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Jacqueline Maria Hagan, who researched Houston's Mayan community, noted that assimilation can be intimately tied to legalization. Legal status affords the opportunity to develop bonds with the established society in areas like higher education, sports, stable jobs, and access to banks and other institutions. As undocumented immigrants, many Guatemalan Americans cannot interact with mainstream society in these areas. A few organizations in Los Angeles have formed to promote and preserve Guatemalan and Mayan American culture.

There are approximately 30, Guatemalan Americans living in Houston. As in Los Angeles, most Guatemalans emigrated after to escape political violence and economic repression. Both Hispanics and indigenas migrated to Houston, including Mayans from Quiche and Totonicapan in the southwestern highlands. The thousand or so Mayans have maintained many of their traditional social and cultural customs, and indigenas from Totonicapan can depend on a well-developed community for support upon arrival.

Life-cycle events such as birthdays, baptisms, weddings, and funerals are celebrated with the involvement of the whole group. Sometimes padrinos, or godparents, of the celebrant from the same locale but of higher social standing participate in the event. The marimba, an ancient Mayan instrument made of hormiga wood native to Guatemalan forests, is played by bands at Guatemalan American holiday fiestas and special events throughout the United States. Marimba bands play both popular songs and sacred music and may play all night during certain occasions.

The music is often accompanied by festive folk dancing. Sports and church activities also spur much communal interaction in Guatemalan American communities. Soccer is the most popular national sport, and Guatemalan American men have formed soccer leagues in Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, and other cities.

In Houston, the Community Soccer Club has played against other immigrant soccer teams on a weekly basis and the sports events have served to raise funds for fiesta in San Cristobal Totonicapan. In Los Angeles, Mayan Americans also play basketball, and both men's and women's tournaments are organized.

Some traditions have been lost upon settlement in the United States. Totonicapan is known as the capital of artisan production in Guatemala, and most of the male immigrants to Houston were previously craft tailors, weavers, or bakers. Since those skills were not transferable to the Houston workplace they have had to make the transition from cottage industry production to wage labor.

Women, however, still buy traditional garments from Totonicapan for special events. Close relations between Guatemalan home villages and Mayan American communities also sustain cultural practices on both ends.

Many Guatemalan Americans have close family members remaining in Guatemala. Often they communicate regularly with them by sending letters and cassette tapes back and forth. In the s, couriers traveled monthly between Houston and San Cristobal Totonicapan to deliver news, money, and goods. As they have achieved temporary or permanent residency status, some Guatemalans in Houston have been able to make the trips themselves.

Items typically transported include traditional clothing, Guatemalan foods and spices, and occasionally things like wedding bands or other special celebratory objects. Some families have moved out of the Houston Totonicapan community after gaining legal status and saving enough money. Researcher Hagan saw this as part of a shift toward adopting American Texan culture, which included buying new types of cars and women modernizing their hairstyles and clothes. A small farming town 25 miles inland from the East Coast of Florida called Indiantown is home to several thousand Guatemalan refugees.

Along with other migrant workers, the Guatemalan Americans here harvest sugar, oranges, cucumbers, and other crops during the winter growing season. Indiantown derived its name from the Seminole Native Americans who used to inhabit the area, and is the center of the Guatemalan American population of southern Florida, which extends to other small towns like Immokalee.

Most of the Guatemalans in Indiantown are Kanjobals, although there is a small non-Kanjobal speaking group from the mostly ladino town of Cuilco.

The Kanjobals first arrived in late , when a Mexican American crew boss brought some refugees from Arizona to Indiantown to pick crops. These workers subsequently led family and friends from Kanjobal communities in Los Angeles and Guatemala to the area, and the town became a refuge from both the civil war and urban environments.

As in other Mayan American communities, the tradition of going to the weekly market to exchange news and gossip and buy fresh fruit, meat, and vegetables has been supplanted by going to supermarkets. However, other customs remain intact and the Kanjobals maintain a visible ethnic presence. Kanjobal marimba players from Indiantown played at the U. Folk Festival in and they also received a grant to teach Kanjobal American teenagers traditional music.

