Mexican Native Americans decline to cooperate with the U.S. Census
“Of the estimated 125,000 people who are members of the Zapotec, Mixtec and Maya nations, an estimated 17% have complied, or are willing to comply, with the Census,” said Salvador Barajas, responsible for the survey. “For many of these individuals, most of whom are non-native Spanish speakers, without a Census outreach in Zapotec, Mixtec or Maya languages, they will not cooperate with the Census.”
Throughout New York, northern New Jersey and on Long Island, scores of thousands of Native Americans whose homelands are under Mexican jurisdiction will remain undercounted. “This represents an institutional failure of the Census Bureau,” Barajas said.
For an overview of Native Americans from Latin America residing in the U.S., see below:
1. Summary of Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Latin American Immigrants in the U.S.:
Nationwide, it is estimated that there are 500,000 – 1,250,000 immigrants from Latin America whose native language is not Spanish and who meet the following definition:
1)Individuals born in Mexico, Central America or South America
2)Individuals born to indigenous communities (known as Amerindians, Native Americans or “First Peoples”)
3)Individuals whose first language is not Spanish or are not fluent in Spanish
4)These figures are derived from various sources: Pew Hispanic Center, Embassies of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador in Washington; New America Media sources; Mexican Migration Project at the University of Pennsylvania; Hispanic Economics, Inc.
These individuals, referred to as “Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America,” are one of the high-risk demographic groups that continue to be under-reported during the U.S. Census.The reasons are various and include:
1)Lack of fluency in Spanish makes it difficult to reach these individuals through traditional bilingual (English-Spanish) literature produced and distributed by the Census Bureau
2)Individuals’ concern about their immigration status makes them reluctant to cooperate with any U.S. government agency soliciting information
3)Lack of information in their native language, either in print or through personal outreach from another native speaker, makes it difficult to gain the trust and cooperation of these individuals.
4)In New York alone, there are an estimated 225,000 to 250,000 individuals who are Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America.
5)The figure for the New York tri-state area is derived from information provided by the Instituto Nacional de Estatisdica y Geografia (INEGI) in Mexico, the Mexican Consulate in New York, the Archdiocese of New York and the Government of Guatemala, with ballpark reference numbers from the Census Bureau.More information from INEGI is at http://www.inegi.org.mx/inegi/default.aspx
2. National Distribution of Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Latin American Immigrants in the U.S.
The majority of Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America live in the following five urban areas:
1.New York (225,000 to 250,000)
2.Los Angeles (150,000 to 200,000)
3.San Francisco Bay Area (75,000 to 125,000)
4.Miami-Dade (75,000 to 110,000)
5.Chicago (50,000 to 75,000)
In addition, there are significant numbers (75,000 to 125,000) in the agricultural area of Imperial and Central Valleys (California) and the communities from Sacramento to Fresno to Bakersfield; in the greater Phoenix, AZ area (25,000 to 50,000); and in North Carolina (20,000 to 40,000).
3. Reaching Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Latin American Immigrants in the U.S:
Hispanic Economics proposes to develop and implement a program to reach these at risk communities for the purpose of increasing their participation in the 2010 Census.
As a general observation, Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America adhere to social and familial structures consistent with communal living arrangements that date back to centuries before the arrival of Europeans to the Americas in 1492.Anthropologists have documented that insular nature of these communities that:
1)Are family oriented first
2)Are community oriented second
3)Are distrustful of “out group” members, meaning individuals who are not from their own communities, defined as speaking their native languages or being from their native homelands
4)Are communities that invest ecclesiastical authorities with greater respect and allegiance than they do to secular authorities
Given these parameters, and the fact that an estimated 40% of all Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America are in the Greater New York area, particular emphasis must be placed on New York.The most effective way to reach Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America in the greater New York metropolitan area consists of a program that includes:
1.Native speakers of the most-commonly spoken indigenous languages spoken in New York that are from southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala
a.Two Maya language dialects
2.Hiring a team of 6-8 native speakers of these languages, of either gender, to form “street teams” that can distribute literature at strategic street locations, including
a.Subway and bus intersections/thoroughfares
b.Community centers that cater to the needs of these specific communities
c.Ecclesiastical installations where these communities are congregants
d.Recreational/leisure areas frequented by these families during sporting or family outings
3.Providing trilingual literature – in English, Spanish and selected indigenous languages – to distribute to members of these communities throughout the greater New York metropolitan area.It is recommended that trilingual literature consist of:
4.Community outreach must include a campaign that identifies work associations and community centers.Specifically:
a.The appropriate green grocer association of New York has cooperated in the past in providing literature and break room space for initiatives such as these
b.That Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America in question can be described as “Guadalupanos,” by way of characterizing their world view and social community orientation, allows approximating “in group” status with the elders and leaders of the Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America.In consequence it is appropriate to work through the facilities of the largest “Guadalupano” social services organization in New York, which has three centers catering to the Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America, one in Manhattan, another in South Bronx and the last one in Queens
c.Consistent with these initiatives is forming an alliance with the Archdiocese of New York to identify the parishes that caters to the Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America in New York City.The community events that take place in the rectory after masses is a fundamental to reaching these communities in a non-threatening way.
