|Lazos News Brief -
Immigrant Growth in
An Immigrant - any person born outside the
52% Come From Latin America
March 2003, the US Census Bureau estimated that the nation's
foreign-born population last year numbered 32.5 million, accounting
for 11.5 percent of the total U.S. population. Among the
foreign-born population, 52 percent were born in Latin America, with
66 percent coming from Central America and Mexico. According to The
Pew Hispanic Center,* Mexico contributes more to the U.S. labor
force than any other foreign country.
to September 11, the Bush administration and Mexico were in
negotiations to improve and facilitate their immigration policies.
Since that time, the discussion has stalled and now with US at War
with Iraq, they are at a standstill. In spite of the political
impasse and heightened security, approximately one thousand Mexicans
cross the border daily. Why is the US experiencing this surge in
population and how do we benefit from it?
Coming to the US
a trip to Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico in March of 2003, I asked a
cross-section of Mexicans what motivated them to emigrate to the US.
I questioned cab drivers, shopkeepers, waiters, housekeepers and
gardeners. The study preceded the start of the War with Iraq, which
for some of the participants appeared to cause a bias against the
number of the respondents, regardless of their income, said they
were perfectly happy in Mexico and had no desire to come. Although
they didn't have the financial ability to purchase certain material
goods or have the "creature comforts" available in the US, they
found that living in Mexico was less hectic and demanding, and they
opted for a "peaceful" life in Mexico.
people wanting to come to the US, would come to study, improve their
English language skills, and simply to earn more money, where the
wages are higher than in Mexico. For many, they planned to send the
major portion of their income home to their families in Mexico - in
2001, $9.3 billion was sent into Mexico.
came to the US because of the aspiration of the American Dream,
educational advancement and the social mobility. This group saw that
the US offered advantages they couldn't attain in Mexico. Regardless
of the reasons, both groups contribute to the labor pool that is the
backbone of the US economy.
Contributions to the Labor
the 90's, Mexicans in Illinois paid $7.2 billion in taxes.
Hispanic Center observes that for nearly a century, the U.S. has
relied on Mexican migrant workers to fill domestic labor shortages
in nearly every area of U.S. commerce. Immigration trends show that
the foreign-born population continues to get younger. Although the
age structure varies by country of origin, and the median age for
the US Hispanic population is 26, the over-all longevity of the U.S.
workforce is increasing due to the large number of young people.
This influx of foreign-born workers not only fills jobs that are not
wanted by US workers, but the youthful workers will be an effective
solution to a future labor shortage, when "baby boomers" reach the
age of retirement. Moreover, the social security paid by immigrants
will help finance the retirement of the aging US
Questions for Marketers
Immigration patterns have increased the need to examine
marketing strategies. Does your market share include a Latino
segment? In a current article from American Demographics, on trends
for the next twenty-five years, Vickie Abrahamson states, "If a
company today is concentrating solely on a white audience, then it
is living in a galaxy, far, far away."
understand the cultural nuances of the different Latino
nationalities and how they effect communication strategies? Is it
time to re-evaluate your efforts toward the this growing
Lindsay Lowel and Robert Suro. "How Many Undocumented: The
numbers behind the U.S.-Mexico Migration Talks," The Pew
Hispanic Center, March 2002.
Alison Stein Wellner, "The Next 25 Years" American
Demographics, April 2003.