Latinos are the backbone of the American economy

By 2050, one in every three Americans will be of Latino heritage. The United States is confronted with the dilemma of a labor shortage and the failure to achieve immigration reform.

Latinos are the backbone of the American economy
The Latino community is a cornerstone of the American economy. Photo by Gabriel Tovar / Unsplash

The Latin Americanization of the United States has been particularly noticeable in the previous two decades. Latinos make up about 65 million people in the United States, or one out of every four people; in two states, California and New Mexico, we are the majority, and we have displaced the Anglo-Saxon population, according to David Maciel, an academic at the University of California.

At UNAM's Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CIALC), he said that Latinos are the fastest-growing population group. It is estimated that by 2050 one out of every three people in the U.S. will have this origin.

This demographic growth is due to immigration (because anti-immigrant policies have not helped, and Central and South American migrations continue to be constant by the thousands), and to the birth rate. "We have twice as many children as Anglos, who have 2.5 on average, versus four for Latinos." And there is nothing to indicate that this increase will cease to continue in future years.

In the keynote address The Latin Americanization of the United States, he added that they do jobs that no one else, including the African-American population, would accept; and "they are an absolute pillar of the U.S. economy."

In almost the entire American Union there are three sectors dominated by undocumented workers and the working class of Latino origin: agriculture, services, and construction, and this is so because of the wages they are paid, which, although low, are higher than what they would earn in their countries of origin.

There is a paradox that is difficult to understand: there is a shortage of labor, but no immigration reform can be implemented to incorporate migrants who are looking for a better life.

This sector is a fundamental part of the economy and the social and cultural life of the United States. "It seems to me an infamy that they are not legalized," even though businessmen are in favor of it because they need workers. An industrialist or farmer does not care where the workers come from, what they want is someone to lift the harvest or wash the dishes, said the academic.

Before, public opinion "swallowed" the racist discourse of Republicans and conservatives that undocumented immigrants were taking jobs away from Americans, but that has changed because the labor shortage is terrible.

Latinos in all areas

Latin Americanization has several meanings: politically, today more than seven thousand elected positions are held by Latinos, including mayors, governors, senators, and members of the House of Representatives.

Economically, all types of businesses are run and managed by Latinos, and that "is growing. According to an investigation by a local newspaper in San Pedro, Los Angeles, there are more Mexican food restaurants than pizzerias in the neighboring country to the north.

The weight of Latinos is equivalent to the seventh largest economy in the world, according to a study by the University of California, Los Angeles, since they produce two trillion 750 billion dollars a year. This is the reason for the growth in remittances sent to Mexico every year.

Socially and culturally, they also make a considerable contribution. The Latino influence is noticeable in food, entertainment media, music, movies, and literature. This population is present in all U.S. states; this nation is the second most Spanish-speaking in the world, only after Mexico. More than 400 newspapers are published in that language: La Opinion, in California, and La Prensa, in San Antonio, are the longest-running.

On the other side of the border, a university does not care if an applicant is undocumented: if he/she has attended high school, has the necessary average, and qualifies, he/she can study. There are even professors with this migratory status.

In addition, there is an annual increase of Latinos in graduate studies - but not in the traditional careers, which were in the humanities or social sciences such as economics and law - but in the sciences. "In education, we still have great challenges, for example, more scholarships," he said.

Substantial Votes

Of the 65 million Latinos living in the U.S., nearly seven million are undocumented. They, along with residents, cannot vote in elections; only citizens can vote.

The suffrage of that sector weighs much more heavily. "Every year, 800,000 young Latinos turn 18, the voting age, and more than 70 percent of that population casts their vote in favor of the Democratic Party; that has the Republicans terrified". Joe Biden would not have become president if he had not had a record Latino vote, which was decisive for his triumph, considered David Maciel.

In this issue lies the answer to why immigration reform has not been carried out; Republicans know that if it happens, those people will vote. The country is polarized.

At the same time, more and more members of that sector are opting for a political career. Recently, some Chicanas in Texas "launched" themselves as candidates for the November elections, with an anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican agenda. The shift to the right is alarming.

The United States is in a dilemma, with two visions of how that nation will be in the coming decades: one is that of Donald Trump and white supremacy -which is powerful and has plenty of money- to keep immigrants at a certain distance and to hinder them so that the status quo continues.

And the other is that of a multilingual, multiethnic country, where differences are respected and harnessed to create a more just, liberal, and open society. "The two positions are in a fierce struggle and I cannot predict which will be triumphant in the November elections and the coming years," he concluded.