Common Myths and Stereotypes About Latinxs and Immigration

Thousands March Across U.S.On National Day Of Immigrant Dignity And Respect

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Latinxs may be the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, but stereotypes and misconceptions about Hispanic Americans abound. A considerable number of Americans believe that Latinxs are all recent immigrants to the U.S. and that unauthorized migrants to the country exclusively come from Mexico. Others believe that Hispanics all speak Spanish and have the same ethnic traits.

In fact, Latinxs are a more diverse group than the public generally recognizes. Some are White. Others are Black. Some speak English only. Others speak Indigenous languages. This overview breaks down the following pervasive myths and stereotypes.

All Undocumented Immigrants Come From Mexico

Undocumented immigration remains at the forefront of numerous political conversations. Sometimes, politicians capitalize on xenophobia to build fear and hysteria surrounding undocumented immigrants. And often, Mexico has become the scapegoat, with politicians like former President Donald Trump going out of his way to frequently insult Mexicans.

However, undocumented immigration is much more complicated than some of these conversations suggest. To start, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has fallen from its peak of an estimated 12.2 million in 2007 to 10.5 million in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. And given the eclectic mix of undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S., it’s unfair to paint them with a broad brush.

In the past, Mexicans did make up the majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. But the Pew Research Center reported that is no longer the case. Instead, many people are coming from Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and Asia.

All Latinxs Are Immigrants

There are many Latinx people whose families have lived in the United States for generations and so may not identify themselves or their immediate family as immigrants.

But perhaps the easiest way to dispel this myth is looking at countries like Puerto Rico. It is a United States territory so people born there have U.S. citizenship. As a result, if people move from the island to the U.S., they may not always consider themselves immigrants.

All Latinxs Speak Spanish

It’s no secret that most Latinxs trace their roots to countries that the Spanish once colonized. Because of Spanish imperialism, many Latinxs speak Spanish, but not all do. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 75.1% of Latinxs speak Spanish at home. That figure also indicates that a large number of Latinxs, about a quarter, do not.

Additionally, an increasing number of Latinx identify as American Indians, and a number of these individuals speak Indigenous languages rather than Spanish. Between 2000 and 2010, Amerindians who identify themselves as Hispanic have tripled from 400,000 to 1.2 million, The New York Times reports.

This spike has been attributed to increased immigration from regions in Mexico and Central America with large Indigenous populations. In Mexico alone, approximately 364 Indigenous dialects are spoken.

All Latinxs Look the Same

In the United States, Latinx is often associated with mestizo, which refers to a person who has Spanish and Indigenous ancestry. As a result, people have many stereotypes about how Latinx people should look.

But the U.S. Census Bureau statistics provide an interesting take on how Latinxs racially identify. As noted previously, an increasing amount of Latinxs identify as Indigenous. However, more Latinxs are identifying as White as well. The Great Falls Tribune reported that 53% of Latinxs identified as White in 2010, an increase from the 49% of Latinxs who identified as Caucasian in 2000. Roughly 2.5% of Latinxs identified as Black on the 2010 census form.

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Nittle, Nadra Kareem. "Common Myths and Stereotypes About Latinxs and Immigration." ThoughtCo, Feb. 23, 2021, Nittle, Nadra Kareem. (2021, February 23). Common Myths and Stereotypes About Latinxs and Immigration. Retrieved from Nittle, Nadra Kareem. "Common Myths and Stereotypes About Latinxs and Immigration." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).