Committees of men and women organize entertainment, sports, and the election of festival queens who give speeches in Kanjobal, Spanish, and English. Participants wear traditional clothing and teach children how to dance to marimba music.

The patronal fiesta functions as an important gathering of Kanjobals who must work and live outside of Indiantown, and as an affirmation of identity. Although many Mayan Americans have strived to preserve traditions such as these, others eschew former customs.

Since acculturation is ultimately a personal choice, degrees of assimilation will vary from individual to individual. As in every other ethnic group, there are many like Mateo Andres, a first-generation Kanjobal American farm-worker who told New York Times reporter Larry Rohter that he sees no need to pass on Mayan languages or practices and hopes that his newborn son grows up " percent American.

Guatemalan Americans face the stereotypes that have historically plagued almost all immigrant groups in the United States.

Like the Irish, Eastern European, Asian, and other groups that have preceded them, Guatemalan Americans have been scapegoated as new immigrants by nativists who depict them as docile, ignorant workers who do not mind being exploited, overwhelm American economic and social resources, and are of little value except as workers in undesirable jobs.

During economic recessions, politicians have exploited this anti-immigrant bias to curry favor with constituents who want to blame their financial woes on vulnerable targets rather than coming to terms with the real sources of the problem. Guatemalan Americans are also generally lumped together with other Central American and Latino groups as indistinguishable from one another.

Although there is great diversity within and among the different Central American and Latino groups, the American populace tends to perceive them as one entity, and subjects Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Honduran, Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican Americans to the same stereotypes.

Savory sometimes spicy Guatemalan cuisine has its origins in pre-Hispanic foods. Mayan staples such as corn, beans, hot chile peppers, and tomatoes are still the staples of Guatemalan cooking. During the Spanish conquest rice and other European and Asian ingredients were introduced into the cuisine. Guatemalan cooking falls into three categories: The last style of cooking developed with the culinary input of indentured laborers from India and Africa and it resembles the cuisine of Belize.

Unlike the other two kinds of Guatemalan cooking, this type is tropical and uses a lot of seafood, coconut, and bananas in its recipes. The indigenous and Spanish styles are much more prevalent and are somewhat intermixed. They make use of many of the vegetables and fruits native to the New World.

Some of the most popular ingredients include chayote or huisquil, a pear-shaped vegetable with firm, deep to pale green skin, which can be boiled, fried, mashed, baked, or used in salads and deserts; cilantro or culantro, a green, leafy herb otherwise known as Chinese parsley or fresh coriander; and cacao, a chocolate made from local cacao beans sold in small cakes or tablets, which is used in cooking and to make hot chocolate.

Tortillas and black beans are among the most common foods in Guatemala. In indigenous villages, women often make the tortillas the traditional way by grinding corn with a rounded pestle on a flat lava stone called a piedra or metate and baking the flat corn disks on a dry, clay platter known as a comal. This process is very time-consuming and generally cannot be sustained in the United States.

The black beans, which are difficult to find in the United States, are prepared whole, pureed, as soup, or paste and can be eaten at all meals. On the Caribbean coast and in cities the beans may be eaten with rice. The dough can derive from cornmeal, flour, potatoes, or green bananas.

In Guatemalan towns, women sell home-made tamales in markets. Chuchitos are a delicious type of cornmeal tamale made with chicken, pork, or turkey, tomatoes, and chiles. They can be served with a savory tomato sauce. In the chilly Guatemalan highlands, caldos or soups are frequently made and consumed. Soup ingredients can include beef, chicken, lamb, potatoes, carrots, chayotes, onions, mint, eggs, tomatoes, beans, garlic, cilantro, and epazote, a mildly antiseptic herb, which also has medicinal purposes.

