Mexican Immigrants in Texas and Their Impacts


Texas is the second-largest state in the United States of America. It is situated in the south-central part of the country and shares an international border with Mexico. Due to the geographical location and economic prospects, the region has, for a long time, attracted immigrants and other US natives. As a result, present-day Texas has experienced demographic changes (Warren 297). Since the 1900s, the state of Texas has experienced accelerated population growth compared to the national rates.

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Historically, immigrants were drawn to Texas due to the abundant land and natural resources such as oil (Massey 13). In the recent past, people have been drawn by the economic boom experienced in Texas and the favorable business climate. The transformation of the ethnic composition of Texas over the past has been unparalleled in the history of the U.S. The following paper focuses on Mexican immigrants in Texas and their impact on Texas culture.

History of Mexicans Americans in Texas

The history of unauthorized immigrants to Texas dates back to 1830. Then, the Mexican government was unable to control the large scale movement of illegal Anglo immigrants that were crossing through Mexico to Texas (Warren 301). However, there are arguments that the Mexican border troops tolerated the Anglos in the anticipation that they were to become allies in subduing the Indians.

In the 20th century, the illegal border crossers included the Chinese and the Europeans. The increase in the immigrants to Texas led to the U.S federal government stepping up border controls (Warren 302). Thus, the Europeans and the Chinese could not pass legally because they could not pass the federal literacy tests.

The Mexicans were exempted from the literacy tests. According to Beeson and Cerna, demand for their labor was high, which saw Texas’s farmers sent recruiters to entice the Mexican workers (11). The number of Mexican immigrants to Texas reduced significantly during the great depression. However, during the Second World War, agricultural labor demands increased, which saw the influx of Mexicans to Texas.

The U.S and the Mexico governments designed the Bracero program that gave the Mexican workers the legality to be given temporary agricultural jobs in the U.S (Orrenius and Zavodny 12). There were many Mexicans who preferred to work in the U.S; as a result, many Mexicans migrated to Texas.

The forces of demand and supply led to the continued movement of the Mexicans to the U.S even after the end of the Bracero Program in 1964. In 1990, the population of Mexicans immigrants in Texas rose significantly. Almost five million Mexicans lived in the U.S during the time (Hyde 7). Majority of the immigrants were residing in Texas or California

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Texas has always attracted immigrants. In 1980, the immigrations to Texas were dominated by low-skilled workers who were mostly from Mexico. The history of Mexicans coming to Texas spans for more than a century. However, they tended not to settle permanently in Texas; they worked in the Agricultural sector and could cross back to Mexico during the low season. Thus, circular migration was the norm. In the 1970s and 1980s, the trend changed. There was a shift from the circular migration to permanent settlement.

The reason behind the trend was due to the government policy that led to the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986 (Orrenius and Zavodny 13). This led to over 2.7 million unauthorized immigrants to get legal permanent residence as provided for in the IRCA. 85% of the beneficiaries were Mexican immigrants.

In 2010, there were 32 million people of Mexican origin living in the U.S. According to Alba and Nee, 37% were born outside the U.S. The majority of the Mexicans are found in states of California and Texas (14). The growth of ethnic diversity in Texas occurred across different regions. For instance, the city of Houston was found to be more diverse in 2010 compared to 1990. These figures point to the continuous changes in the ethnic diversity of Texas. Mexicans are some of the largest groups of immigrants in Texas.

The history and the geographical location of Texas have contributed to a large number of Mexican Americans. However, there have been arguments by some Mexicans that they did not cross the border to America, but the border crossed them (Beeson and Cerna 12). This notion relates to the history of the international border between the U.S and Mexico. One-third of the Texas immigrants are naturalized U.S citizens, while over 31% are permanent residents legally recognized (Massey 11).

The Mexican immigrants to Texas have had significant economic benefits to Texas, especially in the agricultural sector, where the demand for semi-skilled labor has heightened over time (Emerson et al. 9). Despite the economic benefits, the Mexican immigrants have contributed to lagging Texas along several socio-economic dimensions such as high poverty rates and low rates of health coverage.

In addition to the economic influence, Mexican immigrants have substantially contributed to the present diversity in Texas (Guglielmo 17). They have had a critical impact on the Texan Culture.

