Why did Puerto Rican families send their children to New York?

Why did Puerto Rican families send their children to New York?

I'm currently reading Run Baby Run, an autobiography by Nicky Cruz. Mr Cruz is a former New York City gang leader who became a Christian minister.

In the first chapter, in which he describes how he got from Puerto Rico to New York, he writes:

It is the practice of many Puerto Rican families to send their children to New York when they are old enough to take care of themselves. Six of my older brothers already had left the island and moved to New York. All were married and trying to make a new life for themselves.

Nicky was 15 in 1955 when he was sent to New York to live with one of his brothers.

My question is: Why were Puerto Rican families sending their children off the island, and why New York?

Because if they can make it there they can make it anywhere. Saying "because there were already a lot of Puerto Ricans" there doesn't answer the question. That said, New York was and is the great city on the east coast, it's what anyone would choose, even the first Puerto Rican. Then it would snowball because of perhaps relatives or at least fellow Puerto Ricans being there to help in the relocation. But the main thing is New York being the place to be, and an international city (yes I know PR is part of the US). Washington DC and Atlanta, sure they're great now, but then not so much.

The story of how Puerto Ricans came to New York

Ama Nunoo is an optimist. She believes every situation has its upside no matter how devastating some may be. She has a Master's degree in International Multimedia Journalism from the University of Kent's Centre for Journalism and a Bachelor's in English and Linguistics.

New York City is little Puerto Rico because Puerto Ricans have a long-standing intertwined history with The Big Apple. The city of immigrants is host to the largest Puerto Rican population in the world although there are many others spread in different cities all over the world.

The over eight million people from different ethnicities add to the rich cultural heritage of one of the world’s busiest cosmopolitan cities.

The Great Migration of Puerto Ricans to New York occurred in the 19th century. The Island nation was once under Spanish rule and then it fell under American dominion after the Spanish-American war when the second wave of migration occurred facilitated by the introduction of air travel.

On Arrival: Puerto Ricans in Post World War II New York

Photo by: Dick DeMarsica, Harlem/World Telegram & Sun, April 29, 1947, Courtesy of Library of Congress &zwnj

From the collections of the Library of Congress, the photograph shows a group of Puerto Ricans in 1947 at Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Granted United States citizenship with the passage of the Jones-Shafroth Act in 1917, Puerto Ricans began migrating to the U.S. in increasing numbers after World War I. By the post-World War II decades, they composed a significant percentage of the population of New York and, thereby, of the student population of the city&rsquos public schools. Despite their status as American citizens, Puerto Ricans faced significant obstacles in realizing the full benefits of U.S. citizenship. Their native Spanish was a barrier to full incorporation and, because they were considered non-white, they experienced racial hostility and discrimination. 1

While Puerto Ricans arrived in New York City in the early part of the twentieth century in small numbers, economic hardships and political tensions rooted in labor conflicts on the island led more and more to leave for the U.S. mainland. 2 Representing a cross-section of economic and social classes, those who came made their homes in Central Harlem and in waterfront communities in Brooklyn, where they established networks of educational, cultural, economic, and political support. 3 Amid the development of U.S. corporate interests, a significant uptick in population growth, and increasing unemployment on the island, the number of Puerto Ricans migrating to New York soared after World War II. 4 In 1940, there were 61,000 Puerto Ricans living in New York City. By 1970, that number had jumped to 817,712 with Puerto Ricans accounting for over 10% of the total population of the city. 5 While they settled in all boroughs of the city, by 1966, Puerto Ricans represented a majority of the population of the South Bronx, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and East Harlem. 6

Not since the massive European immigration of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had the New York City Board of Education been faced with educating a sizeable foreign-born student population. In the face of that challenge, the Board of Education commissioned a comprehensive multiyear study and published, in 1957, the voluminous, The Puerto Rican Study: 1953-1957. 7 Part of a broad trend in the 1950s in New York and in the nation, whereby Puerto Ricans became the subject of research by social scientists and social welfare groups, The Puerto Rican Study addressed, most notably, language issues and the broad social and cultural needs of Puerto Rican students. 8 Despite the research and the recommendations that followed, it was clear, nearly a decade later that sound, practical remedies had not been successfully implemented in the classroom to substantially improve the educational attainment of Puerto Rican children and youth. By 1969, students of Puerto Rican extraction composed 22% of the public school population in New York City and their dropout rate, across the 1960s, was as high as 85%. 9 Compromised school achievement, which would become a chronic problem for generations of this student group, developed alongside the upheavals of urban renewal, entrenched racial and ethnic discrimination, and limited economic opportunities for broad segments of the Puerto Rican population in neighborhoods across the city. 10

In the face of growing inequities, Puerto Ricans shaped multiple local institutional structures, campaigns, and protests to affirm their U.S. citizenship and to achieve justice across economic, social, and educational arenas. 11 The full swing of the civil rights movement added momentum to their activism, which addressed multiple concerns from poor housing conditions to inadequate health care facilities to barriers to admission to the City University of New York, and finally, to the absence of effective bilingual and bicultural programs for Puerto Rican students at all grade levels in the public schools. 12

1 Lorrin Thomas, Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 56-59.
2 Ibid.
3 Virginia Sánchez Korrol, &ldquoPuerto Ricans,&rdquo in The Encyclopedia of New York City, ed. Kenneth T. Jackson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).
4 Thomas, Puerto Rican Citizen, 148-149.
5 Korrol, &ldquoPuerto Ricans.&rdquo
6 Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, Puerto Rican Americans: The Meaning of Migration to the Mainland (Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971), 55-57.
7 New York City Board of Education, The Puerto Rican Study: 1953-1957.
8 Thomas, Puerto Rican Citizen, 171-182.
9 William Vélez, &ldquoEducational Experiences of Hispanics in the United States: Historical Notes,&rdquo in Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Sociology, ed. Félix Padilla (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1994), 157.
10 Luis O. Reyes, &ldquoMinding/Mending the Puerto Rican Education Pipeline in New York City,&rdquo Centro Journal 25 (Fall 2012): 2-21.
11 See Virginia E. Sánchez Korrol, From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), chps. 5-6 Thomas, Puerto Rican Citizen, chp. 6.
12 Thomas, Puerto Rican Citizen, 214-244 Luis Reyes, &ldquoThe Aspira Consent Decree: A Thirtieth-Anniversary Retrospective of Bilingual Education in New York City,&rdquo Harvard Educational Review 76 (September 2006): 369-400.

American Latino Theme Study

This essay explores the history of Latino immigration to the U.S. with particular emphasis on issues of citizenship and non-citizenship, political controversies over immigration policy, and the global economic context in which regional migration and immigration have occurred.

An Historic Overview of Latino Immigration and the Demographic Transformation of the United States
David G. Gutiérrez

Immigration from Latin America&mdashand the attendant growth of the nation's Hispanic or Latino population&mdashare two of the most important and controversial developments in the recent history of the United States. Expanding from a small, regionally concentrated population of fewer than 6 million in 1960 (just 3.24 percent of the U.S. population at the time), to a now widely dispersed population of well more than 50 million (or 16 percent of the nation's population), Latinos are destined to continue to exert enormous impact on social, cultural, political, and economic life of the U.S. [1]Although space limitations make it impossible to provide a comprehensive account of this complex history, this essay is intended to provide an overview of the history of Latino immigration to the U.S. with particular emphasis on issues of citizenship and non-citizenship, the long running political controversies over immigration policy, and the global economic context in which regional migration and immigration have occurred. The essay suggests that the explosive growth of the nation's pan-Latino population is the result of the intricate interplay of national, regional, and global economic developments, the history of U.S. military and foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere, the checkered history of international border enforcement and interdiction efforts, and, not least, the aspirations of Latin American migrants and potential migrants themselves.