Turkey is native to the Americas and was raised, eaten, and sacrificed as a ceremonial bird in Mayan times. In Guatemala, turkey is still prepared and eaten during fiestas and national holidays. Ripe plantains are sweet and can be prepared as a dessert with chocolate, cinnamon, or honey. Sweets are quite popular in Guatemala and there is a wide variety of desserts and sweet breads like pan dulce, a sweet corn bread.

Hojuelas are fried flour crisps drizzled with honey, which are sold in cities and in village markets. Since the s, most men have worn European-style clothing, but women of the highlands still wear the brightly colored garments distinct to each Mayan village. Mayan American women may wear traje at home and especially at cultural events like fiestas, church meetings, and weddings.

The huipil is a multicolored, intricately embroidered blouse. The corte is an ankle-length brightly woven skirt that may also be embroidered.

Traditionally, hair is kept long and worn in a braid or ponytail. On festive occasions women may also wear colorful beaded or silver necklaces and sparkly earrings. Semana Santa is based on the Catholic Holy Week. The week-long festivities reflect the blending of Mayan and Catholic rites and include costumed allegorical dramas that depict the Spanish conquest.

During the week, participants cover the streets with alfombras, literally carpets, made of colored sawdust arranged in intricate patterns. The celebration reaches its climax on the last day when the parish priest leads a procession of the townspeople across the alfombras.

Although they are not national holidays, preparations for fiestas that honor a town's patron saint are elaborate, and Guatemalan Americans dynamically maintain these traditions.

In , more than people attended the patronal festival in Los Angeles, which involved the coronation of festival queens, serving traditional Guatemalan food, the awarding of trophies to athletes, and a Deer Dance.

The ancestral Deer Dance is performed by people dressed as animals and different types of people. In Guatemala, 60 to 80 dancers participate in the dance. The costumes have religious meaning and prayers are said before the dance commences. Celebrants set off firecrackers and rockets and play music on the marimba and on a drum made of wood and deer skin during the dance.

The theory of health and illness common in Mesoamerica is based on a humoral dichotomy of hot and cold, which should be in balance. The idea is derived from the Spanish importation of the Hippocratic quadratic that also considered the forces of wet and dry. In her study of the health practices of Mayan Americans in Florida, Maria Miralles observed that they sometimes attributed their illnesses to an imbalance in hot and cold or to the weather and heat.

Many of the indigenous and rural refugees are not accustomed to relying on modern American medicine to cure their health problems. In rural Guatemala and in some cities, curanderos, or traditional curers, use teas, herbs, and other natural remedies to heal the sick. Curanderos are also consulted as spiritual diviners and healers. Some curanderos are specialists trained in bone-setting or the treatment of tumors. In Los Angeles, the Kanjobals can go to local curanderos for problems like stress or depression.

However, curanderos have been mostly supplanted by U. Promotores de salud or health promoters trained by Catholic Action missionaries to know first-aid and preventative medicine also work in Guatemalan villages. In many Mayan cultures, birth ceremonies are extremely important and the infant is received as a part of the community. Babies are traditionally delivered by midwives, and it is considered scandalous to go to a hospital to give birth. However, in the United States women may go to hospitals to deliver in order to obtain birth certificates for their newborns, despite their preferences.

Curative herbs can be consumed or used in medicinal steam baths. Some of the herbs used are manzanilla or chamomile and hierba buena, a mixture from Mexico. These can be taken for stomach disorders or headaches. Medicines can also be purchased without a prescription at pharmacies in Guatemala. Guatemalan immigrants who relied on traditional curative practices may prefer them to those of the American medical establishment.

However, many also go to clinics and hospitals to cure their ailments. The journey from Guatemala to the United States is usually traumatic for emigrants escaping persecution or extreme poverty. Traveling by foot for up to thousands of miles with little money and few possessions, many become dehydrated, malnourished, and exhausted.

