Contemporary Chicano/Latino Studies Political Science

13

Chapter 2

Unity and diversity Coauthored with Adrian Pantoja

The rapid growth of the share of Latinos in the US population in the last decade is now widely recognized in academic and political circles.* Just over 12% of the US population in 2000, Latinos accounted for 16.3% in the 2010 census—a 33% increase in ten years. A majority of that growth came from native births rather than immigration. According to US Cen- sus Bureau projections, Latinos will make up one-quarter of the national population by 2050.

Although the Latino share of the electorate has significantly lagged the population share, it too has grown substantially. In 2008 Latinos were an estimated 9% of the national electorate, up considerably from 5.4% in 2000 and dramatically from 3.7% in 1992, when Bill Clinton was first elected president.1 Disadvantages in education and income are generally associated with lower rates of voter registration and turnout, but Lati- nos have nevertheless been closing the gap, largely by overperforming for their socioeconomic status. And in reported voter participation, Latinos trail non-Hispanic whites with the same levels of both education and in- come by a mere 4%.2

*Portions of this chapter appeared in earlier form in Gary M. Segura, “Latino Public Opin- ion and Realigning the American Electorate,” Daedalus 141, no. 4 (Fall 2012): 98–113.

Barreto Segura Book.indb 13 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

14 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

The remainder of the lag can be attributed to two factors, both of which will become less significant with time. First, Latinos in the United States are a very young population; among those who are citizens, only 57.7% are over the age of eighteen (compared with 79.1% of non-Hispanic whites), according to the American Community Survey. Second, nonciti- zens make up around 40% of the adult Latino population. Although many of them are undocumented residents whose future in the country is un- certain at best, in time these noncitizens will be replaced in the population with their US-born offspring.

The growing Latino electorate has already significantly reshaped pol- itics in the Southwest and California and is beginning to do so in Texas, Florida, and even Georgia and North Carolina. As the Latino population and electorate continue to grow, so will the impact of Latino public opin- ion on the national conversation—and on political outcomes in particular.

JUst the Facts Much of the discourse on Latino politics in the United States is filled with myths and misperceptions based on anecdotal accounts gathered by news reporters or self-designated experts. Moreover, many observers assume that what is true for the Mexican-origin population is also true for Puerto Ricans or for other Latin American ancestry groups. But considering that over twenty countries in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula are rep- resented in Latino ancestries, generalizing from the experiences of one nationality group overlooks important differences between them. Differ- ences between Latino immigrants and those who are non-immigrants or who have been living in the country for many generations are also signifi- cant but often ignored. And the political differences between Latinos who are Democrats and those who are Republicans are often significant. In this book, we address many of the myths surrounding Latino politics and identify many of the similarities as well as the differences across varying types of Latinos.

Before we delve into the diverse and dynamic world of Latino Amer- ica, it is important to establish some baseline demographic information on the 53 million Latinos presently living in the United States. Longtime

Barreto Segura Book.indb 14 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

15Latino America

observers of Latino politics can recall a time when Latinos flew under the political radar because they were considered demographically and politically insignificant. The rapid growth of the Latino population in the late twentieth century, however (see Figure 2.1), coupled with a po- litical awakening in the mid-1990s, propelled them into the national spotlight.

Although Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, the two largest Latino groups, were active in the 1960s civil rights struggles, by and large Latinos were not significant nationwide political actors in the 1970s and 1980s. But by the 2000 census, Latinos had grown to over 35 million (or 12.5% of the US population; see Figure 2.2) and were on the verge of be- coming the nation’s largest minority. In the last decade, their size and growing political clout have come to the notice of political pundits and politicians, many of whom proclaim that the “sleeping giant” has finally “awakened.” No doubt, Latinos’ political strength will only continue to surge in the coming decades, given the population growth forecasts shown in Figures 2.1 and 2.2.

Immigration is a critical factor behind Latino growth rates and a piv- otal policy issue for Latinos, as we will see in this book. The foreign-born

Figure 2.1 The Latino Population in the united States (in Millions)

Barreto Segura Book.indb 15 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

16 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

Latino segment has more than doubled in the last forty years, from 20% in 1970 to 40% by the 2000 census, to an estimated 43% today (see Fig- ure 2.3).