Foundational Population Movements: Mexico

The history of Latino migration to the U.S. has complex origins rooted in the nation's territorial and economic expansion. Technically, the first significant influx of Latino immigrants to the U.S. occurred during the California Gold Rush, or just after most of the modern boundary between the U.S. and Mexico was established at the end of the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-48). Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (signed outside of Mexico City in February 1848), the Republic of Mexico ceded to the U.S. more than one-third of its former territory, including what are now the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and parts of several other states. In addition, the treaty also offered blanket naturalization to the estimated 75,000 to 100,000 former citizens of Mexico who chose to remain north of the new border at the end of the war.[2]

With exception of the approximately 10,000 Mexican miners who entered California during the Gold Rush, migration from Mexico was very light during most of the 19th century, averaging no more than 3,000 to 5,000 persons per decade in the period between 1840 and 1890.[3] This changed dramatically at the beginning of next century. As the pace of economic development in the American West accelerated after the expansion of the regional rail system in the 1870s and 1880s, and as the supply of labor from Asian nations was dramatically reduced by a series of increasingly restrictive immigration laws beginning in 1882, U.S. employers began to look to Mexico to fill a dramatically rising demand for labor in basic industries including agriculture, mining, construction, and transportation (especially railroad construction and maintenance). Drawn to the border region by the simultaneous economic development of northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. (largely facilitated by the eventual linkage of the American and Mexican rail systems at key points along the U.S.-Mexico border), at least 100,000 Mexicans had migrated to the U.S. by 1900. The outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 greatly intensified the movement of people within Mexico and eventually across the border, a trend that continued for the first three decades of the 20th century.

Historical migration statistics for this period are notoriously inaccurate because of inconsistent enumeration techniques, changing methods of ethnic and racial classification in the U.S., and the fairly constant movement of uncounted thousands of undocumented migrants into and out of U.S. territory. Extrapolation from both U.S. and Mexican census sources, however, provides a sense of the magnitude of population movement over this period. In 1900, the number of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. reached 100,000 for the first time and continued to rise dramatically thereafter, doubling to at least 220,000 in 1910, and then doubling again to 478,000 by 1920. In 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the number of resident Mexican nationals is conservatively estimated to have increased to at least 639,000. When combined with the original Mexican American population (that is, the descendants of the former citizens of Mexico who lived in the Southwest at the end of the U.S.-Mexican War), the total Mexican-origin or heritage population of the U.S. in 1930 was probably at least 1.5 million, with the largest concentrations in the states of Texas, California, and Arizona, and a smaller yet significant number working in industrial jobs in the Midwest, especially in the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Detroit, and Gary, Indiana.[4]

Despite a brief reversal of migration flows during the Great Depression, when an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 Mexican immigrants and their children were pressured or compelled to leave the country in a mass repatriation campaign coordinated by local, state, and federal officials, Mexican migration trends seen earlier in the century quickly resumed after the U.S. entered the Second World War in 1941.[5]Facing a significant farm labor shortage as a result of conscription and war mobilization, U.S. employer lobbies convinced the Federal Government to approach Mexico about the possibility of implementing an emergency bilateral labor agreement. Still stinging from the humiliation suffered by Mexican nationals and their children during the repatriation campaigns of the previous decade, Mexican government officials were at first reluctant to enter into such an agreement, but after securing guarantees from U.S. officials that contract workers would be provided transportation to and from Mexico, a fair wage, decent food and housing, and basic human rights protections, the two governments signed the Emergency Farm Labor Agreement in the summer of 1942.[6]

Soon dubbed the Bracero Program (from the Spanish colloquial word for manual laborer) this new guest worker program had a number of important long-term effects. On the most fundamental level, the program not only reopened the southern border to Mexican labor, but also more significantly, reinstituted the use of large numbers of immigrant workers in the U.S. economy for the first time since the Depression. The scale of the program remained fairly modest through the war years, with an average of about 70,000 contract laborers working in the country each year during the war. Over time, however, the Bracero Program, which was extended by various means after the war, had the effect of priming the pump for the much more extensive use of such workers. By 1949, the number of imported contract workers had jumped to 113,000, and then averaged more than 200,000 per year between 1950 and 1954. During the peak years of the program between 1955 and 1960, an average of more than 400,000 laborers (predominantly from Mexico, but augmented by smaller numbers of Jamaicans, Bahamians, Barbadians, and Hondurans as well) were employed in the U.S. By the time the program was finally terminated in 1964, nearly 5 million contracts had been issued.[7]

The guest worker program instituted in the early 1940s also had the largely unanticipated effect of increasing both sanctioned and unsanctioned migration to the U.S. from Mexico. By reinforcing communication networks between contract workers and their friends and families in their places of origin in Mexico, increasing numbers of Mexicans were able to gain reliable knowledge about labor market conditions, employment opportunities, and migration routes north of the border. Consequently, the number of Mexicans who legally immigrated to the U.S. increased steadily in the 1950s and 1960s, rising from just 60,000 in the decade of the 1940s to 219,000 in the 1950s and 459,000 in the 1960s.[8]

More importantly over the long run, the Bracero Program helped to stimulate a sharp increase in unauthorized Mexican migration. Drawn to the prospect of improving their material conditions in the U.S. (where wages were anywhere from seven to ten times higher than those paid in Mexico), tens of thousands of Mexicans (almost all of them males of working age) chose to circumvent the formal labor contract process and instead crossed the border surreptitiously. This was seen in the sudden increase in the apprehension of unauthorized immigrants, which rose from a negligible number in 1940, to more than 91,000 in 1946, nearly 200,000 in 1947, and to more than 500,000 by 1951.[9]

The increasing circulation of unauthorized workers in this era suited employers, who sought to avoid the red tape and higher costs associated with participation in the formal labor importation program, and would-be Mexican braceros who were unable to secure contracts through official means. 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. That the use of unauthorized labor had become a systemic feature of the U.S. economy is further reflected in that fact that over the 24 years of the Bracero Program, the estimated number of unauthorized persons apprehended&mdashnearly 5 million&mdashwas roughly equivalent to the total number of official contracts issued. [10]

Although the U.S. government has never achieved an accurate count of the number of unauthorized Mexican migrants circulating or settling in the U.S. at any one time, population movement of this magnitude inevitably contributed to a steady increase in the permanent resident ethnic Mexican population. According to U.S. 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.S. grew from about 1.6 million 1940, to 2.5 million in 1950, and reached 4 million by 1960.[11]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.[12]

The growth of the Puerto Rican population in the continental U.S. has even more complicated origins. Almost exactly a half-century after the end of the Mexican War, the island of Puerto Rico became an "unincorporated territory" of the U.S. after Spain ceded the island and other colonial possessions at the end of the Spanish-American War of 1898. 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.S. and provided a civil government consisting of a Governor appointed by the U.S. President, an Executive Council comprised of 6 Americans and 5 Puerto Ricans, and an integrated court system. In 1917, the U.S. Congress, responding to an increasingly aggressive Puerto Rican independence movement, passed the Jones Act. 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.S.-appointed Governor, the U.S. Congress, and President of the U.S.), and a Puerto Rican Bill of Rights. More importantly, the Jones Act granted U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans except those who made a public choice to renounce this option, a momentous decision made by nearly 300 Puerto Ricans at the time.[13]

Although the authors of the Jones Act had not anticipated that their actions would open the door to Puerto Rican migration to the continental U.S., the extension of U.S. citizenship to island residents ended up having just this effect. Indeed, one of the lasting ironies of the U.S. government's action in 1917 was that even though congressional leaders had expected to continue to control Puerto Rico as a remote colonial possession, a Supreme Court ruling soon revealed the Pandora's Box Congress had opened by granting U.S. citizenship to the island's inhabitants. In the case Balzac v. Porto Rico (1922), the Court held that although Puerto Ricans on the island did not have the same constitutional standing as "ordinary" U.S. citizens (based on the logic that the Constitution's plenary power granted Congress almost unlimited authority to decide which specific rights people in unincorporated territory could enjoy), it also ruled that the conferral of citizenship allowed Puerto Ricans the unfettered right to migrate anywhere within U.S. jurisdiction. More importantly, the Court ruled further that once there, Puerto Ricans were by law "to enjoy every right of any other citizen of the U.S., civic, social, and political."[14]

Puerto Ricans soon took advantage of this oversight by exercising one of the most basic rights of U.S. citizenship&mdashthat of free movement within the territorial boundaries of the U.S. and its possessions. Beginning soon after the Balzac ruling, but increasingly after the Great Depression, growing numbers of Puerto Ricans began moving to the continent, and especially to New York City. Migration from the island was spurred by an evolving colonial economy that simply did not provide sufficient employment to keep up with population growth. Prior to the 1930s, the Puerto Rican economy was heavily oriented toward sugar production, which required intensive labor for only half the year and idled cane workers for the rest of the year. With unemployment now a structural feature of the island economy, the first wave of Puerto Ricans began to leave for the mainland, searching either for work or after having been recruited to work in the agricultural industry. Consequently, the mainland population began to grow. Between 1930 and the outbreak of the Second World War, the mainland Puerto Rican population grew modestly from 53,000 to nearly 70,000, though by now, the overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans (nearly 88 percent) could be found in New York City where they became low-wage workers in the region's expanding clothing manufacturing and service sectors. In addition, Puerto Rican entrepreneurs also began to expand what would soon become a thriving ethnic economy servicing the needs of the region's rapidly expanding population.[15]