Most refugees travel through Mexico, where they may stay in overcrowded refugee camps that provide little food and shelter and have poor sanitary conditions. Under these circumstances, refugees are susceptible to serious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis as well as parasites, gastrointestinal disorders, severe malnutrition, cracked and damaged feet, and skin infections. Many refugees are also surviving the shock of experiencing extreme violence and subsequently suffer from mental health problems.

Physical and mental health problems from conditions in Guatemala and the journey are compounded by the precariousness of the refugees positions once they settle here. Poor housing, underemployment, fear of deportation, and drastic changes can induce stress-related ailments such as ulcers and high blood pressure. Anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse among men have also afflicted survivors. Undocumented refugees usually do not receive insurance from employers, Medicaid, or other government health-care benefits, and often do not have access to affordable health care.

However, in Los Angeles and Indiantown, health clinics have been established for Guatemalan and other immigrants without papers. In Indiantown, a county-sponsored health clinic known as el corte operates a Woman, Infant, and Child program for family planning and gives vaccinations to migrant workers' children. A privately run clinic known as la clinica provides screening, acute episode care, chronic disease management, and laboratory and x-ray services on a sliding fee basis.

Kanjobal immigrants use both clinics, although they may also use traditional remedies at home. In , several social service and ecumenical religious groups created the Clinica Monsenor Oscar A. Romero as a free health care center for Central American refugees in Los Angeles. It was formed to address the special needs of refugees who cannot go to public medical facilities where they risk being deported and who contend with language and financial barriers that keep them from going to other clinics.

Spanish is the official language of Guatemala and is spoken by most first-generation Guatemalan Americans. However, some indigenous immigrants, especially women from the rural areas, speak exclusively Mayan languages and are unfamiliar with Spanish. Many first- and second-generation Mayan Americans are trilingual, and can communicate in Spanish, English, and a Mayan dialect.

In Los Angeles, several dialects of Kanjobal are spoken, according to what village the person originates from. Children in Latino communities in Houston and Los Angeles learn Spanish in school and in their neighborhoods. Since Spanish is the language of access in Guatemala and in Latino areas, parents may encourage children to learn Spanish so they can interpret for them in various situations. Language issues can be intimately linked with assimilation, as children sometimes reject both their Mayan language and customs.

In Los Angeles, some second-generation Kanjobal Americans attend a Spanish-language church rather than one that holds services in Kanjobal, espousing the larger Latino community.

Guatemalan American refugees sometimes learn to speak Mexican Spanish to disguise their national origin. By passing for Mexican, they may be able to evade detection by the immigration authorities. For example, they may use Mexican terms such as " lana " instead of the Guatemalan term " pisto " for money.

In some cities, Guatemalan immigrants learn to speak Puerto Rican Spanish for the same reasons. As one Guatemalan refugee aid worker put it: Popular Guatemalan greetings and expressions include: In Cakchiquel, common sayings include: Raxnek, seker, xseker —good morning; xocok'a', xok'a —good night; nuch' ocob'a' —I'm sorry; matiox —thank you; ja'e —with pleasure like con gusto ; and rutzil, ruwech —hello.

The family is very important among Guatemalan Americans. In many cases, large extended kinship groups maintain close bonds of loyalty, obligation, and social support. The family group traditionally includes grandparents and fictive kin such as comadres or godmothers. However, among immigrants, many family members are now separated, since it is generally impossible for everyone to immigrate at the same time. Many men were forced to flee without their families because they were in immediate danger of being killed or conscripted into the fighting.

Undocumented migrants usually have traveled to the United States alone, because they cannot afford to pay the coyotes for everyone at once and because their chances of making the crossing and surviving in the new environment are better. After establishing their lives here, immigrants generally try to bring the rest of their families over. Spouses, children, and siblings frequently reunite with the original migrant.

However, elderly parents and grandparents often cannot make the difficult trip north, which can require withstanding physical dangers and hardships. Children are sometimes left with grandparents in Guatemala, because both parents must work long hours and cannot afford day care or similar services. Separation and reunification after long periods of living apart can strain family relations. Housing conditions may also change family dynamics.

