October 24, 2006


For Hispanics, Poverty Is Relative (Marcela Sanchez, Washington Post)

[I]f immigrants, especially Hispanics, are card-carrying members of the U.S. underclass, society at large is having a hard time convincing them of it: Latino immigrants are too busy working, buying cars, purchasing homes and even investing abroad.

Such a lifestyle is not exactly the picture of poverty. The poor are supposed to be the down and out -- the hungry and depressed standing in bread lines. Under this stereotype, they struggle for basic goods and services and are left outside the mainstream, unable to get ahead.

Yet observers of the Latino experience in the United States say that Hispanic immigrants generally don't fit this mold for two basic reasons: choices and attitude. Immigrants cut what corners they can to keep rent, health care, sundry expenses and taxes to a minimum. They also leave family behind, clearly the most painful among their money-saving strategies to reduce the number of dependents in the United States.

The income they pull together from their jobs is pumped into work-related expenses and living essentials, putting 90 percent of their earnings back into the U.S. economy, according to the IDB. They invest most of the rest of their incomes in their homelands.

The IDB report found that immigrants will send home about $45 billion in 2006, creating one of "the broadest and most effective poverty alleviation programs in the world." It also found that the majority of migrants want to buy a family home or open a small business in their home country. One-third said they had already made investments, mainly in real estate. These are not the actions of the economically deprived.

Hispanic immigrants don't necessarily feel excluded or underserved either. In an education survey, the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation found two years ago that Hispanic immigrants were notably positive about the quality of public school education in their areas. More pointedly, the survey concluded that Hispanics are not a "disgruntled population that views itself as greatly disadvantaged or victimized."

They won't be truly assimilated until they bitch endlessly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2006 8:11 AM

Quick, call the White studies department.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 24, 2006 9:35 AM

Yet for some reason, the tweakers just can't leave well enough alone.

Some years back my cousin and his wife, both Moscow trained physicians, were able to leave Albania while it was still under the uber-Stalinist Hoxza regime.

When I first met them, they were living in an old apartment house in Ridgewood, a working class section of NYC on the Brooklyn/Queens border. They had seen nothing of the rest of the U.S. and when we chatted, I said that I was sorry they were stuck where they were and hoped they could move to a nicer place very soon.

He put his hand on my arm and looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, you don't understand. We are living in a palace now and down the block are stores with all the food and other things we could want. Our children are healthy and happy and most of all, we are free.

I dare say the Hispanic immigrants feelings are pretty much similar.

Posted by: erp at October 24, 2006 2:33 PM