which come via the substitution of machinery and technology for manpower, tend to accrue abroad or, if reinvested, are used to deepen and reinforce the existing process of underdevelopment.
The high wage sector of the working population is therefore small and constitutes what is often described as the "labor aristocracy." This sector coexists with the mass of low wage workers and lumpen elements. The petty bourgeois outlook which is widespread in the working class leadership adds to the practice of tribalism that exists between the various categories of workers. Political victimization is a powerful weapon in the hands of the politicians and labor leaders when it comes to exercising control over
workers in an unstable economy with chronic unemployment problems. Some workers do not only come to believe that capitalism and higher levels of foreign investment are the answer to their problems but they also come to adopt a less than favorable attitude toward fellow workers. Therefore, the incidence of unemployment that is linked to the process we have been discussing cannot be separated from the broader political economic considerations with which migration is linked. In effect, the migration policy which a country adopts is also the legislative expression of the political economic and cultural character of the state and the country's place in the world system in which it participates. 11
During the decade 1960-1970 a large number of West Indians emigrated to North America and Britain. Palmer gives figures of 150,000 such immigrants into the U. S. alone for 1962-1971, 12 and Beckford estimates that there were 280,000 emigrants for the 1960-1970 period. 13 For the latter period the annual average rate of emigration as a percentage of the natural increase in the population was as follows for Commonwealth Caribbean countries: Jamaica 55%, Trinidad and Tobago 53%, Guyana 27%, Barbados 87%, St. Lucia 53%, St. Vincent 73%, Grenada 78%, Dominica 76%, St. Kitts-Nevis 142%, and Montserrat 124%.14In spite of this exodus, the average rate of unemployment per territory during the same period (1960-1970) was between 15 -20 percent of the labor force. Since 1970 Jamaica, for example, has had an average unemployment rate of 20 percent per year. 15
Following upon the British government's
enactment of the Commonwealth Immigration Act (1962) which drastically reduced the rate and flow of Commonwealth immigration into Britain, West Indian immigrants began to turn increasingly to the United States and Canada. 16 In 1965, however, the
Immigration and Nationality Act (1952), also known as the McCarran-Walter Act, was amended. The amended Immigration act (1965) was intended to protect American workers while restricting immigration from the Western Hemisphere. It has been suggested that the introduction in 1968, of the annual ceiling of 120,000 immigrant visas for the Western Hemisphere has tended to negate the intent of the Immigration Act of 1965, and that a possible acceleration of the export of skilled labor from Western Hemisphere countries into the United States might be traceable to the labor certification requirement that was instituted under the same act in 1968.17
Research on the export of skilled labor from the Commonwealth Caribbean is only now being begun.18 At this stage we cannot verify that the changes which were made in U. S. immigration legislation actually accelerated the "brain drain" from the Commonwealth Caribbean. First of all between 1965 and 1975, at least 50% of Commonwealth Caribbean immigrants to the U. S. have fallen into the category of those without jobs or those not declaring employment. Also the other 50% has included the highly skilled workers along with intermediate categories of skilled and unskilled workers. Generally, it is difficult to obtain data on specific employment skills --doctors, engineers, and others --from the Commonwealth Caribbean though there is much more data available on general categories of skills: administrative, technical, managerial, clerical, and others. Table 1 includes selected data on categories of Commonwealth Caribbean immigrants to the U. S. for 1966-1974. The information contained in Table 1 is revealing in light of the high level of unemployment in the region and the level of migration that has been taking place. We have already indicated that, apart from Guyana, no Commonwealth Caribbean country exported less than 50%
Commonwealth Caribbean Immigrants Admitted by Country of Origin and by Occupation Year Ending June 30, 1966-June 30, 1974
___Admissions by Country of Origin Toa ocuation
Country 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1966-74 1966-74
Barbados 520 1037 2024 1957 1774 1731 1620 1448 1461 13572 80051
Guyana 377 857 1148 1615 1763 2115 2826 2969 3241 16911 7742 2
Jamaica 2743 10483 17470 16947 15033 14571 13427 9963 12408 13045 65141
Trinad 753 2160 5266 6835 7350 7130 6615 7035 6513 49660 247641
Technical & 346 1824 2814 2842 1809 2081 1511 1282 1140 15649
Technical & 3
Kindred as % 24.1 18.6 12.1 15.3 13.6 16.5 13.1 14.2 11.8
Occupations ____ ___ ________________ __Source: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Reports 1: For Period 1967 1974
2: For Period 1968 1974
3: Does not include Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago
of he natural increase in population during 19601970. 19
An average of 15.5 percent of all immigrants admitted during 1966-1974 have been professional, technical and kindred workers. Apart from a tentative study on Jamaica there is no data on the monetary contribution of Commonwealth Caribbean countries to the U. S. economy in terms of exported labor that was trained in those countries. Based on this very general data and the absence of more concrete infomation on the number of immigrants admitted by profession (doctors, dentists, nurses), the actual cost of training these professionals or the economic cost to the labor-exporting economies it would be unwise to try to make any specific extrapolation from the data. Between 1961-1968, however, a number of high-level personnel emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago to the United States. In terms of the specific fields of study there were 33 immigrants from the natural sciences, 113 from education, 74 engineers, 39 from dentistry and medicine, 480 nurses, and 234 individuals from unspecified fields of study: a total of 973 immigrants. 20
Another problem which Commonwealth Caribbean countries have experienced has been the visibility of expatriates in key administrative and technical positions in the private sector, especially in foreign owned and controlled enterprises. It was reported in an earlier study on Jamaica that this problem was indeed very serious and, furthermore, that Jamaica could be said to lack required human resources in the professional, technical and related areas. 21This is an interesting point since Jamaica, like other Commonwealth Caribbean countries:exports high-level manpower. The problem involves two categories: expatriates in top positions in these occupations and those trained Jamaicans whose skills do not meet the stated skill
requirements and specifications of foreign enterprises. There is also the practice by these governments of importing foreign experts for various assignments including the preparation of development plans. The form of this problem is similar to that identified by Ernesto Pernia and which was referred to above: the training of skilled labor that is not being utilized because of the absence of jobs and/or the contextual basis for planning and programs where this labor could be used productively. This skilled labor migrates for these and other reasons. Moreover, Alice Gasserly indicated that emigration has also been contributing to the shortage of required skilled workers because many of those who migrate are skilled. 22 This situation is reflective of a more basic contradiction: the export of labor results from underdevelopment and the intensification of underdevelopment is maintained from the export of labor that is necessary to facilitate development.
Even at this present stage of the heightening of the contradictions produced by imperialism in the periphery --those associated with underdevelopment and, in this case, the manifestations of petty bourgeois nationalism --it is necessary to be very careful about rushing to make conclusions about the benefits of the kind of nationalization and participation that is currently being practised. More specifically, the new nationalism has managed to obtain concessions from foreign capital~ including the transfer of managerial functions from expatriates to nationals as the process of adaptation to imperialism localization deepens. But it has been shown that this kind of participation with monopoly capital within the neo-colonial context is mainly a further adjustment to imperialism in which double loyalties are created and promoted among the nationals that replace expatriates in foreign enterprises. 23This evidence suggests that
even the creation of jobs for high-level manpower should not necessarily be seen as a blessing in disguise" because the skills of those who replace expatriates might not necessarily be used in ways that are conducive to the realization of productive development. These points help to elucidate aspects of a very complex problem and suggest that the solution to this problem is not compatible with adaptation to imperialism.
Some final comments are in order on other aspects of the emigration of skilled labor from Jamaica. It is estimated that the annual rate of emigration of professional and technical personnel has been about 16 percent during 1970-1975. According to Robert Girling, during that period about 10,225 persons were expected to emigrate from Jamaica out of a total of 15,000 persons that would have been trained in that country.2 It was estimated that, based on this level of emigration of high-level manpower, the monetary value of Jamaica' s gift of labor to the metropolitan economies was about J$9 million.25 These economies of the Commonwealth Caribbean have therefore been making their contribution to world capitalism by exporting raw materials, surplus value and skilled labor. Girling also estimates that, based on the exportation of skilled labor alone, the approximate annual cost to the Jamaican economy in terms of production foregone ranges, in money terms, between J$6 million and J$30 million. 26
There may be a valid question of whether
additional employment and production would have been realized had not these emigration outlets been made available. It is possible that, without these outlets, the level of unemployment might even be higher. We are also aware that the availability of remittances from many of these emigrants has kept many dependents and able-bodied persons within the margin of
subsistence. However, to view this situation as salutary on pragmatic grounds is to condone underdevelopment and misunderstand the process of imperialism These outlets can be cut off even if such action appears improbable. Clearly, then, we should not lose sight of the real problem: migration has to be understood within the context of international capitalism.
The foregoing discussion on emigration and underdevelopment suggests the following state of affairs. First of all it is fruitless to approach the problem without a clear understanding of the nature and dynamics of the existing capitalist system as it functions within countries and on a world scale. It is the international situation of world capitalism that reflects the basic dynamic of the international division of labor. Within the peripheral capitalist socio-economic formations the problems of unemployment and emigration assume national forms but are international in content. It is the interaction of these peripheral economies with those of the center that provide us with the necessary insight into the workings of the world system. To appreciate this point one must be aware that the socialization of production is not restricted to the national boundaries of each of these countries but that it is essentially socialized international capitalist production.