Puerto Rican emigration to the mainland accelerated after the war. Facing chronic unemployment on the island (which fluctuated between 10.4 percent and 20 percent for the entire period between 1949 and 1977), and the dislocations in both the rural and urban work forces caused in part by "Operation Bootstrap," a massive government sponsored plan to attract investment and light industry to the island, the Puerto Rican mainland population jumped from fewer than 70,000 in 1940 to more than 300,000 in 1950 and continued to climb to 887,000 by 1960. Although the systematic shift from agriculture to "export-platform industrialization" under Operation Bootstrap was intended to stimulate economic growth and lift workers out of poverty (which occurred for a minority of Puerto Rican workers) chronic unemployment and underemployment&mdashand the economically driven migration that resulted&mdashhave been facts of Puerto Rican economic life since the 1950s.[16]

Demographic Developments since 1960

The demographic landscape of Latino America began to change dramatically in the 1960s as a result of a confluence of economic and geopolitical trends. 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. Although Castro's political intentions remained unclear in the first months of his rule, by 1960 the ruling junta made it plain that it intended to rule Cuba under Marxist principles. In quick succession, a series of political purges and trials, expropriations, the nationalization of key industries and institutions (including labor unions and private schools), and the aborted invasion attempt by Cuban exiles at the infamous Bay of Pigs in the spring of 1961, led to a mass exodus of disaffected Cubans. Although a significant Cuban population had existed in the U.S. 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. Numbering fewer than 71,000 nationwide in 1950, the Cuban immigrant population shot up to 163,000 by 1960. [17]

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.S. to do so. Although initially caught by surprise by the Cuban government's decision, U.S. immigration officials provided a mechanism for the orderly entry of nearly 300,000 additional Cuban refugees. As a result, the Cuban population of the U.S. reached 638,000 by 1970, which accounted for 7.2 percent of nation's Latino population at the time.[18] During the 1980s, a third wave of out-migration from Cuba occurred (the infamous "Mariel boatlift"), swelling the numbers of Cubans in the U.S. by another 125,000.[19] These three major waves of post-1960 immigration provided the foundation for the modern Cuban American population, which currently stands at nearly 1.786 million, or 3.5 percent of the pan-Latino population of the U.S.[20]

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&mdashlike other Latino migrants&mdashhave become more geographically dispersed over time. 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.S. 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.S. Latino population) median income for persons over 16 was $26,478 (compared to median earnings of $21,488 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.S. population at that time).[21]

Political turmoil elsewhere in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s&mdashparticularly in the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua&mdashalso contributed to significant new Latin American immigration to the U.S. Again, although citizens of each of these nations had established small émigré populations in the U.S. 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&mdashmany of them undocumented&mdashfled the violence of their homelands to enter the U.S. Caught between authoritarian regimes (often overtly or covertly supported by elements of the U.S. government) and left-wing insurgencies, Central American migrants became a significant part of the U.S. Latino population by 1990, when they reached an aggregate population of nearly 1.324 million. Reflecting their diverse origins and experiences, Central Americans have clustered in different areas of the country, with Salvadorans prominent in Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C. Guatemalans in California and Texas Nicaraguans in Miami and Hondurans in Florida, Texas, and elsewhere. Although most of the Central American nations have stabilized politically since the 1990s, the long term economic disruption and displacement caused by protracted civil- and guerilla wars in the region has contributed to the continuing growth of this population (discussed further below).[22]

As dramatic as the story of Cuban and Central American political migration has been, however, the most significant development in Latino migration to the U.S. in recent history is rooted in profound economic shifts occurring both in the U.S. and in countries in the Western Hemisphere since the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first signs of things to come were the end of the Bracero Program in 1964 and a major overhaul of U.S. immigration law in 1965. Although both events have been touted as part of the wave of liberal reforms (including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965) that characterized this tumultuous era, the end of the contract labor program and revamping of the U.S. immigration system helped hide from view some significant changes both in patterns of immigration and the utilization of immigrant labor in the U.S. These events also tended to obscure important structural changes in both the U.S. economy the economies of Latin America that continue to the present day.

One change that largely escaped public view at the time was the gradual replacement of braceros with unauthorized workers, the vast majority of them originating in Mexico. 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&mdashor, after their contracts expired, simply became unauthorized workers themselves.

In any case, border apprehensions began to rise again almost immediately after the guest worker program's demise. Whereas the INS reported apprehending an average of about 57,000 unauthorized migrants per year in the nine years between Operation Wetback, a federal program that deported illegal Mexican immigrants from the southwestern U.S.,and the end of the Bracero Program, apprehensions approached 100,000 again in 1965 and continued to rise sharply thereafter.[23] In that same year, the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Amendments (79 Stat. 911) almost certainly exacerbated this trend. Although the new law greatly liberalized extant policy by abolishing the national origins quota system and providing a first-come, first-served system for eligible immigrants, for the first time in history the INA imposed a ceiling of just 120,000 legal immigrants per year for the entire Western Hemisphere. Later adjustments in the law further lowered the number of visas available to Western Hemisphere countries.[24]

On the economic front, the 1973 Arab oil embargo further disrupted the American labor market and eventually helped lay the foundations for an even greater influx of both legal immigrants and unauthorized workers. The extended period of simultaneous contraction and inflation that followed the 1973 crisis&mdashand a series of neoliberal economic reforms that were instituted in response&mdashsignaled 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.

In the international arena, the deepening global debt crisis and austerity measures imposed on many Latin American countries over this same period by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund set the stage for even more drastic economic restructuring and displacement abroad.[25] These developments also dramatically altered the gendered composition of immigrant flows. Whereas prior to this time, migration from Latin America to the U.S. was heavily skewed toward males of working age, economic restructuring abroad eventually led to a growing number of women and children entering the migrant stream. 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.S. is rapidly approaching gender equilibrium.[26]

The effects of the combination of these dramatic structural shifts have played out differently in different regions of Latin America. 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. As already noted, political turmoil and violence had similar effects on the nations of Central America. Moreover, in impoverished Caribbean nations like the Dominican Republic, the attraction of finding work in the U.S. (especially for Dominican women) has led to even more explosive growth in the émigré population. Whereas the Dominican population of the U.S. 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.[27]

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.S. seeking economic opportunities not available to them in their places of origin. For example, according to a recent analysis of 2000 U.S. Census data, whereas only 2.3 percent of all Mexican migrants arriving in the U.S. 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. For different reasons, this kind of "brain drain" migration has increased significantly in recent years. For example, between 2000 and 2010, the U.S. 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.[28]

As always, the economic dependence of the U.S. 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.S. territory. 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.S. for more than a century. 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. 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.[29]In 2007, Mexico alone received more than $24 billion in remittances from its citizens abroad. 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.[30]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.

The effects of these interlocking trends have been intensified by ongoing neoliberal "free trade" negotiations and agreements designed to reduce trade barriers and foster greater regional economic integration. In the U.S., the two signal developments in this area, the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 and a similar initiative, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (which is currently being implemented on an incremental basis with several Caribbean, Central-, and South American nations) have been tremendously successful in increasing trade between the signatories. For example, since the ratification of NAFTA in 1994, trade between the U.S. and Canada has tripled, while that between the U.S. and Mexico has quadrupled. At the same time, however, these agreements also provided the means for U.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.S. Together, these structural changes laid the foundations for an intensification of two trends that have come to define the U.S. economy at the turn of the 21st century: the downsizing and outsourcing of production processes that were once based in the U.S. and a concomitant trend toward what might be called labor "in-sourcing" of ever larger numbers of both authorized and unauthorized immigrants.[31]

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.S. In 1970, the Latino population hovered around 9.6 million and constituted less than 5 percent of the nation's population. After that date, however, the Latino population not only grew dramatically but also became much more diverse. Overall, the nation's Latino population grew to at least 14.6 million by 1980, rose to 22.4 million in 1990, increased to 35.3 million in 2000, and approached 50 million by 2010.[32] Although ethnic Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans remain the majority of the Latino population (constituting 63, 9.2, and 3.5 percent of the total, respectively, in 2010), new immigrant influxes from elsewhere in Latin America created a more complex demography in which Central Americans (7.9 percent), South Americans (5.5 percent), and Dominicans (2.8 percent of the total) now also have significant population clusters. The three major Latino subpopulations of ethnic Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans grew substantially in the decade between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Censuses (charting increases of 54, 36, and 44 percent respectively), but other Latino populations from sending regions in Central and South America grew at a much faster rate, ranging from an 85 percent increase in the Dominican immigrant community to a 191 percent increase in the Honduran population.

