|César Chávez • Raquel Welch • David Farragut
Sonia Sotomayor • Franklin Chang-Diaz • Romana Acosta Bañuelos
Alex Rodriguez • Hilda Solis • Isabel Allende
John Leguizamo • Juan Bandini • Gloria Estefan
|Hispanic and Latino Americans
15.4% of the U.S. population (2008)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly the Southwest • Florida • Chicago • Northeast Megalopolis of the Northeast|
|Related ethnic groups|
Hispanic and Latino Americans are Americans with origins in the Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain. The group encompasses distinct sub-groups by national origin and race, with ancestries from all continents represented. Some members of the community prefer Hispanic and others Latino, the latter being more common in the western United States and the former in the eastern.
Hispanics and Latinos constitute 15.4% of the total United States population, or 46.9 million people, forming the second largest ethnic group, after non-Hispanic White Americans (a group which is also composed of dozens of sub-groups). Again, Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority in the United States; Black Americans, in turn, are the largest racial minority, after White Americans in general (non-Hispanic and Hispanic). Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Colombian Americans, Dominican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Spanish Americans, and Salvadoran Americans are some of the Hispanic and Latino American sub-groups.
People of Hispanic or Latino heritage have lived continuously in the territory of the present-day United States since the 1565 founding of St. Augustine, Florida by the Spanish, the longest among European American ethnic groups and second-longest of all U.S. ethnic groups, after American Indians. Hispanics have also lived continuously in the Southwest since near the end of the 16th century, with settlements in New Mexico that began in 1598, and which were transferred to the area of El Paso, Texas in 1680. Spanish settlement of New Mexico resumed in 1692, and new ones were established in Arizona and California in the 18th century. The Hispanic presence can even be said to date from half a century earlier than St. Augustine, if San Juan, Puerto Rico is considered to be the oldest Spanish settlement, and the oldest city, in the U.S.
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|Christian Hispanics and Latinos · Catholicism · Hispanic and Latino Muslims · Santeria|
|Hispanic and Latino American politics
|National Hispanic Institute
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The term Hispanic was first adopted by the United States government during the administration of Richard Nixon, and has since been used in local and federal employment, mass media, academia, and business market research. It has been used in the U.S. Census since 1980. Due to the popular use of "Latino" in the western portion of the United States, the government adopted this term as well in 1997, and it was used in the 2000 census.
Previously, Hispanics were categorized as "Spanish-Americans", "Spanish-speaking Americans", and "Spanish-surnamed Americans". These terms, however, proved misleading or inaccurate, since:
The terms Hispanic and Latino are held to be mutually distinct by some authorities of American English, as seen in the following quotation:
"Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. Hispanic, from the Latin word for "Spain," has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that sometimes have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means "Latin" but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can theoretically be called by either word."
As employed by the Census Bureau, Hispanic or Latino does not include Brazilian Americans, and specifically refers to "Spanish culture or origin"; Brazilian Americans appear as a separate ancestry group. The twenty-eight Hispanic or Latino American groups in the Census Bureau's reports are the following: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican Republic; Central American: Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Salvadoran, Other Central American; South American: Argentinian, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, Other South American; Other Hispanic or Latino: Spaniard, Spanish, Spanish American, All other Hispanic.
A continuous Hispanic/Latino presence in the territory of the United States has existed since the 16th century, earlier than any other group after the Native Americans. Spaniards pioneered the present-day United States. The first confirmed European landing in the continental U.S. was by Juan Ponce de León, who landed in 1513 at a lush shore he christened La Florida. Within three decades of Ponce de León's landing, the Spanish became the first Europeans to reach the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the Great Plains. Spanish ships sailed along the East Coast, penetrating to present-day Bangor, Maine, and up the Pacific Coast as far as Oregon. From 1528 to 1536, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and three other castaways from a Spanish expedition (including an African named Estevanico) journeyed all the way from Florida to the Gulf of California, 267 years before the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
In 1540 Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive exploration of the present U.S., and in the same year Francisco Vázquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Mexican Indians across today's Arizona–Mexico border and traveled as far as central Kansas, close to the exact geographic center of what is now the continental United States. Other Spanish explorers of the US make up a long list that includes, among others: Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, Pánfilo de Narváez, Sebastián Vizcaíno, Gaspar de Portolà, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Tristán de Luna y Arellano and Juan de Oñate, but also non-Spanish explorers working for the Spanish Crown like Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. In all, Spaniards probed half of today's lower 48 states before the first English colonization attempt at Roanoke Island in 1585.
