October 2003 Volume 10 Number 4
A July 13-27, 2003 New York Times/CBS News poll found foreign-born
Hispanics optimistic about their future: 70 percent say they identify
more with the United States than with their country of origin. About
two-thirds of the foreign-born Hispanics moved to the US for economic
opportunity, and 82 percent agreed with the poll's proposition that
immigrants took jobs that Americans refused. Hispanic immigrants
were optimistic about their children: 83 percent thought their
children's lives would be better than theirs.
Only 23 percent of the foreign-born Hispanics interviewed were US
citizens, perhaps reflecting estimates that 40 percent of
foreign-born Hispanic adults in the US are unauthorized. The
Hispanics polled were younger and poorer than most Americans: nearly
half had family incomes of $30,000 a year or less, and only 10
percent earned $75,000 a year or more.
Demographer Jeffrey S. Passel forecast that the number of US
Hispanics could rise from the current 35 million to 60 million by
2020, with half the growth due to US-born children with at least one
Hispanic parent. By 2020, there are forecast to be 22 million
second-generation Hispanics, 21 million Hispanic immigrants, and 18
million third-generation Hispanics.
In the United States, the terms "Latino" and "Hispanic" are usually
used interchangeably, referring to the chief languages of the
countries of origin, Latino referring to the Latin-based Romance
languages of Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, and Hispanic to
"Hispana," the Spanish-language term for the cultural diaspora
created by Spain.
Some speakers, however, use the terms to distinguish between and
emphasize different ethnic origins: Hispanics are mostly white from
the Iberian peninsula, and Latinos are descended from the
brown-skinned indigenous Indians of South and Central America, the
Caribbean. Thus, many activists want to use only Latino. In the
usage of the US Census, Latinos or Hispanics may be of any race.
California. California enacted a law that is expected to permit about
10 percent of the state's 22 million drivers who are unauthorized
foreigners to receive driver's licenses. Governor Gray Davis, who
was recalled on October 7, 2003, with 55 percent voting to remove him
from office, reversed a 2002 decision and signed the bill into law,
saying "Every day, hard-working immigrants work in our fields, put
food on our table, clean our hotels and care for our seniors. These
hard-working immigrants work, pay taxes and they deserve the right to
drive to work."
Davis's decision to allow unauthorized foreigners to obtain licenses
cost him votes with Democratic blue-collar union members; exit polls
found that two-thirds of voters and most union members opposed
licenses for unauthorized foreigners. Miguel Contreras, executive
secretary of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said there
is "no burning enthusiasm for the governor" among union members.
SB 60 allows unauthorized foreigners to apply for licenses by
presenting a federal taxpayer identification number and another form
of ID, such as a matricula consular, and then having a photo taken
and thumbprint recorded along with a physical description and
address. However, unlike the 2002 bill, it does not require
applicants to apply for legal residency or to show they worked in
California at least 15 months. DHS said that it may no longer allow
entrants from Mexico and Canada at land borders to show driver's
licenses to enter the US.
Since 1994, driver's license applicants in California have had to
provide Social Security numbers and prove they were legally in the
US. Under SB 60, applicants could provide a federal taxpayer number
and a second form of identity chosen by the Department of Motor
Vehicles; California becomes the fifteenth state to allow
unauthorized foreigners to obtain driver's licenses- the others are
Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico,
North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a naturalized citizen from Austria who arrived
in 1970, was elected to replace Davis; he received 48 percent of the
vote. He said: "What gave me the opportunities was the open arms of
Americans." Schwarzenegger supported Proposition 187, the 1994
initiative that would have created a state-financed system to prevent
unauthorized foreigners from obtaining state-funded services, and
opposed giving driver's licenses to unauthorized foreigners. He has
also been a member of the board of U.S. English, a group advocating
English as America's official language, and said he supports a new
guest worker program of the type proposed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
Immigrant rights groups picketed his campaign rallies, chanting "Hey
hey, ho ho, Schwarzenegger has got to go."
Democrat Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who received 32 percent of the
vote, was asked if he saw any differences between legal and illegal
immigrants: "I think that anybody who works and pays taxes ought to
have a right for citizenship." He said US food "comes from ...
immigrants who work hard every day. They pay their taxes. They stay
out of trouble with the law. You know, for them not to be able to
have a driver's license or to be able to put their kids in school is
just plain wrong." Bustamante also refused to distance himself from
the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan or MEChA, the Latino
student organization that sometimes demands the return of California
According to exit polls, whites cast 69 percent of the votes in the
recall election, Hispanics 17 percent, and Blacks six percent. About
55 percent of Hispanics voted against the recall and for Bustamante.
