Poll finds US Hispanics seek to fit in, keep culture
Despite worries, better future seen
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. And most don’t expect the United States to elect a Latino president in the next 20 years.
Those are some of the findings from an Associated Press-Univision poll of more than 1,500 Latinos. In addition, the survey suggests 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, found Hispanics 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.
The mother of three young children, she 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, said it is important that they change to assimilate into society, yet about two-thirds, 66 percent, said Latinos should maintain their distinct culture.
Gary Segura, a political scientist from Stanford who helped conduct the study, said those two views are not necessarily at odds. He said other, better established ethnic groups cling to their traditions, adding, “Identity is multidimensional, and people can see themselves as Hispanic and as Americans.’’
“It’s important to survive in whatever land we’re in,’’ said Aniela Sanchez, 30, a freelance editor in Passaic, N.J., and child of a Puerto Rican mother and Dominican father. “But every culture has its beautiful mannerisms, songs, food, and you have to take pride in who you are.’’
Within the Hispanic community, variety abounds, according to the survey. Forty-six percent were born in the United States and 32 percent in Mexico, with the rest scattered among Caribbean islands and Central and South America.