The problem of migration and the methods that have been adopted to deal with it in the Commonwealth Caribbean cannot lead to any real solution. Population policy and government supported emigration do little more than to regularize the problem within a framework of balanced disequilibrium. This suggests that a meaningful solution is not to be found within
the existing socioeconomic context in which the problem arose in the first place. Furthermore, the problem must also be handled at the international level since it is bound up with and reflects the asymmetrical distribution of economic power within and between center and periphery: a manifestation of the content of imperialism.
The discussion also indicated that the policy associated with emigration cannot be studied in isolation from the governments that sponsor it. This says something about these governments. As so-called neo-colonial countries the Commonwealth Caribbean has been characterized by its propensity to adjust and adapt to the changing process of imperialism. Hence, the class nature of those States is reflected in the measures they adopt to deal with unemployment. These regimes participate in, and contribute to, the problem from which emigration arises.
The problems of the transfer of resources from the periphery -- raw materials and surplus value -contribute to the transfer of skills and jobs to the center. This is a clear case of what we call the transfer of the "mechanisms of transformation". It is this transfer of the "mechanisms of transformation" that contributes to the export of labor in search of employment that should have been created in these peripheral economies in the first place. This factor is a feature of the very nature of the international division of labor within the international capitalist system. It is obvious that the real expanding productive sector for the absorption of this labor is to be found in the economies of the center. This does not always present itself in this way because the center economies also have their unemployment problems that originate from the contradiction between production and appropriation. Nonetheless, the dynamic of the center economies in which the internal market is
domiiiant 'hprp flip cq01 t a it m odo f rrliict ion hPNO]e e'q 1 Vqle qo ,.I j] i (,h q I IorI 1 I1( 01(I q II-p 11o'Niq ite frmi t li ppii Iherv i s q r~lerpct i- OFf the nat 'i'Flip pir '' m i ii-I il-re1v qn qacaqjpTYi(
riolIpill qt i1 i 1,P pc -it ip IC Il-i ti oF iindriierleielorI n p t aill~ Ini 1 lie hniil' i .' F te lip en jo f w i l,,
-;I)(] net 0 I h h a en I 1qv I pllqei 1 1, ea I ii7i t 1 itf tI' .11 1v i Q there aq need fo r q f lip, -I a- ''' F 1"1t i (q P e''f, 111v if lpN-lol peT I halit cmt pejilq l 1, t$lj Iii Poi M. B~ qlict q I lpi v muist ql Io li rout -d iii f he tittlerpf atiii' t Iaqt I lip prol'l1 c,11 f,11n ", lip ni(lN ( qlfilv li 11 1ow t lip other Itl nInm of jt eiiiqt inah api taql i ;rq.
'Bernard Pole..;o':,-n; 'S f' t!;
0 iC '.;'h ; ;; (Columiia, South
Carolina: University of So~uth Carol ina Press. 1951) pp. 200-203.
2 The categories of formations oif the center and formations of the periphery are borrowed from Samir Amin's J e~vllo r o iS~i. A(o fu of'
the Theoru ci' Ud -o *i; .(New York: Monthly
Review Press, 1974). 2 vols. ee especially vol. 1, part 1.
3 lbd, pp. 37-38.
Ibid, p. 38.
5 See for example The Industfrio',-otien;l of the British WeSt In7die S. (Bridgetown, Barbados: the Government Printing Office, 1951).
6Lloyd Best and Kari Levitt, "Externally Propelled Industrialization in the Caribbean." (Mineo) pp. 2428 and George L. Beckford Persistent Poverty. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972).
7Robert W. Cox, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 54, No. 2, January 1976, pp. 344-365. Wilfred David, "The Brain Drain and Its Implications for Guyana's Manpower Requirements and Development: 1971-80 Development." Georgetown, Guyana: Ministry of Economic Development, 1970) pp. 6-8. See also United Nations Institute for Training and Research, The Brain Drain from Five Developing Countries: Cameroon Colombia Lebanon The Philippines Trinidad and Tobago. (New York: UNITAR Research Reports, No. 5, 1971) Chapter 1. See for a more useful treatment of the problem of unemployment in the Commonwealth Caribbean, Alister McIntyre. "Reflections on the Problem of Unemployment in the Commonwealth Caribbean," in A. W. Singham, ed. The Commonwealth Caribbean into the Seventies. (Montreal: McGill University, Center for Developing Area Studies, 1975) pp. 1-15; Norman Girvan, "Unemployment in Jamaica," in Norman Girvan and Owen Jefferson, eds. Readings in the Political Economy of the Caribbean. (Kingston, Jamaica: New World Group Ltd., 1972) p. 270 ff.; Hla Myint, Economic Theory and the Underdeveloped Countries. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971) pp. 223-237; Hla Myint, The Economics of the Developing Countries. (New York: Praeger, 1971), Chapter 6; Ransford Palmer, "The Migration of Human Resources from the Caribbean: Some Economic Implications." Paper presented at the Second Annual Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association, Castries, St. Lucia, 7-9 January 1976; Ernesto Pernia, "The Question of the Brain Drain from the Philippines." International Migration Review, Vol. X, No. 1, January 1976, pp. 63-64.
8George L. Beckford, "Socio-Economic Change and Political Continuity in the English Caribbean."
Paper delivered at the CLASCO-UNAM Conference on the
Caribbean. Mexico City, October 28 November 1,
1974, p. 5.
9Best and Levitt, op.cit., p. 86.
10Referred to in Best and Levitt, op.cit., D. 102.
11Frank A. Barrnet, "A Schema for Indirect International
Migration." International Migration Review, vol. X,
no. 1, January 1976, p. 6.
12Palmer, op.cit., p. 3.
13Beckford, op.cit., p. 11. Mortality and retirement
were less than 50 percent of net migration, according
14Ibid., p. 10.
15Jamaica Economic Survey 1971-1972 (Annual). pp. 95-96.
161an R. H. Rockett, "Immigration Legislation and the
Flow of Specialized Human Capital from South America
to the United States." International Migration Review.
vol. X, no. 1, January 1976, p. 48. Between 1968-1971 about 9,600 Jamaicans migrated to Canada. See Jamaica Economic Survey 1971-1972 (Annual). 17Ibid.
18Wilfred David and Robert K. Girling, "The Migration of Human Capital from the Third World: The Implications and some Data on the Jamaica Case." Social and Economic Studies. vol. 23, no. 1, March 1974, pp. 84-96. Also see note 7 above.
191n 1975 Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were among
the fifteen leading countries that exported labor to
the United States. They held tenth and fifteenth
positions, respectively. Reported in U.S. News and
World Report, April 15, 1976, p. 27 and based on U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service data. 20UNITAR Reports NP. 5, p. 140.
21Alice Casserly, "The Unavailability of Required
Human Resources" in Jack Harewood, ed. Human
Resources in the Commonwealth Caribbean. (Mona, Jamaica:
University of the West Indies I.S.E.R., 1970) p. 5. 22Ibid., p. 6
23C. Y. Thomas, "Meaningful Participation, the Fraud
of It" in Orde Coombs, ed. Is Massa Day Done? Black Moods in the Caribbean. New York: Doubleday-Anchor
24Robert K. Girling, "The Migration of Human Capital
from the Third World: The Implications and some Data on the Jamaican Case." Social and Economic
Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 1974. D. 93.
2 'rb i d.
2 'Tbid. p. 94.
Migration From t he Caribbean t o t he St ates:
The Economic Status of the Immigrants*
Ransford W. Palmer
Migration statistics clearly show that over the last ten to fifteen years, there has been substantial migration of human resources from the Caribbean to North America, in particular to the United States. The character of the migration to the United States is markedly different from that of the great migration of West Indians to Britain in the 'fifties in one major respect: migration to the United States has included a larger percentage of professional and technical people.
This migration of human resources goes counter to one of the most resounding themes being echoed by Caribbean countries, that is, ownership and control of their own resources. This theme has grown out of disappointment with the limited social benefits generated by foreign capital invested through large multinational corporations. In the Caribbean, the bulk of the foreign capital has gone to exploit mineral resources for export, while the growth of economic opportunities has barely kept pace with population growth. It is this fundamental condition which generates the thinking that if enough jobs
*Revised version .of paper prepared for the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies, Smithsonian Institution, for presentation to the panel on "International Migration as a Policy Issue: The Western Hemisphere," XVII Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, Toronto, Canada, 25-28 February 1976, chaired by Dr. Roy Bryce-Laporte.
and opportunities do not come with the imported capital and technology, people ought to go to the jobs in North America where, as Michael Piore argues, the capitalist society needs labor to man positions at the lower end of the social structure. 1
Patterns of Migration
According to the 1970 United States Census, 234,000 immigrants from the Caribbean were in the United States at that time, comprising 2.4 percent of all the immigrants. As Table 1 shows, approximately 50 percent of them came between 1965 and 1970. From the English-speaking Caribbean alone, over 150,000 arrived between 1962 and 1971. 3Of the Caribbean immigrants, 50 percent came from the English-speaking Caribbean, 33 percent came from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean (excluding Cuba and Puerto Rico), and 14 percent came from the French-speaking Caribbean.
