Hispanics are eager to blend into American society while still maintaining their cultural identity, a paradox that reflects the complex beliefs of the nation’s fastest-growing minority. Yet there are limits to assimilation–most don’t expect the United States to elect a Latino president in the next 20 years.
An Associated Press-Univision poll of more than 1,500 Latinos uncovered several distinct trends. Hispanics worry more than most Americans about losing jobs and paying bills. They place a high importance on education and expect their children to go to college.
The poll, also sponsored by The Nielsen Company and Stanford University, showed that Hispanics are torn between hopes for tomorrow and daily doses of financial stress.
The recession that erased millions of jobs has taken an especially heavy toll on Latinos, whose average income is lower than many other groups. And the Hispanic community has been jolted by election-season debate over the country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, a debate that has increased in intensity following Arizona’s enactment of a law that requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion he or she is in the country illegally.
Just over half in the survey, 54 percent, say it is important that they change to assimilate into society, yet about two-thirds, 66 percent, say Latinos should maintain their distinct culture.
Among Hispanics, there are significant differences between those born here and immigrants, who tend to have rosier views of their new country. Similar schisms are evident between citizens and non-citizens, and between those who mostly speak English or Spanish with their families.
Those from abroad are likelier than U.S.-born Latinos to expect their children to attend college and to have better lifestyles than they do. Yet reflecting their lesser integration into American society, 76 percent of immigrants say their well-being depends on other Hispanics succeeding–about double the number of American-born Latinos who say so. Those from abroad are likelier to express financial worries, to say it’s important to blend into society, and to say at least half their friends are other Hispanics.