Overall, the immigrant populations of virtually all Spanish-speaking nations of the Western Hemisphere grew substantially in the decade between 2000 and 2010. The Dominican population of the U.S. increased from 765,000 to 1.4 million the Guatemalan population jumped from 372,000 to 1.04 million Hondurans from 218,000 to 633,000 Nicaraguans from 178,000 to 348,000, and Salvadorans from 655,000 to 1.6 million.[33] As of 2011, the combined pan-Latino population is estimated to have reached a figure of 50,478,000, more than 16 percent of the total population of the U.S.[34]

The number of unauthorized persons&mdashagain predominantly from Latin America but also from virtually every other nation on earth as well&mdashhas grown at similar rates since the 1970s. Reflecting ongoing economic displacement, chronic unemployment and underemployment, simmering civil unrest, and the escalating violence associated with the rise of the drug trade, human trafficking, and other illicit economic activities, unauthorized migration has risen along with legal immigration. It has always been difficult to estimate the actual numbers of undocumented persons within U.S. borders at any one moment, but demographers believe that in aggregate, the unauthorized population of the country rose from approximately 3 million in 1980, to about 5 million by the mid-1990s, reached an estimated 8.4 million by 2000, and peaked at between 11 and 12 million (or about 4 percent of the total U.S. population) before turning downward after the financial crisis of 2008-09. With much of the global economy in a sustained slump since then, the unauthorized population is estimated to have dropped by at least one million since 2009.[35]

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of slowing rates of unauthorized migration, heightened security measures and the ongoing recession have clearly contributed to the steep declines seen in recent years. Apprehensions reported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have dropped from a recent peak of nearly 1.64 million in 2000 to fewer than 450,000 in 2010. By 2011, border apprehensions had dropped even further to 340,252, a number that would have been almost unimaginable just five years earlier.[36] At the same time, deportations and enforced "evoluntary departures" of unauthorized persons have risen sharply in recent years. According to data released by U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement, deportations and other enforced departures rose from 291,000 in fiscal 2007 to nearly 400,000 in fiscal 2011&mdashand were on an even higher numerical pace though the first five months of fiscal 2012.[37] Whether such trends continue when the economy recovers is an open question, especially given the increasingly integral role unauthorized workers have come to play in the economy.[38]

One other note should be added to this discussion. Although for reasons discussed elsewhere in this essay the phenomenon of illegal immigration has commonly been associated almost exclusively with Mexicans, one should note that most migration scholars agree that somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of all persons not legally in the country are individuals who did not cross the border illegally but rather have overstayed valid tourist, student, or other visas. Thus, although illegal immigration has come to be perceived primarily as a "Mexican problem," Mexicans ultimately accounted for about 58 percent of the estimated total in 2010&mdashthe remaining 42 percent, many of them visa violators, came from virtually every other nation in the world.[39]

It is impossible to predict the future, but the entwined questions of Latin America immigration and the status of the millions of unauthorized Latin American immigrants currently in the U.S. will almost certainly continue to be two of the most complex and vexing issues on the American political landscape. On the one hand, growing international market competition makes it likely that the U.S. economy will continue to depend heavily on the labor of foreigners&mdashand if patterns of regional economic integration continue, it is almost certain that Latin American immigrants of all statuses will continue to play a major role in the economic development of the nation. Indeed, before the current economic contraction, patterns of immigrant labor insourcing had accelerated to the extent that immigrants of all legal statuses were filling jobs in the U.S. at a rate comparable to the one that existed in the great age of industrial migration more than a century ago. Although the ongoing recession has clearly suppressed the hiring of both native and foreign workers, recent data reveals just how much immigrant workers have become crucial components of American economic life.

According to U.S. Census data, as recently as 2007, highly-skilled "legal" immigrants had become essential in many key economic sectors, constituting fully 44 percent of all medical scientists, 37 percent of all physical scientists, 34 percent of all computer software engineers, 31 percent of all economists, 30 percent of all computer engineers, and 27 percent of all physicians and surgeons. With citizen members of the "baby boom" generation entering retirement in ever-increasing numbers, demographers predict that pressure to recruit highly educated and highly skilled immigrants will continue to rise.[40]

In the vast occupational landscape below such elite professions, immigrant workers of all legal statuses (the U.S. Census does not distinguish between "legal" and unsanctioned workers) have also become structurally embedded in virtually every job category in the economy. As would be expected, more than half of all agricultural workers, plasterers, tailors, dressmakers, sewing machine operators, and "personal appearance workers" are immigrants. Authorized and unauthorized immigrant workers are estimated to constitute another 40 to 50 percent of all drywall workers, packers and packaging workers, and maids and housekeepers. In the next tier, immigrants comprised 30 to 40 percent of all roofers, painters, meat and fish processors, cement workers, brick masons, cooks, groundskeepers, laundry workers, textile workers, and dishwashers. Beyond their expected presence in these labor-intensive occupations, however, immigrants of all statuses are estimated to hold 20 to 30 percent of at least 36 additional occupational categories.[41] But in addition to the numbers captured in official labor statistics, it is also important to keep in mind that untold numbers of other noncitizens toil in the vast and expanding reaches of the "informal" or unregulated "gray" and subterranean "black" market economies.[42] Indeed, the turn to licit and illicit immigrant labor at all levels of the economy has been so great that it is estimated that foreign workers accounted for half of all jobs created in the U.S. between 1996 and 2000 and comprised at least 16 percent of the total U.S. work force at the turn of the twenty-first century.[43]

Of course, on the other hand, the increasingly visible use of immigrant workers and the growth and dispersal of the Latino population since the 1980s into areas such as the American South and the industrial Northeast&mdashplaces where few Latinos have ever been seen in substantial numbers before&mdashhave fanned the flames of dissent and nativism among those who are infuriated not only with what they see as the unconscionable expansion of the nation's unauthorized population, but more generally, with the erosion of domestic living standards associated with the ongoing restructuring of the U.S. economy. Fears about the inexorable aging of the "white" citizen population and the rapid growth of a comparably youthful non-white Latino population have tended to heighten resentment against the foreign-born and their children&mdashand especially against those without legal status. (In 2010, the median age of non-Hispanic white persons was 42, compared to a median age of 27 for all Latinos).[44] The widespread sense that the Federal Government&mdashand lawmakers in both political parties&mdashhave not seriously enforced existing law obviously has also added to the frustration of those holding such views.

Consequently, in what is clearly the most dramatic recent development in the debate over immigration and border control policy, states and localities have entered the fray by enacting a range of measures designed to pressure unauthorized persons to leave their jurisdictions. Following precedents set by activists in California and elsewhere, localities such as Hazleton, Pennsylvania in the East, Escondido, California in the West, and at least 130 other American towns and cities in between have passed local ordinances that do everything from criminalizing the hiring of unauthorized day laborers, making it illegal to rent to unauthorized residents, suspending business licenses of firms employing unauthorized workers, and criminalizing the public use of languages other than English. In addition, a number of states&mdashperhaps most notoriously Arizona, and more recently, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and others&mdashhave debated and/or enacted a variety of measures designed to pressure unauthorized persons to depart their jurisdictions. In 2010 alone, states passed more than 300 such laws, including measures requiring local law enforcement officials, teachers, social workers, health-care providers, private-sector employers, and others to verify the citizenship of any individual they encounter in their official duties or businesses&mdashand make it a crime for non-citizens not to have documents verifying their legal status. Some have gone so far as to propose that unauthorized persons be prohibited from driving (or, for that matter, be barred from receiving any kind of state license), and that states not recognize the U.S. citizenship of infants born of unauthorized residents, regardless of the birthright citizenship provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Federal courts have thus far tended to enjoin or strike down such statutes as violations of federal prerogative in immigration matters, but the future in this arena of immigration and citizenship politics and jurisprudence remains uncertain.[45]

Given the tremendously unstable state of the U.S. and global economies and the highly politicized debate over border enforcement and undocumented immigration in the second decade of the century, it is impossible to predict even partial resolution to these festering controversies. Although the continuing precariousness of the economy may well lay the groundwork for the projection of more force on U.S. borders and an even more hostile climate for Latinos and non-citizens already within U.S. territory, global economic trends will almost certainly continue to create incentives for the ongoing structural use and abuse of both officially authorized and unauthorized Latino immigrant workers. Under these circumstances, it is likely that the historical debate over border enforcement, the continuing growth of the pan-Latino population, and the status of unauthorized persons will persist into the foreseeable future.

