The Latino community is becoming increasingly important to the economy, culture, and politics of the United States. Today, more than 55 million people—almost one-fifth of the U.S. population—are Hispanic, two-thirds of whom are of Mexican origin. Latinos in the United States are reaching new heights in educational attainment, making significant economic gains, and dramatically changing the political landscape. Within the next two decades, these developments will have profound implications for the United States, Mexico, and the rest of the Americas. How large of an asset U.S. Hispanics can be—and the extent of their impact on relations across the hemisphere—depends on actions related to immigration and trade in the United States and across the Americas, particularly in Mexico.
The historic tensions and internal politics of the Latino diaspora are increasingly significant given the rising political influence of Latinos in the United States: The development of Latinos as the fastest growing segment of the nation's population will change the way election campaigns are run, local and state officials are elected, and the United States defines its political traditions. In 2012, more than 11 million Latinos voted and 40 million Latinos are expected to be eligible voters by 2030. The political impact is clear, and Mexican leaders can no longer ignore Latino leaders or the issues Latinos face in the United States. As Latinos assume greater political power within the United States, the U.S. relationship with the rest of the Americas will become an increasingly important issue in U.S. domestic politics.
Building political, social, and economic connections between Mexico, as well as the rest of Latin America, will require business investments and cultural and education exchanges in order to develop a stronger sense of shared interest—which will only benefit the Americas.
Likewise, the expanding role of Hispanic-owned businesses and Latino consumers in the world's largest economy will create enormous opportunities to foster deeper between the United States and Mexico and to create jobs in both countries. As the U.S. Hispanic population continues to increase and its influence grows—both electorally and economically—other nations in the Western Hemisphere will have to adjust their policies to accommodate the demographic shift. Given the cultural, economic, and political ties between Mexico and the United States, it is particularly important for Mexico to recognize the economic and political rise of Latinos—particularly Mexican Americans—within the United States.
“Increasingly, Mexico's future is determined not only in Mexico, but also in the United States. Our countries are growing together at a rapid pace—a process that has its challenges but presents tremendous opportunities,” said Michael Werz and Dan Restrepo, Senior Fellows for the National Security and International Policy team at the Center for American Progress.
As the nature of the Latino diaspora populations has changed, so have the perspectives in their countries of origin. For instance, Mexicans and their diaspora in the United States have largely taken each other for granted. Although the two populations have ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural roots in common, prejudice and stereotypes have long prevailed in what has amounted to an “us” and “them” relationship.
Mexicans can no longer afford to turn our backs on Mexican-Americans. In order to make the best of our shared heritage, we must move beyond the us and them mindset to build joint solutions to shared challenges. Mexican-Americans and Latinos can and should become our strategic partners for a common future in North America,” said Carlos Heredia, head of CIDE's Program for the Study of the United States.
Source: Center for American Progressand Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Latinos Are Shaping the Future of the United States, November 30, 2015.