Abstract: The sustained growth of the Hispanic population of the United States –that is to say, people of Latin American origin– now makes it the country’s largest minority, prompting considerable debate as to the capacity of the United States to assimilate, as well as on the way this group itself has developed.

‘We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We are an important source of Latin music, journalism, and culture. One need only look at Miami, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago, or the west of New York, New Jersey, and close your eyes and listen. You could easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago, or San Miguel de Allende.

For years our nation has debated this change –some have praised it, and some are angered by it–. By nominating me, my party has elected to welcome Latin America.’

George W. Bush [Miami, presidential campaign, 2000 (2)]

The words of the then presidential candidate –beyond his electioneering– paint a picture of a growing reality for Americans. The streets of the most populous neighbourhoods of New York (Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Upper Manhattan…) or nearby areas are alive with the accents of Latin America. The fact is that 2.4 million out of 9.3 million people who live in the metropolis –one in four (and half of all immigrants)– are of Hispanic origin.

A similar process is underway in 35 of the 50 states of the Union (Suro and Singer, 2002). Latin Americans are now the largest ethnic minority, making up 35 million people (39 million if one includes the country’s 3.8 million Puerto Ricans) –compared with 34.7 million African Americans–. That is 13% of the total population of the United States and, according to the Census Bureau, a figure that will rise to 70 million in 2020, reaching close to 100 million in 2050; a quarter of the total population. This means that in two decades, the United States will have the second largest Hispanic population in the world after Mexico, currently its main source of immigration.

If, as the media insists, immigration is ‘changing the face of America’, then the information from the Census Bureau shows that Hispanics are leading the transformation. With a birth rate way above the national average –58% and 13% respectively between 1990 and 2000– Hispanics are not only the largest minority but also the fastest growing. The government is all too aware of the social, economic, and political effects of this.

The long-term effects of this are unclear. But among the questions it raises is the future of this group once it has established a stable presence. Or, to put it another way, will the assimilation machine be as efficient as with other migratory waves, with the concomitant loss of language and culture, or will we see the United States become a bi-lingual nation? The pressure to assimilate suggests not, and there are many sceptics who doubt the US is turning bilingual; although there is concern among those who believe in the now-somewhat devalued melting pot theory.

It would seem that the answer to the question will only come from the second and subsequent generations. However, current developments suggest that the first hypothesis is the most likely. A number of studies have charted the decline in the use of the mother tongue among the children of immigrants. By the third generation, given their poor knowledge of the mother tongue and its lack of use at home in wider society (Veltman, 1983), the loss is definitive. Nevertheless, even if the younger generation turns its back on Spanish, the presence of the language is stronger and stronger in everyday life. Ticket machines, ATMs, advertisements, warning signs, the media, large companies and public services are gradually incorporating it, thus normalizing the presence of the language.

So we should not dismiss the second possibility out of hand. While pressure from the host environment means that the existing ways of doing things dominate, other cultural and historical factors will play a role, particularly the tradition of mestizaje, or miscegenation, which is a central tenet of life in Latin America.

The following pages are an attempt to shed some light on these questions. In them we will combine secondary sources with observations based on our work in New York (3) to create an accurate picture in terms of the demography, economics and politics of the Latin American population in the United States, while bearing in mind cultural aspects to do with identity, language and belonging. This will allow us to put forward a hypothesis on its long-term direction.

The Demographic Factor

In October 1965, at the height of the civil rights movement, a transcendental change took place in US immigration policy. Around this time, the so-called National Origins (4) laws were repealed after four decades, and a new system of visa allocation was introduced, based on family regrouping, professional skills and politics, all within an annual quota of 20,000 immigrants.

In 1970, the immigrant population was at its lowest ever –9.4 million people, or 5% of the total–. The change in the law brought about a major change in the origin of immigrants, opening the door to large numbers of people from Latin America and Asia. From that point, the number of immigrants has risen rapidly, so that by 2000, the Census showed 31 million people, or 11.1% of the total population. Of that, 52% were from Latin America. In 1990, they represented 44.3% of immigrants. Ten years before they were a third, and made up barely a fifth in 1970 (5).

The structure of the foreign population has undergone a radical shift in this time. The number of Europeans fell from 75% in 1960, to 15% in 2000 and now makes up 4.4 million against the previous 7.3 million. And although the Asian population has also risen sharply to 7.2 million, or a quarter of the total foreign population, the Latin American population has shot up. China, the biggest net source of immigrants in Asia, provides 1.4 million, six times less than Mexico, the number one source, with eight million, and which contributes a quarter of the overseas population (27.6%), and more than half of all Latin Americans (66.1%). One has to go back to 1890, when 30% of immigrants came from Germany, to find such a high proportion from a single country.

Between 1990 and 2000 alone there was an 82.4% increase in the number of Mexicans living in the United States. Along with them, Cuba, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic each contributed 952,000, 765,000 and 692,000 respectively by the beginning of the new millennium. Central America contributed almost ten million people, with 1.8 million coming from the Caribbean and a similar figure from South America (Schmidley & US Census Bureau, 2001).

Almost a quarter of the overseas population lack permission to be in the United States: a key trend in current migration patterns, and which has increased in recent years. A study by the Institute of Migratory Policy estimated the figure in 2000 at some 8.5 million, although others have put it at 11 million. That would imply an annual average of half a million more people than the five million people calculated the previous decade (6). And again, Latin Americans make up three out of four. Mexicans alone make up 55% of the total number of illegal aliens. Asians make up 13%, with Europeans and Canadians contributing 6%, and the remainder coming from Africa and other areas (J. Passel, 2002).

According to Súarez-Orozco (1999), three clear social trends can be seen behind this process of inter-American immigration. First, a more or less regular, but large-scale flow from Mexico that rises sharply after 1980; then periodic peaks from Central America and the South, linked to political conflict; and thirdly, those from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but who return home regularly. The effects of globalization and the restructuring of these countries’ economies, as well as US economic dependence on migratory labour, suggest that these flows will continue and that even if numbers eventually drop, Latin Americans will remain the dominant group.

The 2000 Census recorded 35,305,818 Hispanics, 60% more than in 1990, when they made up 22.4 million of the US population, a 142% increase on the figure for 1980 (7). Of these, 22 million, or 62%, are of Mexican origin. In second place is Puerto Rico, with some 3.6 million, followed by Cuba with 1.3 million, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic each with around 1.1 million, and Colombia and Guatemala with between 600,000 and 700,000.

The remainder does not even reach the million mark (Suro, 2002). What stands out most in this regard is the composition, the result of the lower numbers in this decade (8). The ‘new Latins’, as they are known, have doubled, growing from three million to around six million between 1990 and 2000. This has brought greater diversity to the Hispanic world, but made it more difficult to talk in general terms about it (Logan 2001; Suárez-Orozco, et al., 2002).

At the same time, if the above-mentioned factors suggest migration is to be a long-term phenomenon, the high birth rate and the youthfulness of the population can only strengthen this tendency. Hispanic women have the highest birth rate: 95 out of every 1,000 women of child-bearing age as opposed to 60 among the Anglo population in 2000. The rate among women aged between 40 and 44 –2.5 births on average– is enough to exceed the quota needed to replace deaths (Bachu and O’Connel, 2001). If we bear in mind that when the data was collected, 36% of Hispanics were aged under 18 –a figure that is ten points above the national average– and that the average age is ten years younger than the national average (25.9 and 35.3 respectively), we can see that both variables point to sustained growth. The number of Hispanics aged 65 and over is relatively low (5.3%), compared with the white non-Hispanic population (14%) (Therrien and Ramírez, 2001).