The Spanish created the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States, at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. Santa Fe, New Mexico also predates Jamestown, Virginia (founded in 1607) and Plymouth Colony (of Mayflower and Pilgrims fame; founded in 1620). Later came Spanish settlements in San Antonio, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, San Diego, California, Los Angeles, California and San Francisco, California, to name just a few. The Spanish even established a Jesuit mission in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay 37 years before the founding of Jamestown.
Two iconic American stories have Spanish antecedents, too. Almost 80 years before John Smith's alleged rescue by Pocahontas, a man by the name of Juan Ortiz told of his remarkably similar rescue from execution by an Indian girl. Spaniards also held a thanksgiving — 56 years before the famous Pilgrims festival — when they feasted near St. Augustine with Florida Indians, probably on stewed pork and garbanzo beans. As late as 1783, at the end of the American Revolutionary War (a conflict in which Spain aided and fought alongside the United States), Spain held claim to roughly half of today's continental United States; in 1775, Spanish ships even reached Alaska. From 1819 to 1848, the United States (through treaties, purchase, diplomacy, and the Mexican-American War) increased its area by roughly a third at Spanish and Mexican expense, acquiring three of today's four most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — and several smaller ones. Hispanics became the first American citizens in these new territories, and remained a majority in several Southwestern states until the 20th century. (See also Viceroyalty of New Spain.)
The Hispanic and Latino role in the history and present of the United States is addressed in more detail below (See Notables and their contributions). On September 17, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in mid-September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, with Congress's authorization. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended the observance to a month, designated Hispanic Heritage Month.
|State||Population||% of state
As of July 1, 2007, Hispanics accounted for 15.1% of the national population, or around 45.4 million people. The Hispanic growth rate over the April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 period was 28.7% — about four times the rate of the nation's total population (at 7.2%). The growth rate from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006 alone was 3.4% — about three and a half times the rate of the nation's total population (at 1.0%). The projected Hispanic population of the United States for July 1, 2050 is 102.6 million people, or 24.4% of the nation's total projected population on that date.
Of the nation's total Hispanic or Latino population, 49% (21.5 million) lives in California or Texas. Not counting Puerto Rico — which is a Commonwealth of the United States — New Mexico is the state with the highest ratio of Hispanics, 44.7%. Next are California and Texas, with 35.9% and 35.6%, respectively.
The overwhelming majority of Mexican Americans are concentrated in the Southwest, primarily in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. The majority of the Hispanic population in the Southeast, concentrated in Florida, are of Cuban origin. The Hispanic population in the Northeast, concentrated in New York, New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania, is composed mostly of Puerto Ricans; however, the Dominican population has risen considerably since the mid-1990s. The remainder of Hispanics and Latinos may be found throughout the country, though South Americans tend to concentrate on the East Coast and Central Americans on the West Coast.
As of 2000, the ten most populous places with Hispanic majorities were East Los Angeles (97% Hispanic), Laredo, Texas (94%), Brownsville, Texas (91%) Hialeah, Florida (90%), McAllen, Texas (80%), El Paso, Texas (77%), Santa Ana, California (76%), El Monte, California (72%) Oxnard, California (66%), and Miami (66%).
|Other Central American||111,513||0.2|
|Other South American||77,898||0.2|
Some 64% of the nation's Hispanic population are of Mexican origin (see table). Another 9% are of Puerto Rican origin, with about 3% each of Cuban, Salvadoran and Dominican origins. The remainder are of other Central American or South American origin, or of origin directly from Spain. About 7% are of unspecified national origins. It should be noted that these figures pertain to ethnic self-identification, since the same dataset (abstracted from the 2007 American Community Survey) indicates that 60.2% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans were born in the United States.
