Latinos' Future

October 17, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 36
When will they wield greater political clout?
By David Masci

Introduction

A 5-year-old Hispanic girl in Santa Ana, Calif., protests on Aug. 23, 2002, after illegal immigrants working as janitors and baggage handlers were arrested at Southern California airports during a nationwide crackdown on airport security; most were using fake Social Security numbers. Immigrants'-rights groups and union officials are demanding changes in immigration laws to allow more illegal workers to gain necessary working papers.  (AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson)
A 5-year-old Hispanic girl in Santa Ana, Calif., protests on Aug. 23, 2002, after illegal immigrants working as janitors and baggage handlers were arrested at Southern California airports during a nationwide crackdown on airport security; most were using fake Social Security numbers. Immigrants'-rights groups and union officials are demanding changes in immigration laws to allow more illegal workers to gain necessary working papers. (AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson)

Latinos recently moved ahead of African-Americans to become the nation's largest minority. But while Hispanics already exert enormous influence on American life — salsa is now more popular than ketchup — their political clout has yet to catch up. Some experts contend that the recent defeat of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in California's gubernatorial election indicates that it may be a decade or more before Latinos' political influence blossoms. But others say growing Latino populations in swing states will bring increased influence in next year's national elections. Meanwhile, some immigration critics favor curtailing the influx of Latinos until those already here are inculcated with American values. But Hispanics say their high rate of English-language fluency — and proud self-identification as Americans — show they already embrace the nation's values.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Hispanics
Oct. 17, 2003  Latinos' Future
Sep. 18, 1998  Hispanic-Americans' New Clout
Oct. 30, 1992  Hispanic Americans
Jul. 30, 1982  Hispanic America
Sep. 25, 1970  Spanish-Americans: the New Militants
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights: Hispanic Americans
Outsourcing and Immigration