An example of the importance of the first factor is to be found in California, one of the most populous states (34 million) in the Union, and which has the largest Hispanic population (11 million). Almost one in three people living there is now of Latin American origin (32%). At the same time, almost one in three Latin Americans in the United States lives there. Over the last decade, its population has increased by 4.1 million, but unlike other areas, the increase in this group is due to the high birth rate. According to official figures, for every 3.3 million new Hispanics, more than two were born in the state. Other state statistics indicate that only 17% of population growth in the state is due to immigration.

A high degree of concentration is one of the features of the Hispanic population that –as with all immigrants– tends to congregate in areas according to their origin. More than three quarters (27.1 million) live in the seven states that are home to a million or more people of Hispanic origin: California, Texas (6.7 million), New York (2.9 million), Florida (2.7 million), Illinois (1.5 million), Arizona (1.3 million) and New Jersey (1.1 million). In New Mexico, 42% of the population is Hispanic, the overwhelming majority being Mexican, the same as in California, Texas, Arizona, Illinois and Colorado. In Florida, the majority of Latin Americans are Cuban, while in New York and New Jersey, Puerto Ricans dominate. Outside the states mentioned, there are also significant concentrations in Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and other states that have not traditionally had large Hispanic populations. In some of them, for example, they make up to between 6% and 24.9% of the total population.

This move into states that even ten years ago had a negligible Latin population is perhaps the most relevant aspect of the question, and is a clear sign that the population will increase further. As R. Suro and A. Singer (2002) have pointed out, while cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, which have long-established Latin communities, are those that have seen the biggest increase in absolute numbers, it is the new destinations and in particular medium-sized cities with a smaller original Latin population that have shown the biggest increases.

Atlanta for example, where in 1980 the Latin population was around 24,000, saw a 995% increase by the time of the 2000 census, to almost 270,000. Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina registered a 1,000% increase over the same period, moving from 5,670 to 93,868 over the same period. Suro and Singer identified 51 new areas covering 35 states; in 18 of them, the increase was greater than 300%. Among them are cities such as Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Washington DC; Indianapolis; Providence, Rhode Island; Orlando; and Las Vegas. The process has also affected distribution in the metropolitan areas. The suburbs, and in particular the new destinations, have also seen larger growth. In Chicago, for instance, 63% of the increase was in the suburbs, while in Miami it was 96%. On the other hand, one of the features of the new census is the predominance of males, which would point to the creation of new families when their families join them later (9).

Work is one of the chief criteria dictating the move to the new areas. In 1986, some three million illegal immigrants were allowed to regularize their situation. They moved to areas where there was greater demand for labour. Having acquired work, they were then able to bring their families, a factor that would contribute to the increase in numbers the following decade. Politics also influenced matters. In 1994 in California, Proposal 187 excluded illegal immigrants from receiving welfare. A worsening anti-immigrant climate also prompted many to start a new life in more tolerant states (interviews in June 2002); while border checks prevented circular migration (Roberts et al., 1999). Without forgetting social factors such as cheaper housing in the suburbs, or the fact that once beachheads had been established, more immigrants would arrive.

None of which meant of course that the traditional areas were experiencing a decline in numbers. In Santa Ana, for example, a city of 320,000 inhabitants in California, in the 1980s the Hispanic and white population was equal at 44%. But by 2000 the white population had fallen to 11%, while the Hispanic was now 76%. In Los Angeles, where they made up 28% two decades ago, they now make up 46.5%. The Brookings Institution (2001) reported that non-Hispanic whites were the new minority in 100 of the biggest cities in the country. From being 52% in 1990, they fell to 44% in 2000, less than the sum total of Afro-Americans (24%), Hispanics (23%), and Asians (7%). The term ‘minority’ begins to take on new meaning.

In other words, we are talking of an increased population, undergoing sustained growth (see graph 1), concentrated and spread over a wide geographic area. All of this is very important as regards our subject. Given that volume, development and diffusion underscore the range and dimension of the phenomenon by guaranteeing the future and national reach. At the same time, the question of concentration has a series of effects –inward and outward– that are directly related to the question at hand. One of which facilitates the conservation of the language and other cultural manifestations. At the same time, as more information becomes available that relates to a specific presence: businesses, associations, restaurants, meeting centres, etc, it becomes clear that a kind of territory is being formed, which takes on a symbolic connotation (10).

Graph 1. Growth of the Hispanic population in the US (in millions)

Source: US Census Bureau, Censuses for 1990 and 2000.

Furthermore, beyond a certain point, they acquire sufficient critical mass to be able to influence the local economy, while generating their own services and supply networks, as well as influencing the political scene. This means that they will be taken notice of. This, and respect, are the demands that I have most frequently heard expressed by these groups. This is how Spanish becomes adopted by the service sector. From small, informal initiatives, Spanish becomes adopted by public services, ending up by institutionalizing the language.

Hospitals, the fire services and the police spread the use of the languages of their staff. Doctors at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York in Washington Heights –an area with a high concentration of immigrants from the Dominican Republic– undergo Spanish-language tuition throughout their stay at the institution. In Texas, police officers seeking promotion must attain proficiency in Spanish.

In July 2002, in Phoenix, Arizona a Spanish-language programme was implemented for the fire service. Similar initiatives are underway in education. In Dallas, Texas, where more than half the school children (56%) are Hispanic, one in three of whom have limited English, a US$1 million programme was introduced in October 2002 to provide teaching staff with conversational-level Spanish. This added US$3,000 a year to their salaries.

At the national level, a number of other initiatives have been introduced (11). The Social Security, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Education Department, among others, include Spanish in their Web pages (12). The General Accounting Office, the investigating arm of Congress, offers a Spanish-language version of its latest report on workers’ rights, as does the Census Bureau. At the same time, a growing number of counties and municipalities (some 300 at present) now translate voting papers; a requirement of the Federal Voting Rights Act (13). Such initiatives are very recent, and although many of them are the result of federal law, they are also a response to demographic variables, a point that has been explored here.

Finally, it is worth noting the political impact of growing numbers of Hispanics, particularly in electoral areas where their presence is sufficient to create new seats. Thus, they may well reach a point where they have their own representatives (14), or at the very least oblige the parties to seek their support. The use of Spanish is thus spreading among those aspiring for public office at the same time as awareness of the legitimate demands of the collective. As one of our informants, born in the Dominican Republic, and a candidate for a Manhattan District, noted:

‘In New York City, every politician is learning Spanish. There is not a single politician, who, if they are serious about representing the entire city, doesn’t speak Spanish. And those that do not are learning, because they recognize that if they want to communicate and win the support of the Hispanic community, then they have to speak the language.’ (Interview, June 2002)

And this is not just taking place in New York, or the other traditional enclaves. It is also underway in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa –states that have seen their Hispanic population double–. Senators, Congress members and others seeking public office are learning enough Spanish to ask for support, while placing advertisements on Spanish-language television. On the campaign trail, they make an effort to at least utter a few sentences in Spanish (15). And we have already seen Bush pepper his speeches with his poor Spanish during the 2000 presidential elections. In May 2001, he gave his weekly broadcast entirely in Spanish. The White House Website –www.whitehouse.gov– has a Spanish-language option, an explicit recognition that this is now the nation’s second language.

The expectations of growth in what is already the largest minority are having a major impact on American society. There is no sector that has not been affected in some way: the large corporations and other economic players; the political class; organizations and leaders emerging out of the collective –all are looking to make their mark–. And that is without mentioning the immigrants’ own governments, who are seeing their émigrés in a new light. And we should not forget the anti-immigration groups, who through powerful lobbies are pushing for changes in the law to restrict the rights of new arrivals, as well as pushing for greater Americanization against the threat of the ‘Balkanization’ of the country, as they see it (16).