The doubling of the number of foreign-born Latinos can be directly attributed to changes in US immigration law, beginning with the Immi- gration and Nationality Act of 1965. Essentially, the 1965 act eliminated the preference categories for Northern and Western Europeans in favor of a preference system that emphasized family reunification. The 1965 act fa- cilitated immigration not only from Latin America but also from Asia and other parts of the globe, leading to a so-called fourth wave of mass im- migration. In fact, immigration patterns from Latin America closely fol- low changes in US immigration laws and migration patterns from other parts of the world. In contrast to previous immigration waves, however, Latin Americans constitute the largest segment of contemporary immi- grants, at 53%.3 Not surprisingly, the backlash that followed this wave was largely directed at immigrants from Mexico, since that country was the single largest source of immigrants from Latin America in 2010 (55%), as well as from around the world (29%). In effect, immigration became

Figure 2.2 The Latino Population as a Percentage of the Total uS Population

Barreto Segura Book.indb 16 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

17Latino America

synonymous, in the minds of the American electorate, with “Latino” in general, and with “Mexican” in particular. As popular dissatisfaction with all forms of immigration—and particularly undocumented immi- gration—grew and was stoked by political provocateurs, it is not surpris- ing that Mexican-origin people were most often identified, targeted, and disparaged.

Before we look at the states with the largest concentration of Latinos, it is important to examine the differing sizes of the national-origin groups that make up the Latino population. Then, given that Latino settlement patterns in the United States are driven by history, geographical proxim- ity to the country of ancestry, employment opportunities, and the social networks established by transnational ties, we can establish where and why particular ancestry groups reside where they do.

Mexican Americans are the largest segment of the Latino population, at 29 million, or 65% of Latinos in the United States. The second-larg- est group, Puerto Ricans, make up a mere 9%. Cubans constitute less than 4%, Salvadorans 3.6%, and Dominicans 2.8% of all Latinos in the United States. When we consider the distribution between native- and foreign-born populations across each group (see Table 2.1), what is most

Figure 2.3 The Foreign-Born Percentage of the Latino Population in the united States

Barreto Segura Book.indb 17 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

18 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

striking is that for most Latinos the foreign-born population is a consid- erably larger portion of their total numbers than the native-born popula- tion. That Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans are the exception may seem odd, given that Mexico is the single largest source of immigration to the United States. Yet a closer look at the history of the population re- veals that Mexican Americans have a long and continuous presence in the United States. Some Mexican Americans can trace their ancestry to the time when the American Southwest belonged to Mexico (thus the ad- age, “I did not cross the border, the border crossed me”). A significant portion also arrived at the turn of the twentieth century, following the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). Many more came as braceros during World War II to fill labor shortages brought about by the war. The fact that an estimated 500,000 Mexican Americans served in the US armed forces during World War II shows the size of the population even before the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Settling in the American Southwest was natural given its geographic proximity to Mex- ico, the economic opportunities it offered, and the long-standing presence of Mexicans in the region.

Migration from the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was also sig- nificant prior to the 1965 act. In fact, because Puerto Ricans have been US citizens since 1917, the immigration act had little impact on their

TaBLe 2.1 The Latino Population in the united States, by Nativity, 2007

Ancestry Total Population Native-Born Foreign-Born

Latino 45,378,600 56.3% 43.7% Mexican 29,189,300 59.5 40.5 Puerto Rican 4,114,700 64.8 35.2 Cuban 1,608,800 37.5 62.5 Salvadoran 1,473,500 33.3 66.7 Dominican 1,198,800 37.9 62.1 Other Central American 2,059,100 31.2 68.8 South American 2,500,800 28.9 71.1 Other Hispanic or Latino 3,233,500 80.9 19.1

Source: Garcia (2012), 30.

Barreto Segura Book.indb 18 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

19Latino America

migration patterns. Puerto Rican migration can be traced back to Op- eration Bootstrap, an economic development program initiated in 1952 by the Commonwealth’s first elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín. Op- eration Bootstrap had a profound impact on Puerto Rican migration. In the 1940s there were 69,967 Puerto Ricans in the United States, but by the 1960s the population had grown to 887,662. The primary destination point for Puerto Ricans was New York, which is home to the largest con- centration of Puerto Ricans on the mainland to this day.