In northern New Mexico and southern Colorado live peoples who trace their ancestry to Spanish settlers of the late 16th century through the 17th century. People from this background often self-identify as "Hispano", "Spanish", or "Hispanic". Many of these settlers also intermarried with local Amerindians, creating a mestizo population. Likewise, southern Louisiana is home to communities of people of Canary Islands descent, known as Isleños, in addition to other people of Spanish ancestry.
Hispanic or Latino origin is independent of race and is termed "ethnicity" by the United States Census Bureau. The racial categories are: American Indian and Alaska Native, White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Some other race, and Two or more races. The distinction made by government agencies for those within the population of each race category is between those of Hispanic or Latino origin, and all others of Non-Hispanic or Latino origin.
The majority of Hispanic and Latino Americans are white, in both sets of government estimates: 54% are white per the American Community Survey, while the ratio rises to 92% in the Population Estimates Program, which are the official estimates. The much larger official figure is due to the absence of the Some other race category from these estimates, which instead reallocate that category among the five standard, minimum, single-race categories, mostly the white category. The complete 2007 Hispanic or Latino racial breakdown is as follows: White 92% (official) or 54% (ACS); Black or African American 3.8% (official) or 1.5% (ACS); American Indian and Alaska Native 1.4% (official) or 0.8% (ACS); Asian 0.6% (official) or 0.3% (ACS); Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.3% (official) or 0.07% (ACS); Some other race 40% (ACS only; not an official race); Two or more races 0.6% (official) or 3.8% (ACS).
Though comprising very small percentages of the overall Hispanic and Latino American population, and even more so in comparison to the total U.S. population, some of the preceding racial subgroups make up large minorities among the respective racial groups. For instance, Hispanics and Latinos who are American Indian or Alaska Native compose 15% of all American Indians and Alaska Natives (per the ACS estimates). Meanwhile, the 120,000 Hispanics and Latinos who are of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander race compose 22% of this entire race nationally (per the Population Estimates). Again, nearly a third of the overall 'Two or more race' population is Hispanic or Latino (ACS).
Hispanic and Latino Americans have made distinguished contributions to the United States in all major fields, such as politics, the military, music, literature, philosophy, sports, business and economy, and science.
The total number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002 was 1.6 million, having grown at triple the national rate for the preceding five years.
Hispanic and Latino business leaders include Cuban immigrant Roberto Goizueta, who rose to head of The Coca-Cola Company. Advertising magnate Arte Moreno became the first Hispanic to own a major league team in the United States when he purchased the Los Angeles Angels baseball club. Also a major sports team owner is Linda G. Alvarado, president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc and co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team. The largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. is Goya Foods, which position it attained under World War II hero Joseph A. Unanue, the son of the company's founders. Angel Ramos was the founder of Telemundo, Puerto Rico's first television station and now the second largest Spanish language television network in the United States, with an average viewership over one million in primetime. Samuel A. Ramirez, Sr. made Wall Street history by becoming the first Hispanic to launch a successful investment banking firm, Ramirez & Co. Nina Tassler is president of CBS Entertainment since September 2004. She is the highest-profile Latina in network television and one of the few executives who has the power to greenlight series.
As of 2007 there were more than five thousand elected officeholders in the United States who were of Latino origin.
In the House of Representatives, Hispanic and Latino representatives have included Ladislas Lazaro, Antonio M. Fernández, Henry B. Gonzalez, Kika de la Garza, Herman Badillo, Romualdo Pacheco, and Manuel Lujan, Jr., out of almost two dozen former Representatives. Current Representatives include Luis Gutiérrez, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Nydia Velázquez, Joe Baca, Loretta Sanchez, Silvestre Reyes, Rubén Hinojosa, Linda Sánchez, and John Salazar – in all, they number twenty-three. Former senators are Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, Mel Martinez, Dennis Chavez, Joseph Montoya, and Ken Salazar. Bob Menendez is the only current senator.
