The election of Barack Obama prompted people around the world to herald the
dawning of a new, postracial era in America. Yet a scant one month after
Obama’s election, Jose Oswaldo Sucuzhanay, a 31-year old Ecuadorian immigrant,
was ambushed by a group of white men as he walked arm and arm with his brother.
Yelling anti-Latino slurs, the men beat Sucuzhanay into a coma. He died 5 days
The incident is one of countless attacks—ranging from physical violence to
raids on homes and workplaces to verbal abuse—that Latino/a immigrants have
confronted for generations in America. And these attacks—physical and
otherwise—are accepted by a substantial number of American citizens and elected
officials, who are virulently opposed to immigrant groups crossing the Mexican
border. Quick to cast all Latino/a immigrants as illegal, opponents have placed undocumented workers at the center of their anti-immigrant movement, and as
such, many different types of native Spanish-speakers in this country (legal,
illegal, citizen, guest), have been targeted as being responsible for
increasing crime rates, a plummeting economy, and an erosion of traditional
American values and culture.
In Those Damned Immigrants,
Ediberto Román takes on critics of Latina/o immigration, drawing on empirical
evidence to refute charges of links between immigration and crime, economic
downfall, and a weakening of Anglo culture. Román utilizes government
statistics, economic data, historical records, and social science research to
provide a counter-narrative to what he argues is a largely one-sided public
discourse on Latino/a immigration.