The Declining Economic Power of Hispanics
February 21, 1997
in this forum:
How has immigration impacted the Hispanic population? Would foreign aid reduce illegal immigration? What part does racism play in Hispanics economic troubles? What role has and should the government play? Are different groups doing better than others? ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
Jan. 2, 1997: Jeffrey Kaye looks at the rising political power of Hispanics.
Oct. 23, 1996: Hispanic Americans fight against a possible backlash against immigration.
A question from M. Hutchen's 6th Grade Class, Pine School, Carlsbad, CA:
Our class thinks that illegal immigration problems and a lack of education have prevented Hispanics from getting better jobs. We know that many people come to the United States to get a better education. Our class wants to know why the United States doesn't send foreign aid money to Hispanic countries just to be used for education. We think that this would keep people from coming here illegally. Incidentally, 78 percent of our class is of Mexican descent and 33 percent were in bilingual educational programs for at least one year of school.
Linda Chavez responds:
You are right to look at the situation in the home countries of illegal immigrants, but I'm not sure that foreign aid is a good way of reducing unlawful migration. Instead, we should think about how we can help improve foreign economies by increasing free trade. Most experts agree that the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada will, over the long run, lessen some of the pressures many illegal immigrants feel. Of course, a strong American economy will always attract outsiders, but when the sending countries also experience growth, the likelihood that they people will migrate against our laws lessens. So my slogan is "trade, not aid."
Speaker Cruz Bustamante responds:
I have to disagree with your first point, that a lack of education prevents Hispanics from getting jobs. It does not. A lack of education prevents Hispanics from getting well-paying jobs that require skills and training. Right now, our economy is creating many jobs, but these are either jobs that require no skills at all or jobs that require very highly technical training. Yet, there is no development of blue-collar jobs in the middle; jobs requiring some skills and training.
As for your question why the federal government does not provide foreign aid to Latin American countries to assist in upgrading education in those nations, I think it is an interesting suggestion.