David Gutiérrez, Ph.D., is a Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego, and Academic Senate Distinguished Teacher and Vice-Chair, Academic Affairs. He teaches Chicano history, comparative immigration and ethnic history, and politics of the 20th century United States. His major works include Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans Mexican Immigrants and the Politics of Ethnicity Between Two Worlds: Mexican Immigrants in the United States and The Columbia History of Latinos in the United States since 1960. His current research is focused on immigration, citizenship, and non-citizenship in 20th-century American history and the demographic revolution, 1970s to the present. He received his Ph.D. in History from Stanford University.

[1] Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present, Vol. 1, Part A-Population, ed. Susan B. Carter et al., (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 1-177, table Aa 2189-2215, Hispanic Population Estimates, By Sex, Race, Hispanic Origin, Residence, Nativity: 1850-1990 and Seth Motel and Eileen Patten, "Hispanic Origin Profiles," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, June 27, 2012), 1.

[2] For brief overviews of the U.S.-Mexican War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, see Richard Griswold del Castillo, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990) and Ernesto Chávez, The U.S. War with Mexico: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008).

[3] For detailed data on Mexican immigration during the 19th century, see Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present, vol. 1, Part A-Population, ed. Susan B. Carter et al., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), table Ad 162-172 "Immigration by Country of Last Residence&mdashNorth America": 1820-1997, 1-571.

[4] See Arnoldo De León and Richard Griswold del Castillo, North to Aztlán A History of Mexican Americans in the United States, 2nd ed. (Wheeling, IN: Harlan Davidson, 2006), 87, table 5.1, and 90, table 5.2 and Brian Gratton and Myron P. Gutmann, "Hispanics in the United States, 1850-1990: Estimates of Population Size and National Origin," Historical Methods 33, no. 3 (Summer 2000): 137-153.

[5] For details of the Mexican repatriation campaigns of the 1930s, see Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, rev. ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

[6] For trenchant analyses of the politics surrounding the development of the Emergency Farm Labor Program, see Manuel García y Griego, "The Importation of Mexican Contract Labors to the United States, 1942-1964," in The Border That Joins: Mexican Migrants and U.S. Responsibility, ed. Peter G. Brown and Henry Shue (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1983): 49-98 and Katherine M. Donato, U.S. Policy and Mexican Migration to the United States, 1942-1992," Social Science Quarterly 75, no. 4 (1994): 705-29. For discussion of the Bracero Program in the global context of other "guest worker" programs, see Cindy Hahamovitch, No Man's Land: Jamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011).

[7] See United States Congress, Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, History of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 96th Cong. 2d Sess., Dec. 1980 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980): 51, 57, 65.

[8] U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1978 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978), table 13, 36.

[10] Philip Martin, "There is Nothing More Permanent Than Temporary Foreign Workers," in Backgrounder (Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies, April 2001).

[11] Gratton and Gutmann, "Hispanics in the United States," 143, table 3.

[12] For information on the Smithsonian's Bracero Archive, see http://braceroarchive.org/, accessed June 19, 2012. For the Bittersweet Harvest project, see www.sites.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibits/bracero_project/main.htm, accessed June 19, 2012.

[13] For analysis of the convoluted politics surrounding the annexation of Puerto Rico and the framing of the Jones Act of 1917, see Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution, ed. Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).

[14] See Balzac v. Porto Rico 258 U.S. 298 (1922), 308. See also José A. Cabranes, Citizenship and the American Empire: Notes on the Legislative History of the United States Citizenship of Puerto Ricans (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979).

[15] U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the Population, 1970, Subject Report PC (2)-1E, Puerto Ricans in the United States (Washington, D.C., 1973), table 1. For incisive analyses of the establishment and expansion of the Puerto Rican community of greater New York, see Kelvin A. Santiago-Valles and Gladys M. Jiménez-Muñoz, "Social Polarization and Colonized Labor: Puerto Ricans in the United States, 1945-2000," in The Columbia History of Latinos Since 1960, ed. David G. Gutiérrez, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004): 87-145 and Lorrin Thomas, Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

[16] See James L. Dietz, Economic History of Puerto Rico: Institutional Change and Capitalist Development (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986) and Pedro A. Caban, "Industrial Transformation and Labor Relations in Puerto Rico: From ‘Operation Bootstrap' to the 1970s," Journal of Latin American Studies 21, no. 3 (Aug. 1989): 559-91.

[17] Historical Statistics of the United States, 1-177, table Aa 2189-2215

[18] See María Cristina García, "Exiles, Immigrants, and Transnationals: The Cuban Communities of the United States," in The Columbia History of Latinos in the United States Since 1960: 146-86.

[19] See Ibid, 157-67 and Ruth Ellen Wasen, "Cuban Migration to the United States: Policy and Trends (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, June 2, 2009) www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/
R40566.pdf, accessed March 25, 2012.

[20] See Sharon R. Ennis, Merarys Ríos-Vargas, and Nora G. Albert, "The Hispanic Population: 2010," 2010 Census Briefs (Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), table 1.

[21] See Pew Hispanic Center, "Hispanics of Cuban Origin in the United States, 2008&mdashFact Sheet," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, April 22, 2010).

[22] See Norma Stoltz Chinchilla and Nora Hamilton, "Central American Immigrants: Diverse Populations, Changing Communities," in The Columbia History of Latinos Since 1960: 186-228.

[23] See INS, Statistical Yearbook, 1978, table 23, 62.

[24] See Patricia Fernández Kelly and Douglas S. Massey, "Borders for Whom? The Role of NAFTA in Mexico-U.S. Migration," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 610, no. 1 (Mar. 2007): 98-118 Douglas S. Massey, Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002) and Raúl Delgado Wise and Humberto Márquez Covarrubias, "Capitalist Restructuring, Development and Labor Migration: The U.S.-Mexico Case," Third World Quarterly 29, no. 7 (Oct. 2008): 1359-74.

[25] For discussion of the broad implications of these worldwide shifts in economic activity, see David Harvey, "Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 610, no. 1 (Mar. 2007): 21-44 and Cheol-Sung Lee, "International Migration, Deindustrialization, and Union Decline in 16 Affluent OECD Countries, 1962-1997," Social Forces 84, no. 1 (Sept. 2005): 71-88.

[26] For discussion of the changing gender balance of Latin American immigration, see Jacqueline M. Hagan, "Social Networks, Gender, and Immigrant Settlement: Resource and Constraint," American Sociological Review 63, no. 1 (1998): 55-67 Shawn M. Kanaiaupuni, "Reframing the Migration Question: Men, Women, and Gender in Mexico," Social Forces 78, no. 4: 1311-48 Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Gender and U.S. Immigration: Contemporary Trends (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003) and Katherine M. Donato, "U.S. Migration from Latin America: Gendered Patterns and Shifts," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 630 (2010): 78-92. For a statistical breakdown of the gender balance for both foreign-born and U.S.-born Latinos see, Pew Hispanic Center, Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States: 2010 (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 2012), Table 10a&mdashAge and Gender Distribution for Race, Ethnicity, and Nativity Groups: 2010.

[27] See Ramona Hernández and Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, "Dominicans in the United States: A Socioeconomic Profile, 2000," Dominican Research Monographs (New York: City University of New York, Dominican Studies Institute, 2003), table 1.

[28] See U.S. Census, "The Hispanic Population, 2010," table 1 and Çağlar Özden, "Brain Drain in Latin America," paper delivered at the Expert Group Meeting on International Migration and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat, Mexico City, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2005, UN/POP/EGM-MIG/2005/10 (Feb. 2006), www.un.org/esa/population/meetings/lttMigLAC/P10_WB-DECRG.pdf.