Cubans and Salvadorans migrated as a direct result of turmoil brought about by revolutions in their homelands. With the ousting of President Fulgencio Batista’s regime by Fidel Castro on January 1, 1959, political and economic elites fled from the island of Cuba; geographic proximity and long-standing networks made Miami their natural destination. Be- cause Cubans were fleeing a Communist regime, they were easily able to enter the country because they were considered political refugees. This experience stands in sharp contrast to what happened in the 1980s to Sal- vadorans who were fleeing political violence initiated by a regime that was an ally of the United States. Salvadorans were treated as economic refugees and summarily returned to El Salvador if they were caught at the border or within the United States. After a series of legal challenges, Salvadoran refugees were finally granted temporary protected status. Los Angeles became a primary destination for Salvadorans given its proximity to El Salvador and the established communities of Mexican and Central American immigrants.4

Among the top five Latino groups in the United States, Dominicans have been the greatest beneficiaries of the 1965 Immigration and Nation- ality Act. The easing of immigration restrictions combined with the over- throw of the Trujillo dictatorship (1930–1961) to dramatically increase migration from the Dominican Republic to the United States. The first wave of Dominican migrants came to escape the civil strife following Tru- jillo’s assassination and the bloody political vacuum that ensued. Only 9,897 Dominicans had come to the United States in the 1950s, but that figure jumped to 93,292 in the 1960s. Many of those leaving in the 1960s were middle-class Dominicans seeking to avoid becoming victims of the political violence, and the US government, in an effort to stabilize the

Barreto Segura Book.indb 19 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

20 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

country, granted US visas even to potential opponents of the US-backed regime. Since that era, Dominican emigration, largely motivated by the push and pull of economic factors, has risen dramatically. Between 1961 and 2000, 828,713 Dominicans legally immigrated to the United States. Like Puerto Ricans, Dominicans have primarily settled in New York City.5

From the map in Figure 2.4 showing the geographic distribution of the Latino population in the country, we can observe that more than half (55%) of US Latinos reside in three states: California, Texas, and Florida. Califor- nia is home to the nation’s largest Latino population, with about 14.4 mil- lion Latinos. California’s Latino population alone accounts for more than one-fourth (28%) of US Hispanics.6 When it comes to the four largest an- cestry groups, more than half (61%) of the Mexican-origin population in the United States reside in California (11.4 million) and Texas (8 million) alone. About two-fifths (41%) of the Puerto Rican population live in two states: New York (1.1 million) and Florida (848,000). More than two-thirds (68%) of all Cubans live in one state: Florida (1.2 million). Dominicans are highly concentrated in the state of New York, with nearly half residing there in 2010 (675,000, or 48%). Nearly half (48%) of the Salvadoran population is concentrated in California (574,000) and Texas (223,000).7

Figure 2.4 Latino Population Size, by State

Barreto Segura Book.indb 20 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

21Latino America

Despite the differences in their migration and settlement patterns, the various ancestry groups share many sociodemographic characteris- tics, though of the five largest Latino ancestry groups, Cubans have a dis- tinctive sociodemographic profile (see Table 2.2). Cubans on average are older, they are more educated, and they have higher incomes and home- ownership rates. The sociodemographic differences between Cubans and the other Latino ancestry groups stem largely from the demographic char- acteristics of the immigrants who fled the Cuban revolution. Now living in exile in this country, those immigrants, for the most part, represented the upper strata of Cuban society—in sharp contrast to the sociodemo- graphic status of immigrants from the other Latino groups.

Cubans aside, the other groups are more alike than different in their demographic profiles. Across these and other Latino groups, Catholicism remains the dominant religion. Some geographic and socioeconomic dif- ferences have an impact on Latino political beliefs and behaviors, how- ever, and there are key social factors we must consider as well.

Points oF diversit y among L at inos The Latino population of the United States is diverse in several important ways. Not only does the diversity of this population complicate any anal- ysis of Latino public opinion, but its effect—that is, the degree to which it

TaBLe 2.2 Selected Demographic Characteristics of the Top Five Latino groups in the united States

Mexican 61.6% 25 9% 40,736 50.5% 75% Puerto Rican 80.5 29 16 40,736 40.3 60 Cuban 58.3 41 25 43,587 59.7 66 Salvadoran 44.2 29 5 43,791 46.0 58 Dominican 53.4 29 8 35,644 28.3 72

Source: Pew Hispanic Center, Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2008 survey. Data on identification as Catholic are from the 2006 Latino National Survey.