In refugee enclaves like Indiantown, families live in very crowded, tenement apartments due to low wages and the lack of adequate housing. In these situations, a family may share a one-room apartment with other families.

Because of the lack of privacy and pressures these conditions create, many families move out of the community if they can save enough money to do so. Despite the difficulty of finding work and making a living as undocumented persons, most Guatemalan Americans do not receive public assistance. Illegal aliens are not eligible for public assistance and are usually wary of government institutions.

Citizen children may be eligible for welfare and food stamps, but undocumented parents are often afraid to apply for it. There are no official statistics on the percentage of Guatemalan American families who receive public assistance. These two girls are wearing traditionally handwoven Guatemalan dresses as they particate in the Central America Ethnic Pride Parade in Chicago.

As in all immigrant communities, younger family members adjust much more quickly to American life, and may become alienated from older members.

In urban Latino neighborhoods, adolescents may conflict with their parents if they assume cholo identities. Cholo refers to an originally Chicano teenage subculture that involves the use of slang, a street-wise pose and walk, activities like low-riding, using marijuana, and a specific style of dress—pressed Chinos, plaid shirts, and oversized brimmed hats for boys, and lots of make-up for girls.

Attitudes toward marriage have also changed in several Guatemalan American communities. Divorce and couples living together without being married are more common in the United States than they are in Guatemala. The absence of older generations in some communities may lead to a decline in the observance of traditional customs. In general, there is little intermarriage with other ethnic groups among the first-generation.

Immigrant men are more likely to date or marry non-Guatemalans than women, and second-generation girls may be encouraged more than boys to date only Guatemalan Americans. Guatemalan American women occupy complex and important positions within their families and communities.

Guatemalan society is patriarchal and patrilineal, with men controlling most of the major institutions. However, within the last two decades women have garnered more leadership roles in all areas of society and they have led and played crucial parts in many of the popular resistance movements. In many cases, women take on a larger economic role in the family when they immigrate to the United States. In migrant worker communities, women as well as men do wage field work. In addition, women are often expected to do all the domestic labor—child-rearing, cooking, and cleaning.

Given the large size of households in some neighborhoods, this can involve an enormous amount of work, cooking and cleaning for ten to 20 people. Immigrant women tend to transmit and sustain traditional culture more than the men, especially in Mayan Guatemalan groups. By maintaining religious practices and language, preparing foods, and wearing traditional clothes and hairstyles, women preserve the cultural fabric of their group.

Women also frequently organize church-related or community-oriented events like fiestas. Education is a high priority for many Guatemalan American parents.

In urban areas, like Los Angeles and Houston, the available public schools often have poor reputations, and parents prefer to send their children to private Catholic schools. In Guatemala, schoolchildren generally attend private or boarding schools, if their parents can afford it. Guatemalan American parents whose children remain in Guatemala will often pay for their education there through wages earned here.

Children who were previously educated in Guatemalan schools in which the curricula are rigorous generally adjust easily to American schools once they learn English. However, a good number of refugee children have not had prior access to much education, since many Guatemalan schools were closed during recent decades due to poverty or violence. In southern Florida, two schools have been set up to address the needs of the migrant workers' children, who may not yet speak English and must deal with other challenges.

No statistics on the number of Guatemalan Americans who go to four-year universities and graduate schools are available. Undocumented refugee students cannot apply for financial aid for college and therefore it is almost impossible for them to attend institutions of higher learning. Organized religion has greatly influenced the lives of Guatemalans and Guatemalan Americans in various ways.

Since the time of the Spanish conquest, Guatemalans have practiced Roman Catholicism, while maintaining Mayan religious customs and beliefs. The Roman Catholic church is still dominant in Guatemala and has been involved with all aspects of life there, including politics, community development, social services, and internal refugee relief.