[29] See Roberto Suro, "Remittance Senders and Receivers: Tracking the Transnational Channels," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, Nov. 23, 2003).

[30] World Bank, Migration and Remittances Unit, Migration and Remittances Factbook, 2011, www.worldbank.org.prospects/ i migrantandremittances, accessed July 25, 2011.

[31] See Fernández Kelly and Massey, "Borders for Whom?" Wise and Covarrubias, "Capitalist Restructuring" and Raúl Delgado Wise, "Migration and Imperialism: The Mexican Workforce in the Context of NAFTA," Latin American Perspectives 33, no. 2 (Mar. 2006): 33-45.

[32] See Mary M. Kent, Kelvin J. Pollard, John Haaga, and Mark Mather, "First Glimpses from the 2000 U.S. Census," Population Bulletin 56, no. 2 (June 2001): 14 and Jeffrey S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn, "How Many Hispanics? Comparing New Census Counts with the Latest Census Estimates," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, March 30, 2011).

[33] See U.S. Census Bureau, "The Hispanic Population: 2010," table 1.

[34] See Passel and Cohn, "How Many Hispanics?" and Pew Hispanic Center, "Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2010," table 1.

[35] See Jeffrey Passel and D`Vera Cohn, "The Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, Feb. 1, 2011).

[36] See Richard Marosi, "New Border Foe: Boredom," Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2011: A1.

[37] See U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, "ICE Total Removals through Feb. 20, 2012," www.ice.gov/doclib/about/offices/ero/pdf/eroremovals1.pdf, accessed June 15, 2012.

[38] For a recent analysis of the downturn in both authorized and unauthorized migration from Mexico, see Jeffrey Passel, D'Vera Cohn and Ana González-Barrera, "Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero&mdashand Perhaps Less," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, April 2012).

[39] Passel and Cohn estimate that of the non-Mexican unauthorized population, 23 percent originated in Latin America, 11 percent in Asia, 4 percent in Canada and Europe, and another 3 percent, or about 400,000 persons, in Africa and elsewhere in the world. See Passel and Cohn, "The Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010," 11.

[40] See Teresa Watanabe, "Shortage of Skilled Workers Looms in U.S.," Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2008: A1 and Ricardo López, "Jobs for Skilled Workers Are Going Unfilled," Los Angeles Times, June 8, 2012: B1.

[41] See Steven A. Camarota and Karen Jensenius, "Jobs Americans Won't Do? A Detailed Look at Immigrant Employment by Occupation," (Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies, Aug. 2009), especially table 1 American Immigration Law Foundation, "Mexican Immigrant Workers and the U.S. Economy: An Increasingly Vital Role," Immigration Policy Focus 1, no. 2 (Sept. 2002): 1-14 A.T. Mosisa, "The Role of Foreign-Born Workers in the U.S. Economy," Monthly Labor Review 125, no. 5 (2002): 3-14 Diane Lindquist "Undocumented Workers Toil in Many Fields," San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 4, 2006: A1 and Gordon H. Hanson, "The Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration," Council Special Report No. 26, (Washington, DC: Council on Foreign Relations, 2007). For an insightful case-study analysis of the structural replacement of domestic workers by the foreign-born in one key industry, see William Kandel and Emilio A. Parrado, "Restructuring the U.S. Meat Processing Industry and New Hispanic Migrant Destinations," Population and Development Review 31, no. 3 (Sept. 2005): 447-71.

[42] See James DeFilippis, "On the Character and Organization of Unregulated Work in the Cities of the United States," Urban Geography 30, no. 1 (2009): 63-90.

[43] See M. Tossi, "A Century of Change: The U.S. Labor Force, 1950-2050," Monthly Labor Review 125, no. 5 (2002): 15-28.

[44] See Pew Hispanic Center, "Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States," table 9.

[45] See J. Esbenshade and B. Obzurt, "Local Immigration Regulation: A Problematic Trend in Public Policy," Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy 20 (2008): 33-47 Kyle E. Walker and Helga Leitner, "The Variegated Landscape of Local Immigration Policies in the United States," Urban Geography 32, no. 2 (2011): 156-78 Monica W. Varsanyi, "Neoliberalism and Nativism: Local Anti-Immigrant Policy Activism and an Emerging Politics of Scale," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35, no. 2 (March 2011): 295-311 and Richard Fausset, "Alabama Enacts Strict Immigration Law," Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2011: A8.

Lady Liberty takes a stand against Vietnam.

The year after the women’s strike, 15 or 16 members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War occupied Liberty Island for three days to protest the Vietnam War. On the door to the statue, they posted a letter to President Richard Nixon.

“When we were in Vietnam we excused our actions because we thought that we had no choice,” they wrote, according to a New York Timesਊrticle published during their occupation in December 1970.“Now, as we sit inside the Statue of Liberty, having captured the hopes and imaginations of a war‐weary nation, we have run out of all excuses … Mr. Nixon: You set the date. We&aposll evacuate.”

The occupation was part of a series of simultaneous protests that Vietnam Veterans Against the War held around the country at that time. When the Statue of Liberty protesters ended their occupation, they declared it a victory.

𠇍id we succeed?” said Al Hubbard, director of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, according to another Times article. “Of course, we did. We got the war back on Page One, where it belongs.”

The flag of Puerto Rico flying from the head of the Statue of Liberty after 28 Puerto Rican nationals seized the Liberty Island and the statue.

Jim Garrett/NY Daily News/Getty Images

Becoming "Nuyorican": The History of Puerto Rican Migration to NYC

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a National Trust Historic Site, is looking back on the history of Puerto Rican migration to New York City throughout the 20th century. While many moved to the country in smaller numbers earlier on, it wasn't until the 1950s when the "Great Migration" of Puerto Ricans came to the United States. They brought with them a vibrant and beautiful culture and started one of the most important art movements in modern American history. You can find the original version of this story, first published on the Tenement Museum blog in March 2017, here.

For the month of October, a portion of the Tenement Museum's tour tickets and online shop sales will be donated to Puerto Rican hurricane relief. You can also donate directly to the Tenement Museum Hurricane Relief Fund. Learn more about the National Trust's disaster recovery efforts.

photo by: Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a landmark cultural institution on the Lower East Side.

When I think about Puerto Ricans in New York City, I have to admit something. My mind immediately goes to West Side Story. I can only offer explanations, though not necessarily excuses: I’m not Puerto Rican, I’m not Latinx, I’m not even a New Yorker. I’m just a grown-up theater nerd who grew up in a bubble, and West Side Story, for a long time, was my only reference point. But the fact that I’m a grown-up, though, allows me to acknowledge the problematic aspects of the grand Hollywood movie musical—namely, the lack of any Puerto Ricans in the cast, apart from the fabulous Rita Moreno (a fan, I have to point out, of the Tenement Museum) in an Oscar winning performance.

Film scholar Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz, author of West Side Story as Cinema: The Making and Impact of an American Masterpiece, was interviewed at the time of the movie’s restoration release in 2011. A Puerto Rican himself, Acevedo-Muñoz spoke of the initial reaction by the Puerto Rican community to the movie, saying, “There was always some controversy, with some complaints from sociologists and people like that, but the overwhelming majority of reviews were positive,” also pointing out that, by the end of the movie, the Sharks in fact look a lot better than the Jets in terms of morality, community and family, and education.

Concerning the movie’s notorious “brownface” commentary, Acevedo-Muñoz spoke of the novelty that he as a Puerto Rican felt, watching an actual representation of his culture in a major Hollywood production. “Now, is Natalie Wood something of a brownface? Yes. But does it matter? No,” Acevedo-Muñoz said, “And the reason it doesn’t matter to me is because outside of West Side Story, which I saw first as a pre-teenager … I’d never in my life heard the words “Puerto Rico” spoken in a movie. And I’ve heard it very few times after that. Seriously. The fact that they said the words “Puerto Rico” in a movie and there were Puerto Ricans being portrayed on screen—even if only one was a legitimate Puerto Rican that was born-and-raised-on-the-island, Rita Moreno—we didn’t care.”

The interview also discusses the lyrics to “America,” which pleased me greatly, because when I knew I would be writing about the history of Puerto Rican migrants in New York City, I knew I’d want to include that song. What I didn’t know was that the movie version and the stage version differ drastically from each other. Whereas the original drew criticism as being demeaning to Puerto Ricans, the movie version emphasizes genuine issues of discrimination the Puerto Rican community faces in America, and the constantly warring, constantly changing concepts of the American Dream and the American Reality.