Numerous Hispanics and Latinos hold elective and appointed office in state and local government throughout the United States. Governors include former governors Romualdo Pacheco, Bob Martinez, and current New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.
Since 1988, when Ronald Reagan appointed the first Hispanic federal Cabinet member Lauro Cavazos as Secretary of Education, Hispanic Americans have had an increasing presence in the cabinet. Serving there have been Ken Salazar, current Secretary of the Interior; Hilda Solis, current United States Secretary of Labor; Alberto Gonzales, former United States Attorney General; Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce; Federico Peña, former Secretary of Energy; Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Manuel Lujan, Jr., former Secretary of the Interior; and Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the United Nations.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, and the Congressional Hispanic Conference (CHC), founded on March 19, 2003, are two organizations that promote policy of importance to Americans of Hispanic descent. They are divided into the two major American political parties: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is composed entirely of Democratic representatives, whereas the Congressional Hispanic Conference is composed entirely of Republican representatives.
Among the distinguished Hispanic and Latino authors and their works may be noted:
Hispanics and Latinos have participated in the military of the United States and in every major military conflict from the American Revolution onward. As of date forty-three Hispanics and Latinos have been awarded the nation's highest military distinction, the Medal of Honor (also known as the Congressional Medal of Honor). Tens of thousands of Latinos are deployed in the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and U.S. military missions and bases elsewhere. Hispanics and Latinos have not only distinguished themselves in the battlefields, but have also reached the high echelons of the military, serving their country in sensitive leadership positions on domestic and foreign shores. The following is a list of some notable Hispanics/Latinos in the military:
Jose Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico, was the Deputy Director of Operations and subsequently Director of the National Clandestine Service, two senior positions in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), between 2004 and 2007.
Created in 1995, the American Latino Media Arts Award, or ALMA Award is a distinction given to Latino performers (actors, film and television directors, and musicians) by the National Council of La Raza.
There are many Hispanic American musicians that have achieved international fame, such as Jennifer Lopez, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Zack de la Rocha, Fergie, Gloria Estefan, Kat DeLuna, Selena, Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana, Marc Anthony, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Adrienne Bailon, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Ritchie Valens, Los Lonely Boys, Frankie J, Jerry Garcia, and Robert Trujillo.
The most prestigious Latin music awards are the Latin Grammy Awards, launched in 2000. Billboard Magazine also honors these artists, with the Billboard Latin Music Awards. The latter's nominees and winners are a result of performance on Billboard's sales and radio charts, while the Latin Grammy Awards nominees and winners are selected by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (LARAS).
Hispanics and Latinos have also contributed some prominent actors and others in the film industry, a few of whom includes actors Anthony Quinn, Cameron Diaz, Martin Sheen, Salma Hayek, Dolores del Río, Rita Hayworth, Antonio Banderas, Raquel Welch, Benicio del Toro, Penelope Cruz, Eva Mendes, Zoe Saldana, Edward James Olmos, Maria Montez, Ramon Novarro, Ricardo Montalbán, Rosie Perez, Katy Jurado, Rita Moreno, Lupe Vélez, Esai Morales, Andy García, Rosario Dawson, John Leguizamo, and, behind the camera, director, producer, and cinematographer Robert Rodriguez.
Some of the Hispanic or Latino actors who achieved notable success in U.S. television include Desi Arnaz, Lynda Carter, Jimmy Smits, Eva Longoria Parker, George Lopez, Benjamin Bratt, Ricardo Montalbán, America Ferrera, Erik Estrada, Cote de Pablo, Freddie Prinze, Lauren Vélez, and Charlie Sheen. Kenny Ortega is an Emmy Award-winning producer, director, and choreographer who has choreographed many major television events such as Super Bowl XXX, the 72nd Academy Awards, and Michael Jacksons memorial service.
The fictional Hispanic/Latina Dora stars in Dora the Explorer, a very successful animated television series.
Hispanics and Latinos are underrepresented in U.S. television, radio, and film. This is combatted by organizations such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), founded in 1986. Together with numerous Latino civil rights organizations, the NHMC led a "brownout" of the national television networks in 1999, after discovering that there were no Latinos in any of their new prime time shows that year. This resulted in the signing of historic diversity agreements with ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC that have since increased the hiring of Hispanic and Latino talent and other staff in all of the networks.