The Impacts of Mexicans on the Culture of Texas

The cultural influence of Texas’s culture by Mexicans can be traced back to many centuries. Card noted that the influence is due to the historical interactions between the Native Americans and the Mexicans (2). There are Mexican cultural practices that have become common in Native Americans who live in Texas. Mexican immigrants began to increase during the Mexican revolution in 1910.

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After the revolution and the subsequent migration of the Mexicans to Texas, there was a significant change in the cultural face and the language make-up in Texas. The changes have mainly been in urban centers such as Houston and El Paso. El Paso is one of the cities with a high population of the people of Mexican origins. The influx of the Mexicans transformed the urban centers into a metropolis of multilingual signage, Spanish, and other ethnic dialects (Petersen and Assange 15).

The culture of Texas points to ethnic diversity. Petersen and Assange described the culture as the melting point of different ethnic/racial cultural orientations (3). As noted by Hyde, Texas, is a border state; thus, there is influence from the bordering regions (5).

For example, Texas borders the Atlantic World and Mexico. In addition, Texas is home to island communities from Mexico, German, the Anglo populations, Africa, and Poland. Thus, the culture of Texas is a blend of different cultures. In relation to Mexican immigrants, the blend of Mexican culture forms part of the cultural diversity experienced in Texas.

The Mexican Americans have integrated with the Native Americans and other ethnic groups living in Texas. The various ethnic groups have undergone the acculturation process. This has led to the loss of key aspects of their original culture. The result has been the emergence of a cultural blend that marks modern-day Texas. Similarly, the Mexican Americans have lost some key identifiers of the Mexican culture (Telles and Ortiz 2). However, they have kept key expressions that have influenced the cultural diversity of Texas.

A longitudinal study found that Mexican Americans have retained strong cultural elements of their ethnic culture (Telles and Ortiz 4). The cultural influence is witnessed in music, religion, language, and other aspects of traditional celebrations.


Languages form an important component of any culture. Sanchez argued that language acts as the driver of culture (12). Studies in Texas have pointed out that the presence of Spanish language and commerce in the immigrant neighborhoods is a sign of the influence the Mexican has had on the culture of Texas. The Spanish language has continued to be embraced in some parts of Texas, where the Mexicans are the majority. This has contributed to the evolution of the Spanish language.

For example, there are Spanish radio programmings in cities such as Houston. However, current studies have shown that many Mexicans have adopted English. For instance, the English fluency among the Mexican-Americans has increased significantly. Spanish fluency has declined among Mexican immigrants born in Texas as of 2000 (Telles and Ortiz 3).


Mexicans have given Texas a particular cultural identity. The ranching culture practiced in northern Mexico influenced the modern-day cowboy culture prevalent in southern Texas. Texas is home to the Tejanos community that practiced ranching in North Mexico (Buitron 6). Their migration to Texas resulted in the adoption of some of their cultural practices.

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The Mexicans are descendants of Spaniards. The Spaniards brought the Catholic faith to Mexico. The infiltration of the Catholicism in Texas is associated with the Mexican immigrants. For example, the practice of the Catholic holy days, Mexican national holidays, and the Spanish language was influenced by the Tejanos.

As a result of the majority of the Mexicans in Texas still, practice the Catholic faith. They observe the teachings of the Catholic, such as receiving the sacraments (Roberto 13). Recent studies in America have affirmed that many Mexican Americans uphold the Catholic Church as a place of worship (Telles and Ortiz 1-4).

Public service and Art

The Americans of Mexican descent have been part of the cultural fiber of Texas. The contribution of the Mexicans in the military, arts, politics, and business have formed an essential part of the American story (Traina 3). For example, Mexican Americans have played a great role in the areas of art, such as visual arts, music, and dance. In addition, Mexican Americans have been integrated into different spheres of the American administrative system.

They have served as members of the Congress, governors of states, mayors, and state legislatures. The influence of Mexican art in the U.S can also be traced to the murals. According to Alvarez, the Mexican Art invasion started in 1920 when Mexican immigrants Orozco and Rivera presented their murals in the United States of America (101). Although the artists did not permanently stay in the U.S, their artistic work has continued to be embraced in America.