All have a part to play in this unfolding story. The fact is that despite the long tradition of immigration in the United States, the current situation is unprecedented. And not just because of the geographical, ethnic, social and cultural diversity of a group that for convenience’s sake has been dubbed Hispanic. Attitudes are changing towards the host society and despite the general high esteem that the recent arrivals feel towards their new home, their expectations are not the same as those of previous immigrants. History is not going to repeat itself.

But before moving on to the next part of the story, which in large part picks up on themes already discussed, we need to take a closer look at some key political and economic questions.

The Economic Factor

Numbers is not the only factor that accounts for the impact of Hispanics on US society. This group, in reality disparate, does however, present certain characteristics that allow it to be seen –and to see itself– as different, and which makes it particularly attractive to a market always in search of new clients. As Silvio Torres Saillant has pointed out:

‘When more than 30 million people are able to see themselves as a single unit, with shared values, language, culture, and aspirations, their capital accumulates rapidly. Businesses will begin to direct their marketing strategies and publicity campaigns with greater precision. Some 17.3 million Hispanics read newspapers, watch the television or listen to the radio, and that is a goldmine that business is keen to exploit.’ (T. Saillant, 2002: 447).

That figure was based on the 1990 census. At present, 11% of inhabitants aged over five in the United States are Hispanic. In states such as Texas, New Mexico, and California, that figure is 25%. But Spanish is not just the country’s second language; it is the world’s second language, with more than 330 million speakers.

And if we add to that the purchasing power of the Hispanic population, estimated at US$600 billion in 2002, as well as the US$220 billion earnings of Hispanic companies –1.5 million according to some estimates–, it is easy to explain the interest that the community is producing (17). The value of the Latin music industry alone rose in 2001 to US$642.6 million. Investing in such a sector clearly offers tremendous money-making potential.

At the same time it should be noted that Hispanic wages are lower than the national average, while unemployment is higher, as are poverty levels and the school drop-out rate. In 1999, 25% of Hispanics were living below the poverty line, making up 23% of the total population in this situation, 11 percentage points higher than the national average. The average unemployment rate was double that of the Anglo population (7% against 3.4%). Among Dominicans, 36% were living in poverty, while their unemployment rate was 8.6%; 8.2% required public assistance to survive, as did 7.3% of Puerto Ricans (Logan 2001; Therrien et al., 2001).

Nevertheless, the Hispanic market is a multi-million dollar industry that extends through Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago and many other cities (Dávila 2001). The number of Hispanic-run companies grew by 30% between 1992 and 1997 (while American companies grew by only 7%), and their earnings by 49%, according to information from the Census Bureau (18). There were 1.2 million businesses at the time, giving employment to 1.3 million people, and with a total turnover of US$186 billion. Three quarters of them were to be found in four states: California, Texas, Florida and New York. Five of the first ten, according to the annual list of Spanish Business Magazine, are based in Florida, and belong to Cuban-Americans, the group with the highest standard of living and education (19).

In Atlanta, one of the new destinations for Hispanics, a new shopping centre –Plaza del Sol– is to be opened, financed by Latin businesses and directed principally at the Hispanic community. The project, estimated at US$8 million, is the second such initiative. The first opened in 1999. Two years ago, a shopping centre known as Oriental Mall reopened its doors after a total renovation under the sign Plaza Fiesta. These are just a few examples: their growth matches that of the Hispanic population. In 1990, the purchasing power of the Hispanic community in the state of Georgia was estimated at US$1.4 billion; today that figure is US$11.3 billion, and is expected to reach US$25.7 billion in the coming five years. Such centres, as well as having a Spanish name, also attempt to recreate ‘the mood of the places they have come from (decoration, products, etc)’, and employ bilingual personnel (20). However, the majority of Hispanic firms (one million) are ‘micro-businesses’ focused on meeting the specific needs of immigrants: sending money and other goods home, legal services, import and export of goods from the country, etc. Some of these activities imply strong and sustained links to the place of origin and, as a number of sociologists have pointed out, constitute an alternative form of economic adaptation of minorities in advanced societies (Bash et al., 1994; Portes 1996; Portes et al., 2002; Landolt 2001; etc). The work of Portes, Guarnizo and Haller on economic trans-nationalism among a range of Hispanic collectives, shows that trans-national business people make up a large number of the self-employed in immigrant communities. Many of these businesses maintain close links with the country of origin.

At the same time, such work sheds light on the profile of those involved in these businesses. Contrary to expectations, they tend not to have arrived only recently, or occupy marginal positions (21).

Banks and other financial institutions have recognized the economic potential of the Hispanic market, and are correspondingly changing their strategies. In recent months such institutions as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Fleet Boston Financial Corp., Citigroup, etc, have begun or ramped up programmes directed at the Hispanic population. For ten years, their services have been reduced to translating banking documents into Spanish, and instructions for ATMs. Now they are increasing their advertising budget focused on the minority market, launching Spanish campaigns, opening branches in Hispanic neighbourhoods and employing bilingual staff (22).

The banks are also offering discounts to immigrants on transfers to Mexico, while others provide their customers with two cards: one for use in the United States and another for their family abroad. Wells Fargo allows transfers without the intervention of the banks, thus reducing costs. Some of these measures aimed at reducing the cost of transfers were recommended by the Inter-American Development Bank, and directly involved the Mexican government and the White House. But immigrants still face grave difficulties when it comes to getting a loan. Citigroup denies Hispanics credit three times as often as Anglos, according to a report by Home Mortgage Disclosure in 2000.

But perhaps the most controversial measure (and significant) has been the acceptance by banks and other institutions of a matricula consular –a laminated identity card with a photo, name, address in the United States, and date and place of birth in Mexico– issued by the Mexican consulate as an identity card (23). Wells Fargo signed an agreement with the Mexican Consul General in San Francisco in November 2001 recognizing the card (24) at any of its 5,400 branches across 23 states. According to the Mexican government, it is now accepted by 61 banks and a range of financial groups at local level (Wells Fargo, Lone Star, The State Bank of Texas and the Bank of America).

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, around 25% of Hispanics do not have a bank account. This means they must pay high service taxes to cash cheques or to send money to family in their countries of origin. In response Wells Fargo opened more than 35,000 immigrant accounts over a six-month period representing some US$50 million in deposits in California alone. In answer to groups opposed to immigration, such as ProjectUSA, who accuse the banks of fomenting illegal immigration, their answer is that ‘it is not our responsibility to enquire as to the legal status of our customers’ (25).

But it is the media that has arguably undergone the greatest transformation –generating huge advertising revenues in the process– and which has best reflected the Hispanic presence in the United States. Univisión, the leading Spanish-language television station based in Los Angeles, is the country’s fifth largest, preceded by NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. It reaches 90% of Hispanic households in the United States through a complex network that includes its own broadcasting stations, along with 33 associated channels, and 1,164 affiliated cable companies.

In June 2002, it increased its presence on the airwaves by acquiring Hispanic Broadcasting –the leading Spanish-language radio station in the country, with 55 stations– at a cost of US$3.5 billion; it has agreements with Mexico’s Televisa and the Venezuelan Venevisión. It recently signed an agreement with AOL to offer its services via the Internet. The other major Spanish-language channel, Telemundo, was bought by NBC in October 2001 for close to US$3 billion. Its objective: ‘To offer advertisers the opportunity to increase their sales’, as the company’s head of news, Alejandro Brenes, pointed out in Hoy, on July 17, 2002.