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) funds programs of educational and cultural significance to Hispanic Americans. These programs are distributed to various public television stations throughout the United States.
Among Hispanic Americans who have excelled in science are Luis Walter Alvarez, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and his son Walter Alvarez, a geologist. They first proposed that an asteroid impact on the Yucatán Peninsula caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Several other Hispanics and Latinos have made their names in aeronautics, including several NASA astronauts: Franklin Chang-Diaz was the first Latin American NASA astronaut, is co-recordholder for the most flights into outer space, and is the leading researcher on the plasma engine for rockets; France A. Córdova, former NASA chief scientist; Juan R. Cruz, NASA aerospace engineer; Lieutenant Carlos I. Noriega is NASA mission specialist and computer scientist; Ellen Ochoa is a pioneer of spacecraft technology and astronaut. Joseph Acaba, Fernando Caldeiro, Sidney Gutierrez, Jose Hernández, Michael Lopez-Alegria, John Olivas, and George Zamka are all current or former astronauts.
The large number of Hispanic and Latino American stars in Major League Baseball (MLB) includes players Manny Ramirez, Lefty Gomez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Roberto Clemente, José Canseco, David Ortiz, Fernando Valenzuela, Nomar Garciaparra, Albert Pujols, Omar Vizquel, managers Al Lopez, Ozzie Guillén, and Felipe Alou, and General Manager Omar Minaya.
There have been far fewer football and basketball players, let alone star players, but Tom Flores was the first Hispanic head coach and the first Hispanic quarterback in American professional football, and won Super Bowls as a player, as assistant coach and as head coach for the Oakland Raiders. Anthony Muñoz is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, ranked #17 on Sporting News's 1999 list of the 100 greatest football players, and was the highest-ranked offensive lineman. Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and Joe Kapp is inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. Steve Van Buren, Martin Gramatica, Tony Gonzalez, Marc Bulger, Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez can also be cited among successful Hispanics and Latinos in the National Football League (NFL). Trevor Ariza, Mark Aguirre, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Arroyo, Gilbert Arenas, Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon, and Charlie Villanueva can be cited in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Rebecca Lobo was a major star and champion of collegiate and Olympic basketball and played professionally in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Diana Taurasi became just the seventh player ever to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title, a WNBA title, and as well an Olympic gold medal.
Boxing's first Hispanic world champion was Panama Al Brown. Some other champions include Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Bobby Chacon, BJ Flores, Michael Carbajal, John Ruiz, and Olympic medallist Paul Gonzales.
Tennis legend Pancho Gonzales and Olympic tennis champions and professional players Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernández; soccer players in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Marcelo Balboa and Carlos Bocanegra; figure skater Rudy Galindo; golfers Chi Chi Rodríguez, Nancy Lopez, and Lee Trevino; softball player Lisa Fernandez; and Paul Rodriguez Jr., X Games professional skateboarder, are all Hispanic or Latino Americans who have distinguished themselves in their sports.
The high school graduation rate is highest among Cuban Americans (68.7 percent) and lowest among Mexican Americans (48.7 percent). The Puerto Rican rate is 63.2 percent, Central and South American Americans' is 60.4 percent, and the Dominican American is 51.7 percent.
According to the 2000 census, Cuban Americans and Central and South Americans had the highest college graduation rates, with 19.4 percent of Cuban Americans and 16 percent of Central and South Americans 25 years and older possessing a 4-year college degree. On the other hand, only 6.2 percent of Mexican Americans, 9.9 of Puerto Ricans and 10.9 of Dominican Americans had achieved a 4-year degree. In comparison non-Hispanic Asian Americans (43.3 percent) and non-Hispanic White Americans (26.1 percent) had higher rates than any Hispanic American group. Non-Hispanic Black Americans (14.4 percent) had a lower graduation rate than Cuban Americans and Central and South Americans, but had a higher rate than Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominican Americans.