Between 1995 and 2000, California drew 1.4 million residents from
other US states, but 2.2 million moved away, the first time
California had such net internal emigration since 1940. Spurred by
immigration, however, California's population rose 14 percent to 34
million in the 1990s, including 8.9 million or 26 percent
The Classifying by Race, Ethnicity, Color and National Origin, or
CRECNO, Proposition 54 on the October 2003 recall ballot, would have
prohibited state and local government agencies from collecting data
on a person's race, ethnicity or national origin. Proponents say
that the Racial Privacy Initiative would move California toward a
"color-blind" society; opponents say "the Information Ban" would make
it hard to track hate crimes and to monitor educational progress;
voters rejected Proposition 54.
California's Attorney General has an Office of Immigrant Assistance
that targets immigration consultants who take money from often
unauthorized foreigners but often provide no services. There are 700
registered and bonded immigration consultants, and many more who
advertise in foreign papers and in stores patronized by foreigners.
California got a $99 billion budget for 2003-04 that mostly postponed
hard choices for another year by borrowing $17 billion. The $71
billion general fund includes $28 billion for K-12 schools. The
federal No Child Left Behind law requires testing to assess student
learning, and 925 California schools must offer transfers to students
and pay their transportation because the average test scores of the
schools did not climb enough.
Proposition 227, approved in 1998, requires California schoolchildren
to be taught in English, but allows parents to seek waivers for their
children. The percentage of California K-12 pupils in bilingual
classes dropped from 29 percent in 1997 to 10 percent in 2003. Most
school districts in California no longer offer bilingual education
programs; they are provided only if a district receives at least 20
valid waiver requests for bilingual education at any grade level.
The most common reason given by parents who request bilingual
education is that the parent does not speak English, and will be
unable to help their child with English-language home work.
California's GSP is $1.4-trillion, so that if it were a nation-state
it would be the world's fifth-largest economy, after the United
States, Japan, Germany, and Britain. The next largest economies are
France, China (excluding Hong Kong), Italy, Canada and Spain.
Arizona. An initiative being prepared for Arizona voters, "Protect
Arizona Now," that would require state and local government workers
to check the immigration status of everyone seeking public services,
and to inform immigration officials of suspected unauthorized
foreigners; K-12 schools would be exempt. Some 122,612 signatures
are required to place the issue on the 2004 ballot.
An Arizona state Court of Appeals ruled that an unauthorized migrant
was eligible for workers' compensation benefits. His employer
appealed, saying that providing such benefits would be a "magnet" for
New York. On May 30, 2003, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
revoked the city's sanctuary policy, which had prohibited city
employees informing federal authorities about suspected illegal
migrants. Now city employees are not to ask migrants about their
legal status, but they may report suspected unauthorized migrants.
The change from "don't tell" to "don't ask" produced a backlash among
West Indians, a fourth of New York City's Black residents, have
become successful despite their low wages; many say their success
reflects hard work. Caribbean immigration to the United States has
been heavily female at least since the mid-1960's, and many of the
women work full-time in order to buy homes. With an average of three
workers per family, West Indians have a higher median household
income in New York City than US-born Blacks who have higher
individual earnings but fewer workers per household.
New York City found a woman who applied for 27 marriage licenses
between 1984 and 2002. This woman, as well as another 10 "career
brides," were charged with perjury and fraud; they were accused of
collecting $1,000 or more to marry foreign men.
Darryl Fears, "The Roots of 'Hispanic'," Washington Post, October 15,
2003. Doug Smith and Joel Rubin, "A Bolder Bustamante Moves
Leftward," Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2003. Peter Nicholas and
Jennifer Mena, "Bill Allowing Illegal Immigrants to Get Driver's
Licenses Is Signed," Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2003. Darryl
Fears, "Latinos or Hispanics? A Debate About Identity," Washington
Post, August 25, 2003. Simon Romero And Janet Elder, "Hispanics in
U.S. Report Optimism," New York Times, August 6, 2003. Elvia Diaz,
"Ballot initiative targets undocumented migrants," Arizona Republic
(Phoenix), July 8, 2003.