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We can see that minority status has far less to do with population size, and instead seems very much to be inclined by race, ethnicity and political power instead. This label of minority status is in many ways used as a tag by which certain groups are detained from political unity or effectiveness.
To a large degree, this is a condition which relates to the nature of the Hispanic demographic, which in spite of its cultural diversity, is typically perceived by the larger American public as a single unified entity. This is both untrue and reflects the ethnocentric qualities of the white American political body that have tended to relegate the Hispanic population to representation that is not proportional to its true presence here. Indeed, "although Mexican-Americans continue to be the largest group within the Latino population, increasing immigration from other Latin American means they are perhaps the most culturally diverse population in the United States, representing 17 distinct nationalities and cultures of Latin America." (Munoz, 1) Given that each group represents its own ethnic minority in the U.S., the splintering effect that this has on their political unification can be stultifying, limiting the ability of the 'Hispanic demographic' to achieve a shared set of electoral priorities, to project shared candidates and to gain full representation on policy decisions impacting Hispanics directly.
In spite of the growth which the demographic has enjoyed, its overall status is still one of a minority. This means that many of the social, cultural and economic structures giving foundation to impulses for entrepreneurial expansion are less accessible and even more willfully resistant to the entrance of those viewed as ethnic minorities. Such is especially evident in settings where a predominantly Caucasian business community shares a reciprocal relationship with the social hierarchy that has long been a presence in many parts of the U.S. This is creating a number of strains on the Hispanic cultural community which are being addressed through a combined strategy of unity and political activeness.
Chapter 3: Public Sector Consequences:
The previous chapter discusses the demographic realities which suggest that immigration populations are growing at such a rate that these will soon far outnumber the white American who is seen to define the nation's ethnic identity. The example of the Hispanic demographic reveals that such groups are often subjected to minority status implications, particularly in terms of public representation and access to public services. This owes dually to America's resistance to the presence of immigrants and to its tendencies toward economic status as a function of race.
The tax laws which apply to immigrants throughout the United States have a direct bearing on the political and socioeconomic status of the American Hispanic community. In the federal forum, "the creation of the TAX ID number (ITIN) in 1996 by the IRS was aimed at collecting income tax from those people who do not have Social Security Numbers." (Mejia, 3) This would effect the American immigrant population insofar as many of its theretofore undocumented immigrants, though not in possession of the legal right to work, would still be faced with a responsibility to pay taxes. For many of those aspiring to open businesses or achieve legalized status, there is an incentive to paying taxes, with the fulfillment of this responsibility improving chances at citizenship. Small business owned by Hispanics and individual citizens have exercised an increasing presence in the tax-burden of the American public budget.
Still, according to a report published by Watson (2006), "the Hispanic community is the largest non-banking population in the United States, according to a federal agency, and also happens to be the fastest-growing." (Watson, 1) This has precipitated a circumstance in which many of America's Hispanic citizens function with cash only. There is a sizeable underground economy in the nation's collective Hispanic communities, where producers, suppliers, employers and employees all work with cash as a measure of remaining undetectable to American immigration officials. This is an economic duality which may only be addressed by refining immigration laws to establish parity between employment and tax policies. At present, the incongruity is creating a lost economic opportunity which could be reinvested in America's always increasing need for a diversity of Spanish-speaking services and the apparent want in the economy for the labor which the Hispanic immigrant groups bring to the market.
Over the last decade, the United States economy would become increasingly dependent upon Hispanic labor, as illustrated in a comment by former U.S. president George W. Bush. Speaking before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he noted that "the unemployment rate amongst Hispanics has dropped to 5.7%, a figure still too high -- but that is down from 8.4% over the past two years" (Bush, 1) This rapid improvement appears to reflects the overall success of Hispanics at entering and contributing to the economy through employment. As we will address later in the course of this discussion however, unemployment among this group is decidedly relative given the degree to which this immigrant population is notoriously undocumented. This makes figures on the subject of employment reliable only with respect to legally documented immigrants, a perspective that excludes consideration of a statistically significant demographic.
Still, immigrant groups from Latin America are beginning to make inroads into America's important small business culture, which serves as an avenue for community leadership and the type of political influence necessary to harness the benefits present in the public sector. To this end, the widespread presence of independent contractors, which embodies a popular conception of the Latino immigrant community, is being complemented by a rising culture of ownership. In the United States at large, a 2005 released Consensus Bureau report estimated that between 1997 and 2002, "Hispanic-owned businesses jumped 31% to 1.6 million." (Hoover, 1) This is a decidedly positive indicator that suggests increasingly more Hispanic immigrants are finding advantages to becoming taxable and documented citizens of the U.S. That notwithstanding, growth patterns of recent decades have created a mixed set of conditions for its Hispanic immigrants which stands in the way of the desire for or event the accessibility of citizenship.
In numerous regards though, the U.S. is still very much a racially homogenized country which has fostered many institutions, social patterns and political strategies intent upon obstructing the advancement of Hispanic entrepreneurialship. This is a difficult cross-section of circumstances under which many Hispanic business owners continue to improve prospects for their communities and organizations while attempting to combat sometimes virulent forms of economic exclusion. And yet, as many Hispanic political activists or public representatives have come to acknowledge, it is only through a unity that crosses over national and ethnic borders within the U.S. Hispanic population that the group will be able to seize on its ample political potential. In some contexts, where projections suggest that Hispanics are likely soon to occupy an utterly dominant population ratio, it becomes even clearer that there is a value in this unity. For instance, "according to the demographic estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos will become the majority population of California by the mid 21st Century and the largest ethnic and racial group in the United States." (Munoz, 1) This means that the idea of Hispanics as a minority population is not only no longer applicable, but in such contexts as California, it is increasingly becoming understood that its implications are inherently motivated by racial inequality. It is thus the extent to which political unity is possible between Hispanics of differing national origins that motivates the catch-all terminology at least within Hispanic cultures. Any allowance of this label and its tendencies to diminish the relevance of national cultural differences may be regarded as a carefully conceived device for political coalescence.
In spite of this, the political orientation of the Hispanic population continues to present us with an extremely mixed outlook. There is no question that the needs and concerns of Hispanic populations are extremely important on the political landscape. Truly, for their personal investment in issues relating to labor laws, immigration standards, naturalization processes and free trade laws within the Americas, Hispanics do register as crucial targets in any political contest. Political candidates have demonstrated a keen awareness of their growing organizational influence, as denoted by the positions aforementioned and attributed to Senator McCain and President Obama respectively. Such candidates have publicly reflected on the need to define with consistency and sensibility America's policy on immigration, which especially where Latin American immigrants is concerned, remains problematically undefined. Nonetheless, it is a highly politicized concern. This is evidenced by the Garcia (1996) source, which reports that "in presidential elections, in particular, political candidates have taken special care to appeal to the Hispanic vote since Hispanics are concentrated in five key states - California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois - states that together comprise over half of the electoral vote majority needed for election to the…[continue]
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