Cuban Americans have the highest attainment of graduate degrees among all Hispanic or Latino groups, with 6.7 percent. The Central and South American ratio is 4.2 percent. Both are lower than those of non-Hispanic Asian Americans (15.6 percent) and non-Hispanic White Americans (8.7 percent). Non-Hispanic Black Americans (4.1 percent) have a lower percentage of graduate-level degrees than most Hispanic or Latino groups. Of Hispanics and Latinos 25 years and older, only 3.1 percent of Puerto Ricans, 1.8 percent of Dominican Americans and 1.4 percent of Mexican Americans have attained a graduate-level degree.
In 2002, the average individual income among Hispanic and Latino Americans was highest for Cuban Americans ($38,733), and lowest for Dominican Americans ($28,467) and Mexican Americans ($27,877). For Puerto Ricans it was $33,927, and $30,444 for Central and South Americans. In comparison, the income of the average Hispanic American is lower than the national average.
Among Hispanics, Cuban Americans (28.5 percent) had the highest percentage in professional–managerial occupations. The percentage for Puerto Ricans was 20.7, Central and South Americans' was 16.8 percent, and Mexican Americans' was 13.2 percent. All these are lower than the average for non-Hispanics (36.2 percent).
According to the ACS, among Hispanic groups the poverty rate is highest among Dominican Americans (28.1 percent), Honduran Americans and Puerto Ricans (23.7 percent both), and Mexican Americans (23.6 percent). It is lowest among South Americans, such as Colombian Americans (10.6 percent) and Peruvian Americans (13.6 percent), and relatively low poverty rates are also found among Salvadoran Americans (15.0 percent) and Cuban Americans (15.2 percent). In comparison, the average poverty rates for non-Hispanic White Americans (8.8 percent) and Asian Americans (7.1 percent) were lower than those of any Hispanic group. African Americans (21.3 percent) have a higher poverty rate than most Hispanic or Latino groups.
Hispanophobia has existed in various degrees throughout U.S. history, based largely on ethnicity, race, culture, Anti-Catholicism, and use of the Spanish language. In 2006, Time Magazine reported that the number of hate groups in the United States increased by 33 percent since 2000, primarily due to anti-illegal immigrant and anti-Mexican sentiment. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, the number of anti-Latino hate crimes increased by 35 percent since 2003. In California, the state with the largest Latino population, the number of hate crimes against Latinos almost doubled.
Hispanics and Latinos differ on their political views depending on their location and background, but the majority (57%) either identify themselves as or support the Democrats, and 23% identify themselves as Republicans. This 34 point gap as of December, 2007 was an increase from the gap of 21 points 16 months earlier. Cuban Americans and Colombian Americans tend to favor conservative political ideologies and support the Republicans, while Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominican Americans tend to favor liberal views and support the Democrats. However, because the latter groups are far more numerous – as, again, Mexican Americans alone are 64% of Hispanics and Latinos – the Democratic Party is considered to be in a far stronger position with the group overall.
The Presidency of George W. Bush had a significant impact on the political leanings of Hispanics and Latinos. As a former Governor of Texas, Bush regarded this growing community as a potential source of growth for the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and he made some gains for the Republicans among the group.
In the 1996 presidential election, 72% of Hispanics and Latinos backed President Bill Clinton, but in 2000 the Democratic total fell to 62%, and went down again in 2004, with Democrat John Kerry winning Hispanics 58–40 against Bush. Hispanics in the West, especially in California, were much stronger for the Democratic Party than in Texas and Florida. California Latinos voted 63–32 for Kerry in 2004, and both Arizona and New Mexico Latinos by a smaller 56–43 margin; but Texas Latinos were split nearly evenly, favoring Kerry 50–49, and Florida Latinos (mostly being Cuban American) backed Bush, by a 54–45 margin.
