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Immigration remains one of the hottest topics of debate in the United States. As a country constructed by immigrants and home to over one million newly admitted immigrants each year, the immigration phenomenon has contributed extensively to the multiculturalism seen in the United States today. While many immigrant groups have historically lived in marginalization, the 21st century has proven especially difficult for Latino immigrants--those from Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Latin America. As the current largest immigrant group, Latinos have received a lot of backlash and discrimination in the U.S. Many of these immigrants, whether they immigrate to the U.S. temporarily or permanently, face an array of challenges on top of navigating their way through a new country. Immigrants increasingly face pressure to adapt to the “American way of life,” as words such as assimilation and adaptation have made their way into everyday discussions. On the opposite spectrum, many immigrants attempt to preserve their cultural traditions and language as a way to maintain their identity. As time passes, Latinos in the U.S. must try to find a balance between cultural adaptation and cultural retention. Through contemporary literature, authors both born in the U.S. and in Latin America have explored some of the challenges immigrants face in terms of maintaining and/or reconstructing their identity. By analyzing overarching themes between a selection of contemporary Latino and Latin American literature, we can better understand some of the fundamental challenges Latino immigrants face today, including their approach to cultural adaptation and cultural retention, and how these two processes relate to an immigrant’s identity.

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