German Rodriguez and his 17 year old son Camilo live in Weston. Rodriguez struggles with the changing values his son has assimilated in America, as do many Latino parents.
Hispanics feel bias from other Latins, study says
BY ANDREA ELLIOTT
CANDACE WEST/HERALD STAFF
An overwhelming majority of U.S. Hispanics believe they are discriminated against by other Latins, largely due to their national origin and income level, according to a national survey released today.
The poll underscores the vast diversity among Hispanics, who are more likely to identify with their birth countries than be clumped together in one pan-ethnic group that shares a common language.
Eighty-three percent of Hispanics said discrimination by other Latins is a problem, and one in six reported a personal experience with discrimination, according to the survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C.
''People get hardened here. It's not just other Latinos but also those of your own country. They want to pay you less. They don't appreciate your work. Sometimes they don't even pay you,'' said Colombian Germán Rodríguez, a civil engineer who left Medellín for Weston two years ago. ``That has happened to me many times.''
WHO WAS INCLUDED?
The survey included 2,929 Hispanic adults, 1,008 white non-Hispanics and 171 black non-Hispanics from around the nation who were telephoned at random from April to June. Among Hispanics, the countries of origin spanned Central and South America, the Caribbean and Mexico.
The results show that while Hispanics share some common beliefs, distinct viewpoints have emerged as new immigrants arrive, and older immigrants and their children become assimilated into U.S. culture.
Hispanics who speak more Spanish than English are less likely to call themselves ''Hispanic'' or ''Latino'' than they are to identify themselves as ''Mexican,'' ''Cuban,'' ''Colombian'' and other nationalities.
''The Hispanic thing is really a constructed identity that is not naturally out there in this world,'' said Alex Stepick, director of the Immigration and Ethnicity Institute at FIU. ``All these people speak the same language but before they got to the United States they didn't recognize themselves as Hispanic or Latino.''
More than 76 percent of Hispanics said they were confident Latin children growing up in the United States would be better educated and make more money than them, but only 56 percent said they would hold the same moral values.
Foreign-born Hispanics tended to be more conservative on some social issues than those born in the United States. Twenty percent of immigrants said homosexual sex was ''acceptable,'' compared with 33 percent of those born in the United States. Fifty-one percent of immigrants found divorce acceptable, compared with 65 percent of U.S.-born Latins.
''There's a strong sense among Latinos that the U.S. offers better economic opportunities for Latino children,'' said Mollyann Brodie of the Kaiser Family Foundation. ``On the other hand, they're less certain that this country offers Latinos the chance to share the same moral values and close family ties that they have. Those are the things that worry them.''
Foreign-born Latins are more likely to report language alone as the main reason for discrimination, whereas U.S.-born Latins are more likely to attribute it to their appearance.
LEAST, MOST LIKELY
Cubans are the least likely -- 27 percent -- to report experiences of unfair treatment. Central Americans are most likely, especially Salvadorans, at 64 percent.
''In Miami's Hispanic hierarchy, Cubans are definitely at the top and then after that it becomes a little more complicated and variable,'' Stepick said. ``It's a part of the broader American tradition of people getting in the country and then turning around and discriminating against who comes after them.''
Colombian Belinda Martinez, 37, who lives in Hialeah, said she thinks Cubans in Miami purposely keep other Hispanic nationalities out of jobs. ''I think that there is discrimination,'' she said.
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, said discrimination by Cubans is more of a perception than a reality.
''I think what happens with Hispanics is that we expect more from each other and we are invariably disappointed,'' Garcia said. ``There are people always coming in new, which makes for a very competitive climate and that means that you feel put off when your employer hires someone else for less.
``It happened to the Cubans when the Nicaraguans arrived, it happened to the Nicaraguans when the Salvadorans arrived. It happens in a city where more people want to live than there are opportunities available.''
Herald staff writer Elysa Batista contributed to this report.