During the early s when two Evangelical Pentecostal Protestant presidents ruled, the Catholic clergy were associated with rebel forces and became targets for violence. In some areas it was dangerous to identify with Catholicism. Protestant Evangelism grew dramatically during this time, as the U. The rise in Pentecostal and other types of Protestant religions is evident in some Guatemalan American communities, where a large percentage are Protestants. Norita Vlach, who interviewed Guatemalan refugee families in San Francisco, observed that many Catholic families switch to the Pentecostal church during their first years in that city.

The churches offer women's groups, youth groups, and Spanish language classes. The Evangelical Protestant church forbids dancing and drinking. Other Protestant religions and Catholicism are practiced by the majority of Guatemalan Americans in Houston.

A few practice traditional Mayan rituals of costumbre. Some cofradias or indigenous village elders who interpreted Catholicism in villages, mixing Mayan and Catholic customs, have immigrated to the United States, but they often have a diminished role in their new environments.

It is difficult to maintain all Mayan religious practices here since some depend on being in sacred places in Guatemala. Catequistas or followers of the Catholic Action Movement seek to remove indigenous practices from Catholicism. The Catholic church has provided asylum and many social services for Guatemalan American refugees. In Indiantown, the Holy Cross Church funded a social service center that helped process asylum and immigration papers, and supplied emergency relief, health referrals, and organizational help.

Services are in Spanish and Kanjobal, and the annual patron saint's festival is held there. Although Guatemalan Americans with legal resident or citizen status work in any number of professional fields such as law, teaching, and medicine, the large percentage of undocumented recent immigrants have little access to decently paying jobs.

Since they have not been granted refugee status that would enable them to work here legally, these Guatemalan Americans have been forced to take low-paying jobs in the service sector, manufacturing, and agriculture. These are the same jobs that have historically been held by other new immigrant groups upon arrival in the United States.

In rural areas throughout the United States Guatemalan immigrants work as migrant harvesters, picking fruit, flowers, vegetables, and commodities like tobacco in places like the San Joaquin Valley. Field work of this type is often dangerous because of accidents and exposure to pesticides that can cause rashes and burns, and it demands long hours of physical exertion and a lifestyle of constant mobility.

Exploitation of migrant workers is also common, as it is easy for agricultural contractors to pocket their Social Security payments or refuse to pay them altogether. If legal status is obtained, Guatemalan Americans usually move on to other types of work such as construction, or jobs where they can apply their professional skills in areas like education or social services. Many Guatemalan immigrants worked as trained professionals in Guatemala but cannot obtain the same type of work here because of their undocumented status.

The Mayan American men and women of southern Florida and Los Angeles sometimes work in garment factories during the off-season. In , less than one percent of the undocumented garment workers in Los Angeles belonged to unions, although they legally have a right to unionize to demand better working conditions and wages. There have been a few successful efforts at unionizing illegal workers including Guatemalan Americans in agriculture and manufacturing, but most attempts have not gotten off the ground.

The difficulty of organizing itinerant laborers, language differences, lack of experience with unions, and fear of being deported may all contribute to the lack of union activity. Other Guatemalan Americans in Los Angeles and Florida work as gardeners in nurseries, landscapers on golf courses, and in restaurants and hotels.

During the last few years, a textile cooperative was developed in Indiantown to create safe, year-round work in the Kanjobal neighborhood. The cooperative produces women's clothing that incorporates Mayan-style weaving. Men may also do odd jobs as carpenters, roofers, or as informal vendors. Women often work as domestics throughout the United States, cooking, cleaning, or looking after children for individual families with whom they live. Women may also earn money by baby-sitting, doing laundry by hand, or cooking for people within their community.

In an unusual situation, many of the Totonicapan American men in Houston work as maintenance or stock workers in one retail chain. The employers who hired the original migrants from Totonicapan think of the Mayans as hard-working, responsible, and loyal. As more Totonicapan immigrants arrived, they obtained jobs with the company, creating a steady labor supply for the chain.

