If you label yourself Hispanic–and more specifically if you’re reading this very article–chances are you were born right here in the United States. Recent studies challenge a preconceived notion when talking about Hispanics.
Members of other ethnic groups in the U.S. commonly associate the term Hispanic with immigrants or foreign-born people. However, the 2012 Census Bureau data reveals that two thirds of Hispanic youth in this country are native born. In fact, the number of US-born Latinos is growing at a much faster rate than the number of foreign-born Latinos.
In previous decades immigrants constituted the largest share of the Hispanic population growth. But this trend started to change in the early 2000s: 9.6 million Hispanic births took place, in contrast with 6.5 million foreign born Hispanics between years 2000 and 2010. Native-born Latinos made up 60 percent of the Hispanic growth in this period.
Between those same years, foreign-born Hispanics decreased from representing 40 percent to 35.5 percent of the total Hispanic population according to the Pew Research Center interpretation of the US Census Bureau data.
Multiple factors are key in this shift: tougher border security, increasing dangers associated with illegal border crossing, the U.S. economic crisis, and demographic and economic changes in the countries of origin.
At the same time, a rapid increase in the number of native-born Hispanics has taken place. This is presumably the result of four decades of a Hispanic immigration wave. From 1980 to 2010, 18.8 million of foreign-born Hispanics entered the country according to the Pew study.
Hispanics now total more than 53 million in U.S. This is the largest minority group, and it continues growing at a very fast pace. One in four newborns in US is a Hispanic descendant.
How do US born Latinos identify?
But, how different are native-born Hispanics from their parents in terms of identity?
Well, the National Survey of Latinos found that most second generation Hispanics choose from a pool of terms that includes their parents country of origin, Latino, Hispanic, and American when it comes to identifying their ethnicity.
They also found that the most widely used pick is their parents country of origin. Ninety four percent of Hispanics between ages 16 and 25 said they have used their parents country of origin to identify themselves while 67 percent have called themselves American.
Most native-born Hispanics seem to be happy assimilating into their Hispanic American ethnic label.
I consider myself more American simply because I was born and raised here and this is the only place I really know; However, I can still connect to Cuban culture because I know all the jokes, eat Cuban food daily, and speak Spanish, Yaritsa Rodriguez, 20, told VOXXI.
Second generation Hispanic Americans in some way swim in both currentsthe Latin and the American world-sometimes with conflicting results.
That is the case of Adrian Sanchez, a 22-year-old born in America to Colombian parents: When Im around Hispanics, I feel more American. When Im around Americans, I feel more Hispanic, Sanchez said.
Projections indicate that Hispanics could reach 129 millions by 2060. We are talking about 31 percent of the total US population. However, Experts cannot predict at this point if native-born Hispanics will continue being the majority within the group.
If this actually happens, the ethnic landscape will experience a huge metamorphosis in America. More members of a group plus more native-born generations usually results in more economical and political power.
No doubt this will continue shifting the perception of Hispanics living the U.S.