The printed media has also grown, with a greater number of publications directed at minorities. In New York, for example, a study by the Independent Press Association of New York noted that in 2001 there were 198 publications directed at minorities; a figure that now stands at more than 270. There are more than two dozen in Spanish alone. Miami-based Bendixen & Associates carried out a twelve language survey in which 43% of those questioned said they preferred to listen to the radio or watch the television in their own language (CNN, April 24, 2002). This process has contributed significantly to the spread of Spanish throughout society.

In short, as regards the economic aspects of the question, several factors point to the likelihood of the Hispanic community holding onto its linguistic and cultural identity. Firstly, there is already a complex productive and commercial network directed at this segment of the population. A market built on the basis of differences in taste, values, and other idiosyncrasies cannot allow these to be diluted. The conclusion is that marketing and advertising will continue to highlight and maintain them (26).

The Hispanic media’s existence is based on the presence of a vast Spanish-speaking community that still faces difficulties in using English –this is particularly the case with the press, with its specific interests– and so it will seek to foment and strengthen this situation, if only to reduce its initial weakness compared with the English-language media. Given the cost of advertising, its main source of income, its eventual clients will only opt for this medium if the audience share is big enough. At the same time, Spanish is increasingly a functional part of the labour market, given the demand for bilingual people in the Hispanic enclaves (27). Equally, the preservation of culture and the maintenance of links with the country of origin are for some the only way to achieve social status (Porte et al., 1999).

Political FactorsAll sectors of the Hispanic community agree that the community has little presence on the political scene, in terms of elected representatives, as well as in the exercise of the right to vote –which although rising, is still low–. Regarding the first issue, the facts speak for themselves: of the 436 seats in Congress, 22 are held by Hispanics –barely 5%–. There are none in the Senate, according to a 2002 report by the National Association of Latins Elected to Office (NALEO).This is still an improvement on 1990, when there were only 11 Hispanic Congress members. At state level, an increased presence is clearly visible: 59 state senators (52 Democrats and seven Republicans), and 158 in assemblies (133 Democrats and 25 Republicans). There is only one governor so far, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and another vice-governor, Cruz Bustamente, re-elected in California and from the same party. In the Bush administration, 10% of posts are held by Hispanics –an improvement on Clinton’s 7%–. Among them are Rosario Marín, the first Hispanic to head the Treasury Department. NALEO says there are currently some 6,000 Hispanics holding public office in the United States.

On the question of high abstention levels among the Hispanic community, a number of factors can be identified. The first is socio-demographic: age, income, and education are low; others are legal –many Hispanics lack the necessary paperwork, or are non-naturalized (28% according to the 2000 census)–, then there is the lack of familiarity with the American political system and lack of interest in the candidates (DeSipio and de la Garza 2002). According to NALEO, in 122 of 435 Congressional districts (28%), the Hispanic population is higher than the national average (12.6%). And although the 7.6 million Hispanic voters registered to vote –the majority of them residing in 14 states– does not reflect the demographic weight of the whole, they are three times the number counted in 1972 (2.5 million), and it is calculated that they could reach between six and ten million by 2010 (Jamieson et al., 2002; NCLR 2002).

It is not just that time is on their side. A number of factors have contributed to higher levels of naturalization and voting: the 1986 amnesty that legalized the situation of some 2.7 million immigrants; anti-immigration measures during the last decade; the gradual approval of dual citizenship in Latin American countries (28); the wave of patriotism produced after September 11; and specific campaigns with this goal in mind.

The low participation levels in politics, and the fact that six states are home to two-thirds of the 270 votes necessary to reach the White House has converted the Hispanic community in an important group for the main political parties. This was seen in the 2000 elections, and was corroborated by those of November 2002, which produced three more Hispanic members of Congress. George Bush and Al Gore have both made unprecedented efforts to woo this portion of the electorate, sponsoring commercials in Spanish and attending all kind of acts and events in the Hispanic community. They both made an effort to be the principal speaker at national conferences organized by bodies such as the Association of Latin Entrepreneurs, the League of United American Citizens (LULAC), NALEO, and La Raza, among others (Barreto et al. 2002).

With the notable exception of the Cuban community, the political orientation of Hispanics living in the United States is overwhelmingly Democrat –as with most other ethnic minorities–. This has been the case over the last two decades. This is one of the group’s strengths in negotiating electoral policies: they are loyal, and make up a solid Democrat block vote in the states where they are concentrated (De Sipio and de la Garza, 2002).

However, things are changing. Work by De Sipio and de la Garza shows that traditionally Democrat Hispanics are more likely to move towards the Republicans than traditional Republicans would toward the Democrats. This should be seen in the context of a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center and the H. Kaiser Family Foundation (2002) that confirms loyalty to the Democrat Party –49% of voters say they are Democrats against 20% who see themselves as Republicans–. At the same time, however, it reflects a growing political ambivalence, and the differences between the typical electorate of both parties. Thus, although Hispanics tend to be more conservative over some issues –almost half, for example are against abortion in principle–, at the same time 55% say they prefer to pay more taxes so as to have state services. And among those who plan to naturalize, more than 60% have no party loyalty, with only 22% identifying with the Democrats, against 14% with the Republicans.

The enormous differences within the Hispanic community, a lessening of support towards the Democrats among the newer arrivals, as well as the socio-economic advances made by some segments –which tends to be accompanied by a shift to the right– along with the influence that Hispanics now feel they have as a collective, has prompted the Republicans to look to widening their electoral base, while the Democrats are concerned that previously secure sands may now be shifting.

All of which has produced bitter fighting between both parties to win the support of this electorate. Understandable, given the scarce margin by which Bush won in 2000 –he garnered 35% of the Hispanic vote and won in Florida by only 525 seats–. At the same time, the high number of young people of voting age that did not vote –15.6 million, three times that of the number of people who voted, according to a study by La Raza in 2002– needs to be taken into account, as well as the popularity of a president (29) who was determined to win over the Hispanic electorate, even if the more conservative wing of the Republican party was unhappy at this.

In May 2002, the Republicans launched a weekly news programme in Spanish entitled Abriendo Caminos (Opening Paths), the cost of which is US$1 million, and is broadcast to six markets: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Fresno, California; Denver, Colorado; and Miami and Orlando, Florida. According to Raúl Damas, the director of a Republican survey company, this represented a step forward in the ‘constant efforts of the Republican Party to include the Hispanic community in its communications’ (30). With 40% of the Hispanic vote, Bush would guarantee his re-election, something that the Democrats will do their best to prevent.

Both parties have web pages and radio programmes in Spanish, and their presence has become routine at Hispanic civic events. They organize drives to register Hispanic voters, and their leaders attend conferences organized by the Hispanic community, while supporting candidates of Hispanic origin –the best way to attract votes–.

Both project themselves as the logical choice of the Hispanic voters, the one highlighting its long-standing defence of the rights of minorities; the other because it is the repository of the traditions and family values attributed to Hispanics, while both criticise and undermine the efforts of the opposite camp. The Democrats tend to accuse the Republicans of marketing, while the Republicans attack the Democrats for taking the Hispanic vote for granted (31). Both direct themselves toward the community as a united and special group, and in some way removed from the general population and whose peculiarities require specific attention. Thus, implicitly or explicitly, they place the emphasis on ethnicity –which in practice becomes a celebration of the same–.

The Republican approach is based on a message of inclusion, while attempting to distance itself from the position of such extremists as Congressman T. Tancredo of Colorado, who wants to end bilingual teaching, and impose a moratorium on immigration (32). They want to avoid a repeat of the experience under the governorship of Pete Wilson in California, who in 1994 tried to push through Proposal 187, a law that excluded immigrants without papers from access to public services. It was revoked in 1998 by a federal judge as unconstitutional, but it served to boost the number of naturalizations, and prompted many Hispanics to vote, losing the Republicans the state.

The Democrats highlight their traditional interest in the concerns of minorities and immigrants. A. Gephardt, Democrat leader in the Lower House until the elections of November 2002, announced at the annual meeting of La Raza in Miami in July 2002 a draft bill, which, if approved, would lead to the legalization of between three to four million people without papers, of whom up to 70% were Hispanic.

This is one of the biggest concerns of the Hispanic community (33), and which Clinton attempted to address in 2000 –although the Republicans blocked his efforts–. Bush is now considering it, although limited to Mexicans. No progress has been made since September 11. Gephard’s announcement came shortly before elections for the legislative chamber that would see 34 senators elected (a third of the Senate), as well as 36 governors and posts in state bodies (34).

Both parties spent more then US$16 million during the November 2002 campaign on advertisements on Spanish-language television stations (Siegal, 2002), a record sum, and proof of the growing importance being accorded to this group. The use of Spanish is not justified solely by the clear preference shown in surveys (35). It also helps to overcome the linguistic discrimination that many Hispanics have suffered –and continue to suffer–. For decades Spanish was prohibited in schools, and is still in many businesses, institutions and government offices in those states where movements such as English Only (36) have a strong presence. At the same time bilingual education is almost unknown (37).

That the president of the nation and others in public office should make an effort to speak Spanish, even if only through a few loosely strung-together words, sends a strong message. It is not only a sign of deference and ‘respect’ –as Jeb Bush or National Republican Committee member Rudy Fernández said during the last campaign(38)–, it shows people that is ‘normal’ to use their own language, and that the powers that be are interested in building bridges. This is in contrast to the perceived arrogance of the Anglo community by Hispanics.

Hispanic organizations are, on the other hand, fully aware of the power of their vote, and are increasingly demanding that the political parties address the issues that most concern them. Raúl Yzaguirre, president of La Raza, made this clear when he presented the results of a study on voting tendencies among Hispanics. In general terms, they shared concerns with the rest of the population over education (39), the economy and crime, but with the addition of migratory policy, civil rights and foreign policy.

Campaigns within the Hispanic community are now underway to increase awareness of politics, and the need to get involved, whether as voters or representatives. These range from campaigns to encourage people to naturalize, register to vote, training in leadership techniques, to the many working groups and conferences related to this area. It is worth pointing out in relation to this the huge network of associations that already exist and which reflect the interest in playing an active role in society, and of awareness of the need to be organized. A large number of them limit their activities to the United States, but a great many are also focused on events in their country of origin. Their aims include fund raising and subsidising public works (40) to political objectives (dual nationality, voting rights from abroad, electoral commitments, etc).

The political arena now extends across both frontiers. Some US politicians on the campaign trail have begun visiting the countries of origin of the main Hispanic immigrant communities, in the same way that government officials and politicians from those countries now visit enclaves in the United States. George Bush’s first overseas visit after winning the presidential election was to Mexico; George Pataki, the governor of New York, and the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, both Republicans, have visited Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (41).

Before taking office, Mexican president Vicente Fox travelled to New York to meet with Mexican groups that had supported him from abroad, and that had contributed to his campaign (interview, August 2002). Politicians from the Dominican Republic frequently visit New York, while Mexican officials visit Texas, California, Arizona or Illinois. They are seeking mutual support –financial and electoral–, while increasing their area of influence.

The positive effect of visits by Anglo-American politicians to the places of origin of immigrant minorities –often in the context of some kind of material contribution, and in the presence of local government officials– is clear. As regards the countries of origin themselves, the growing importance of émigrés –through remittances and contributions to local development projects– and their influence over the vote of their compatriots, as well as electoral support, increases their influence over the local political scene –while boosting their position as mediators and potential allies to the United States–. This has resulted in measures aimed at strengthening ties with the principal countries of origin of the immigrant community in the United States.

Such measures include dual nationality, overseas voting, etc, all aimed at facilitating integration among émigrés. Mexico has perhaps taken this approach the furthest by setting up the National Council for Communities Abroad, in August 2002, and which has already launched a number of initiatives (42). In this context, the concession of dual nationality has been complemented by naturalization campaigns (Goldring, 1998; Guarnizo, 1998; Roberts et al., 1999; Smith, 2001; Jones-Correa).

As we have noted in the previous section, involvement in politics in the country of origin is not limited to recently arrived immigrants, or those belonging to marginal groups. On the contrary, as the work of Guarnizo and Portes (2001) shows –and corroborated by my own research– these people tend to be well established in the United States, with a high level of education. Such involvement is not related to naturalization, nor is it opposed to participation in politics in the United States. Furthermore, as with other community associations and delegate institutions from the countries of origin, US affiliates of parties actively push for naturalization and political participation (interviews, NYC, summer 2002).

But political participation means more than just voting. Non-citizens are still able to influence public life, whether at home or from abroad. If the basis for achieving its demands in the United States is the potential vote of a large, and growing population, then in the place of origin it is based on the economic impact of remittances –which in some countries is one of the principal sources of income and foreign exchange (43)– as well as material, strategic, and political contributions, and all in the name of patriotism and loyalty, to the place of origin, along with influence over electoral results (44). Hispanics are extraordinarily active in a range of areas, normally through community associations –the best indicator, according to L. Montoya (2002) of involvement in public life–. Such organizations are also efficient means of mediating between the grass roots and the parties (Maxwell 2002). We believe that it is important to highlight the two aspects of this, given that they strengthen ties with the place of origin, as well as heightening awareness of identity and difference.

Cultural Factors (Language, Identity, Expression)

Let us now turn our attention briefly to two expressive or symbolic aspects of culture: language and identity.

The pressure traditionally applied by US society to immigrants to rapidly assimilate is well known. The image of Immigration and Nationalization Service officers changing the names of the recently arrived at Ellis Island has entered the annals of history. The new wave of migration –and the Hispanization of the United States– is considerably different to the past in many aspects, among them, the question of the host society’s attitude to diversity and acceptance of other cultures.

The struggle undertaken by the civil rights movement has played a key role in this process, and can be seen in the greater degree of tolerance towards diversity, and in legal terms in the special emphasis placed on the rights of minorities. Belief in assimilation, in the strongest sense of the word, has waned (Glazer, 1993; Alba and Nee, 1998). Which does not mean that segregation and racial discrimination has disappeared, nor that there has been much progress in respecting foreign languages –indeed there seems more opposition than ever (Numberg, 1997; Crawford, 1999; Portes and Rumbaut, 2002)–. Both remain obstacles that immigrants and their offspring must overcome along the path toward integration in a society that is opposed to them retaining their cultural heritage.

The demands of cultural and linguistic assimilation are clearly reflected in the proposals of groups like US English, mentioned earlier, and the lack of interest, or outright opposition, to bilingual education. Little wonder that the older generation is concerned about the future of their children (45). This is one of the aspects that most surprised me in the course of carrying out this research: the dissociation between the affirmation of identity, and the clearly expressed desire that this continue through future generations; and the widespread lack of interest throughout the community towards conserving their language.

It is not surprising therefore, that the general trend among the second generation, as suggested above, is a loss of fluency of the mother tongue, and its reduced importance compared to English. An inter-generational study by A. Portes and R. Rumbaut in Miami and San Diego, two of the most-densely populated immigrant cities, confirms this (46).

While almost all young people in the study spoke English fluently –94% in the first phase, and 98% three years later– less than one third (29%) were able to communicate with ease in both languages by the time they had finished school. The same pattern emerged when it came to preferences. Some 72% of boys chose English in the first phase of secondary school, and the figure rose to 88% by the time they had finished school, despite another language being spoken in the home.