5.Out-of-Home campaign must include:
a.Bills posted at pedestrian eye-level around neighborhoods where Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America live and shop
b.Street teams to distribute trilingual literature (and be able to speak and answer questions in the indigenous languages from the greater Mesoamerican Culture Area) at key transportation hubs (a detailed map analyzing strategic locations is attached)
c.Presentations at work places, community centers and rectories are important to assuage fears and apprehensions
4. Program for Fulfilling Mission
The majority of Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America live in the following five urban areas:
New York (225,000 to 250,000)
Los Angeles (150,000 to 200,000)
San Francisco Bay Area (75,000 to 125,000)
Miami-Dade (75,000 to 110,000)
Chicago (50,000 to 75,000)
A secondary emphasis must be placed on:
*The Imperial and Central Valleys (California) where there are an estimated 75,000 to 125,000 Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America, which is defined as the area from Sacramento to Fresno to Bakersfield
*The Phoenix, AZ area where there are an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America (25,000 to 50,000)
*Rural North Carolina where there are an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Non-Native Spanish-Speaking Immigrants from Latin America
The Dilemma of Mexican Native Americans
Are Mexico’s Native Americans who migrate to the U.S. “Mexican immigrants,” or are is this a migration of Native American, or First Peoples, across the whole of North American?
What is one to make of the fact that for most Mexican Native Americans Spanish is as second language – their traditional language being the one in which they are fluent?
What are the moral implications of the U.S.-Mexico and the U.S.-Canada borders arbitrarily separating the indigenous First Peoples of the continent?
What happens when, for instance, there are an estimated 30,000 Zapotec people from Oaxaca State (Mexico) now living in New York State (U.S.), and the U.S. Census Bureau refused to make Zapotec-language material available to them for the 2010 census?
What are the moral obligations of U.S.-based Hispanic, Latino and Latin American organizations to the First Peoples now in the U.S. who were born in Latin America?
The Return of Native Americans as Immigrants
New America Media, Commentary, Louis E.V. Nevaer
The United States is seeing a resurgence of Native Americans in the form of immigrants who are descendents of North America’s indigenous populations. As Native Americans, they are terrifying precisely because they have a moral claim to cross the borders imposed on their lands, writes NAM contributor Louis E.V. Nevaer. As the immigration debate rages throughout the nation, the lingering, but unspoken, fear is that illegal immigration from Mexico heralds the return of the Native American.
“The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages,” Samuel Huntington famously argued in Foreign Affairs magazine in March 2004, unleashing a firestorm of protests among U.S. Hispanics and Latinos. “Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves — from Los Angeles to Miami — and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream.”
In fact, almost all Mexican immigrants are descendents of North America’s indigenous peoples. As Native Americans, they are terrifying precisely because they have a moral claim to migrate throughout the nation-states imposed on their lands.
This vilification of immigrants differs from the same sentiment of earlier generations. Previously, Americans debated and settled immigration issues through legislation: the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to keep French and Irish Catholics out, the anti-Papist sentiment that fueled Nativism in the 19th century aimed at Italian, Irish and German immigrants, the xenophobia that culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” of 1907 aimed at the Japanese.
In “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” Huntington argued that the Mexican state was complementary to the American one, both heirs of Europe and the Enlightenment. This suggests that the cultural conflict he fears is between Western versus Native American.
He is correct. Native Americans are indifferent to the Western values used to obliterate them, and he recognizes the moral authority with which they challenge the very concept of the nation-state.
To refuse entry to immigrants from across the oceans, from Europe or Asia, is one thing; to stand against the internal movements of Native American people, Americans find unsettling. They can’t forget that efforts to transplant and expand European civilization in the New World have been the driving force behind the settling of the West in the 19th century and the exclusion of Native Americans from the mainstream of society in the 20th.
It almost worked: There are no Manhattans on the island of Manhattan, no Coast Miwok in San Francisco.
“The only good Injun is a dead Injun,” is a line in a Hollywood Western that sums up the nation’s attitude during the 19th century, and it is true that Native Americans were massacred, subjected to forced migrations and deliberately infected with contagious diseases so as to reduce their numbers. It is also true that during the last century, the establishment of reservations created marginalized communities where alcoholism, substance abuse and unemployment demoralized Native Americans into early graves.
Now, peoples rendered almost irrelevant to American society are thriving in such large numbers that they are once again on the move across the continent.
The return of the Native American began in earnest in the 1980s, during the Sanctuary Movement in California. Suddenly, people apprehended at the borders spoke neither English nor Spanish. Isa Gucciardi, who managed a translation company in San Francisco, reported getting calls from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as it was called then, with requests for interpreters who spoke “Indian” languages from southern Mexico and Central America. “We had to double the rate, since it was so difficult to find anyone who spoke English and Tzotzil Maya,” she said.
Despite their best efforts to wipe them out, at the start of the 21st century, Zapotec, Mixtec, Maya and scores of other indigenous peoples have returned.
They are working in our restaurants, stocking shelves in our stores, building houses and doing our landscaping. They are taking care of our kids while we’re at the office, and giving birth to more Native Americans in our hospitals. They are fueling the economic expansion, contributing to a society that looks upon them with disdain.
Yet in the second half of 20th century, it was Europeans who looked on Americans with disdain. Walt Whitman celebrated America being one people out of many – “Of every hue and caste am I” – but to the Europeans, hyphenated Americans are mongrels and half-breeds: Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Anglo-Americans.
The realization that Native Americans are crossing the borders that crossed them is alarming even Jesse Jackson. Interviewed on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” he complained that the workers streaming into New Orleans were “outside workers,” since he could not bring himself to say “Native Americans from Latin America.”
My office in New York is in the Citigroup Center where the only Native American used to be the “Manna-Hata” Indian on the seal stenciled on the flag of the City of New York, standing next to an early Dutch colonist.
Not anymore. Now when I go to the lobby and downstairs into the subway concourse that connects the Uptown Number 6 train with the E and V subways, there are Maya women, wearing their traditional textiles. Their babies strapped on their backs in shawls, with a blanket made of blue basket, they lay out before them for sale probably the last thing that is actually made in New York City: pirated DVDs of Hollywood movies.
Having rid ourselves of the Manna-Hata people, we import Native Americans from Mexico.
Given this demographic trend, it’s only a matter of time before we hear, “Press three to continue in Zapotec.”