We at the Tenement Museum can really relate to the line, “Twelve in a room in America!

What I find interesting, watching from outside my bubble, is the characters repeatedly calling themselves “immigrants,” which they technically aren’t. The differences between immigrants and migrants are thin, but there. While neither group deserves to be subjected to discrimination, persecution, and violence, both often are. But immigrants will usually have to deal with more complicated legal matters to remain in their adopted country. Migrants, like those coming from Puerto Rico, are United States citizens. I can only imagine the strain and confusion on one’s identity, to be treated as an outsider by the nation to which you are a citizen.


When Ponce de León and the Spaniards arrived on the island of Borikén (Puerto Rico), they were greeted by the Cacique Agüeybaná, the supreme leader of the peaceful Taíno tribes on the island. Agüeybaná helped to maintain the peace between the Taíno and the Spaniards. According to historian Ricardo Alegria, in 1509 Juan Garrido was the first free black man to set foot on the island he was a conquistador who was part of Juan Ponce de León's entourage. Garrido was born on the West African coast, the son of an African king. In 1508, he joined Juan Ponce de León to explore Puerto Rico and prospect for gold. In 1511, he fought under Ponce de León to repress the Carib and the Taíno, who had joined forces in Puerto Rico in a great revolt against the Spaniards. [3] Garrido next joined Hernán Cortés in the Spanish conquest of Mexico. [4] Another free black man who accompanied de León was Pedro Mejías. Mejías married a Taíno woman chief (a cacica), by the name of Yuisa. Yuisa was baptized as Catholic so that she could marry Mejías. [3] [5] She was given the Christian name of Luisa (the town Loíza, Puerto Rico was named for her.)

The peace between the Spanish and the Taíno was short-lived. The Spanish took advantage of the Taínos' good faith and enslaved them, forcing them to work in the gold mines and in the construction of forts. Many Taíno died, particularly due to epidemics of smallpox, to which they had no immunity. Other Taínos committed suicide or left the island after the failed Taíno revolt of 1511. [6]

Friar Bartolomé de las Casas, who had accompanied Ponce de León, was outraged at the Spanish treatment of the Taíno. In 1512 he protested at the council of Burgos at the Spanish Court. He fought for the freedom of the natives and was able to secure their rights. The Spanish colonists, fearing the loss of their labor force, also protested before the courts. They complained that they needed manpower to work in the mines, build forts, and supply labor for the thriving sugar cane plantations. As an alternative, Las Casas suggested the importation and use of African slaves. In 1517, the Spanish Crown permitted its subjects to import twelve slaves each, thereby beginning the African slave trade in their colonies. [7]

According to historian Luis M. Diaz, the largest contingent of African slaves came from the areas of the present-day Gold Coast, Nigeria, and Dahomey, and the region known as the area of Guineas, together known as the Slave Coast. The vast majority were Yorubas and Igbos, ethnic groups from Nigeria, and Bantus from the Guineas. The number of slaves in Puerto Rico rose from 1,500 in 1530 to 15,000 by 1555. The slaves were stamped with a hot iron on the forehead, a branding which meant that they were brought to the country legally and prevented their kidnapping. [5]

African slaves were sent to work in the gold mines to replace the Taíno, or to work in the fields in the island's ginger and sugar industries. They were allowed to live with their families in a bohio (hut) on the master's land, and were given a patch of land where they could plant and grow vegetables and fruits. Blacks had little or no opportunity for advancement and faced discrimination from the Spaniards. Slaves were educated by their masters and soon learned to speak the master's language, educating their own children in the new language. They enriched the "Puerto Rican Spanish" language by adding words of their own. The Spaniards considered black people superior to the Taíno, since the latter were unwilling to assimilate. The slaves, in contrast, had little choice but to adapt to their lives. Many converted (at least nominally) to Christianity they were baptized by the Catholic Church and were given the surnames of their masters. Many slaves were subject to harsh treatment and women were subject to sexual abuse. The majority of the Conquistadors and farmers who settled the island had arrived without women many of them intermarried with the black or Taíno women. Their mixed-race descendants formed the first generations of the early Puerto Rican population. [5]

In 1527, the first major slave rebellion occurred in Puerto Rico, as dozen of slaves fought against the colonists in a brief revolt. [8] The few slaves who escaped retreated to the mountains, where they resided as maroons with surviving Taínos. During the following centuries, by 1873 slaves had carried out more than twenty revolts. Some were of great political importance, such as the Ponce and Vega Baja conspiracies. [9]

By 1570, the colonists found that the gold mines were depleted. After gold mining ended on the island, the Spanish Crown bypassed Puerto Rico by moving the western shipping routes to the north. The island became primarily a garrison for those ships that would pass on their way to or from richer colonies. The cultivation of crops such as tobacco, cotton, cocoa, and ginger became the cornerstone of the economy. With the scale of Puerto Rico's economy reduced, colonial families tended to farm these crops themselves, and the demand for slaves was reduced. [10]

With rising demand for sugar on the international market, major planters increased their cultivation and processing of sugar cane, which was labor-intensive. Sugar plantations supplanted mining as Puerto Rico's main industry and kept demand high for African slavery. Spain promoted sugar cane development by granting loans and tax exemptions to the owners of the plantations. They were also given permits to participate in the African slave trade. [10]

To attract more workers, in 1664 Spain offered freedom and land to African-descended people from non-Spanish colonies, such as Jamaica and Saint-Domingue (later Haiti). Most of the free people of color who were able to immigrate were of mixed-race, with African and European ancestry (typically either British or French paternal ancestry, depending on the colony.) The immigrants provided a population base to support the Puerto Rican garrison and its forts. Freedmen who settled the western and southern parts of the island soon adopted the ways and customs of the Spaniards. Some joined the local militia, which fought against the British in the many British attempts to invade the island. The escaped slaves and the freedmen who emigrated from the West Indies used their former master's surnames, which were typically either English or French. In the 21st century, some ethnic African Puerto Ricans still carry non-Spanish surnames, proof of their descent from these immigrants. [5]

After 1784, Spain suspended the use of hot branding the slave's forehead for identification. [5] In addition, it provided ways by which slaves could obtain freedom:

  • A slave could be freed by his master in a church or outside it, before a judge, by testament or letter.
  • A slave could be freed against his master's will by denouncing a forced rape, by denouncing a counterfeiter, by discovering disloyalty against the king, and by denouncing murder against his master.
  • Any slave who received part of his master's estate in his master's will was automatically freed (these bequests were sometimes made to the master's mixed-race slave children, as well as to other slaves for service.)
  • If a slave was made a guardian to his master's children, he was freed.
  • If slave parents in Hispanic America had ten children, the whole family was freed. [11]

In 1789, the Spanish Crown issued the "Royal Decree of Graces of 1789", which set new rules related to the slave trade and added restrictions to the granting of freedman status. The decree granted its subjects the right to purchase slaves and to participate in the flourishing slave trade in the Caribbean. Later that year a new slave code, also known as El Código Negro (The Black Code), was introduced. [12]

Under "El Código Negro," a slave could buy his freedom, in the event that his master was willing to sell, by paying the price sought. Slaves were allowed to earn money during their spare time by working as shoemakers, cleaning clothes, or selling the produce they grew on their own plots of land. Slaves were able to pay for their freedom by installments. They pay in installments for the freedom of their newborn child, not yet baptized, at a cost of half the going price for a baptized child. [12] Many of these freedmen started settlements in the areas which became known as Cangrejos (Santurce), Carolina, Canóvanas, Loíza, and Luquillo. Some became slave owners themselves. [5]

The native-born Puerto Ricans (criollos) who wanted to serve in the regular Spanish army petitioned the Spanish Crown for that right. In 1741, the Spanish government established the Regimiento Fijo de Puerto Rico. Many of the former slaves, now freedmen, joined either the Fijo or the local civil militia. Puerto Ricans of African ancestry played an instrumental role in the defeat of Sir Ralph Abercromby in the British invasion of Puerto Rico in 1797. [13]

Despite these paths to freedom, from 1790 onwards, the number of slaves more than doubled in Puerto Rico as a result of the dramatic expansion of the sugar industry in the island. Every aspect of sugar cultivation, harvesting and processing was arduous and harsh. Many slaves died on the sugar plantations. [10]

