Latinos/Hispanics and the Immigrant Experience

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 foreignborn 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.
With 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 Mexicanorigin. 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 nativeborn 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

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