In such conditions, what is surprising is that another language was able to survive at all. But Spanish did. This was the language that most young people knew (56%) as well as that most used in the home (34.6%) or with partners (43.8%). Other languages were far behind: the percentages for Tagalog and other Philippine languages were 12.6%, 2.2% and 4%. In third place came Vietnamese, with 6.5%, 5.8% and 5.1%.

Spanish is thus the second language in order of preference, even though the margin is significant, and increases further between the first and second survey –from 14.8% to 6.5%– indicating the pace of linguistic change. Among bilinguals, Spanish and English speakers made up to 47% of the total, depending on the nationality. Haitian and Chinese were 15% and 10% respectively. Hispanic origin is the principal factor in maintaining language: students from the community had a 51% greater chance of holding onto their mother tongue. And although 65% had lost fluency, this was nothing compared to the 90% in the other groups that had completely lost knowledge of their mother tongue (Portes and Rumbaut 2001; Portes 2002).

There are a number of reasons that account for the results of the survey, other than it having taken place in areas with high concentrations of Hispanics: its proximity to English; the number of speakers at school and in the wider environment (Spanish is the lingua franca of Hispanics, while Asians speak a wide range of languages); and the presence of a large number of radio stations, television channels, newspapers, etc. The efforts of parents are thus supported by a range of external factors (Portes and Rumbaut, 2001; Suárez-Orozco et al. 2002).

As regards affiliation and identity, the loyalty of first generation immigrants to their culture is well documented. This is reflected in the persistence of the idea of returning home, and of resistance to taking up nationality, participation in grass-roots community organizations, contributions to the country or origin, and holding onto national and religious holidays and other symbols. But life is more difficult for the younger generation who must choose between the options within their reach, and which makes the process of establishing their identity more difficult.

According to Portes and Rumbaut, the most significant aspect of this process is the change in self-labelling that comes at the end of adolescence: positive in terms of their parents’ origin, but negative as regards their ‘American’ identity. Among Mexicans for example, 41% chose the former in the second phase of the survey (23.5% more than in the first phase), while only 1.2% chose ‘American’ (two points more than in the first).

My observations while undertaking fieldwork corroborate this shift, and the moment in which it takes place. Different interviews linked the discovery of a national identity among young middle class students when they entered university. This was reflected directly in the use of symbols such as the national flag or tattoos, involvement in organizations linked to the nationality in question, and formal instruction in Spanish, among others. This is an indication of the growing awareness and importance they attach to the social reality around them, as the work of Portes and Rumbaut mentioned above points out. At the same time, a range of factors prevent full identification with US society, such as discrimination and segregation. This sometimes results in the adoption of the mother tongue and culture as symbols of pride against the external threat; a process that Portes and Rumbaut (1996, 2001) call reactive ethnicity.

At the same time, the rigid racial structure of the United States is the very opposite of the miscegenation that characterizes Latin America’s societies. In this sense, immigration involves coming up against racism at some level, even if they have not experienced it in the country of origin. This is particularly the case for people from the Caribbean (47).

To the restructuring of identity that goes with immigration, we should add what Dominican academics call ‘the third root’: the discovery upon arrival in the United States that they are seen as Black. At the same time, indigenous roots of other minorities places them in an ambiguous position on the racial scale, accentuating perceptions of difference. The high number of people who disregard the labels proposed in the 2000 Census in the question on ‘race’ –42% of non-Hispanics choose ‘other’, as opposed to 0.2% of Hispanics– is evidence of these factors (48). A study by the Washington Post, the Kaiser Foundation and a research team from Harvard showed that 59% of Hispanics rejected any association with Anglos, or Afro-Americans (49).

All this takes place in the current context that sees multi-culturalism as a positive factor, while pushing for assimilation. An interview with a consular official in New York –who had previously been posted in Los Angeles– included many references to the rebirth of a sense of community and the rediscovery by Americans in general of the country’s Hispanic heritage (NY, May 2002).

This, along with positive perceptions of migration, which sets the United States apart from Europe –as well as the positive factor that the migrant of today is also a citizen, and therefore a voter tomorrow– is reflected in the presence of the authorities and government representatives at festivals and other occasions often linked to the country of origin, and which are opportunities to reaffirm allegiance to one’s mother culture. Such events may be routine and with electoral aims in mind, but that does not rule out the positive contribution they make to overcoming hostility from elements within the host culture.

At the same time, there are two factors that distinguish the current generation of immigrants from their predecessors. The first relates to their symbolic position in respect of their own country and this. While the European immigrants came from states that were in the process of being formed (Germans and Italians), or represented dissident groups within this process (Irish and Hungarian) (Guarnizo, 1998), Hispanics had long been part of a history of colonization, national identity and the struggle against foreign domination.

Nationalism and patriotism are key factors in the process of socialization, and are deeply rooted. At the same time, if for earlier waves of immigrants, the United States was above all a land to make their own, for Hispanics, it is simply the new face of the old empire. Hispanics have long been directly involved in the politics, economy, and even territorial disputes of their countries, and they are at the same time aware of the economic restructuring that is behind their Diaspora, and which is directly related to the unequal relationship between their countries and the neighbour to the north (Torres-Saillant, 2002). All this highlights the obstacles in the way of full identification with the host society, and the tendency to reaffirm their own identity and origins.

At the same time, migrants’ own countries play a role in this through the initiatives and programmes we have alluded to earlier. Mexico, for example, promotes the teaching of Spanish as well as other educational initiatives. The Dominican Republic also has an active presence through its cultural attaché. In 2002, the Culture Ministry there organized the First Consultative Forum in New York to discuss a decade-long culture plan, and that was supported widely within the community. This event coincided with the V Juegos Patrios, a sporting competition that included Puerto Rico, Canada and several US states (field work August 2002). Many other such initiatives exist.

Finally, new technology and cheaper air travel will make a major contribution to strengthening ties with migrants’ countries of origin. Aside from the initiatives mentioned above –and many interviewees mentioned that their children had learned Spanish– the Internet has allowed an unprecedented degree of communication between émigrés and their birthplaces. There already exist more than two dozen web pages to connect people with friends and family in their hometowns, among them the following Mexican sites: www.juchipila.com, www.jalpazac.com, www.tulcingo.com, etc. The same applies to the Dominican Republic with sites such as www.mibellotamboril.comwww.misalcedo.com, etc.

Above and beyond what we have already mentioned, international initiatives serve to widen migrants’ horizons still further, many of them of a sporting nature. One such example is the Mexican Sporting Federation of the North-eastern United States, which brings together 450 softball teams, and a total of 25,800 players, with a further 27,000 affiliated teams (interviews, New York, June and July, 2002).


Visibility and arousing interest are very often the first steps toward creating the conditions that will later allow a group to demand its rights. If the peer group provides the conditions for making commonplace what in the new context is foreign –whether it be language, music or food– the attitude of the host society can either push these manifestations into hiding, or if they are seen to celebrate them, keep them in the open. And once this process has started, the moment eventually arrives when it is precisely these external agents who are most interested in promoting the idea of a ‘different group’ with its own cultural symbols, insisting at the same time in a (supposed) cultural unity, simultaneously emphasizing the (sometimes equally supposed) differences.

The processes mentioned above corroborate the growing importance of the Hispanic population in the United States: a population that has now reached the critical mass needed to attract the attention of other groups, and affirmed its position as a force in society. As regards the initial question, our work points to two possible answers. If the question is simply whether or not there is a future for Spanish in the United States, then the answer can only be a resounding yes: its presence is widespread, it has a well-developed infrastructure to support it, and the interests surrounding it can only provide greater solidity. Continued migratory flows, the closeness of the places of their origin, new information technology, the interest of business and politics in cultivating this public –without forgetting the United States’ doctrine of multiculturalism– all point to a promising future. And the same applies in relation to the host society’s identification with a different group: the average American is likely to find more in common with Hispanics than any other immigrant group.

