Original URL: http://www.azstarnet.com/star/Sat/30809Portillo.html
Poll explodes myths about Latinos
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
August 9, 2003
By Ernesto Portillo Jr.
A poll released Wednesday about American Latinos should dispel some persistent
The survey by the New York Times and CBS said a majority of Latinos feel good
about their future and their children's futures in the United States. The poll
also showed that a majority of Latinos have not experienced discrimination.
In addition, half the Latinos who rely on English-language news media believe
Latinos are not accurately portrayed. Among those who receive their information
primarily from Spanish-language news sources, 80 percent said the reflection is
It shouldn't be a surprise that Latinos are optimistic about their future. Many
Latinos today are immigrants or children of immigrants.
The immigrant experience is powerful and serves as a catalyst. It gives Latinos
a view of life in this country that many people here have lost or never had.
Latino immigrants largely come to this country with a fervor to work and improve
their lives, something they find nearly impossible in their native countries.
The New York Times/CBS poll said 66 percent of foreign-born Latinos cite
employment opportunities as the reason for coming to the United States. Nine
percent said they came north because they wanted freedom, and 6 percent said
they were looking for a lifestyle change.
Look across Tucson and note, for example, who's cooking the food in the
restaurants or who is hammering together new homes. But it's not just
blue-collar jobs. Children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants are joining
the professional ranks, although not in numbers proportionate with the Latino
And these changes are playing out far beyond the Southwest and other historical
destination points for Latinos, who now number about 39 million in this country.
The South and the Midwest saw rapid growth in the Latino population in the
Recently, while traveling in Chicago, I was amazed at the extent of the Latino
population. While Chicago has long been a magnet for Latinos, their presence has
The growing population of Latinos gnaws at many people in this country. Latinos,
principally immigrants, are cursed as the cause of our financial and social
problems. Immigrants have always been held culpable.
While rapid immigration growth does create problems in education, medical care,
housing and law enforcement, the Latino immigrants serve as a force in
revitalizing older urban areas with small businesses, and provide a strong,
young work force.
But of all the findings in the poll, the one that stood out was that nearly 70
percent of Latinos born outside the country said they identify "more with the
United States than with their country of origin."
The rap on Latinos has been that they care more about their country of origin or
their ancestral home.
Anti-immigrant groups and others should take note that an overwhelming number
profess a strong connection to this country. The notion that Latinos refuse to
assimilate has been and continues to be a farce perpetuated by the children of
Latinos are learning English when language classes are available. They are
participating in the political process when it becomes open to them and not
hostile. They are working and paying taxes.
Latinos are making their way into the mainstream. And Latinos eventually will be
be as successful as the immigrants who preceded them because of their optimism.
* Contact Ernesto Portillo Jr. at 573-4242 or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. He appears on
"Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV Channel 6, at 6:30 p.m. and midnight Fridays.