Expert Pitch

Three Myths about Latino Immigrants That It’s Time to Bust

George Washington University
2-Mar-2017 12:05 PM EST, by George Washington University

As a counseling professor, I train my students to ask their clients: “If you succeed in making the changes we’re talking about, what will be better?” So I have to ask: Has the President thought through the consequences of his actions on immigration?

America was built on positives. We didn’t become great by preventing, arresting, and deporting. Why does the President want us to return to a past we never had? Is it even possible to build something great while focusing on tearing down or walling off?

I’ve conducted more than two decades of research on population studies, and here’s what I can tell you about Latino stereotypes: It’s time to get rid of them. The fact is, immigration is at the core of America’s greatness, and Latinos are very much a part of that greatness.

Here are some of the key facts from analyses of Census data that I’ve done with my colleague Jorge Garcia and from other sources:

First, Latinos do share our culture and do adapt.

The wall-builders say that “Latinos don’t share our culture and won’t adapt -- they just aren’t like us.” But in the past, some Americans said the same thing about each wave of Irish, Italian, and Polish immigrants.

Research shows that after three generations of being here, Latinos look remarkably similar to those previous immigrant groups. (Of course, most Latinos in the US aren’t immigrants but have been here for many generations – much longer than many other groups.)

Like Americans in general, Latinos are more likely to live in big cities and are more likely to be married. Like earlier generations of immigrants from Europe, they have a preference for coastal cities and their families are slightly bigger than average.

Latinos are on average younger. However, that’s a big benefit for a US population that would otherwise find it much more difficult to grow the economy and pay for programs like Social Security that are based on younger people funding older people.

Second, Latinos are not criminals.

Several studies have failed to show any relationship between immigrant presence and increased crime rates. In fact, a recent study showed that areas with the most immigrants have lower crime rates. It’s important to remember that to be here without documents is a civil violation not a crime; think of it as the equivalent of traffic tickets.

Third, Latinos are not taking your jobs.

The biggest difference between Latinos and the total US population is in their types of occupations. In both 2000 and 2010, the majority of Americans overall were employed in managerial and sales jobs. For Latinos, the majority were employed in either low-level white collar or blue collar occupations, both skilled and unskilled. So, are they taking our jobs? Not as long as these types of occupational differences persist. And last month's Day Without Immigrants protest is a prime example of this fact.

When Latinos do what other immigrants did and become more educated, they’ll move up and start taking some of those white collar jobs. And that will be a very good thing for America, because we’re already looking at huge shortages of educated people as the baby boomers retire.

Are Latinos a drain on our society because they use social services? They do use services, but also contribute significantly to the tax base that pays for those services.

Other Americans, for example those in rust belt states with aging populations, use a lot more services than Latinos, and already are benefiting from younger people supporting the tax base.

Sadly, Latinos who are undocumented, provide an especially big boost to the economy – they pay the taxes but aren’t eligible for benefits.

These aren’t the only myths about Latinos. Language acquisition? Same as previous immigrants.

Educational attainment? If Latinos get to college they tend to major in similar disciplines as the rest of the country.

Military service? Latinos have a long tradition of serving in the US military.

Even the causes of death are similar for the total US population as for Latinos – both die from the same top diseases: heart disease and cancer.

Many Latinos, especially in border areas, have retained the ability to speak Spanish. But English is their primary language and American culture –from sports to movies – is the only one they know or care about.

Begging the question of whether it’s possible to build greatness by tearing things down, the obvious conclusion is that Latinos are more like other Americans than they are different. Let’s build relationships and not walls.

Sylvia Marotta-Walters is professor of counseling and chair of the department of counseling and human development at the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 6049
Released: 27-Jul-2021 12:05 PM EDT
Government Law Center Releases New Explainer on NY Redistricting
Albany Law School

The Government Law Center at Albany Law School has just released its latest explainer to help attorneys, politicians, and the public at large understand the complexities of New York’s redistricting process.

Released: 26-Jul-2021 12:40 PM EDT
GW Politics Poll Finds Varying Confidence in State and Local Elections
George Washington University

Democratic voters continue to have more faith in state and local elections than Republicans, according to new data from the George Washington University Politics Poll.

Newswise: Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Reverse Proposed CMS Cuts and Create More Equity in Access to Cancer Treatments
Released: 26-Jul-2021 11:30 AM EDT
Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Reverse Proposed CMS Cuts and Create More Equity in Access to Cancer Treatments
American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)

A record number of radiation oncologists met with Congressional leaders and staff last week as part of the largest American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Advocacy Day in the Society's history. The physicians urged Congressional leaders to intervene in response to consecutive Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposals that call for significant cuts to radiation oncology facilities.

Newswise:Video Embedded newswise-expert-panels-on-covid-19-pandemic-notable-excerpts-quotes-and-videos-available
VIDEO
Released: 26-Jul-2021 10:00 AM EDT
Newswise Expert Panels on COVID-19 Pandemic: Notable excerpts, quotes and videos available
Newswise

Newswise is hosting a series of Expert Panels discussion on unique aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tip sheet includes some notable quotes from the panelists.

22-Jul-2021 8:00 AM EDT
National Poll: Parents Split on Whether to Vaccinate Younger Kids Against COVID
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Many parents are missing opportunities to discuss questions and concerns about the COVID vaccine for kids with a doctor.

Released: 20-Jul-2021 4:30 PM EDT
Small-Scale Worker Resistance Impacts Food Delivery Economy in China
Cornell University

Research from Cornell University has revealed a new form of bargaining power among Chinese platform-based food delivery workers, who conduct invisible mini-strikes by logging out of apps and airing grievances over.

Released: 15-Jul-2021 1:10 PM EDT
Even on Facebook, COVID-19 Polarized Members of U.S. Congress
Ohio State University

Facebook posts by members of the U.S. Congress reveal the depth of the partisan divide over the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows.


Showing results

110 of 6049

close
2.94066