Another question entirely is what will happen at the individual level in terms of the reach and social range of Spanish, and whether its future is reduced to use within the peer group, or if it will extend into the cultural and political spheres –which will guarantee its use among future generations–. For the moment, based on our observations, the tendency, even among those who are perfectly fluent, is to switch to English when the conversation is taking place in an English-speaking environment.

What is needed is a greater degree of consciousness regarding the need to cultivate it among young people, and the danger of its being lost. Furthermore, it is understood that its future be guaranteed amid the current bleak outlook. But it is also understood that this is the price to be paid for integration and moving up the social scale. On the other hand, there are the natural ties that we maintain to our language. ‘Like a fish in water,’ as one interviewee said (New York, August, 2002). Which is all well and good, but a stream is lost within an ocean. However, although it is now practically possible to live in the United States solely en español, the objective reality is that only those who can speak English will have access to wider opportunities.

It is understandable that given the difficulties or the deficiencies of a (incorrectly named) bilingual education, parents put Spanish aside (both at school and at home). But leaving aside the emotional ties to the language, and the benefits of self-esteem and academic expectations, as well as greater cultural closeness between generations (Portes and Rumbaut, 2001; Porte and Hao, 2002), bilingualism is in itself of value in an ever-increasingly globalized world, as we are constantly being reminded.

All of which can only lead us to hope that as Spanish assumes a stronger role in society, and that the demand for bilingual personnel increases –a process already underway, as we have seen– that the language’s potential begins to be better appreciated.

On the other hand, the loss or dwindling use of the mother tongue does not seem to be affecting the way in which people ascribe themselves. And while some may find this surprising seen from without, all the evidence points to a considerable degree of nationalism that is not based on language. The reasons behind this are many and varied, and this is not the place to discuss them.

In sum, lo hispano and lo latino have, in my opinion, a solid future in the United States. Spanish will continue to consolidate its importance. However, unless it receives greater institutional support, it is unlikely that the gap between its development at the social level and reduced individual use will be overcome. At the present rate, we may well find a situation where non-Hispanics are making a greater effort to learn it than the Hispanic community itself. It is worth noting that the Republican Party, which for so long ignored the Hispanic community, now offers Spanish classes to its members in Florida, and is thinking about extending that to the rest of the country.

Princeton, November, 2002


(1) This work was carried out during a stay in the Center for Migration and Development at the University of Princeton funded by a post-doctoral grant from the Secretary of State for Education and Universities of Spain and co-financed by the European Social Fund. An initial version was published by the Elcano Royal Intitute under the title Perdurará lo hispano en USA (Documento de Trabajo 2002-08, Madrid, X/2002).

(2) Cited by Lawrence Auster in ‘Mass Immigration and its Effects on Our Culture’, p. 2.

(3) This was made up of participant observation and in-depth interviews with immigrants and other informants, particularly from the Mexican and Dominican communities.

(4) Promulgated in 1921 and 1924, and ratified by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, these established a quota system by national origin and favoured Western countries and severely limited immigration (Schmidley and US Census Bureau: Profile of the Foreign-Born Population. 2000, p. 8-9).

(5) Ibid., p. 10-11.

(6) See: J. Passel: ‘New Estimates of the Undocumented in the United States’.

(7) Until 1970, Hispanics were not registered as a separate group. Mexicans have been since 1930. The 1940 census recognizes those with ‘Spanish as mother tongue’. In 1950 and 1960, ‘People with Spanish surnames in five states; and in 1970, the question asked about origin and offered a list. In the 1980 and 1990 surveys, the list included Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, and ‘other Hispanics’; the second tabulated data on 30 additional groups. In the most recent, the question on ‘Hispanic Origin’ preceded ‘race’, and allowed for more than one to be added. For the first time, the term Latino was used. These changes, aside from the increase in population, have added to the weight of the Hispanic population (B. Guzmán, ‘La población Hispana’, Census Information, 2000).

(8) Some of the methodological changes introduced in the 2000 Census have sparked debate and appeared to underestimate figures from Central and South America, among them Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Dominicans, Colombians and Ecuadoreans. The Dominican-American National Round Table and the Institute for Dominican Studies at the University of New York led a national campaign calling for a revision of the data on this group. This was backed by the representatives in the Senate and Congress for the states of New York, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut. See www.danr.org/misreporting.htm and R. Suro 2002.

(9) See: R. Suro and A. Singer: Latin Growth in Metropolitan America, VII/2002.

(10) An example of this can be seen in Washington Heights and in Upper Manhattan, now known as Dominican Heights, or Quisqueya Heights by its residents, and where almost 80% of the population is from the Dominican Republic. Many of the schools are occupied in the majority by children from these groups, and their names have deep significance for the children: Juan Pablo Duarte, Gregorio Luperón, Hermanas Miraball, etc. At the same time, St. Nicholas Avenue in 1999 was changed to Boulevard Juan Pablo Duarte, the ‘father of all Dominicans’. The same process has taken place in other places with large Hispanic populations (field work and interviews).

(11) Interviews: New York (March 2002) and Chicago (August 2002). On practices within the police, fire services and education departments, see M.L. Betsch, ‘More Cops, Fire-fighters Forced to Learn Spanish to Sep Jobs,’ CNSNews.com, 10/VII/2002; and J. Villa, ‘Fire-fighters going bilingual’, The Arizona Republic, July 10, 2002; and T.D. Hobbs, ‘Spanish holds currency for DISD teachers’, The Dallas Morning News, 16/X/2002.

(12) In 2000, the Clinton administration acted on the question of discrimination on linguistic grounds. The 1964 law calls on federal government and organizations that receive subsidies to have some kind of system to supply services in other languages to guarantee access to those who do not speak English. Although the majority of the local governments are trying to implement this order, some agencies have already begun providing information in Spanish, as well as courses in the language for those dealing with the public. (G.C. Armas: ‘Language Barrier Affects Businesses’, and D. Kong: ‘30 States Have Multilingual Ballots’, The Washington Post, 25/IX/2002 and 6/IX/2002).

(13) The law is applicable in counties and municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants that do not speak English as a first language, or if 5% of voters do not speak English. The law is applicable to Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and native Alaskans. In Los Angeles Country, in the November 2002 elections, five other languages apart from English were valid: Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

(14) Dominicans resident in Upper Manhattan elected Guillermo Linares, their first representative in 1991. He was followed by Adriano Espaillat. Both were born in the Dominican Republic. When Linares stood down in 2001, there were six other Dominican-born candidates looking to replace him. Miguel Martínez won the post.

(15) K. Díaz: ‘Como se dice, Please vote for me’, The Star Tribune (Minnesota), 25/X/2002.

(16) See: Intervention of Lawrence Auster (2002) quoted at the beginning: ‘Multiculturalism’s Volatile Mix’, by G. Jonas, The National Post, 21/VI/2002, or S.A. Camarota, ‘Too Many’.

(17) Hispanic Business, V/2002, p. 20 and 22 and 16.

(18) Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. 2002, ‘Businesses run by Hispanics: 1997’.

(19) Some 73% have attended high school and 23% have a university degree; among Mexicans the figures fall to 51% and 6.9% respectively (Therrien and Ramirez, 2001).

(20) Y. Rodríguez, ‘Plaza del Sol: Latinos make a mark’, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17/VII/2002.

(21) See Portes et al. (2002): ‘Empresarios transnacionales: emergencia y determinantes…’

(22) The Bank of America, for example, has quadrupled its budget to U$40 million in campaigns with slogans such as ‘Creemos en ti’ (T. Padgett ‘Interest Grows at Banks to Taylor Products, Services for Latino Community’, Newsday, 23/VI/2002).