CatholicGroup English Fluency

Median Age (Years)

BA Degree (at Age 25 or

Older)

Median House- hold Income (in 2008 US

Dollars)

Home- ownership

Rate

Barreto Segura Book.indb 21 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

22 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

yields meaningful differences in Latino views or behavior—varies consid- erably. Three particular characteristics are especially important to under- standing Latino opinion and behavior: national origin, nativity (including differences by age), and generation in the United States. These demo- graphic facts capture the differences between the children of immigrants, the grandchildren of immigrants, and subsequent generations.

national origin

Among the myriad complications of examining Latino public opinion and political participation is the definitional question: who exactly is a Latino? As simplistic as that question may sound, the issue of identity has important social and methodological implications. For one, Latino resi- dents of the United States migrated or are descended from migrants from over twenty Latin American nations (including the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). Second, while the ethnic histories of the Iberian Peninsula and Southern Europe are complex enough, the varied racial histories of Latin America add another layer of complexity to definitions of “Latino” and account for the significant apparent variation in Latino phenotype across the United States. Think about Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, talk-show host Cristina Saralegui, actors America Ferrara and Jimmy Smits, baseball players Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa, and singers Jen- nifer Lopez and the late Celia Cruz: all are Latinos, but they exhibit a wide array of physical characteristics reflective of the unique racial histories of their national-origin groups.

Indigenous, European, and African ancestral origins combine in each Latin American nation in ways that make Latino identity racially complex.8 Although 51.2% of the 8,634 respondents in the 2006 Latino National Sur- vey (LNS) believed that Latinos constitute a distinct racial category, the reality in fact varies across national origins. Mexicans, many Central Amer- icans, Peruvians, and Bolivians are of mestizo and indigenous ancestries; Colombian, Venezuelan, and Caribbean national origins more directly reflect the African diaspora in the Western Hemisphere; and individuals from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay better represent Spanish (and other European) colonization. Yet despite these differences, anyone

Barreto Segura Book.indb 22 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

23Latino America

with Latin American origins is considered, in the context of American pol- itics, “Latino” or “Hispanic.” Research suggests that this racial complexity has an effect in the American political environment.9

That said, we should not overstate the diversity of national origins in the Latino population. More than 65% of all Latinos are Mexican or Mex- ican American, and another 9.1% are Puerto Rican. Salvadorans make up 3.6%, Cubans 3.5%, and Dominicans 2.8%.10 Almost 86% of the Latino population in the United States is from one of those five national-origin groups. Guatemalans (2.2%) and Colombians (1.9%) are by far the larg- est of the remaining groups. More than a dozen other Latin American nations are represented in the US populace, but their population shares are tiny. Mexicans and Mexican Americans, and to a lesser extent Puerto Ricans, dominate the conversation.

Though these national-origin groups have distinct cultural character- istics and racial histories, the Spanish language, Roman Catholicism, and entertainment and media cultures that have become highly integrated over the course of decades have knitted all these Latino communities more closely together.11 Nevertheless, several characteristics specific to certain national-origin groups can, and do, shape public opinion and po- litical participation.

The most politically distinct are Cuban Americans in South Florida, many of whom are refugees (or offspring of refugees) of the Cuban rev- olution. Stereotypically Republican, Cubans have been influenced by the unique circumstances of their arrival in the 1960s; by the privileged le- gal immigration regime that they and no other Latino immigrants have enjoyed; and by their economic circumstances relative to other Latinos. Many who arrived in the 1960s and 1970s came with some resources and received considerable assistance from the United States. Their Republi- canism is rooted in both these resource differences and their experience of the Cold War. Moreover, under the 1995 revisions to the Cuban Adjust- ment Act, Cuban migrants who reach US soil are given nearly automatic asylum and status, which removes immigration status as a barrier to the growth of their communities and their political incorporation.

Cuban distinctiveness appears to be eroding, however. Younger Cu- bans who are several generations removed from the Castro experience, as

Barreto Segura Book.indb 23 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

24 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

well as those descended from the “Marielitos” who arrived in the Mariel Boatlift in 1980 (and who came with fewer resources and faced some within-group bias from the longer-established population), are far less likely to be Republican. Their opinions and political characteristics more closely reflect those of other US Latinos.

