NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are Hispanics In The U.S. Assimilating?

March 28, 2001

No matter the degree of their economic success, many Hispanic immigrants are not becoming part of the social, political and cultural fabric of the U.S., says Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity. The evidence attesting to this is, unfortunately, abundant.

  • Even after nearly 20 years of U.S. residence, fewer than one in five Mexicans living in the U.S. choose to acquire American citizenship.
  • As of 1990, three-quarters of Mexican who arrived in the 1980s still spoke little or no English.
  • About one-quarter of all Mexican immigrants have not learned to speak English even after decades in the United States.

What these figures reveal is that many Mexicans straddle two worlds. While living and working in the United States, they listen to news from their native country on Spanish-language radio and TV stations, make frequent visits across the border, and send money back home to the tune of $4 billion a year. They hope to return to Mexico permanently once they have gained some financial security.

To further cloud the waters, the Mexican government has begun to take an aggressive interest in its foreign nationals. Its most visible step thus far has been to adopt a law allowing émigrés and their offspring to apply for an attenuated form of Mexican citizenship, including the right to own property in Mexico and to hold a Mexican passport.

As soon as the law soon went into effect in 1998, hundreds lined up at consulates throughout the United States to apply for the new status, many simply as a way of asserting their Mexican identity.

Source: Linda Chavez (president, Center for Equal Opportunity), "Are Mexicans Melting into America or Not?" sidebar to "The Special Case of Mexican Immigration," American Enterprise, December 2000, American Enterprise Institute.


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