Seventy-three percent of all Caribbean imnmigrants in the United States in 1970 lived in the New York City metropolitan area and comprised the secondlargest group in that area. (The Italians were the largest, with an estimated population of 280,000.) The high concentration of Caribbean immigrants in New York City may be explained by the thesis that emphasizes the importance of the migrant stock variable as a determinant of the destination of new immigrants. "The new immigrant is more likely to receive information about those regions populated by relatives and friends, and he is more apt to receive temporary accomodations and to feel more at home in those areas." This is strengthened by the fact that the majority of the new immigrants are admitted under the immigration categories which provide preference to relatives.5
Economic Characteristics of Caribbean Immigrants by Year of Immigration, 1970
a' Year of Number of Median Labor Force % of PTK* Labor PartiImmigration Immigrants Income of (16 and Workers, cipatton
Families over) Managers Rate
1965 1970 112,657 $ 7,653 66,118 10.357% 58.7%~
1960 1964 39,848 8,619 24,717 16.75 62.0
1955 1959 15,588 10,113 10,788 21.19 69.2
1950 1954 13,149 9,433 9,759 19.95 74.2
1945 1949 10,158 9,994 7,299 19.52 71.8
1935 1944 4,528 10,189 2,747 15.69 60.6
1925 1934 5,245 8,284 2,837 23.05 54.0
Before 1925 20,521 6,633 6,699 23.60 32.6
Not reported 11,613 7,781 6,387 10.44 54.9
*Professional, Technical and Kindred
The pattern of migration from the West Indies between 1962 and 1971, and the occupational distribution of the emigrants from the period, are shown in Tables 2 and 3. Thirty-six percent of the skilled workers (categories 1, 2, and 6 of Table 3) were professionals and technicians and more than half of them (Table 1) came from Jamaica. Of the professional and technical workers emigrating from Jamaica between 1962 and 1972, over 46 percent (9,000) were from medical and related fields, with nurses (3,000) dominating the list. This massive migration of nurses highlights the export of human capital to a developed country by a developing country.
Chief Determinant of Migration
The major factor influencing migration from
the Caribbean to the United States is an economic one. The substantial income differential between the U.S. and the Caribbean has operated as a strong pull factor, while the limited expansion of economic opportunities for professional development in the Caribbean has operated as a push factor.
The extent of the income differential between the U.S. and the Caribbean may be illustrated by a
comparison of the output per worker in Jamaica with output per worker in the U.S. Calculations for the period 1963-1972 show that, on the average, output per worker in the United States was ten times that of output per worker in Jamaica. The exposure of Caribbean countries to the demonstration effect of high income levels in the United States has made it difficult for Caribbean governments to effect any worthwhile income redistribution program. Many skilled people who view the labor market for their skills as a combination
Table 2 -- WEST INDIAN MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES, 1962-1971a
Country 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971
c Jamaica 1573 1880 1762 1837 2743 10483 17470 16947 15033 14571
Trinidad & Tobagob 2160 5266 6835 7350 7130
Barbadosb 1037 2024 1957 1774 1731
Other West Indies 2720 2599 2771 2873 3402 2099 4494 2507 2940 3065
Totals 4293 4479 4533 4710 6145 15779 29254 28246 27097 26497
Professional, Technical and Kindred Workers (PTK) Jamaica 140 255 252 176 346 1357 1777 1704 1056 1078
Trinidad & Tobagob 330 555 622 472 496
Barbadosb 137 207 215 159 172
Other West Indies 237 249 262 303 364 213 294 190 178 257
Total 377 504 514 479 710 2037 2833 2431 1865 2003
Percent of Total
West Indian Mi- 8.7 11.2 11.3 10.1 11.5 12.9 9.6 8.6 6.8 7.5
gration to U.S.
PTK Emigrants from
Jamaica as % of 37.1 50.5 49.0 36.7 48.7 66.6 62.7 70,0 56.6 53.8
Total PTK Emig.
aSource: U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service,Annual
bFigures for 1962-1966 are included in the category "Other West Indies." Reports
Table 3 OCCUPATIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF WEST INDIAN
EMIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES, 1962-1971a
1. Professional, Technical and Kindred Workers (PTK) .... ............ 13,753
2. Farmers and Farm Managers., .............. 273
3. Managers, Officials and Proprietors ..... 1,674 4. Clerical and Kindred Workers ............ 10,686
5. Sales Workers .......... I ................. 1,417
6. Craftsmen, Foremen and Kindred Workers .................. ............ 13,920
7. Operatives and Kindred Workers .......... 10,193
8. Private Household Workers ............... 28,045
9. Service Workers except Private Household ............................. 7,346
10. Farm Laborers and Foremen ............... 1,116
11. Laborers except Farm and Mine ........... 2,246
12. Housewives, children and others with
no occupation or occupation not
reported .............................. 60,064
Grand Total 150,733
Category No. 1 as percent of total workers ................................... 15.1%
Category No. 1 as a percent of Categories
Nos. 1, 6, 7 .............................. 36.3%
a Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and
Naturalization Service, Annual Reports
of the local market and the larger American market are likely to emigrate with the slightest hint of a redistribution of portions of their income to lower income groups.
Economic Staf us of Immigrants in f he United States
The figures show that Caribbean immigrants have been able to improve their economic position in the United States, even if their relative economic position vis-a-vis other immigrant groups is low. An examination of U.S. Census data for 1970 shows that the median income of Caribbean immigrant families (excluding Cuba and Puerto Rico) was $8,296. 6 In Table 4, this ranked nineteenth out of the twentythree immigrant groups examined. Although this median income was substantially greater than that of black American families, it was below the $9,327 for all American families.
When we look at Table 1, a pattern of economic progress of the Caribbean immigrant emerges. The earlier immigrant families generally moved up the median income scale as the percentage of professional and technical workers in their ranks increased. This strongly suggests that both skill and experience are important factors influencing the median income of immigrant families. This hypothesis can be tested with the data for twenty-three immigrant groups in Table 4. When median income of immigrant families (Y m ) was regressed on the share of skilled workers (L k) in each immigrant group, and the median age (A) of each group, the share of skilled workers was far more significant in explaining median income differences than the median age. However, together these two independent variables explained only 25 percent of the differences in income from one immigrant group to another.
ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF IMMIGRANT GROUPS, 1970
Country Median 7, Skilled Median Labor Parof Income of Workers in Age ticipation
Origin Families Labor Force Rate
(Y)(L k) (A) (L p)
Canada $10,696 42.80%. 50.8 45.59%.
Kningdo 10,347 42.80 54.6 42.76
Ireland 10,112 34.02 61.8 42.51
Nether- 10,096 45.29 47.6 Z16.68
Germany 10,064 43.53 49.6 45.95
France 9,886 42.25 45.3 45.29
Yugoslavia 9,759 37.74 55.2 46.88
Hungary 9,750 47.37 62.8 42.76
China 9,660 38.06 38.4 59.45
Poland 9,631 37.64 64.5 40.32
Lithuania 9,619 44.08 68.1 37.07
Greece 8,846 35.37 45.4 48.24
Czecho- 871 4.96. 66
slovakia 871 4.96. 66
Cuba 8,684 28.00 36.3 53.84
USSR 8,571 39.64 68.8 35.35
Austria 8,496 43.36 68.3 33.45
Italy 8,397 33.27 63.2 38.64
Japan 8,374 32.69 39.5 38.52
Caribbean 8,296 25.82 34.4 57.68
Norway 8,252 49.83 67.2 33.28
Denmark 8,080 47.04 65.9 37.20
Sweden 6,931 45.23 70.5 27.23
Mexico 6,440 20.48 37.9 45.76
Y= 7453 + 96.02L k + 40.47A
(6.49) (2,60) (1,81)
Th ese results suggest that other factors --many of which may well be non-economic -- play a critical role in explaining income differences among the immigrant groups. They also suggest that the relatively low share of skilled workers in the Caribbean group and the low median age of the group combine to give a rough explanation of the group's median income position vi-'-vis other groups.
The extremely high labor participation rate (57.7) of the Caribbean group coupled with its relatively low median income reflect the fact that a disproportionate share of its work force is employed in low-paying service occupations. This is reinforced by the fact that almost half of the labor force (49 percent) is made up of women, a substantial share of whom are employed in service occupations which are low-paying by American standards. Bryce-Laporte argues that generally jobs occupied by Caribbean immigrants are low-paying or low-status by American standards, or cannot be filled because of the underqualification of the natives regardless of color. However, despite the relatively low salary and low status of these jobs in the United States job market, many West Indian nurses and secretaries, for example, earn "much more at their 'professions' here in the States than at home."7
It appears that the improvement of the
economic position of the Caribbean group will depend significantly on the growth of the share of skilled workers in this labor force. This means that the cost of acquiring skills will be a critical factor in this
process, Since aver 70 percent of Caribbean immigrants live in New York City, the cost of education there in the years ahead is of particular significance. The city's current fiscal problem points to increasing costs to its residents for education and training in the future. This is a development that may well make it difficult for Caribbean immigrants to improve their relative economic position.
In the end it will be far easier for the
Caribbean immigrants to improve their economic position relative to what it was in their home country than to improve their relative position vis-a-vis
higher income groups in the United States. The latter may appear less urgent than the former, but it is just as important if these immigrants are not to become an underclass occupying low-paying service jobs in a capitalist economy.
1 Michael T. Piore, "The 'New Immigration' and the Presumptions of Social Policy," Proceedings, Industrial Relations Research Association 27th Annual Meeting, December 1974, p. 354.
2U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population: 1970 Subject Reports, Final Report PC(2)-lA, NationaZ origin and Language (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973).
3 See Ransford W. Palmer, "A Decade of West Indian Migration to the United States: An Economic Analysis:" SociaZ and Economic studies, Vol. 23 (December 1974), pp. 571-587.
