Salvadorans and other Central Americans have a strong presence in the United States because of the recent civil wars, natural disasters, and resulting economic downturns in the region. Most fled the right-wing death squads that were funded by the Reagan and first Bush Administrations and that targeted civilian populations in the 1980s and 1990s. The war in El Salvador left more than 80,000 people dead and more than 9,000 disappeared. In The Salvadoran Americans, readers will understand the fuller context of Salvadoran and Central American immigration to the United States and how these new Americans are adjusting to and contributing to U.S. society.
The land of El Salvador and its demography, language, history, including the war and Peace Accords, culture, and religion are briefly surveyed to begin. A major section then covers the immigration laws and status of the refugees once they arrived. The reasons for emigration and waves of migrations of Central Americans since the 1870s are explained further. Recent demographics offer concrete numbers to better analyze the new populations. Other chapters cover adjustment and integration issues, emphasizing family and community influences. Employment, political, health, and youth issues, including gang participation, are discussed. The contributions to U.S. society and culture, including participation in the labor force, food, and artistic output, as well as profiles of noted Salvadorans in the United States, round out the narrative.