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  • Mario Torres

A Brief History of Hispanics on American Soil

The media is always fretting about the Hispanic vote, and businesses are always busy with targeting the Hispanics market, which is one of the most dominant ethnic groups in the USA. However, many may wonder where Hispanics actually came from.

If we look back into history, we may hardly find any references about Hispanics. This is because media generally used the word Mexicans, Guatemalans or Puerto Ricans before the 1970s and the word Hispanic was hardly ever used. It wasn’t until 1970 that the media finally adopted the pan-ethnic word Hispanic for categorizing all individuals with Spanish speaking roots.

In her book, Making Hispanics, sociologist G. Cristina Mora explains how the invention of the word Hispanic gave American born individuals a new identity or social category, even though they didn’t speak a single word of Spanish.

Even though Latin Americans on American soil can be traced back to the origins of USA; however, their number generally started increasing much later

Mexicans and the Gold Rush

The origins of the Latino immigration is quite complex in the USA, but has roots in USA’s economic and territorial expansion. The first influx of Mexican immigrations to the USA happened during the California Gold Rush in 1848. In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico receded some of its territory, areas which are now California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas, to USA. The treaty also included naturalization of almost 100,000 Mexico citizens, who would continue to live and work in what was now USA.

Other than that, migration from Mexico to USA was very low in the remanding 19th century. However, that changed quickly in the next century with the expansion of regional rail system and the restriction of labor from Asian nations with the new immigration laws. For this reason, USA employers started to look towards Mexico for supply of labor for industries including mining, agriculture, construction and transportation.

By 1900, around 100,000 workers had migrated to USA and after the outbreak of Mexican Revolution in 1910 the migration happened more rapidly in the first three decades of the 20th century.

It is really difficult to find accurate statistics relating to Mexican immigration because of changing ethnic classifications and inconsistent research methods.

Puerto Ricans

Another important group to look at is that of Puerto Ricans.

The immigration of Puerto Ricans is a little more complicated than Mexicans. After the Spanish-America war of 1898, Puerto Rico was left as an unincorporated territory of the America to be ruled by a Governor appointed by the US President.

By 1917 however, there were many independence movements picking up speed in the region. So in an effort to recede them, USA passed the Jones Act, which granted US citizenship to all Puerto Ricans.

This allowed Puerto Ricans to migrate to any place of the USA with equal rights as that of the citizen and as a result, hundreds of Puerto Ricans migrated to the USA.

Hispanics Today

Hispanics today make up 18% of the USA’s population and are also considered one of the fastest growing segments. What’s more, they also represent one of the most lucrative ethnic markets for businesses, as they have some of the highest purchasing power in the country, and also love spending their money.

Brands are already spending billions of dollars just to appeal and capture the Hispanic market, and that is only expected to increase in the future as Hispanics continue to grow.

We are a full-service Hispanic marketing agency that can help you to succeed in your marketing efforts targeted towards capturing the digital Hispanic market. So let’s discuss and work together on a plan!

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