Miami 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 situation is bad now, but I have faith that this is going to change,” said Yadilka Aramboles, a 32-year-old Miamian from the Dominican Republic.
She eyes her three young children playing on the sidewalk and sees college in their future — even though her husband’s modest accountant’s income barely covers the family’s most basic expenses. “For me and my children, I aspire to something more,” Aramboles said.
America’s 47 million Hispanics face acute economic and political pressures.
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.
About three-quarters of the nation’s illegal immigrants are Hispanic, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.
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.