Food and Holidays

Many Mexican Americans still observe their motherland celebrations, which show the ongoing adherence to the Mexican culture in Texas. A study carried out by Telles and Ortiz found that more than 50% of the Mexicans believe that children should learn their Mexican traditions, values, and history (3). There are major holidays of Mexico that are observed in Texas, the Diez y Seis de Septiembre, and Cinco de Mayo (Telles and Ortiz 2). The holidays are used to mark the freedom of the Mexicans from the colonial rulers.

They recognize the Mexicans who fought to end the European occupation of the land. In Texas, the celebrations have become part of holidays marked by Mexican Americans and Native Americans who have integrated.

During the celebrations, some fiestas take place. The parties are characterized by plenty of food and dance of Mexican origin. The dances include the folklorico dances and mariachi music. The mariachis were played in small towns of Mexico and dated back to the 1700s. The common foods during the celebrations include the gorditas (Guglielmo 17).

Mexican food is also common in Houston. For example, the Tex-Mex is a common cuisine in Texas’s urban center. It is a combination of recipes that originated from Mexico. It is a blend of North American indigenous commodities that have had an influence on Mexican cuisine. The Tex-Mex is associated with the ranching cultures of Northern Mexico. The flavors of the Tex-Mex cuisine relate to the spicy Mexican dishes (Card 3). However, the cuisine has been Americanized by the addition of elements such as the yellow cheese.


The cultural diversity of Texas can also be found in music. Music acts as a strong pointer cultural of connection (Hartman 9). In Texas, the common music genres include pop, country, soul, rock, and jazz music (Telles and Ortiz 2). The influx of Mexicans into Texas resulted in diversity in music. In the neighborhoods inhabited by the Mexicans, many people identify with Chicano music. The adoption of the music in Texas points to the cultural impacts of the immigrants.

Birth names

The names given at birth indicate the ethnic culture among many immigrants (Laversuch 367). Many Mexican Americans have maintained Spanish names in the birth certificates of their children (Telles and Ortiz 3). Spanish names are common in Texas.

The continued influx of Mexican immigrants in the 20th century reinforced the Mexican culture that was already prevalent in Texas. Furthermore, the increase in the population of the Mexicans in the 1990s reinforced familial behavior and practices. However, there have been increased levels of Americanization (Telles and Ortiz 2).

The Americanization was informed by the endeavor of community leaders to integrate the Mexican immigrants into mainstream affairs. For example, they emphasized the need to learn English and acquaint with the political system in America. Despite the Americanization, there is a bicultural Hispanic community residing in Texas that still upholds the Mexican customs.


Texas is home to diverse cultures. The ethnic Mexicans form a great portion of the people living in Texas. The population is composed of Mexicans who migrated to Texas and others born in Texas. The Mexicans have contributed to the diverse demographic composition of ethnic/racial groups that reside in the state. Their impact on culture has been very significant. There is strong evidence on the cultural assimilation and cultural retention among the Mexican-Americans.

For instance, the learning of English has eroded the use of the Spanish language. However, the erosion has been slower for the Mexican Americans than it was for the other immigrants in Texas. The cultural impact has been in music, food, dance, religion, and traditional celebrations. The retention and the use of the Spanish names for children have also contributed to the cultural diversity of Texas.

The Mexican culture has been at the forefront of defining Texas’s cultural identity. Despite the racial discriminations and the acculturation of the Mexicans to the Anglo ways, the Mexicans have immensely contributed to the cultural diversity.

Questions to be Completed

What topic will you be researching for this assignment? Explain why you chose it.

Diversity is at the very heart of the U.S. Diversity and multiculturalism helps in describing the demographics of the U.S. Therefore, my research topic for this assignment is ‘Mexican Immigrants in Texas and their impacts on Texas’s culture.’ Diversity is a term that has been embraced by American governments. It recognizes the different ethnic groups that reside in the various regions of U.S.

Research on the Mexican immigrants will be critical in providing critical information that can be used by both the state and the federal governments in planning and implementing programs that can be used to foster national integration.

