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Although a significant Cuban population had existed in the U. since the 19th century (mainly concentrated in Florida and New York City), virtually overnight the exodus of Cubans after the revolution created a major new Latino American population. Although initially caught by surprise by the Cuban government's decision, U. immigration officials provided a mechanism for the orderly entry of nearly 300,000 additional Cuban refugees. S. The majority of Cubans and their children have tended to congregate in South Florida (nearly 70 percent of all Cubans continue to reside in Florida) but over time, Cubans and Cuban Americans—like other Latino migrants—have become more geographically dispersed over time.
Numbering fewer than 71,000 nationwide in 1950, the Cuban immigrant population shot up to 163,000 by 1960. A second wave of Cuban immigration occurred between 1965 and the early 1970s when the Castro regime agreed to allow Cubans who wished to be reunited with family members already in the U. Although the different socioeconomic profiles of the three distinct waves of Cuban migration created a heterogeneous population in class terms, in aggregate, the immigrants that established the Cuban American population have the highest levels of socioeconomic attainment of the three major Latino subpopulations in the U. For example, in 2008, 25 percent of Cubans and Cuban Americans over age 25 had obtained at least a college degree (compared to just 12.9 percent of the overall U. Latino population); median income for persons over 16 was ,478 (compared to median earnings of ,488 for all Latinos); and 13.2 percent of Cubans lived below the poverty line (compared to 20.7 percent of the Latino population and 12.7 percent of the general U. population at that time). Political turmoil elsewhere in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s—particularly in the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—also contributed to significant new Latin American immigration to the U. Again, although citizens of each of these nations had established small émigré populations in the U. well before the 1970s, the political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s resulted in an unprecedented wave of migration as hundreds of thousands of Central Americans—many of them undocumented—fled the violence of their homelands to enter the U. Caught between authoritarian regimes (often overtly or covertly supported by elements of the U. government) and left-wing insurgencies, Central American migrants became a significant part of the U. Latino population by 1990, when they reached an aggregate population of nearly 1.324 million.
As already noted, political turmoil and violence had similar effects on the nations of Central America. stood at fewer than 100,000 in 1970, by 1980, it had grown to more than 171,000, and as will be seen below, has continued to grow dramatically since. At the other end of the economic spectrum, ongoing economic restructuring in South America has led to a situation in which highly educated and highly skilled individuals from countries including Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, and others have emigrated to the U. seeking economic opportunities not available to them in their places of origin. Since the 1970s, the same kinds of social networks previously established by European, Asian, and Mexican immigrants have been expanded by more recent migrants, strengthening the bonds of interdependence that have tied some immigrant-source regions to the U. One study notes that as recently as 2003, 14 percent of the adults in Ecuador, 18 percent of the adults in Mexico, and an astonishing one-in-four of all adults in Central America reported receiving remittances from abroad.In 2007, Mexico alone received more than billion in remittances from its citizens abroad. At the same time, however, these agreements also provided the means for U.
Moreover, in impoverished Caribbean nations like the Dominican Republic, the attraction of finding work in the U. (especially for Dominican women) has led to even more explosive growth in the émigré population. For example, according to a recent analysis of 2000 U. Census data, whereas only 2.3 percent of all Mexican migrants arriving in the U. in the 1980s had bachelor's degrees, 30 percent of those arriving from Peru and Chile, 33 percent of Argentine immigrants, and 40 percent of all Venezuelan immigrants had at least a bachelor's degree. population of Chilean and Columbian descent or origin nearly doubled, and the resident population of Argentinian, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Venezuelan origin or heritage more than doubled. As always, the economic dependence of the U. labor market on both "legal" and "illegal" immigrants has inevitably cemented and extended links of mutual dependence to immigrant-sending regions and thus has also contributed to the continuing cycle of licit and illicit movement into U. Before the global economic contraction of 2008, when remittances peaked worldwide, remittances constituted at least 19 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Honduras, 16 percent of El Salvador's, 15 percent of Haiti's, and 10 percent of the GDP of both Nicaragua and Guatemala.In short, in-sourcing of immigrant labor has become a deeply embedded structural feature of both the supply and demand side of the licit and illicit immigration equation and is, therefore, that much more difficult to arrest with unilateral policy interventions. S-based firms to export parts of their production processes to comparatively low-wage and laxly regulated economies while downsizing production capacities (and shedding higher-wage, often-unionized labor) within the borders of the U. Together, these structural changes laid the foundations for an intensification of two trends that have come to define the U. economy at the turn of the 21st century: the downsizing and outsourcing of production processes that were once based in the U. and a concomitant trend toward what might be called labor "in-sourcing" of ever larger numbers of both authorized and unauthorized immigrants. The stunning result of structural reshaping of the economy has been seen in two interrelated developments: the explosive growth of a Latino population with origins in virtually all the nations of Latin America, and an unprecedented explosion of the unauthorized population in the U. In 1970, the Latino population hovered around 9.6 million and constituted less than 5 percent of the nation's population.
