Because every grouping of people in the world harbor among them an assortment of the good, the bad and the ugly, the Latinos, arguably, are no exception as is any cross-section of the U.S. population. Nevertheless, there are some Americans who have chosen to single Latinos out as mainly rapists, murderers and drug peddlers.
Meanwhile, according to facts as organized into a volume by author Steve Phillips in Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority Latinos who come to the U.S. constitute six subgroups, counting 63 percent from Mexico, 9.2 percent from Puerto Rico, 3.5 percent from Cuba, 3 percent from El Salvador and the Dominican Republic and 2.1 percent from Guatemala.
Population in the U.S. now numbers about 320 million. Whatever the case of their numbers in past times, Latinos are today the largest group of color with 54 million and are followed by African-Americans at 43 million and Asian-Americans, counting 18 million and whom Phillips claims are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S.
It may interest some to know, if they don’t already, that 51 percent of Latinos live in the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. That huge area was part of Mexico before the war between the U.S. and Mexico that ended with the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the surrender by Mexico.
History reports that the war started because Texas sought independence from Mexico so it could continue practicing slavery. With the help of President James Polk and many a like-minded member of Congress and other Americans, the U.S. militarily intervened. In fact, many a Mexican “visitor” refuses to accept “illegal” to describe those without documents and whose view often harbors the idea that illegal is how the U.S. took Mexico’s land at gunpoint 168 years ago.
Yet, time brings changes and though some Mexicans living in the U.S. are fond of saying, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us,” there have been adjustments and accommodations over the years. Since Mexicans came north to occupy lands that were solely occupied by native Americans in past centuries, there remained many a family of Mexican origin on land that became part of the United States. Much of the influx of Latinos to the U.S. population in recent years is a result of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act which provided those south of the border to reunite with families in Arizona, California and other states.
Puerto Ricans and Cubans have settled in the U.S. by way of historical patterns. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and eligible to vote in U.S. elections. Many a Puerto Rican has settled in the state of New York and states nearby while economic challenges in their home have encouraged them more recently to relocate in Florida and other areas of the American South. Cuban immigrants also chose Florida as a destination for change of living location. Fidel Castro’s regime motivated many to flee Cuba after he took over in 1959 which means that at least half of Cuban-Americans were born here.
By what Steve Phillips reports, 20 percent of Oregon’s current population is Latino with the states of Idaho and Washington counting a similar number. The Oregon territory was never part of Mexico any more than it was ever claimed by a “south of the border” entity. So, Latinos cannot legitimately claim that Oregonians, for one, played mix the borders with them.
Whatever the case, the bottom line is that the Latinos are here to stay, Trump or no Trump. It’s believed that the best advice anyone can offer is that all races and people inside the U.S. should try harder, much harder, to get along with each other and not hold immigrant origins against anyone since we’re all immigrants. After all, if we accept all who are documented here and want to be citizens, we thereby recognize the contributions that all make to the standard of living we enjoy,
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)