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 the Online NewsHour:
Hispanics are obviously not monolithic: Mexicans, Cubans, and people from other Latin America are all considered "Hispanic" yet have there own cultural identities. Furthermore, some Hispanics, especially those living in the Southwest, have community roots going back centuries, while others are recent arrivals to America. Is this decline in family incomes limited to certain segments of the Hispanic community, or are all Hispanics experiencing this same problem?
Speaker Cruz Bustamante responds:
The decline in family incomes is across the board and is not relegated to any one segment of America's Hispanics. In California, I am looking at whether there are a set of skills that are needed in the marketplace, and whether Latinos have these skills. If Latinos do not, then we must provide the educational and training opportunities to enhance those skills. If Latinos do have those skills, then we need to see what problems or roadblocks exist which prevent skilled individuals from obtaining the same opportunities as non-Latinos with those same skills.
Linda Chavez responds:
Hispanics are of course not a monolithic group, although many of them share a linguistic connection (even as many of them speak only English) as well as a religious one (Catholicism). But the question is partly unanswerable because the Census's latest numbers on Hispanic income do not differentiate between different Hispanic groups, just as they do not distinguish between the native-born and foreign-born. We do know from other evidence that different groups have very different experiences: Cuban Americans in Miami are extremely entrepreneurial and have high incomes, native-born Hispanics in southern California are rapidly entering the middle-class, and Dominicans in New York City have high rates of welfare use. There is so much diversity within this broad Hispanic category that it is almost pointless to speak of Hispanics as if there were no internal differences among them.