4james A. Dunlevy and Henry A. Gemery, "A Comparison of Migrant Stock and Lagged Migration as Explanatory Variables in Migration Studies," paper delivered at the Western Economic Association Conference, San Diego, California, June 1975 (mimeo), p. 1.
See also P. Nelson, "Migration, Real Income and Information," Journal of Regional Science, 1 (1959) pp. 43-74; and M.J. Greenwood, "An Analysis of the Determinants of Geographic Labor Mobility in the United States," Review of Economics and Statistics, 51 (May 1969), pp. 189-194.
5U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1972 Annual Report (Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), pp. 2-3.
6Ransford W. Palmer, The Economic Status of Caribbeani Immigrants in the United States (mimeo). 7Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, testimony qivcn at the Hearings before the Subcommittee on Inter-American Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 93rd Congress, Second Session, September 1973 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974), pp. 76-77.
Black Immigrants and the American Ethos:
Theories and Observations*
A Model of Ethnic Achievement In America
Sociologists and historians for some time have attempted to document the forces and processes which underlie the assimilation, or non-assimilation, of the various ethnic groups in American society. That is, they have noted the general tendency of certain immigrant groups to be absorbed into the mainstream society and have tried to delineate factors responsible for differential rates of assimilation of the various groups.
The majority of these scholars have taken the conservative ideological position that there is a "natural history" or "life cycle" which all or most immigrant groups follow in their inevitable movement towards assimilation. The cases of EurODean ethnics (Germans, Italians, Irish, Jews, Poles and others) are used as evidence in support of this theory. This immigration perspective implies that any problems encountered by other groups are merely temporary problems of immigrant adjustment for, given enough time they, like other immigrants before them, will
*This paper was prepared for a panel discussion organized by the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies on the topic, "Ethnicity, the American Ethos and the New Immigration: Theories and Observations," 7 November 1975. My thanks to Roy Bryce-Laporte, Director of the Institute, for encouraging me to systematize my thoughts on the topic.
progressively become incorporated and assimilated, Even Ira Reid's study of Black immigrants to America utilized this tradition. 1 The framework of this perspective rests essentially on acceptance of the image of America as a land of economic opportunity providing equalitarian opportunities for all to rise from "rags to riches."
The most vociferous critics of this theory have come from a racial-nationalistic perspective: they point to the present plight of Blacks in America as the clearest refutation of this thesis. Blacks are one of the oldest immigrant groups in America, yet they remain like permanent outsiders. Even in Britain the immigration perspective voiced by sociologists such as Sheila Patterson and Michael Banton, 2 has come under heavy attack. One "West Indian Briton" has stated that Blacks in Britain or the United States will be viewed first and foremost as outsiders regardless of how long they live in those countries. That this belief is valid insofar as the British are concerned can be borne out upon examination of the philosophical congruity underlying Enoch Powell's question: "How can a Black man born in England be English?" and the fact that, without exception all the statutory and voluntary white agencies in England have now adopted the label 'second generation' immigrants to refer to Black Britons. 3
Both the advocates of assimilation and their racial critics have elements of truth in their particular assertions; but both sides have gone astray because of their failure to develop an adequate definition or model of American (metropolitan) society and American culture. Had this been done the natural history advocates perhaps would have developed a more accurate theory of ethnic assimilation based upon the values and adaptive capacity of immigrants in relation to the values and socio-econ-institutions of the host
society. And, the racial critics would have come to view "race" as an important factor because of the havoc it has historically wrought on Blacks, Our theory comes somewhere in between these two aforementioned approaches as it takes into account race, class and immigration so as to accord each a more correct place within the total explanatory scheme.
As a first step in this analysis we must develop a typology of American society as it has manifested itself to immigrants; a typology that will express the essential core and dynamics of the American reality.
What is America? When people migrate to America what are they migrating to? How should we characterize American society and American culture? American society is the most highly developed capitalist system, defined as one in which the rational and systematic pursuit of economic gain has reached its highest point. Max Weber's conception of the "Protestant ethic" is a particularly appropriate concept when attempting to understand the development of capitalism in the United States for it incorporates the values and attitudes most conducive to the efflorescence of American capitalism. Weber chose the American patriarch Benjamin Franklin to personify the Protestant ethic. Of Franklin he wrote that the "virtue and proficiency" of earning money in a calling are "the real Alpha and Omega of Franklin's ethic." It seems not unreasonable to state that the type of money-work ethic conceptualized by Weber has long been the motive force in American culture, As a justification of wealth, this work-discipline-spending ethic has been voiced by leading capitalist stalwarts such as Andrew Carnegie and have become secularized and integrated into the major institutions of American society. Thus, it is quite clear that the only common American culture is the culture and ethic of
capitalism which arose out of what de Tocqueville \Democfpacy in America, 1835) referred to as "the peculiar and accidental situation which Providence has placed on the American, namely: the absence of any great Capital city and of warring neighbors, the diverse social origins of the settlers, the abundant land and other resources, the desire for riches and expansion which kept the people on the move, and a great commercial passion."
The core value-components of this culture
include the ethic of crass materialism, the "cult" of rugged individualism and acquisitiveness, aggressiveness, ruthless competitiveness, pragmatism, rationalism and anti-traditionalism. Commenting on the economic conditions of his time, Weber noted that capitalism had come to dominate American economic life and in the process educated and selected the subjects it needed through an "ethic" he referred to as economic survival of the fittest.4
While many white Anglo-Saxon Protestants
(W.A.SP t) claim this capitalist culture as their very own, the truth is that this culture was a supranational form generic to the socio-economic movement called Industrialization which happened to have emerged in fullest form first among W.A.S.P.'s of Europe. But now the John Birchites, the Minutemen, the Ku Klux Klansmen and other white American radical rightists are claiming that it represents "American" ideals and culture, a form which they think must be protected at all costs from Communists, Jews, Negroes and "foreigners."'
This "American" culture is one in which human beings swing to the jingle of coins and to the mechanical beat of machines, where living men are dominated by dead matter (money); it is a culture in which time and discipline are central, It is a cultural orientation which sociologist Talcott Parsons euphemistically
has called "Instrumental Activism." Parsons characterizes America's instrumental activism as being vested in the interest of range and quality of adaptation, with greatest emphasis on economic production. Such production, he further asserts, is highly valued as the most immediate focus of adaptive capacity. 5
Accordingly America has functioned primarily as an economic reality offering unequal economic opportunities to diverse peoples. The American War of Independence, the American Civil War and most other significant turmoils have been primarily economic struggles. Thus, the most unifying and common cultural elements in America, which have united the various groups, have involved their actual or expected participation within this common economic culture. This has been the meaning of "America" and this was how America was viewed.
Ethnic groups have used America as an instrument for their economic advancement, and in spite of the leveling effects of this urban materialist culture, they have often attempted to retain their traditional cultures as cushions and psychological refuges against the conforming and overwhelming might of the American social landscape. Thus, above and beyond the overriding Capitalist "Protestant" culture, sub-cultural clusters exist but only as expressions and adaptations to the particular economic realities (success or failure) of various groups (e.g., the culture of poverty of Blacks) and of the modified cultural importations of the incoming ethnic groups (for instance, "African survivals"),
What does all of this mean for the adjustment levels and positions of the differing ethnic groups in America? If indeed American society conforms fairly closely to the above picture of a competitive, acquisitive, materialistic and technological culture, then
one would naturally expect that this cultural pattern would dictate standards for assimilation, One would expect that those immigrant groups traditionally possessing a cultural orientation fairly similar to that of America, or who had a very adaptive culture, would assimilate or merge at a quicker pace than groups with values antithetical to capitalism. Groups
with a greater adaptive capacity vis '- -vis the basic
capitalistic reality are bound to emerge as dominant groups. Sociologists have broadly defined adaptive capacity as: relying upon elements of a minority group's cultural heritage which provide (a) bases for effective competition with the dominant group, (b) offers protection against exploitation, and (c) may either foster or retard the minority's adaptation to the social milieu by facilitating or impeding the group's upward advancement. 6
Thus, American immigrant groups have fit in with and become organic parts of U.S. society in proportion to the degree to which they could socially, culturally and psychologically adapt to the overriding capitalistic imperatives of the American reality. By no means, however, should this historical descriptive assessment of the history of United States society be taken as the author's prescription for the solution of America's racial problem, for as Lerone Bennett once stated: "nothing is worse than failing in America than succeeding in America." What does it profit a people to gain the whole world (economically) but lose their group soul? Moreover, all the evidence increasingly reveals the mounting disintegration of American society which makes naught of any long term efforts of the Afro-American collectivity to "make it" in the system by becoming more capitalistic, Additionally,
"succeeding" on the individual level is becoming less rewarding as American wealth, during these "last days," has become more and more concentrated in the
hands of a few monopoly capitalists.
This general theory becomes more convincing when we compare a number of ethnic and color groups and find that the most consistent factor underlying group success or failure was the presence or absence of what sociologist Max Weber has called the "Protestant ethic." A cursory analysis of the cultural patterns of the various ethnic groups can serve to
highlight this argumtent.