In Mexico, the nation that historically has sent the largest numbers of migrants to the U.
S., the deepening debt crisis, periodic devaluations of the peso, and natural disasters like the great earthquake of 1985 helped to stimulate even more intense waves of out-migration by both males and females. The depth of this interdependence becomes clear when one considers the scale of remittances sent by migrants of all statuses to their countries of origin.
Although the use of braceros had steadily declined in the early 1960s until Congress allowed the program to lapse at the end of 1964, there is no indication that the steady demand for labor that had driven both authorized and unauthorized migration for the previous quarter-century had suddenly dropped appreciably.
Given historical trends, it is much more likely that, as the program ran down, braceros were gradually replaced by unauthorized workers—or, after their contracts expired, simply became unauthorized workers themselves.
Indeed, the mutual economic incentives for unsanctioned entry (bolstered by ever more sophisticated and economically lucrative smuggling, communication, and document-forging networks) increased so much in this period that it is estimated that at different times, the ratio of unauthorized workers to legally contracted braceros was at least two-to-one, and in some cases, was even higher in specific local labor markets. Census data (which again, significantly undercounted undocumented residents in each census) and recent demographic analyses, the total ethnic Mexican population of both nationalities in the U. grew from about 1.6 million 1940, to 2.5 million in 1950, and reached 4 million by 1960.The historical significance of the Bracero Program as a precursor to neoliberal economic practices and a driver of demographic change has recently been recognized in a number of public history projects, including the Smithsonian's ongoing Bracero Archive project and the "Bittersweet Harvest" traveling exhibition. The growth of the Puerto Rican population in the continental U. In the first years of American rule, Puerto Ricans were governed under the terms of the Foraker Act of 1900, which established the island as unincorporated possession of the U. and provided a civil government consisting of a Governor appointed by the U. President, an Executive Council comprised of 6 Americans and 5 Puerto Ricans, and an integrated court system. The Jones Act sought to quell local unrest by providing a number of political reforms including a bicameral legislature (although still under the ultimate authority of a U. In 1959, a revolutionary insurgency in Cuba led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Ché" Guevara shocked the world by overthrowing the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.
The extended period of simultaneous contraction and inflation that followed the 1973 crisis—and a series of neoliberal economic reforms that were instituted in response—signaled a massive reorganization of work and production processes that in many ways continue to the present day.
This ongoing restructuring was regionally and temporally uneven, but across the economy the general long term trend was toward a contraction of comparatively secure high-wage, high-benefit (often union) jobs in the manufacturing and industrial sectors and a corresponding growth of increasingly precarious low-wage, low benefit, often non-union jobs in the expanding service and informal sectors of a transformed economy.
The gender breakdown of immigrant populations varies from region to region, (with Mexican migration, for example, remaining somewhat skewed toward males and Dominican migration heavily skewed toward females) but the general trend in Latin American immigration since the 1970s and 1980s has been a pronounced feminization of migratory flows.
As a result, although men still outnumber women, the aggregate Latin American population of foreign birth in the U. is rapidly approaching gender equilibrium. The effects of the combination of these dramatic structural shifts have played out differently in different regions of Latin America.