According to Warren, U.S has experienced unparalleled population growth due to the many immigrants that have legally been given permanent residence (296). The information on the cultural expression and integration of the different ethnic groups helps governments in socio-economic planning and legislations. Texas borders Mexico, as a result, there have been many ethnic Mexicans who live in Texas.

Which format is your first choice for submitting your final product? If you are unsure, which format are you leaning towards using?

The format for submitting by the final product will include

  • Introduction and background
  • Aims of the research
  • Review of Literature
  • MethodologyFindings
  • Discussions
  • Conclusions and Recommendations

Cite ONE source you found on this topic in correct MLA or APA format.

Telles Edwards and Vilma Ortiz. Mexican American Culture and Language. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008. Print

Write a brief explanation (3-5 sentences) on why the source cited in #3 is a useful source for this type of research project.

The source provides detailed information on Mexican Americans. The source is based on a longitudinal study that analyzed the influences of Mexican culture in religion, birth names, family values, music, and holidays. Thus, the source is useful because it provides an intergenerational study on Mexican Americans and the process of cultural influence and assimilation experienced by Mexican immigrants in the U.S.

What do you think will be the biggest obstacle you face in completing this project through Parts 2 & 3.

Part two of the research will entail putting the research together, while part three is the final product. The biggest obstacle that I will face in these parts will involve gathering reliable and credible data that relate to the Mexicans living in Texas. In the U.S, most of the databases ethnic groupings are not easily accessible. Therefore, getting reliable information may be the biggest obstacle.

Works Cited

Alba, Richard, and Victor Nee. Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003. Print

Alvarez, Leticia. The Influence of the Mexican Muralists in the United States. From the New Deal to the Abstract Expressionism. Virginia: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2001. Print.

Beeson, Ann and Alejandra Cerna. Immigrants Drive the Texas Economy: Economic Benefits of Immigrants to Texas. Texas: Center for Public Policy Priorities, 2014. Print.

Buitron, Richard. The Quest for Tejano Identity in San Antonio, Texas, 1913-2000. New York: Routledge Press, 2004. Print.

Card, David. “The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts.” Journal of Labor Economics, 19.1 (2001): 1-14. Print

Emerson, Michael, Jenifer Bratter Junia Howell, Wilner Jeanty and Mike Cline. Houston Region Grows More Racially/Ethnically Diverse, With Small Declines in Segregation. Houston: Kinder Institute for Urban Research & the Hobby Center, 2011. Print.

Guglielmo, Thomas. “Fighting for Caucasian Rights: Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and the Transnational Struggle for Civil Rights in World War II Texas,” Journal of American History 92.2 (2006): 15-27. Print

Hartman, Gary. The History of Texas Music. N.P.: Texas A&M University Press, 2008. Print.

Hyde, Samuel. Sunbelt Revolution: the Historical Progression of the Civil Rights Struggle in the Gulf South, 1866-2000. Florida: University Press of Florida, 2003. Print.

Laversuch, Mike. “The politics of naming race and ethnicity: Language planning and policies regulating the selection of racial ethnonyms used by the US Census 1990–2010.” Current Issues in Language Planning 8.3 (2007): 365-382. Print.

Massey, Douglas. “Unintended consequences of US immigration policy: explaining the post‐1965 surge from Latin America.” Population and Development Review 38.1 (2012): 1-29. Print.

Orrenius, Pia and Madeline Zavodny. Gone to Texas: Immigration and the Transformation of the Texas Economy. Dallas: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2013. Print.

Petersen, D’Ann and Laila Assanie. The Changing Face of Texas: Population Projections and Implications. Dallas, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2005. Print.

Roberto Trevino. Mexican Americans and religion. San Antonio: Texas State Historical Association, 2015.Print.

Sanchez, Tomas. Tejanos in College: How Texas Born Mexican-American Students Navigate Ethnoracial Identity. Houston: Kinder Institute for Urban Research & the Hobby Center, 2015. Print

Telles Edwards and Vilma Ortiz. Mexican American Culture and Language. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008. Print

Traina, Chris. The Hispanic influence on the American Culture. Houston: Conill, 2012. Print.

Warren, Robert. “Unauthorized immigration to the United States: Annual estimates and components of change, by state, 1990 to 2010.” International Migration Review 47.2 (2013): 296-329. Print.

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