The Puerto Rican experience is also distinct. Because Puerto Rico is part of the United States, Puerto Ricans, including those born on the is- land, are US citizens from birth—a provision of the Jones Act of 1917. Citizenship for Puerto Ricans and the lack of any legal consequences to their migration to and from the island highlight two key distinctions between Puerto Ricans and other Latinos: immigration is not an imme- diate issue for Puerto Ricans, and their access to the political process is straightforward.

Nevertheless, and for reasons that remain underexplored, political par- ticipation among mainland Puerto Ricans lags considerably behind other Latino national-origin groups, and more curiously, behind voters on the island as well. As Louis DeSipio noted in 2006, “Despite these relatively equal opportunities to participate politically in the United States or in Puerto Rico, turnout in Puerto Rican Elections is approximately twice as high as Puerto Rican participation in mainland elections.”12 DeSipio cites the differences between the island and the mainland in electoral institu- tions (including different political parties) and the absence of meaningful party mobilization on the mainland; he also points out that politics on the island is based in different issues, including most obviously the future status of the island as a US state or an independent nation. The effect is significant: Puerto Rican turnout hovers around 40% on the mainland but is more than twice that on the island. The undermobilization of Puerto Ricans remains a missed opportunity in terms of Latino impact on the US political system.

nativity and generation

Approximately 40% of all Latinos in the United States are foreign-born. This number understates, however, the role of nativity in Latino political life. About 34% of the Latino population is under the age of eighteen, but

Barreto Segura Book.indb 24 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

25Latino America

93% of those young people are US citizens, with just 1% naturalized and 92% native-born. By contrast, 52% of adult Latinos are foreign-born, less than one-third of whom (31% of the total) have naturalized to US citizen- ship.13 While these percentages vary significantly by state, they point to two important facts about the Latino population: only 64% of the adults are citizens of the United States, and naturalized citizens make up just 25% of the total. An additional share of this population, island-born Puerto Ricans, may not be US citizens through naturalization but have still expe- rienced the economic, social, and linguistic challenges of migration.

Place of birth can shape attitudes and engagement in American pol- itics in three important ways. First, embarking on the path to migration and citizenship is a profoundly self-selecting choice. Those who migrate are arguably different from their countrymen who do not, and moving from immigrant status to citizenship is even more demanding. In the past, the naturalization process was primarily driven by life events—marriage, childbirth, and the like—and naturalized immigrants voted less often than native citizens.14 More recently, however, there is considerable evi- dence that immigrants choose to naturalize in response to political events, particularly rhetoric, initiatives, and legislation that target immigrants. Among the consequences of politically driven naturalization may well be a higher propensity to turn out for elections.15

Second, foreign-born citizens may hold beliefs and expectations about politics that are rooted in their home-country experience. Sergio Wals has demonstrated that variations in nation of birth can shape turnout propen- sity and that foreign-born citizens’ experience with democracy (or lack thereof) may affect both their expectations of the US political system and their orientation toward it.16

Finally, for obvious reasons, immigrants who arrive after school age become familiar with the US political system as adults. Melissa Michel- son has observed a curious process of adverse socialization: foreign-born citizens have a more favorable view of US politics than their US-born children and grandchildren, a finding confirmed elsewhere with regard to efficacy.17 Foreign-born citizens are also more likely to identify as in- dependents than as partisans.18 In addition, they are less likely to see what they have in common with African Americans. “Becoming” American

Barreto Segura Book.indb 25 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

26 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

seems to bring with it a growing familiarity with US political coalitions, an increasing awareness of racial hierarchies in American society, and de- creasing satisfaction with American institutions and processes.

The passage of generations, in theory, has the potential to erode the political distinctiveness of Latino citizens across national-origin groups and between Latinos and non-Latinos. As data from the Latino National Survey reveal (see Table 2.3), Latinos in later generations are significantly more likely to marry non-Latinos (as reflected in the declining frequency of Hispanic surnames) and to experience substantial economic and edu- cational mobility; they are also less likely to retain their Catholic identity and significantly less likely to speak Spanish.

