1046 Immigration in America

Todd talks with Yuri about controversy with immigration in the United States.


Yuri: So, Todd, what about the situation with immigration in the United States? Is it similar to Italy or different?

Todd: Actually, from what you're saying it sounds really similar. The U.S. has a lot of immigration, and it's very controversial now in America, probably because the economy is going bad but we get a lot of people from Latin America or Central America and they either cross the border through Mexico, the Mexican border, or they come by boat similar to Italy. So yeah, it's kind of a big problem.

Yuri: I have a question, please. I understand that a lot of the population, they are actually from South America or Central America. Do people now start to teach Spanish at schools?

Todd: Actually, the language is very controversial. We are taught Spanish actually, but they do a very bad job. Most people can't speak Spanish. But most of the immigrants actually, I think that come to the U.S., do a really good job of learning English. The first generation struggles, but always the second generation, their children, become bilingual rather quickly, so even though we try to learn Spanish, I think the fact is in reality people that come to America, just learn English really quickly.

Yuri: One more question please. When a foreigner comes to the United States and finds a job. He get a job, he has the same amount of money he can earn as an American or not?

Todd: Ooh, that's interesting. I don't think you can discriminate pay for a lower paying job whether you're an American or not. I think most Employers probably pay the same wage, but what happens is is only people that are new to the country often will take certain jobs. So, for example maybe you know work as janitors or work in fast food companies or maybe farm work, sometimes construction. The pay is not that great, so they offer a really low wage so only people that just arrive to America or immigrants will apply for the job. So it is kind of a problem because some people think if there weren't so many people coming into the country, then people that were born in the country would apply for the those jobs and be paid more, so it's a very controversial thing. But in reality, in terms of history economically, the country was built on foreign labor coming in so, you know, that's just a fact. The country was developed by having immigrants come into the country so economically it's very important I think.

Yuri: Alright, thank you very much Todd.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson



The first generation struggles.

“Struggle” means to do something that is not easy. Here, the speaker is talking about the struggle to learn a new language. Notice the samples:

  1. As a kid I was good at English, but I had to struggle with math.
  2. The runner struggled the last kilometer, but finished the race.

second generation


The second generation becomes bilingual

First generation means families who first immigrate to a new country. “Second generation” talks about their children who are usually born in the new country. Notice the following:

  1. The second generation hasn’t struggled as much with the new culture.
  2. Many second generation immigrants are bilingual.

discriminate pay


You cannot discriminate pay for a lower wage.

To discriminate means to treat a person or group worse than another because of race, gender, religion, or nationality. Here, “discriminate pay” means to pay less money. Notice the sample sentences:

  1. In some countries it is OK to discriminate pay based on level of education.
  2. In the United States companies can’t discriminate pay between men and women, but it sometimes happens.

apply for


People would apply for those jobs.

If you apply for something such as a job, you fill in a form to give an organization information about you and to show interest in joining. Here are two examples of “apply for”:

  1. At university I didn’t work so I had to apply for a student loan.
  2. Second generation immigrants don’t often apply for the same jobs as their parents did.

built on


The country was built on foreign labor.

“Build on” means to use the work or Ideas of others as a base to become more successful. In early American history, many workers were foreign immigrants who worked for little, or in the case of slaves, no money. The country was built on their labor. Notice the following:

  1. The 7-11 store chain was built on the idea of fast service for customers.
  2. Her successful business was built on many hours of hard work.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
struggle • generation • discriminate
built on • apply for
  1. My does not like reading the newspaper.
  2. Companies should not by one's sex or age but they still do sometimes.
  3. That company was hard work.
  4. I sometimes with my weight.
  5. I am going to for a loan.