Among the "old" ethnic immigrants the Irish were initially disdained as much for their newness as for their being Catholic, their poverty and their illiteracy. They were, however, endowed with language and political skills, and fired on by memories of Irish famines, They became so dominated by the urge to succeed in America that in time they came to equal the W.A.S.P. in terms of financial success and thereby came to be regarded as the "most pushy" of the Catholic groups. One observer has described the general orientation of Irish politicians. And, according to him the general success of the Irish politician is due, in part, to having more of an interest in winning elections and solving difficult problems in an informal off-the-record manner as opposed to being a political 'purist' which could lead to situations of explicit confrontation.7
Likewise, Jews have moved up within American society by utilizing such middle class values as orderly conservation of capital, high valuation and use of education and a strong family base. They have accordingly become one of the models of ethnic success in America.
In America the Japanese, Mexican-Americans and Native Americans are roughly of the same racial status -- non-white coloreds - yet their economic status varies tremendously. W~hy?
The Japanese have ceased being a "yellow
peril" and today constitute white America's "model minority." From the 1950's onwards the Japanese have attained tremendous occupational and economic success, so much so that many sociologists no longer regard them as a minority. Ironically nowadays it has become common to see white Americans driving Japanese-made cars with such stickers as "Love America or Leave It." Yet, the story of the Japanese experience in America is one entailing much grief, much hurt and much racism. Like the Blacks, they have been the object of color prejudice; like the Jews they have been feared and hated as hyper-efficient competitors. And, more than any other group, they have been seen as the agents of an overseas enemy. In America in 1942 some 117,116 Japanese (two-thirds of whom were born in America) were dispossessed of over $200 million worth of property, isolated in concentration camps and curfewed. Their businesses were picketed in San Francisco and no firm in San Francisco's financial district would hire a Japanese-American. Japanese were assaulted on the streets, and until 1952 no Japanese could be naturalized. As non-citizens they were denied access to any urban professions requiring a license and could not own agricultural lands. However, every attempt to hamper their progress resulted in enhancing their determination to succeed. What explains the success of the Japanese in coping with social degradation, denial of citizenship rights, and deprivation of the means of achieving economic success? 8 One study has drawn attention to the "significant compatibility of values which gives rise to a similarity in the psychological adaptive mechanisms which are most commonly used by individuals in the two societies..." T he Japanese emphasize personal achievement of long-range goals at all costs -- even if one is tired and puzzled and the outer world presents great obstacles, one must keep on
and never give up. High value is placed on attainment of such long-range goals as higher education, professional success, and the building of a spotless reputation within the community. For these reasons, since 1940, the Japanese have had more schooling than any other minority/ethnic group in America. Among persons aged 14 years or older in 1960, the median years of schooling completed by the Japanese were 12.2 compared with 11.1 years for Chinese, 11.0 by whites, 9.2 by Filipinos, 8.6 by Negroes and 8.4 by Indians. It is said that Japanese educational careers were conducted like a military campaign against a hostile world, with intelligent planning and tenacity, Their pragmatic vocational approach meant that their degrees were in business administration, engineering and optometry and rarely in the social sciences, Besides this cultural orientation, it must be remembered that the Japanese came from a homeland that was already becoming industrialized. In Meiji, Japan, diligence in work combined with frugality, had an almost religious imperative, which resulted in a kind of psychological preparedness for the rat-race of modern capitalism. Moreover, unlike Blacks, they were nurtured by ties with their fatherland. Pride in their heritage and shame for any reduction in its legendary glory helped to sustain the group during travails in America.
The Mexican-American minority, in contrast to the Japanese, are much closer biologically to the Caucasian "race" and often benefited from prestigious Spanish surnames, yet they are the very epitome of economic failure. Why? Mexican-Americans, like other captive peoples (native Americans and Afro-Americans) who involuntarily have been made into colonial subjects, and have been boxed in on plantations, into ghettoes or on reservations have become socially and psychologically crippled so that they are at a disadvantage in the competitive "Protestant" world. To be
sure, the ghetto is a competitive and aggressive arena but with a lesser degree of rational and systematic commitment to and pursuit of, money (the "mighty dollar" or "Green Power"), The cultures of poverty of these groups retard their capacity to deal with America. Colonialism has meant that the conquered groups become the victims of racism and are rendered politically and economically powerless, partly because of the institutionalization of this external relationship of dominance.
The Mexican minority is still loyal to the
Spanish language as the mother tongue and often shows resistance to the use of English, a tendency which is reinforced by residential segregation. This often leads to academic failure and the lowering of the self-image of Spanish children. It is indeed a vicious circle. In proportion to their populations, four times as many Anglos are found in professional and technical occupations as Spanish-speaking persons. One-third of the Spanish-speaking men are engaged as laborers or farm workers, while only 7% of the Anglos are so employed. And, of all workers, Spanish-speaking farm workers occupy the lowest rung on the employment ladder in the five southwestern American states.
The Native American has also been caught up in a matrix of traditional values which violates many of the premises of aggressive and individualistic capitalist society. Traditionally, he saw himself as part of a harmonious mystical whole consisting of his fellow men, Nature, and the gods. A person molded in such a culture is not equipped to readily adjust to an individualistic anonymous existence that is the atomized nuclear-family and the self-sufficiency pattern of the city-dweller. As one sociologist so aptly noted: A number of anthropologists have pointed out that among the Native American tribal groups almost all had and still retain some common values that differ
from or are completely contrary to those of the dominant society. And, whereas the dominant society's system of values dictates the need for an individualistic outlook as preparation for competition in striving to acquire material possessions Indians for the most part, are not aggressive towards one another, and have a tradition which endows a man with more prestige in direct relation to what he has shared with and given away to others. 10
West Indian Immigrants and the American Ethos
Where Afro-Americans (the Black Muslims are the best case study) and other Blacks (West Indians) have shown a greater Protestant orientation, they have likewise shown a tendency to attain a modicum of economic success, which places them above the general economic level of the Black masses.
Every phase and aspect of the West Indian
experience (specifically their background and migration experiences) have imbued them with the Protestant It spirit." As a result of their schooling within the British educational system, their majority status in the Caribbean and the wider r61e frontier available there, West Indians (even land-toiling peasants) have historically emerged with a highly secularized Protestant ethic which finds expression in a strong belief in self, discipline, drive and determination, which was the means by which poor and deprived British colonials could supposedly attain some degree of social mobility in the Caribbean. Thus, one grew up with the feeling that anything was possible, that "God helps only those who help themselves," and that through education, thrift, discipline, hard work and planning, one's lot in life could be improved. Of course, this is not to say that West Indian immigrants have not benefited from the fact that they were Blacks
from the Caribbean and were accordingly given preferential treatment by whites, But, such favoritism by itself is not a sufficient explanation. And, if West Indians did in the end prosper abroad, it was not due to the lack of racism. Studies in Britain and the United States have shown that most West Indians initially suffered downward social mobility because they had to accept jobs abroad which were relatively more menial and less prestigious than those which they left at home. The fact that they did improve their status upon migration was due partly to the fact that the economic opportunities and rewards in America were relatively and absolutely greater so that West Indians automatically improved their absolute living standards in spite of the low levels of their new jobs. But, since they were upwardly mobile we have to comment on their personal drive, education, motivation and discipline. Moreover, relative to Afro-Americans, West Indian immigrants were a seZect group of young, able-bodied, educated men and women, less encumbered! by large extended families, and fiercely driven by their determination to "make good" in America. Since they regarded themselves as sojourners their relationship to the American environment was strictly specific and instrumental: they hoped to acquire quick wealth and status, return to the Caribbean, and to live as respectable members of the West Indian colonial elite or just respectable members of their village communities.
Official immigration figures reveal that some 233,146 West Indians migrated to the United States for the years 1820-1910. This report shows a steady increase in the annual rate of West Indian immigration from 164 in 1820, to 3,171 in 1850 and 11,244 in 1920.11 Of the 40,339 "foreign-born" resident Blacks listed by the official census for 1910, 24,426 were from the West Indies. 12 For the years 1920, 1930, and
1940 there were respectively a little over 36,901, 49,310, and 41,970 West Indians in America. 13
Between 1900 and 1930 it was estimated that som .e 300,000 West Indians migrated to the United States. 14 West Indians were pulled to America by the great labor shortages created by the War and the unprecedented prosperity which characterized the industrial boom of-the period. At this stage the West Indian immigration quota was included in the British quota which was a generous 65,000 a year limit which was never fully met, During the war years, more than 100,000 workers from the British West Indies were recruited for agricultural and industrial work in the United States on a temporary basis, 15but many found ways of making their stay more permanent.
Except for a decrease during the decade, 1930 to 1940, the West Indian population has constantly increased numerically since 1870, According to the Census Report,
The decline of 14.9%~ which occurred between
1930 and 1940 can be attributed to mortality losses and to the depression, The effect of the depression is indicated by the fact that
the number of Negro immigrant aliens admitted
to the United States was smaller than the number of Negro immigrant aliens who left the United States. In the more prosperous
twenties, the number of Negro aliens who
entered the United States was far in excess
of the number who departed, and the change
in the direction of migration of Negro aliens
noted in the thirties occurred despite the
increasing restrictions against foreign
workers in the Caribbean. 16
However, the McCczrran-Walter Act of Z~952,
among other things, substantially limited the number
of West Indians able to enter the United States to a quota of only Boo per year from the Indies per se, apparently as a way to guard America against Third World radicals and Communists, The result was that West Indians turned to Britain. Nearly 11,000 went to Britain in 1954. The peak was reached in 1962 when more than 34,000 West Indians arrived in Britain, and constituted what was cynically regarded as "an unarmed invasion." Before the McCarran-Walter Act, for every West Indian migrating to Britain, at least nine went to America; after the Act, the ratio was reversed. The 1965 Immigration Act reopened America once more to Caribbean peoples. Altogether, a sizeable number of West Indians entered the United States, and of the 45,162,638 aliens who entered the United States between 1820 and 1970, 1,000,000 or 2% of them are estimated to be West Indians. 17
At no time, then, has the West Indian population in the United States amounted to anything more than 1% of the total Black population, and before 1910, the proportion was significantly less than .5%. Yet in spite of this small numerical size they have made their presence felt and their voices heard in America. References are constantly made to certain observed tendencies and patterns in West Indian immigrant behavior: (a) their over-proportionate achievements in a wide number of areas, (b) their leadership roles in a wide spectrum of group activities, and (c) their tendency to play significant roles in protest politics, though this is oftentimes combined with a noticeable degree of conservatism. Hence, it used to be said that- "As soon as a West Indian gets ten cents above a beggar, he opens a business;" and that "a radical is an over-educated West Indian without a job." West Indians in popular stereotype and in fact were pushing upwards and occupying enviable positions, and thus their presence was perceived by many Afro-Americans as
inhibiting their social mobility rather than fostering it.
C. L. R. James challenged his readers to look at any of the morning papers in England, in the United States or on the continent of Europe. His bet was that "you will see West Indians winning distinctions in every field of endeavour .,. You will see that in the fields of art and letters we are as distinguished as in the field of sport. No small people anywhere produces so remarkable a body of gifted men." ,18 West Indian newspapers have often addressed articles to the same point. The Jamaican star declared that "the West Indian-New Yorkers are more numerous and prominent than their proportions of the total population." 19 The Jamaican Times confidently speculated that perhapss more than any other group, natives of the West Indies ... have arnd are playing vital leadership roles in the business and political lives of Negroes in the ghetto section of New York." 20 Among other things the West Indian-American (a weekly newspaper started in 1959 in New York) chronicled the deaths of prominentn" West Indians in New York. On an average, four deaths were reported in each issue for the year 1959. Essentially, its requiem for the deceased was: "He came here young and made it big."
In 1926, opportunity magazine, an organ of the Urban League, undertook a survey of "prominent West Indians in America." A. M. Wendell Malliet was given the task of documenting the most outstanding West Indians whose reputations and prominence stood out both in the Caribbean and in America. Altogether, Malliet listed a total of 144 such British West Indians extending through the nineteenth and twentieth century. 21Writing for the New York Amsterdam NeLws in 1936, Arthur Schomburg declared that "the West Indian Islands... have given to America many worthy sons and daughters." 22 The November 27, 1943, special issue of
People's Voice commented on West Indians in America: "Their immigration here dates back to the slave days and many are the West Indian families dotting the Carolinas, Floridas and the country in general. Marriage and inter-marriage have practically wiped out all bounds, until today the American and the West Indian stand shoulder to shoulder in their fight for advancement." In 1950, our world magazine had a feature article about "The Proud West Indians" who were supposedly "enriching America with their fine culture, enterprise and race awareness." Written in the spirit of facilitating a greater understanding between West Indians and Afro-Americans, the paper editorialized that:
A million enterprising people from the
West Indies have broughtwith them to
America a great wealth of economical and
cultural attributes from which the nation
is benefiting. The Negro race, in
particular, is being enriched by this
contribution. This dominant force has been made manifest along the Atlantic
seaboard and Gulf coast where the majority
of the Caribbean Negroes settled half a century ago. The enterprising manner in which
the islanders have accomplished this in
such cities as New York, Chicago, Charleston
and Boston has gained for them a respect
on the part of Americans. 23
The New York Amsterdam News in 1951 affirmed that "even a casual glance about... will show that a considerable number of leading attorneys, surgeons, businessmen and labor leaders are West Indians," and that "they have made a distinctively valuable contribution to the whole scheme of things, ....,Today we see every manner of leader and businessman of West Indian descent. Their value to this country may never be
estimated in dollars and cents,"2
Similar conclusions have been reached by
people outside the journalistic community. One early sociological study of Blacks in Boston concluded that West Indians have had less difficulty of access to "the higher avenues of accomplishment." However, the attainment of those higher accomplishments is attributed to characteristics, allegedly, not as developed in the southern Afro-American: a high degree of independence, more stamina, sense of progressiveness, and cooperativeness. 25A much more recent study reported that "it is generally believed that Black professionals are of West Indian extraction in far greater proportions than could be expected by chance," and then proceeded to elaborate in a footnote that Glazer and Moynihan (1963), in comparing the Black professional population of the 1930's with that of the 1960's. constituted as much as one-third of that
A series of available Who's Who were also
consulted in our effort to acquire information on the quantitative extent of West Indian success in the United States. The earliest and most comprehensive study of Black leaders, conducted in 1887, catalogued some 178 "eminent, progressive and rising" leaders, nine of whom were clearly West Indians. 27This number represented 5.57% of the total leadership, and when one considers that West Indians at the time represented only .4%, of the total Black population in America, this proportion was very high indeed.
Data was extracted from Who's Who in Colored America for the period 1928-29. This volume contains information on the Black elite living in the United States in 1928. According to its compilers, 'eligibility has been based on achievement, due latitude being allowed those persons whose efforts show promise of future accomplishment or who, by reason of establish71
ing a precedent in some particular work make it arbitrary that a record be made of the fact,"2 Of the 1,589 names listed in this volume it was clearly ascertainable that 1,342 were born in continental America, 93 born in the West Indies and 154 were of unknown origin. West Indians therefore represented 6.5% of this compendium of achievers of whom origins are known. This percentage was indeed significant against the backdrop that West Indians constituted only 1.07. of the total Black population in 1930. This figure of 6.5%~ was in fact an underrepresentation because it was most likely that a large proportion of the 154 unplaced entries are West Indians, due to the practice of many West Indians to "play down" the fact of their West Indian origin. Further, since classification was on the basis of birth-place only, Blacks born of West Indian parents in America were listed as Afro-Americans. Following the census procedure, such individuals (writer-scholars like Ira Reid and William Braithwaite) should be added to the West Indian list. The 1950 Who's Who in CoZored America was co-edited by a West Indian, G. James Fleming, and amounted to a much more comprehensive survey of the Negro elite in America. In selecting individuals, the authors studied and reviewed contemporary books, learned journals, labor union publications, and minutes of conventions of national organizations along with the specialized knowledge of a number of known individuals. 29 Altogether, a total of some 3,065 individuals were included, 147 (or 4.8%~) of whom were born in the West Indies. The only other volume of Who's Who available and which we examined was that of Harlem for the years 1949-1950. 30 Here we found that of the 158 Black notables listed, 30 (or 18.1%) were West Indians.
We then turned to United States census data, where these were available, in order to get further
quantitative indication of the relative economic status of West Indians, An analysis of census figures for 1940 shows two significant facts; (1) that a larger proportion of the West Indian population was employed compared to Afro-Americans, and (2) even among those employed, West Indians proportionately had a larger number of high ranking jobs. West Indians significantly outdistanced Afro-Americans in the professional and semi-professional, proprietors and managers, clerical and craftsmen categories, whereas Afro-Americans were over-represented in the lower ranking categories such as farmers and farm managers, farm laborers and general laborers. This conclusion was true for both urban as well as rural areas.
The 1960 United States Census also makes possible a systematic comparison of the relative occupational and monetary achievements of West Indians and Afro-Americans in both rural and urban areas. The figures reveal a significant concentration of West Indians in occupational categories which carry higher status: professions, managers, officials and proprietors, clerical, sales, crafts and foremen. AfroAmericans, on the other hand, had a larger proportion of their employed population concentrated in less prestigious and less rewarding occupations farmers and farm managers, operatives, private household workers and laborers.
One may conclude, therefore, that in 1960, the median income for employed West Indians was $2,326, while that of Afro-Americans was $1,519. A breakdown according to sex categories reveals that the median .income of employed West Indian maZes was $2,868 and that of Afro-American males, $2,254. For the femaZes, the median income of West Indian women was $1,745, while that of Afro-American women was $1,000. When we control for urban-rural differences, we still find that West Indians have reached a higher economic level
All of this was of course, extremely functional for the American social system. American society was hard pressed to give the impression that Blacks, too, like other ethnic groups, were sharing in capitalist democracy and influence, especially as Afro-Americans had aided America in fighting several wars specifically for democracy, freedom and equality. In commenting on the American "Protestant Establishment," author Digby Baltzell has expressed the opinion that there is a crisis in moral authority in the United States today. And, that situation largely is attributed to the WASP establishment's unwillingness and inability to absorb talented and distinguished members of minorities into its ranks. Baltzell also points out that because American society is opportunitarian and mobile those in the upper echelon can maintain their position and its powers and privileges by making certain that its membership is representative of U.S. society as a whole. 31
Jews, Catholics and others, even the Nazis, have found a place in America. The existence of a large Black Afro-American population who were economically outsiders is a visible flaw in the myth of Democracy (i.e., the right of all groups to take advantage of the economic opportunities afforded them as Americans.)
The "Protestant" Black West Indians, imported to the U.S. were generally submerged within the Black category ("African, Black"). Thus they served as proof that Blacks in general were also making it in America. And, if their "foreignness" was stressed, it was with the implied notion that if Afro-Americans were more like West Indians they, too, could make it.
What has the presence of Black immigrants as AmericE
meant for their Afro-American kinsmen? Through their aggressiveness and also as a result of the demonstration effects of their attainments, Black immigrants hav6 prodded Afro-Americans to continue their struggle to gain a greater share of the American capitalist culture, and to substantiate their claim to American citizenry, This has been the main role of Black immigrants. An Afro-American scholar has noted that in 1865 newly emancipated Blacks in America were possessed by the need to achieve two ideals: attainment of the knowledge that comes from formal education and receipt of civic and political recognition as full citizens of the United States. Blacks in America were fervently supported by West Indians who, used to being treated as men, were enthusiastic about Black American pursuit of educational and political ideals. 32 Again, the noted Black historian, John Henrik Clarke, has on several occasions, made the same historical observation: "Prior to the Civil War, the West Indian contribution to the progress of AfroAmerican life was one of the main factors in the fight for freedom and full citizenship in the northern part of the United States." 33
Based on his personal observations, W. A. Domingo, writing in the 1930's, argued that "it is they (West Indians) who largely compose the few political and economic radicals in Harlem; without them the genuinely radical movement among New York Negroes would be unworthy of attention." 34 He pointed out that the opening of the needle trade in New York to Black women was due largely to the militance of West Indian women who refused to tamely accept a subordinate status, The reminiscence of a West Indian woman reports that "they had signs saying colored were not wanted, We took them down and marched right in to apply. You bet, we got the job," For Domingo, the essence of the West Indian contribution was "the
insistent assertion of their manhood in an environment that demands too much servility and unprotecting acquiescence from men of African blood ,the unwillingness to conform and be standardized, to accept tamely an inferior status and abdicate their humnanity."3E
All of this had profound implications for the race-class debate which has become the number one intellectual issue among Black intellectuals. Those who stress a simplistic theory of race have argued that all immigrant groups (barring Blacks) have become assimilated, thereby implying that the prejudices against blackness has prevented Blacks from being accepted into the society. These advocates do not stop to analyse the processes and bases of assimilation of the various groups, the differences between these groups, and factors other than race which distinguish Blacks from others and could possibly explain, at least partially, why Blacks remain outsiders. To be sure the system of slavery, upon which American society was originally founded, was based upon racism. And, it is equally certain that modern capitalist societies like America continue to need exploitable groups; but there is no longer any imperative necessity for this group to be Black. The system of exploitation could conceivably shift back to class exploitation which had charcterized European societies before the emergence of Black exploitation. It is true that in America, Blacks are still like permanent outsiders. It is also true that the institutionalization of white racism and white economic and political power have made it extremely difficult for them to achieve group mobility. But this cannot be the complete explanation, Other groups (like the Japanese and Jews) who have historically encountered severe stigma, ostracism and racism have "made it" in America and their newly acquired wealth eventually neutralized racist stigma,
It seems clear, then, that race and color have
become decisive only to the extent that they were mediated through the resulting Black cultural experience. Stress should be placed not on the strength of white racism, but on the adaptability and "Protestant" orientation of the group. Of course, this is not to deny the existence of strengths" in the Black family, in the Black woman, in the Black man or in Black culture, generally, But such it strengths" served mainly as the necessary basis of Black survival as opposed to serving as springboards into the capitalist system. Where Afro-Americans (Black Muslims, for instance) and other Blacks (West Indians) have shown a greater Protestant orientation, they have likewise shown a tendency to break out into the capitalist world -- a world in which race and color are secondary to economic power and the color of money. Racism was important insofar as it functioned historically to fix Afro-Americans (and Blacks generally) within a particular non-capitalistic culture and economic orientation within which they are still developed because of the self-perpetuating nature of that culture -- not to mention the forceful nature of this subjugation, The early encounter with slavery and colonialism has systematically crippled their competitive zeal and entombed them within a stagnant culture of poverty, just as the apartheid system has done to Blacks in South Africa. This culture has resulted from Black efforts to cope with feelings of hopelessness and despair which developed from the realization of the improbability of achieving success in terms of the values and goals of the larger society. They were aware of middle-class values, and often claimed them as their own, but they were unable to faithfully adhere to them.
In America racial groups have constantly
battled each other to gain control of wealth, status and power. Indeed American society may be depicted
as a process of ethnic competition in which "ethnic ins," "outs" and "in-betweens" jockey with one another to gain entry and move up or seek to preserve the superior positions and way of life they enjoy. In this struggle,whites, through slavery and colonialism, have practically eliminated or neutralized Blacks as competitors. Boxed in tightly by segregation and racism, Afro-Americans have worked out a far less rational-capitalistic pace and way of life.
The events of the 1960's to the present lend support to the general framework sketched here. The Civil Rights-Black Power Movements were basically political attempts to tilt the economic balance'in the favor of Blacks. It was a tacit recognition that Blacks and whites could not run in the same race because whites had historically accumulated certain economic and institutional advantages which operated in their favor while Blacks were handicapped. Thus. Blacks began to place emphasis on political power an~d political demands as a means to wrestle certain economic concessions from whites thereby giving Blacks more adaptive power in the struggle for group advancement.
One must add, as a final note that throughout their struggles Afro-Americans have always had the support of their West Indian counterparts. And, as was stated in an editorial in the New York Ama tcr_, am Nows, the vigorous, insistent voices of West Indians are heard "wherever the battle for status rages, and much of the credit for victory in these wars of freedom is due them. ... ,West Indians perhaps more than any other segment of our population have created a consuming awareness of the strong link which exists between all persons of African origin." 36
lIra Reid, Negro Immigrants, Columbia University Press, New York, 1939,
2Sheila Patterson, Dark Strangers, Tavistock Publication, London, 1963; Michael Banton, Race Relations. Tavistock Books, London, 1967.
3Chris Mullard, Black Britain. George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., london, 1973.
4Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (New York, 1958), pp. 54-55.
5Talcott Parsons, "Voting and the Equilibrium of the American Party System,"in Burdick and Brodbeck, American Voting Behavior (Glencoe, 1959), p. 82. 6M. Harris and C. Wagley, Minorities in the New W.Zd. Columbia, New York, 1958, p. 264.
7Andrew Greeley, "The Irish," in Peter Rose, Through Different Eyes, Oxford University Press, New York, 1973, p. 136.
8William Petersen, "Success Story, Japanese-American Style" in Minako Kurokawa, Minority Responses, Random House, New York, p. 170.
9William Caudill and George De Vos, "Achievement,
Culture and Personality: The Case of Japanese Americans." in Kurokawa, op. cit., p. 179. 10Joan Ablon, "American Indian Relocation: Problems
of Dependency and Management in the City," in Kurokawa, op. cit., p.203.
llReports of the Immigration Commission Abstracts
of the Reports of the Immigration Commission, 61st
Congress, 3rd Session, Doc, No, 747, Vol. I,
(*Government Printing Office, Washington, 1911), p.
65. These Census figures, and those following, must be taken as suffering from the usual limitations of
underestimating the number of immigrants.
12Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Negro Po*ulation in the United States, 1790-1915 (Arno Press
and The New York Times, New York, 1968). Table 5,
p. 63. These figures include as "West Indians" all
Blacks born in the United States with one or more
parent from the West Indies. This proportion is
insignificant for in 1910 it formed only .4% of the
West Indian element.
13From 1920 onwards West Indians were lumped as
"Foreign-born" Negroes, but this category also
includes foreign Blacks born in Europe, Asia, Africa
and South America. In 1920, 1930 and 1940, all
"foreign-born" Negroes amounted to 73,803; 98,620
and 83,941, respectively. In 1910, West Indians
constituted a little more than half of the
foreign-born Negroes; we have therefore assumed the
same proportionate share of West Indians in 1940.
These figures are extracted from The Sixteenth
Census of the U.S.A: 1940. Porultion. vol. II.
(United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census), Table 4, p. 19.
14Michael Kraus, Immigration, The American Mosaic.
(Van Nostrand, 1966), p. 97.
15James Wickenden, CoZour in Britain (Oxford University Press, 1958), p. 5
16Vera C, Foster and W, Hughes, Negro Year Book.
(Foote and Davies, Inc., Atlanta, 1947), Quoted p.5, 17 Roy Bryce-Laporte, "Black Immigrants" in Peter Rose,
op. cit., p. 47.
18C. L. R. James in an Editorial in We the People,
July 9, 1965, Port-of-Spain.
19The Star, December 18, 1970, Kingston.
20jamaica Times, June 14, 1958.
21A, M, Wendell Malliet, "Some Prominent West Indians."
Opportunity, November 1926.
22Arthur Schomburg, New York Amsterdam News. August
230ur World, "The Proud West Indians," January 1950.
24New York Amsterdam News, September 8, 1951,
25John Daniels, In Freedom's Birthplace: A Study of
Boston Negroes. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914.) Republished by Negro Universities Press, New York, 1968, p. 170.
26Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, "Positive Effects of the Multiple Negative: Explaining the Success of Black Professional Women." Americon Journal of Sociology, volume 78, no. 4. The author notes in a footnote that Glazer and Moynihan found that in examining the 1960 census half of the male college instructors and presidents were listed as non-white foreign-born. Approximately 20% of the natural scientists, approximately 404 of the doctors, and about 0.8% of the 81
lawyers fell into this category. Among women
classified as non-white foreign-born almost 11%
belonged to various college faculties, 26% were in
natural science fields, approximately 60% of them were
doctors, but no lawyers were listed.
27W. Simmons, Men of Mark. First published in 1887.
(Johnson Publishing Company, Chicago, 1970.)