This situation and the legalization of community members has made the acculturation process relatively smooth for this group. Most of the work available to immigrants without legal papers is sporadic, and underemployment is a problem for many. However, the same people who have limited access to nonexploitative work are also ineligible for unemployment benefits. The need for reliable, fairly paid employment is the most pressing issue in many Guatemalan American communities.

Since immigration in general and refugee status in particular are at the heart of the issues affecting many Guatemalan Americans, changes in federal immigration law have influenced the group. Since the s, there have been several key pieces of federal legislation regarding immigration. The Refugee Act mandates that immigration officials judge political asylum cases individually, rather than by national origin and that the rulings be independent of the government's relations with the country the applicant has come from.

However, critics of asylum processes say that the INS still bases asylum decisions on national origin. This criticism is borne out by the fact that so few Guatemalan applicants receive asylum fewer than two percent when compared with applicants from countries the United States does not support like Nicaragua or the former Eastern Bloc countries.

Although the act did not immediately change the way asylum decisions are made, it paved the path for later legislation and court decisions. The complex Immigration Reform and Control Act IRCA of enabled immigrants living in the United States continuously since January 1, and arriving before that date to apply for legalization status.

This provision helped the small percentage of Guatemalan emigrants who arrived before Another provision of IRCA called for employer sanctions that penalize employers who hired unauthorized workers after November 6, Observers noted that this provision could reduce the demand for undocumented workers, force repatriation, and restrict immigration, but it is difficult to ascertain what the results of this part of IRCA have been.

Some Guatemalan American migrant workers benefited from the farmworker amnesty portion of IRCA that provided resident alien status to farmworkers. Farmworkers who did agricultural labor for at least 90 days from were eligible for this status under SAW or the Seasonal Agricultural Worker provision. Several court cases have questioned the government's handling of political asylum proceedings for people from Central America and have prohibited discriminatory practices in these hearings.

In February , a Federal district judge in San Francisco approved a settlement that blocked deportation of up to , Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants and allowed them to reopen their asylum cases. Under the decision, the INS had to reconsider an estimated , cases of Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees whose asylum cases had been denied since but who had not yet been deported.

The act authorizes TPS where there is an ongoing armed conflict that would seriously threaten the safety of an individual upon return, or where conditions prevent nationals from returning safely. The end of the civil war in Guatemala terminated these efforts. The governments of the two countries are working on a solution to the status of the nearly , Guatemalans living in the United States who are not U.

Since Guatemalan Americans comprise a small and largely unestablished group, they have not yet been very involved with American politics. A number of grass-roots refugee advocacy groups, however, have lobbied for immigrant rights.

There are no statistics on Guatemalan American voting patterns, the number of elected officials, or participation in the armed forces. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Houston does not categorize their listing of Latino politicians by national origin. However, there are at least two Guatemalan American city officials in California.

She was subsequently elected to the charter city council in and has served as Mayor pro tem since He has also worked as a special assistant to former San Francisco Mayor now Senator Dianne Feinstein from to Most Guatemalan Americans have family or close friends remaining in Guatemala, and the majority are very concerned about the state of affairs there.

While many Guatemalan Americans do not have the resources or time to address the conditions they fled from, there are already several Guatemalan American organizations that actively strive for an end to violence and corruption in Guatemala. These groups include many refugee aid organizations, since political and economic turmoil in Guatemala continues to have a direct impact on the situation of refugees here.

Although Guatemalan Americans constitute a very small percentage of the American population and are one of the most recently established American ethnic groups, they have contributed significantly to American life through political and cultural organizations and as individuals.

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In an unusual situation, many of the Totonicapan American men in Houston work as maintenance or stock workers in one retail chain.

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And it demonstrates the growing political clout of a coveted and pivotal voting bloc that has trended strongly Democratic in the past two national elections.

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