The author discusses differences that exist between Hispanic subgroups regarding typical household
composition and measures of education, poverty, and homeownership. Describe two of these differences
and why you think it would be important for a social work practitioner to be aware of these.
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A primary goal to become familiar with evidence-based information about Latino/Hispanic demographic
trends and become confident in their ability to work with Hispanics and immigrants as part of professional
practice. This is especially important due to 1) the inaccurate, stereotypic, and often discriminatory
information that is widely shared in the media and through social media; and 2) the premium that the social
work profession places on Human Rights and Scientific Inquiry as part of its core values and ethics.
Hispanic Citizenship and Immigration
So, what are the facts related to citizenship and immigration? First, it should be noted that among all
foreign-born persons in the U.S., about three-fourths are here lawfully, and a majority of the lawful residents
are U.S. citizens. The number of foreign-born residents, about 45 million in 2015, represents about 13% of
the U.S. population, a lower percentage than existed at the turn of the 20th century.
specific regard to Hispanics in the U.S., the book notes that Hispanics are and will continue to be a
“formidable presence” in the U.S. However, it is important to note that the growing numbers of Hispanics in
the U.S., a number that has more than doubled since 1980, is principally a result of natural increase rather
than immigration (though the number of foreign-born Hispanics has also grown markedly over the same
timespan). This means that the for the last two decades the percentage of foreign-born among the nation’s
Hispanics has declined, a trend that will likely continue in the face of stiff federal and state policies intended
to restrict both lawful and unlawful immigration.
Hispanic Composition: Separating Fact From Fiction
Another important trend to keep in mind is that, among U.S. Hispanics, a declining percentage is of
Mexican-origin. Nevertheless, due to our shared 2,000 mile border and a long and extensive history of
open borders and formal and informal labor agreements with Mexican workers, Hispanics of Mexican-origin
still represent the majority (approximately 63% in 2015) of all Hispanics in the U.S.
With regard to English proficiency, a solid marker of the “melting pot” hypothesis at work, about 90% of
native-born Hispanics speak English at home or very well, a rate that is not surprisingly much higher than
the rate for foreign-born Hispanics (35%).
Finally, and contrary to what is often popularly touted, the rate of illegal immigration from Mexico has been
in decline since 2007, such that Mexican-origin unauthorized immigrants now represent less than half of all
unauthorized immigrants. Among all unauthorized adult immigrants, approximately two-thirds have resided
in the U.S for ten or more years.
Social workers should keep this information in mind when working with Hispanic clients. Together with
effective assessment instruments like the Culturagram and through continuous self-inquiry and learning,
social workers will be poised to provide effective services to the growing number of Hispanics in the U.S.
for the foreseeable future.
Alvarez, J. (2010). How the García girls lost their accents. Algonquin Books.
Benitez, C. (2007). Latinization. Paramount Market Publishing.
Cantú, F. (2019). The line becomes a river. Riverhead Books.
Frey, W. (2018). Diversity Explosion. How New Racial Demographics are remaking America. The Booking
Cisneros, S. (1991). The house on Mango Street. Vintage.
Cohn, D. (2017). 5 key facts about U.S. lawful immigrants. Pew Research Center.
As recently as 1970 Hispanics formed a small part of the overall population in the U.S. However, since that
time the number of Hispanics in the U.S. has swelled to over 50 million people. Hispanics, who originate
from an ensemble of Spanish-speaking countries, now comprise the largest ethnic minority in the U.S. As
Hispanics fan out beyond “gateway” centers along the border, large cities in the Southwest, and various
other metro centers they will continue to energize housing and labor markets and infuse American society
with their youth and vitality. Though challenges to their inclusion are real and urgent, the Hispanic presence
in the so-called American “melting pot” will be felt for decades to come.