In the 2006 midterm election, however, due to the unpopularity of the Iraq War, the heated debate concerning illegal immigration, and Republican-related Congressional scandals, Hispanics and Latinos went as strongly Democratic as they have since the Clinton years. Exit polls showed the group voting for Democrats by a lopsided 69–30 margin, with Florida Latinos for the first time split evenly. The runoff election in Texas' 23rd congressional district was seen as a bellwether of Latino politics, and Democrat Ciro Rodriguez's unexpected (and unexpectedly decisive) defeat of Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla was seen as proof of a leftward lurch among Latino voters, as heavily Latino counties overwhelmingly backed Rodriguez, and heavily Anglo counties overwhelmingly backed Bonilla.
Although during 2008 the economy and employment were top concerns for Hispanics and Latinos, immigration was "never far from their minds": almost 90% of Latinos rated immigration as "somewhat important" or "very important" in a poll taken after the election. There is "abundant evidence" that the heated Republican opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 has done significant damage to the party's appeal to Hispanics and Latinos in the years to come, especially in the swing states such as Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. In a Gallup poll of 4,604 registered Hispanic voters taken in the final days of June 2008, only 18% of participants identified themselves as Republicans.
In the 2008 Presidential election's Democratic primary Hispanics and Latinos participated in larger numbers than before, with Hillary Clinton receiving most of the group's support. Pundits discussed whether a large percentage of Hispanics and Latinos would vote for an African American candidate, in this case Barack Obama, Clinton's opponent. Hispanics/Latinos voted 2 to 1 for Mrs. Clinton, even among the younger demographic, which in the case of other groups was an Obama stronghold. Among Hispanics, 28% said race was involved in their decision, as opposed to 13% for (non-Hispanic) whites.
Obama defeated Clinton. In the matchup between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain for the presidency, Hispanics and Latinos supported Obama with 59% to McCain's 29% in the Gallup tracking poll as of June 30, 2008. This surprised some analysts, since a higher than expected percentage of Latinos and Hispanics favored Obama over McCain, who had been a leader of the comprehensive immigration reform effort. However, McCain had retracted during the Republican primary, stating that he would not support the bill if it came up again. Some analysts believed that this move hurt his chances among Hispanics and Latinos. Obama took advantage of the situation by running ads aimed at the ethnic group, in Spanish, in which he mentioned McCain's about-face.
In the general election, 67% of Hispanics and Latinos voted for Obama and 31% voted for McCain, with a relatively stronger turnout than in previous elections in states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia helping Obama carry those formerly Republican states. Obama won 70% of non-Cuban Hispanics and 35% of the traditionally Republican Cuban Americans that have a strong presence in Florida, while the changing state demographics towards a more non-Cuban Hispanic community also contributed to his carrying Florida's Latinos with 57% of the vote.
Some political organizations associated with Hispanic and Latino Americans are LULAC, the NCLR, the United Farm Workers, the Cuban American National Foundation, and the National Institute for Latino Policy.
The geographic, political, social, economic, and racial other diversity of Hispanic and Latino Americans extends to culture, as well. Yet several features tend to unite Hispanics and Latinos from these diverse backgrounds.
With 40% of Hispanic and Latino Americans being immigrants, and with many of the 60% who are U.S.-born being the children or grandchildren of immigrants, bilingualism is the norm in the community at large: at home, at least 69% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans over age five are bilingual in English and Spanish, whereas up to 22% are monolingual English-speakers, and 9% are monolingual Spanish-speakers; another 0.4% speak a language other than English and Spanish at home. In all, a full 90% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans speak English, and at least 78% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans speak Spanish. Spanish is the oldest European language in the United States, spoken uninterruptedly for four and a half centuries, since the foundation of St. Augustine.
The usual pattern is monolingual Spanish use among new migrants or older foreign-born Hispanics, complete bilingualism among long-settled immigrants and the children of immigrants, and the sole use of English, or both English and either Spanglish or colloquial Spanish by the third generation and beyond.
The United States is home to thousands of Spanish language media outlets, which range in size from giant commercial broadcasting networks and major magazines with circulations numbering in the millions, to low-power AM radio stations with listeners numbering in the hundreds. There are hundreds of Internet media outlets targeting U.S. Hispanic consumers. Some of the outlets are online versions of their printed counterparts and some online exclusively.
Among the noteworthy Spanish-language media outlets are: