The Rise In Dominicans Moving To A New Country
Emigrating from one’s country of origin is not something that is easy. One is forced to leave everything they know only to trust that they can adapt elsewhere and trust the promise of a better life that a new country has to offer. Often times, it hard for immigrants to adapt, as when they are new to the country, the need to learn the language, find a job, and be able to support themselves and their families. In order to feel more at home, these immigrants search for a community that understands them and their background. Luckily in the case of the Dominicans, emigrating from the Dominican Republic, they were able to form communities and the newly arrived Dominicans would find themselves a community to settle in and make the foreign country seem a little less foreign.
During the early 1960s, there were thousands of Dominicans leaving the Dominican Republic. The country was in political turmoil and fighting between different political groups. This political conflict, especially with the rise of Bosch regime, caused thousands of Dominicans to immigrate to the United States. During this time, some nine thousand three hundred and thirty Dominicans fled to the US. Towards the 70s, there was a decrease in the amount of people leaving the DR because of the economic opportunities that were created by the elected President Balaguer. Balaguer implemented legislation that helped the economy of DR and that also helped modernize the country. However, in the 1980s and 90s, the economy began to decline due to heightened oil prices and foreign debt. This caused a strain on the people of the Dominican Republic, most of them deciding to move to the United States for economic opportunities.
Dominicans that had decided to move to the United States settled down in New York City, especially the Lower East Side which was an attractive place to settle in, as the housing was cheap, and the job opportunity was high. Once those areas became highly populated, Dominicans began to settle in parts of Queens and Long Island as well. The initial communities of Dominicans were greatly assisted by the Puerto Rican communities in these areas, as both communities shared the same language and aspects of their culture. A major area where Dominicans had influence was in Washington Heights, where there were many Dominican owned businesses and large populations of Dominicans residing in the area. There were Dominican restaurants, bodegas or deli stores selling products from the Dominican Republic, pharmacies that sold certain herbal and plant based treatment that originated in the DR, newspapers and general publications printed in both English and Spanish among dozens of other apparent influences that the Dominican community had on Washington Heights. These established communities made the transition from the DR to the US much easier for those who newly entered the US. These newcomers were housed by relatives and assisted in finding a job by the community, most Dominican establishments hiring workers through family connections.
As these communities became larger and larger, so did the influence that Dominicans had on the area. The large populations of Dominicans made it crucial Dominicans to be represented in various aspects of American community life. One prime example of this is schools. During the 80s, where the immigration rate of Dominicans entering the United States grew, schools in Washington Heights saw their populations of Dominican students increase. These students needed extra help learning English and adapting to the new academic environment they were in, yet the schools were not taking the initiative to help these students without push from the parents or the community. In turn, parents demanded bilingual programs from the school board and with already growing representation on that board, this was a solid win for Dominican parents. Apart from school districts, Washington Heights had more issues for the Dominican community to face. The concern of violence and drug trade across the area caused for a demand of legislation or change by community members. To combat these issues, Dominicans had to run for public offices and enter the political arena in hopes of representing their community and its concerns.
Dominicans have been immigrating to the United States since early 1960s. As a result, Dominicans have established large communities and have influenced the areas they live in greatly, like Washington Heights. They were able to set up businesses and establish political control of their communities, regardless of the obstacles they faced in American society. These communities had various struggles to overcome yet through economic and political gain, the Dominican community was able to triumph and still continue to flourish today.
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