Most Mexican migrants want to remain in this country indefinitely but would participate in a temporary worker program that granted them legal status for a time and eventually required them to return to Mexico.
This survey brief explores the differences in demographics, attitudes and experiences of first, second and third generation or higher Latinos. It also looks at "generation one and a half," those Latinos who arrived in the United States before age 10.
In light of President George W. Bush's January 7, 2004 announcement of a new immigration initiative, the Pew Hispanic Center provided information about attitudes towards immigrant and immigration policy, and estimates of the size of the undocumented population in the United States. Sources for the data are the National Survey of Latinos, conducted in 2002 jointly by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Center's March 2002 report entitled "How Many Undocumented: The Numbers Behind the U.S.-Mexico Migration Talk."
Across the United States some six million immigrants from Latin America now send money to their families back home on a regular basis. The number of senders and the sums they dispatched grew even when the U.S. economy slowed, and looking to the future, the growth seems likely to continue and potentially to accelerate. The total remittance flow from the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean could come close to $30 billion this year, making it by far the largest single remittance channel in the world.
As it continues to grow, the composition of the Hispanic population is undergoing a fundamental change: Births in the United States are outpacing immigration as the key source of growth. Over the next twenty years this will produce an important shift in the makeup of the Hispanic population with second-generation Latinos--the U.S.-born children of immigrants-- emerging as the largest component of that population. Given the very substantial differences in earnings, education, fluency in English, and attitudes between foreign-born and native-born Latinos, this shift has profound implications for many realms of public policy, and indeed for anyone seeking to understand the nature of demographic change in the United States.
This survey was designed to explore the attitudes and experiences of Latinos on a wide variety of topics.
The Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation 2002 National Survey of Latinos comprehensively explores the attitudes and experiences of Hispanics on a wide variety of topics. This survey was designed to capture the diversity of the Latino population by including almost 3,000 Hispanics from various backgrounds and groups so that in addition to describing Latinos overall, comparisons can be made among key Hispanic subgroups as well.
It is a commonplace claim that the education level of the Latino immigrant population is continually falling behind that of the U.S.-born population. However, the Pew Hispanic Center finds that the educational profile of the adult population of foreign-born Latinos has improved significantly during the past three decades. These gains, however, have not yet produced a notable convergence with the level of education in the native-born U.S. population. During the period 1970 to 2000 the native-born population also experienced improvements of education that outpaced the progress among Latino immigrants. Nonetheless, the trends identified in this report suggest that the gap between immigrants and natives will narrow in the future.
The Hispanic electorate is emerging as a distinct presence on the political landscape, demonstrating broad but shallow party loyalty and a mixture of ideological beliefs and policy positions that defies easy categorization. At a time when the rest of the nation is almost evenly split along partisan lines, Latino voters appear to straddle some of the sharpest divides in American politics today. Though most Latinos identify with the Democratic Party, this party affiliation comes with a notable ambivalence, and on some social issues they express a conservatism that sets them apart from their white counterparts. Similarly, most Latino Republicans voice a preference for a bigger government and higher taxes, which is contrary to the stand taken by an overwhelming majority of white Republicans.
The Latino population is rapidly evolving and that its demographic impact on the nation is changing quickly. Significant concentrations of Hispanics are no longer confined to a few regions such as Southern California or the Southwest, or only to a few cities like New York and Miami. Instead, in the coming years Hispanic population growth will most impact communities that had relatively few Latinos a decade ago.