It is certainly the case that assimilation and acculturation produce changes in the political behavior of later generations. These changes can vary in form and function over time. For example, while self- reported electoral participation increases monotonically over generations,

(Generation) First Second Third Fourth or Later

Roman Catholic 73.8% 69.7% 66.8% 58.1% Social capital (group participation) 14.1 25.0 29.4 33.4 Military service, self or family 16.1 48.9 68.6 72.3 Less than high school education 49.7 22.9 17.6 16.2 Annual household income below $35,000 53.4 34.9 29.2 33.4 Percentage married to a non-Latino 13.3 32.2 42.6 53.3 Proficient in English 38.3a 93.2 98.6 99.0 Proficient in Spanish 99.2 91.6 68.7 60.5

TaBLe 2.3 Selected Markers of Latino assimilation and acculturation, by generation, 2006

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from the Latino National Survey, 2006. a. Includes noncitizens.

Barreto Segura Book.indb 26 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

27Latino America

participation in ethnically based political activities—including atten- dance at protests and rallies and membership in organizations—increases through the first two generations but decreases thereafter.19

the effects of in-group variation

There are at least as many similarities as differences among national- origin groups, generations, and nativities. For example, speaking Spanish and retaining Latino cultural practices are widely shared commitments across cohorts. Community and identity are enormously unifying factors.

A critical dynamic in maintaining such commonalities is the ongoing debate over immigration and policy toward undocumented immigrants. It has become increasingly clear that political views are substantially uni- fied in response to perceived attacks on the community, notwithstand- ing the impact of nativity and generation. A perfect example is the Latino community’s reaction to the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, the “papers please” law that allows police to identify undocumented aliens during vir- tually any contact with the public. Just a week after the bill was signed into law, opposition among Latino registered voters transcended gener- ational boundaries: a poll conducted by the National Council of La Raza, the Service Employees International Union, and Latino Decisions showed that supermajorities of all generations opposed the law (see Figure 2.5). Two especially revealing facts are worth noting from the poll. First, all re- spondents were citizens and registered voters—that is, they were the most secure and incorporated Latino members of Arizona society. Second, the fourth-generation respondents were limited to individuals whose grand- parents were US-born and who would thus have been long established as members of American society.

How were the citizens polled interpreting this law, which ostensi- bly is aimed at undocumented immigrants? Their consensus probably arose from a widespread expectation that transcended generation: that enforcement would involve racial profiling and therefore could threaten all Latinos (see Figure 2.6). These 2010 findings from Arizona are deeply reminiscent of the impact of Proposition 187 in California and other anti- Latino or anti-immigrant actions, which appear to have had large-scale

Barreto Segura Book.indb 27 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

28 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

and significant political effects on Latinos across generations.20 Issues that cut to the heart of ethnic identity are particularly likely to transcend dif- ferences in nativity, generation, or national-origin group.

Though there is plenty of evidence of substantial similarity across what is in many ways a diverse population, Latinos have until recently been a step shy of establishing a sense of group identity—that is, an awareness of commonality that in the electoral arena could provide the political coherence required for mobilization and collective action. However, as suggested by the cross-generational Latino reaction to some issues, such as anti-immigrant initiatives, Latino commonalities are now gelling into such an identity.

Figure 2.5 Support for, and Opposition to, SB 1070 among Arizona Latino registered Voters, May 2010

Respondents answered the following question: “Arizona has passed a law that will require state and local police to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a reasonable suspicion he or she is an illegal immigrant, and would charge anyone with trespassing who is not carrying proof of legal status when questioned by the police, and also prohibit immigrants from working as day laborers. From what you have heard, do you [rotate: support or oppose] the new immigration law in Arizona?” Source: Figure created by authors using data from National Council of La Raza/Service Employees Interna- tional Union (SEIU)/Latino Decisions Arizona Poll, April–May 2010.

Barreto Segura 02CH2.indd 28 7/15/14 11:41 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

29Latino America

When the Latino National Political Survey (LNPS) was completed in 1989, it revealed little evidence for the possibility that Latinos saw them- selves as a “group” in any meaningful sense of the word.21 The vast ma- jority of LNPS respondents understood themselves in terms of separate national identities and had little sense of a politically significant pan- ethnic identity.22 However, a mountain of evidence now suggests that this social reality has changed. The Latino National Survey completed in 2006 found very high levels of identification with pan-ethnic terminol- ogy: at least 87.6% of respondents said that they thought of themselves in these terms “somewhat strongly” or “very strongly.” Moreover, when asked to choose between national-origin identifiers, the pan-ethnic term, or merely “American” (an arbitrary, forced choice that only an aca- demic could devise), more than one-third of the respondents chose the pan-ethnic identifier (38.3%). One of us, as part of the LNS team, has ar- gued that this forced choice was artificial, that identities are multiple and

Figure 2.6 The estimation of Arizona Latino registered Voters of the Likelihood that Non-immigrants Would Be Caught up in enforcement of SB 1070, May 2010

Respondents answered the following question: “How likely do you think it is that Latinos who are le- gal immigrants or US citizens will get stopped or questioned by the police? Is it very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not likely at all?” Source: Figure created by authors using data from National Council of La Raza/SEIU/Latino Decisions Arizona Poll, April–May 2010.

