Latinos Haven’t Lost Faith In America

One of the subtle lies held about Latinos in the U.S. is that we’re not invested in this country, in the love-it-or-leave-it sense. To put it another way, Latinos, the lie goes, don’t have the country’s back.

We know this isn’t true.

The legacy of hard work, dedication and blood shed on battlefields speaks for itself. But somewhere in the immigration debate some people in the country lost sight of those contributions and lumped all Latinos in a pile marked “untrustworthy,” as if we’d just as soon leave this land when the going got tough.

Well things are tough, and Latinos aren’t going anywhere. Maybe the fact that the flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico  is down to a trickle may have something to do withe the false belief, that when the economy slows Latinos stay away. But the truth is that the negative belief about Latinos predates the bad economy and the lower immigration rates.

A couple of dueling polls paint a crisp picture of how Latinos in the U.S. feel and what they intend to do about it; both polls generated against a backdrop of a slow and slumping economy.

Latinos divided over debt ceiling. 

First, a poll sponsored by Public Notice and conducted by the Tarrance Group, that gathered American attitudes about the debt ceiling and how congress should proceed:  46% of polled Latinos say the debt ceiling should be raised, another 46% say it shouldn’t. A dead tie – the remaining 8% of Latinos either have no opinion or weren’t sure.

Another poll, done by the Xavier University Center for the Study of the American Dream, found that

While the majority of Americans are losing faith in the American Dream, Latinos and immigrants remain more hopeful about their prospects than people of other backgrounds.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Some 37 percent of Hispanics, compared to 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites, express that optimism. Another study found that 61 percent of Hispanics, compared to 49 percent of non-Hispanic whites, say they have more opportunities to get ahead than their parents did. Latinos were also more likely to express confidence that they would get ahead financially in the next five years.

The country as a whole could use this kind of optimism.

I think it has to do with a Latino sense of self-reliance that these trying times seem to have sapped from everyone else.

We may have divided ideas as to what steps to take next, as does the rest of the country, but the attitude that comes across is that regardless of the economy, we’re going to make this thing work. The cynic in me says that attitude is not unusual, most Latinos are at the bottom rungs of the economy – when you’re struggling, a slow economy doesn’t change your condition, you’re still struggling. But I have an ongoing argument with my cynic side: Latinos will take what the economy gives, and make it work. It’s always been that way.

My sense is that Latinos will be watching President Obama and the Congress with interest – we’re invested in the outcome. And regardless in what the politicians say, we’re invested in this country and we’re going to make it work – it’s just what we do.

 Follow Victor Landa on Twitter: @vlanda

[Photo by Campanero Rumbero]

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