“A few months later, they were ready to rent a house in a nice neighborhood in Jersey. The government had helped them out with some emergency funds… Instead of being cramped up in someone else’s apartment with rattling pipes and damp plaster walls that seemed ready to fall in, they had a three-story house with a little yard and lived near many Cubans.” 
In Oscar Hijuelos’ short story, “Visitors, 1965,” a young Cuban immigrant named Hector struggles to come to terms with his family’s status in the United States in contrast to his extended family’s. Hector’s father, Alejo, always maintained a certain sense of pride about being the first of his family to make the journey to the United States in the 1920’s, even if that meant working the same job at the same pay for twenty years. Hector’s cousin, Pedro, was able to obtain a job that allowed for him to buy his own home, eventually move to Miami, and acquire the small luxuries that always seemed to evade Hector’s family. While Alejo remained oblivious, his wife Mercedes was all too aware of what her sister gained in the United States that she did not: financial stability, a three-story house, and even a color television. She bemoans, “This country’s wonderful to new Cubans. They’re going to have everything, and we… what will we have?” 
Cubans have been coming to the United States since at least 1823 and major increases in immigration coincided with political unrest and rebellion in their homeland. While an escape from violence is not unusual for those who immigrated to the United States, the Cuban immigration story is unique because of the hot and cold relationship between the United States and Cuba. This constant fluctuation caused the three main waves of Cuban immigrants to experience differing degrees of hardship and for some to have resentment for those who were successful in the United States. In the 1920’s, only twenty years after independence from Spain, the country was controlled by a repressive dictatorship. Cuban exiles gathered in New York and Miami, just ninety miles away, to find jobs and plot a rebellion.  While there was opportunity for upward mobility, many immigrants worked laborious, low-paying jobs regardless of prior experience or education. The next wave occurred in the early 1960’s. Fidel Castro gained power and targeted wealthy businessmen and landowners as political enemies, so they fled to the United States. The class disparity between the first and second waves of Cuban immigration and the welcoming reception put on by the United States government for those escaping Castro allowed greater opportunities for the second wave of immigrants. We see this in Hector’s family in “Vistiors, 1965” as the two waves of immigrants are living together yet experiencing a different America. The third major wave of immigration took place from 1965 to 1973, when Castro allowed those with relatives in the United States to join them via the “Freedom Airlift.”  Similar to those who came to the United States in the early sixties, they were somewhat familiar with the American ways of life and they had a large support network among those who had arrived twenty years earlier. Each group of Cubans brought their own emotional baggage and struggles to the United States, but some fared better than others in their new home.
Mercedes and Hector in “Visitors, 1965” both feel a sense of frustration and inferiority when they are forced to face the success of their family, friends, and countrymen who are have followed them to the United States. With these three chains of immigration there were generations of families that were separated for years and united once again in the United States, such as Hector’s family, but it wasn’t always a blissfully happy reunion. The first wave often had to pave the way for their followers in the way of jobs, acceptance from Americans, and how to balance their Cuban heritage with their new way of life. The three waves of Cuban immigrants were not treated equally by the American people or by the Cuban government, thus making it difficult for these compatriots to bond over shared experiences and live the same quality of life in the United States.
In 2011, 30,000 Cubans were allowed into the United States under the Cuban Family Reunification Program.  Knowing the struggles of their predecessors, can family ties and a shared homeland finally overcome the different immigration stories that have created strife between the generations of Cuban immigrants? With the acceptance of the United States government, how will these new immigrants fare in comparison to their relatives who escaped from Cuba on handmaid rafts in the 1980’s?
 Hijuelos, Oscar, “Visitors, 1965,” Face to Face: Readings on Confrontation and Accommodation in America, ed. Joseph Zaitchik, et al. (Houghton Mifflin Company), 235.
 Hijuelos, Oscar, “Visitors, 1965,” Face to Face: Readings on Confrontation and Accommodation in America, ed. Joseph Zaitchik, et al. (Houghton Mifflin Company), 236.
 “Cuban Immigration,” last modified March 9, 2011, http://immigrationinamerica.org/453-cuban-immigrants.html.
 “Immigrant Visas and Cuban Family Reunification Program,” http://havana.usint.gov/immigrant_visas.html.