28Who's Who in Colored America, 1928-29. Second
Edition. J. Boris (Editor). (Who's Who in Colored
America Corporation, New York.)
29G. James Fleming, Y. Christian Burckel, Who's Who in
Colored America. (Christian Burckel & Associates,
New York, 1950).
30B. S. B. Trottman, Who's Who in Harlem, 1949-50.
(New York Magazine and Periodical Print and Publishing Company, New York, 1950.)
31Digby Baltzell, The Protestant Establishment.
(Vintage Books, New York, 1964), p. x and p. xl
32William Ferris, Pittsburgh Courier, January 28, 1928.
33John Henrik Clarke, Parcus Carvey and the Visio-'c
Africa. Vintage Books,(New York, 1973), p. xviii. 34W. A. Domingo, "Gifts of the Black Tropics," in Alain Locke, The New Negro, p, 346, 35 bid.
36New York Amsterda? :ew0 September 8, 1951.
Puerto Ricans in the U.S.: Growth and
Differentiation of a Community
Centro de Esfudios Puertorriquehos, C.U.N.Y.
This brief account of the development of the Puerto Rican community in the United States is part of an extended first statement of a research plan for the historical study of Puerto Rican migration to the United States. In that plan migration is viewed as an integral feature in the development of capitalism in Puerto Rico from its very beginnings in the last century (around 1873) and as a major component in development strategies since the 1940's. The inner dynamic of that migration and other population changes are seen as responsive to the successive reorganizations of productive forces on the Island brought about through the combined activity of U.S. investors and the U.S. and native bureaucracies that have sought to provide secure conditions for accumulation and industrial expansion.
*This introductory note was written by Mr. Frank Bonilla who, in his capacity as Director of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquerios, granted permission for use of the material which follows. That article is
excerpted from Ta4ler de Migracion -- Conferencia de Historiografia, abriZ 1974.
In its present advanced stage that migration assumes complex and contradictory patterns reflecting processes of economic absorption and convergence between the Island and U.S. economies but also of differentiation and resistance to further assimilation among the migrant population.
The work of documenting the growth and the process of class differentiation of the U.S. based Puerto Rican community is only beginning. In general, only the contours of these changes in size and complexity can be substantiated given the gaps and other defects in census and other official statistics, and limitations of other surveys, especially for earlier years. The recent appearance of extensive reports on 1970 census data and 1974 population survey figures on Spanish origin population in the U.S. does help in rounding out the preliminary analysis that has been undertaken here. 1 However, the extraordinary theoretical and practical difficulties that a clear delineation of classes and their sub-components present in a situation characterized by such intense movement and change counsel great caution in a preliminary statement of this kind.
The Puerto Rican migration has been characterized in these pages and elsewhere as the massive displacement of contingents of a single class. This is substantially correct, but can only be the point of departure for an analysis and not a definition for all time of the social placement of an entire community.
The work of historical reconstruction yet to be done requires a more refined understanding of the social composition of successive migrant flows, the forces that set specific class sectors in motion, and the mode of their insertion into the economic activity at their point of arrival in the U.S. This means, as well, tracing the process of internal differentiation within the migrant community and the diversity of ideological orientations and concrete political practices that have evolved over time and that have coexisted within the group and in its relations with key external forces, both back on the Island and in the U.S. This is a painstaking enterprise that will take some years, These brief pages can only help bring home to the reader how much remains to be done.
As early as 1930, census figures reported Puerto Ricans residing in the 48 contiguous states. But in 1940 nearly nine in ten were still in New York City, and ninety-five percent of the migrants in the following decade settled there. 2 As World War II approached, the Puerto Rican community already had a complex structure and a rich history of involvement in the work and politics of the city, a history that is now beginning to be recovered. It was a small community that had wrested a foothold for itself in the city in the 1920's only to be plunged by the depression into the most menial of factory and service jobs and onto the relief rolls. Many returned to the Island in that decade; others remained and were part of the political struggles of the depression years. The first post-war wave of newcomers thus came into a community that had been lifted from a long siege of joblessness by the war, but that already had its own informal network of coping institutions and small organizations for dealing with the larger society.
This organizational background is important, not only because it has largely been lost from sight,
but because it demonstrates that from a very early moment Puerto Ricans in the U.S. constructed organizations aimed at clear political objectives with a class and national content. During the prosperous decade of the 1920's, when the Puerto Rican population in New York City shot from a little over 8,500 to more than 45,000, there were already organizations putting forward such positions in very explicit terms. One of these, the Puerto Rican Brotherhood of America (Hermandad Puertorriqueia), organized in 1923, articulated in its program of action many of the persistent orientations that continue to characterize many such groups to this day:
1. Self-awareness concerning the working
class base of the membership or
2. A concern for mutual assistance and
ethnic defense within the framework
of the city's ethnic politics.
3. Involvement in Island political issues
and a commitment to the advancement
in the U.S. of the cause of Puerto
4. A special sensibility to issues
connected with the U.S. role abroad,
particularly in Latin America and,
most of all, the Caribbean.
5. Autonomy and self-reliance -- an
assertion that Puerto Ricans
themselves will define their problems
and needs and devise their own remedies. 3
This was a remarkably comprehensive organizational and ideological projection coming from a small, new community of workers, a fragment of a class, torn loose from its class moorings at home and engaging the
imperial power on its home ground, in new and unfamiliar forms. In the very act of affirming Puerto Rican rights to self determination, this class fragment was also expressing a primary contradiction of its existence, for it affirmed these rights on the basis of the very citizenship it was implicitly repudiating as an imposed and watered down version of full U.S. citizenship.
What kind of a community base was there for
organizations like the Zermandad? The migrant population of the twenties included more males, more whites, more townfolk and tradesmen and more people with craft skills and experience of factory work than the Island average. But the community in New York was overwhelmingly working class, especially that living and organized in the heartof "Za colonia" (East and South Central Harlem). Median earnings of Puerto Rican workers at the time are reported at around $21 a week though half that was not uncommon. There was no hesitation in organizations like the Brotherhood in stating the class differences between those Puerto Ricans clustered in East Harlem and the even poorer Brooklyn Navy Yard neighborhood as against the few dispersed in higher income, white neighborhoods around the city. Some 500 small businessmen, mostly bodega and restaurant owners and perhaps a hundred professionals rounded out this truncated projection of the Island social structure in the New York of the period. 4
Political organization and activity continued in this vein into the depression years with local politicians then beginning to seek active links to Island leaders and issues as the presence of Puerto Ricans, especially in East Harlem politics, became more visible and insistent. In 1934 two thousand Puerto Ricans marched behind Senator Antonio Barcel6' in support of a local candidate, Lanzetta. These streets
were later to ring with the name of Don Pedro Albizu as another local figure, Vito Marcantonio, came to the defense of imprisoned Nationalists and won the backing of independence-minded Puerto Ricans. Puerto Ricans in the thousands marched and demonstrated during these depression years in protests against unemployment, relief administration, and in the cause of Spanish Republicans. A Puerto Rican was elected to the state legislature in 1937; others were implicated in the street violence around elections that still broke out in street rallies and campaigning in the tough, ethnically mixed district. The Marcantonio organization provided a well-staffed service to Puerto Rican constituents with job, relief, health and other problems, a service that he closely monitored himself. 5 Similar events and developments, still to be chronicled, were taking place in other political organizations and districts around the city, especially in Brooklyn.
The first migrants to come after the war, like those already here, were mainly family people -- young men and women in their most productive years. Almost all were literate and came from urban places on the Island. A majority came with some skills and experience of work in manufacturing and related activities. Only a few were unemployed on departure, and a sizeable majority reported full time employment during the year before migration. Their average schooling (around eight years) was twice that of the Island population at large. Almost all found work in semiskilled or unskilled factory work and services. The 1948 Mills study notes that most migrants increased their earnings but took a status drop in the nature of the work performed (i.e., they did not find jobs to match the skill levels they had attained on the Island). 6 Though this population flowed heavi ly into the clusters of settlement already established in
various parts of the city, there was a quick fanning out from the core neighborhoods. By 1950 at least a few Puerto Ricans were living in every health district but'one.in New York.' 7
As the migration approached its peak years in the 1950's, then, this remained an overwhelmingly working class community (85 percent were in blue collar or service occupations). The migration flow was still apparently being fed largely from the ranks of active workers and the most ready reserve of intermittently employed urban labor on the Island (Marx's "floating reserve"). Existing data on migrant characteristics are neither very reliable nor very extensive, but, as noted earlier, a marked change in the composition of this flow seems to have occurred by the end of that decade and-especially by the early 60's. This second flow was younger and more rural, more diverse in skill levels, with heavy contingents of farm and service workers. The migration, by the end of this major cycle thus seemed to be directly tapping a "latent" labor reserve in farm and-other non-industrial work. Parallel to these flows there was a steady traffic of farm workers, northward in the Spring and returning in the Fall. Between 1951 and 1964 an average of about 13,000 agricultural workers made this trek each year under government contract. 8 Uncounted numbers were traveling this circuit on their own or through private arrangements with crew chiefs and recruiters engaged directly by U.S. farm operators.
Nevertheless, at the end of the 50's eight out of ten Puerto Ricans in the U.S. were still in blue collar and service jobs; fully 53 percent were semi9
skilled operatives-, Official unemployment rates for these workers were already very close to Island levels (9.5 for men and 11.0 for women). Over the decade there had been a slight increase in white collar work (entirely within clerical and sales jobs) and a