By Juan Caminero
It’s common knowledge that throughout History the United States has been a destination for millions of immigrants looking to escape poverty and seek out new opportunities. However there is a portion of this group that have been United States citizens their whole lives.
Puerto Rico natives are American citizens at birth. However, despite this granted citizenship many have migrated from the island to the U.S. mainland seeking the same opportunities as foreigners from Europe & Latin America. The first wave of Puerto Ricans to the mainland was in the 1920′s during which New York’s industrial scene was growing and offering readily available jobs. In the following the decades, particularly the 1940′s, more waves of Puerto Ricans migrated to and around the East Coast.
Our own Northeast Ohio had also seen its Puerto Rican population expand. During the War, steel mills in Lorain aiding the war effort attracted workers from the Hispanic island. Following the war, the Puerto Rican community migrated east towards Cleveland forming new communities and dominating neighborhoods such as Hough and Superior on the eastside. Eventually, in the 1980′s, neighborhood deterioration resulted in the movement of Puerto Ricans to the west side of Cleveland. According to a case study, approximately two-thirds of Cleveland’s Puerto Rican population now lives on the near west side. This rise in Boricua numbers soon inspired the movement of Mexican and Cuban immigrants to the area. Although the Cleveland area’s largest population influx came from African Americans, Puerto Ricans continue to play an important role, establishing Spanish churches, stores, and organizations within the County.
In the modern day, Puerto Rican migration to the States has increased with the group’s mainland population growing substantially. In fact, in 2003, the number of mainland Puerto Ricans surpassed the amount of Puerto Ricans on the native island of Puerto Rico.
This has been considered a critical moment in Puerto Rican politics and it is up for question whether or not Puerto Rico should conform to its mother nation and become a state. Regardless of whether or not Puerto Rico ever becomes more than a common wealth of the U.S., it is no question that their identity and presence in the United States will remain constant; in entertainment, in politics, and in every corner of the nation.
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