Although the West Indian island nation of the Dominican Republic had a close relationship with the United States through much of the twentieth century, significant Dominican immigration into the United States did not begin until the latter part of the century. By the turn of the twenty-first century, Dominicans had become one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations and ranked as the fourth-largest Hispanic group in the United States, after Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans.
The first West Indian landfall of explorer
During the early nineteenth century, Spanish Santo Domingo was almost constantly in upheaval. Between 1805 and 1844, it experienced two Haitian invasions, a popular revolt that led to independence, and a return to Spanish rule. After the country became fully independent in 1844 as the Dominican Republic, it was beset by an ongoing civil war that produced twenty different governments in as many years. Meanwhile, Americans became involved in the island nation when U.S. president Andrew Jackson sought a Caribbean naval base and later, when President Ulysses S. Grant considered annexation. The island’s position along sea-lanes essential to U.S. commerce, its proximity to the proposed
Burdened with foreign debt, the Dominican Republic yielded to the United States in 1905, when
From 1910 through the 1940’s, when U.S. involvement in the Dominican Republic was strongest, a small number of
Caribbean immigration was indirectly promoted with the passage of the
A larger wave of Dominican immigration began after 1950. During the 1950’s, 9,987 Dominicans–mostly political exiles–entered the United States legally, an average of 990 per year. During the 1960’s, the total was more than nine times greater when more 93,000 immigrants arrived. After
Dominicans began to find entry into the United States more difficult in 1968 when the
Political violence and repressive governmental policies were push factors during the Trujillo years. During the 1960’s, U.S. foreign policy became a pull factor. Fearing the spread of communism from nearby Cuba, the United States invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965, helping to stabilize a pro-Western government, and encouraging increased U.S. immigration in order to quell political differences on the island. Political factors motivated much of the Dominican immigration through the 1970’s, but economic factors became paramount after 1980.
During the 1970’s, the Dominican economy sharply declined. Urban residents desiring middle-class lifestyles were challenged by their homeland’s shortages of well-paying jobs and reliable transportation, water, and electrical services. Meanwhile, inflation and shortages placed even basic groceries out of reach of many Dominicans. From the 1980’s through the first decade of the twenty-first century, most Dominicans who have come to the United States have done so in the hope of finding decent work opportunities and living wages. Some do not intend to stay permanently, hoping instead to save enough money to return home to start new businesses or simply to live more comfortably.
A large portion of
Surveys of Dominican immigrants during the 1980’s indicated that more than half of Dominican immigrants were female and either were married or were divorced heads of households. They also saw a high concentration of female Dominican garment workers. In
Hernández, Ramona, and Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz. Dominicans in the United States: A Socioeconomic Profile, 2000. New York: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, 2003. Pessar, Patricia. “The Dominicans.” In New Immigrants in New York, edited by Nancy Foner. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. Essay analyzing the Dominican immigrant stream based on survey data from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. _______. A Visa for a Dream: Dominicans in the United States. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1995. Exploration of the emigration process for Dominican immigrants, their aspirations, and family and community life in New York City. Ricourt, Milagros. Dominicans in New York City: Power from the Margins. New York: Routledge, 2002. Narrative study of the political and ethnic identity of Dominican New Yorkers. Torres-Saillant, Silvio, and Ramona Hernández. The Dominican Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Thorough study of the Dominican immigrant community’s emergence and the creation of a distinctive Dominican American culture. Watkins-Owens, Irma. Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants and the Harlem Community, 1900-1930. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. Study focused on the presence of Caribbean immigrants in Harlem during the early twentieth century.
Economic consequences of immigration
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Latin American immigrants
New York City
West Indian immigrants