(23) The campaign began with the symbolic transfer of US$200 by Rosario Marín, head of the US Treasury Department from a Citybank branch in a Hispanic neighbourhood in Washington. The initiative is part of the ‘Sociedad para la Prosperidad entre EEUU y México’, signed by the two countries’ presidents. According to the IADB, émigrés sent more than US$9 billion to Mexico in 2001 (see FOMIN 2002). Calculations by the Bank of Mexico suggest that US$10 billion was sent the following year.

(24) The Mexican government has fought hard to make this happen. The cards are now recognized in 88 cities, 13 states and 798 police departments. The success of the programme has led Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to undertake similar initiatives.

(25) Based on interviews. See articles by M. Liedtke, ‘Big Banks Focus on Hispanic Market’, The Kansas City Star, 25/V/2002, G. Gori, ‘A Card Allows U.S. Banks to Aid Mexican Immigrant’, The New York Times, 6/VII/2002, J. Johnson, ‘Mexican ID Card Gets Illegal Aliens Access to Banks’, Cybercast News Service, C. Dougherty, ‘US Banks, cities accept Mexican illegals’ ID’, The Washington Times, 18/VII/2002, etc.

(26) As an advisor to the Mayor of New York pointed out: ‘You can reach Hispanics through English media, but you can’t reach English-speakers through Hispanic media’ (P. Furman: ‘New York’s Hispanic Media Look to Grain Greater Share of Advertising Money’, Daily News, 16/VII/2001).

(27) My field work provided many cases of this.

(28) Between 1991 and 1997, six countries, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Chile and Bolivia, joined the four that already recognized double identity: Uruguay, Panama, Peru and El Salvador. See Jones-Correa: ‘Under Two Flags’.

(29) A survey by the Republican Latino Coalition in August 2002 shows that 68% approve of Bush. That figure rises to 78% of non-registered voters. The president’s biggest supporters were the recently arrived and those with English difficulties. Among those interviewed in Spanish, the approval rate was 74%, 12 points above the figure of those who chose English. The Latino Coalition: National Survey of Hispanic Adults 2002.

(30) Raúl Damas, ‘PanderCare’, The Washington Post, 30/V/2002.

(31) J. Lawrence, ‘Both parties are hotly pursuing Hispanic voters GOP no longer concedes Latinos to Democrats’, USA Today, 1/VIII/2002.

(32) See T. Tancredo, ‘Do We Still Need As Many H-1B Visas? NO’, Front Page Magazine.com, 17/V/2001, or ‘Secure borders are citizens’ right, Decision 2002, 6th Congressional District’, The Denver Post, 6/X/2002.

(33) The most recent study from the Pew Hispanic Center (October 2002) shows that 85% of those questioned are in favour of such measures.

(34) See C. Hulse, ‘Gephardt is preparing a measure to legalize illegal immigrant’, The New York Times, 23/VII/2002, and S. Dinan, ‘Gephardt pushes bill legalizing aliens’, The Washington Post, 11/X/2002.

(35) An internal survey of the National Republican Committee shows that 75% of Hispanics believe that politicians should address them in Spain. They also believe that the preservation of their native language is one of the five most important issues in their lives (J. Howard, ‘Spanish language joins US culture’, The Washington Times, 20/V/2002.

(36) According to ProEnglish –part of the movement– 26 states have approved laws making English their official language. US English, the biggest and oldest of these types of organizations carried out a national survey in February 2002 that showed that 84% of Americans believe that English should be the official language of the country (‘Idahoans say yes to official English’, The Washington Post, 21/V/2002, G.C. Armas, idem). See also G. Numberg, ‘Lingo jingo’.

(37) Millionaire Ronald Unz was the main promoter of Proposal 227 in California, known as ‘English for the children’. It was approved in June 1998 with 61% of votes in favour and 39% against, and opened the way for bilingual language teaching to be dismantled. In 200, and with his help, Arizona followed, as did in November 2002 Massachusetts. A similar bid failed in Colorado.

(38) See T. Abbady, ‘Gov Jeb Bush Campaigns in Spanish’, The Washington Post, 31/X/2002, and K. Diaz, ‘Como se dice, Please vote for me’, The Star Tribune (Minnesota), 25/X/2002.

(39) In 1998, 30% of Hispanic children did not finish high school, compared with 7.7% of Anglos and white-non Hispanics and 13.8% of Afro-Americans (Dept. of Education, 2000). On electoral attitudes among Hispanics, see NCLR, 2002, L. DeSipio and R. De la Garza, 2002, Barreto et al., 2002, and Pew Hispanic Center et al., 2002.

(40) An example of this is the Hometown Associations. There were 500 such Mexican associations by 1998 alone according to Luis Escla Rabadan, of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (information provided by the author, Chicago, August 2002).

(41) On February 19, 2002, G. Pataki became the first governor of New York to visit the Dominican Republic, an important source of votes. His visit coincided with that of Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat candidate who if he had won the primaries would have been his rival in the November 2002 elections (Richard Pérez Peña). ‘Pataki’s Santo Domingo Tour Passes Into Tropic of Politics’, New York Times, 20/II/2002. On July 26, 2002, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his second visit to the island. He had visited it first on the occasion of the Flight 587 crash over Queens.

(42) Aside from those mentioned, it is worth mentioning the 1990 ‘Programa para las Comunidades en el Exterior’ (www.sre.gob.mx/organigrama/pcme.htm) in the ‘Programa Paisano’ (www.paisano.gob.mx), the 3×1 programme, e-mexico, ‘Ayuda a una micro-region’, etc. For its part, Colombia in 1996 established the ‘programa para la promoción de la comunidades Colombianas en el extranjero’. The government of the Dominican Republic set up the ‘Mesa Nacional Dominico-Americana’ in 1997 aimed at coordinating and promoting a common agenda. Interviews, NY 2002. See also Guarnizo, 1998, Goldring, Landolt, 2001, and Smith, 2001.

(43) The latest report from FOMIN by the IADB in 2002 shows that remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean were worth more than US$23,000 in 2001, and would likely reach US$300,000 by the end of the decade. The sums involved are greater than development aid in the case of Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador, Jamaica and Ecuador, and are equivalent to 10% of GDP.

(44) See E. Sepulveda, ‘Money boycott forces talks about voting’, The Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/VIII/2002, and J. Mena, ‘Mexico’s 2006 race comes to Santa Ana’, Los Angeles Times, 5/VII/2002.

(45) A survey carried out in Los Angeles shortly before the ‘English for the Children’ vote in 1998 showed that 84% of Hispanic voters in California, and 80% of non-Hispanic whites (F. Murria, ‘Court upholds English-only instruction in California’, The Washington Post, 9/X/2002). It was also Hispanics, who, alongside R. Unz, campaigned in Massachusetts and Colorado to immerse children in learning English in 2002 (see Rita Monteiro, editorial in ‘Teach our children English’, The Denver Post, 22/IX/2002).

(46) The study Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study brings together data from more than 5,000 students of 77 nationalities that attended private and public schools in both cities. See A. Portes and R. Rumbaut, Legacies. The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation.

(47) As was pointed out to us in an interview: ‘In the DR, people think of themselves as very white, very European, the blacks are the Haitians’ (interviews in New York, March and May, 2002).

(48) Of the remainder, 47% said they were ‘white’, and 6% said they belonged to two or more races, while 2% chose this option from the rest of the population. See Grieco y Cassidy, 2001, and Singer, 2002.

(49) See A. Goldstein and R. Suro, ‘A Journey in Stages’, The Washington Post, 16/I/2000.


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María Jesús Criado

Written by María Jesús Criado