Barreto Segura 02CH2.indd 29 7/15/14 11:41 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

30 Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

simultaneous.23 Nevertheless, the change between 1989 and 2006 reflects a significant shift in how Latinos or Hispanics envision themselves as part of the national fabric.

Moreover, in 2006 Latinos from all groups perceived significant com- monality and linked fates with other Latinos, even those from national- origin groups other than their own. Surprisingly, when the LNS assessed whether respondents felt that they and their national-origin group shared political, economic, and social conditions with other Latinos, an over- whelming 71.9% said that they had “some” or “a lot” in common with other Latinos in “thinking about issues like job opportunities, educa- tional attainment or income.” When the question was posed with respect to the respondent’s national-origin group, 74.6% said that their group had “some” or “a lot” in common with Latinos of other national-origin groups. Although there was some variation, the fact that these results were largely consistent across national-origin groups suggests that this pan-ethnic identification may have social and political relevance.

When the LNS focused on political concerns, the level of perceived commonality was again high, though lower than on the social dimension. In “thinking about things like government services and employment, po- litical power, and representation,” 56.1% of respondents felt that as in- dividuals they had “some” or “a lot” in common with other Latinos, and 64.4% felt the same when assessing what their own national-origin group had in common with others.

Finally, respondents were asked whether their fate and their group’s fate were linked to the fate of other Latinos—the “linked fate” measure first described by political scientist Michael Dawson.24 At the individual level, 63.4% said that their fate was linked “some” or “a lot” to the fate of others. When asked about the fate of their national-origin group relative to other Latino groups, 71.6% said that the two were linked “some” or “a lot.” Thus, huge majorities of Latinos believe that their own futures and those of their coethnics are intrinsically linked.

The belief that Latinos and their futures are linked is very likely to have motivated recent group-based mobilization. Most major national

Barreto Segura Book.indb 30 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

31Latino America

organizations, political and otherwise, use pan-ethnic terminology and view the Latino constituency as being composed of the entire Latino pop- ulation—both across generations and, most important, across national- ity groups. The National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and the Univision and Tele- mundo television networks all define their constituency as the pan-ethnic Latino or Hispanic population.

It is not clear why Latinos increasingly identify with pan-ethnic de- scriptors, but scholars have offered a variety of explanations. Pan-ethnic identity may emerge in contexts where population diversity and political cooperation would give pan-ethnic groups political power unavailable to individual national-origin groups.25 Similarly, such an identity may have been created by politicians seeking to empower Latinos through coali- tion and running roughshod over important community, cultural, and social distinctions in the process.26 Or it may be that a pan-ethnic iden- tity develops as the cultural and media establishment, as mentioned ear- lier, increasingly addresses Latinos as a somewhat undifferentiated whole. Whatever the case, we can now say with confidence that Latinos are a group: they see themselves as such, and they use a shared identity to act politically.

And when they act politically, they act progressively. Latinos prefer more government engagement in solving society’s challenges, not less. Despite their embrace of values based in self-reliance, they see a critical and decisive role for government in the lives of individuals. The result is a supermajority that votes Democrat, with a political effect that is likely to grow as the Latino share of the electorate continues to rise rapidly. If the recent past is prologue, and if there is no substantial change in their cur- rent preferences and opinions, this increasingly unified and empowered population has the potential, almost by itself, to realign American politics.

Barreto Segura Book.indb 31 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 

 

Barreto Segura Book.indb 32 7/15/14 10:12 AM

Barreto, M., & Segura, G. M. (2014). Latino america : How america’s most dynamic population is poised to transform the politics of the nation. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from csupomona on 2020-02-25 13:12:05.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

4. P

ub lic

A ffa

irs . A

ll rig

ht s

re se

rv ed

.

 
"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Get Expert Help at an Amazing Discount!"