Notable Puerto Ricans of African descent Edit

    (1790–1868), was born free in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of African descent, he became known as "The Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico". Cordero was a self-educated Puerto Rican who provided free schooling to children regardless of their race. Among the distinguished alumni who attended Cordero's school were future abolitionists Román Baldorioty de Castro, Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, and José Julián Acosta. Cordero proved that racial and economic integration could be possible and accepted in Puerto Rico. In 2004, the Roman Catholic Church, upon the request of San Juan Archbishop Roberto González Nieves, began the process of Cordero's beatification. [14] He was not the only one in his family to become an educator. In 1820, his older sister, Celestina Cordero, established the first school for girls in San Juan. [15] (1751–1809), born a free man, contributed to the island's culture. Campeche's father, Tomás Campeche, was a freed slave born in Puerto Rico, and his mother María Jordán Marqués came from the Canary Islands. Since she was considered European (or white), her children were born free. Of mixed-race, Campeche was classified as a mulatto, a common term during his time meaning of African-European descent. [citation needed] Campeche is considered to be the foremost Puerto Rican painter of religious themes of the era. [16]
  • Capt. Miguel Henriquez (c. 1680–17??), was a former pirate who became Puerto Rico's first black military hero by organizing an expeditionary force that defeated the British in the island of Vieques. Capt. Henriques was received as a national hero when he returned the island of Vieques back to the Spanish Empire and Puerto Rico. He was awarded "La Medalla de Oro de la Real Efigie" and the Spanish Crown named him "Captain of the Seas," awarding him a letter of marque and reprisal which granted him the privileges of a privateer. [17] [unreliable source?]

Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 Edit

"Puerto Rican population in thousands according to Spanish Royal Census"
Year White Mixed Free Blacks Slaves
1827 163 100 27 34
1834 189 101 25 42
1847 618 329 258 32

The Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 was intended to encourage Spaniards and later other Europeans to settle and populate the colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The decree encouraged the use of slave labor to revive agriculture and attract new settlers. The new agricultural class immigrating from other countries of Europe used slave labor in large numbers, and harsh treatment was frequent. The slaves resisted -from the early 1820s until 1868, a series of slave uprisings occurred on the island the last was known as the Grito de Lares. [18]

In July 1821, for instance, the slave Marcos Xiorro planned and conspired to lead a slave revolt against the sugar plantation owners and the Spanish Colonial government. Although the conspiracy was suppressed, Xiorro achieved legendary status among the slaves, and is part of Puerto Rico's heroic folklore. [19]

The 1834 Royal Census of Puerto Rico established that 11% of the population were slaves, 35% were colored freemen (also known as free people of color in French colonies, meaning free mixed-race/black people), and 54% were white. [20] In the following decade, the number of the slave population increased more than tenfold to 258,000, the result mostly of increased importation to meet the demand for labor on sugar plantations.

In 1836, the names and descriptions of slaves who had escaped, and details of their ownership were reported in the Gaceta de Puerto Rico. If an African presumed to be a slave was captured and arrested, the information was published. [21]

Planters became nervous because of the large number of slaves they ordered restrictions, particularly on their movements outside a plantation. Rose Clemente, a 21st-century black Puerto Rican columnist, wrote, "Until 1846, Blacks on the island had to carry a notebook (Libreta system) to move around the island, like the passbook system in apartheid South Africa." [22]

After the successful slave rebellion against the French in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in 1803, establishing a new republic, the Spanish Crown became fearful that the "Criollos" (native born) of Puerto Rico and Cuba, her last two remaining possessions, might follow suit. The Spanish government issued the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 to attract European immigrants from non-Spanish countries to populate the island, believing that these new immigrants would be more loyal to Spain than the mixed-race Criollos. However, they did not expect the new immigrants to racially intermarry, as they did, and to identify completely with their new homeland. [11] By 1850, most of the former Spanish possessions in the Americans had achieved independence.

On May 31, 1848, the Governor of Puerto Rico Juan Prim, in fear of an independence or slavery revolt, imposed draconian laws, "El Bando contra La Raza Africana", to control the behavior of all Black Puerto Ricans, free or slave. [23]

On September 23, 1868, slaves, who had been promised freedom, participated in the short failed revolt against Spain which became known as "El Grito de Lares" or "The Cry of Lares." Many of the participants were imprisoned or executed. [24]

During this period, Puerto Rico provided a means for people to leave some of the racial restrictions behind: under such laws as Regla del Sacar or Gracias al Sacar, a person of African ancestry could be considered legally white if able to prove they also had ancestors with at least one person per generation in the last four generations who had been legally white. Therefore, people of black ancestry with known white lineage became classified as white. This was the opposite of the later "one-drop rule" of hypodescent in the United States, whereby persons of any known African ancestry were classified as black. [25] As white Democrats regained power in state legislatures after the Reconstruction era, they asserted white supremacy, and passed laws for racial segregation and Jim Crow. The one-drop rule was formalized in laws passed in the South in the early 20th century, after the whites had disenfranchised most blacks at the turn of the century by creating barriers to voter registration and voting.

During the 19th century, however, many southern states had looser constructions of race in early 19th-century Virginia, for instance, if a person was seven-eighths white and free, the individual was considered legally white. Children born to slave mothers were considered slaves, no matter what their ancestry, and many were of mixed heritage. [26] Among the most famous were the mixed-race children of Thomas Jefferson by his slave Sally Hemings. He freed all four surviving children when they came of age: two informally, by letting them "walk away," and the two younger sons in his will.

Abolitionists Edit

During the mid-19th century, a committee of abolitionists was formed in Puerto Rico that included many prominent Puerto Ricans. Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances (1827–1898), whose mixed-race parents were wealthy landowners, believed in abolitionism, and together with fellow Puerto Rican abolitionist Segundo Ruiz Belvis (1829–1867), founded a clandestine organization called "The Secret Abolitionist Society." The objective of the society was to free slave children by paying for freedom when they were baptized. The event, which was also known as "aguas de libertad" (waters of liberty), was carried out at the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Cathedral in Mayagüez. When the child was baptized, Betances would give money to the parents, which they used to buy the child's freedom from the master. [27]

José Julián Acosta (1827–1891) was a member of a Puerto Rican commission, which included Ramón Emeterio Betances, Segundo Ruiz Belvis, and Francisco Mariano Quiñones (1830–1908). The commission participated in the "Overseas Information Committee" which met in Madrid, Spain. There, Acosta presented the argument for the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico. [28] On November 19, 1872, Román Baldorioty de Castro (1822–1889) together with Luis Padial (1832–1879), Julio Vizcarrondo (1830–1889) and the Spanish Minister of Overseas Affairs, Segismundo Moret (1833–1913), presented a proposal for the abolition of slavery.

On March 22, 1873, the Spanish government approved what became known as the Moret Law, which provided for gradual abolition. [29] This edict granted freedom to slaves over 60 years of age, those belonging to the state, and children born to slaves after September 17, 1868.

The Moret Law established the Central Slave Registrar. In 1872 it began gathering the following data on the island's slave population: name, country of origin, present residence, names of parents, sex, marital status, trade, age, physical description, and master's name. This has been an invaluable resource for historians and genealogists. [30]

Abolition of slavery Edit

On March 22, 1873, slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico, but with one significant caveat. The slaves were not emancipated they had to buy their own freedom, at whatever price was set by their last masters. The law required that the former slaves work for another three years for their former masters, other people interested in their services, or for the state in order to pay some compensation. [31]

The former slaves earned money in a variety of ways: some by trades, for instance as shoemakers, or laundering clothes, or by selling the produce they were allowed to grow, in the small patches of land allotted to them by their former masters. In a sense, they resembled the black sharecroppers of the southern United States after the American Civil War, but the latter did not own their land. They simply farmed another's land, for a share of the crops raised. [12] The government created the Protector's Office which was in charge of overseeing the transition. The Protector's Office was to pay any difference owed to the former master once the initial contract expired.

The majority of the freed slaves continued to work for their former masters, but as free people, receiving wages for their labor. [32] If the former slave decided not to work for his former master, the Protectors Office would pay the former master 23% of the former slave's estimated value, as a form of compensation. [31]

The freed slaves became integrated into Puerto Rico's society. Racism has existed in Puerto Rico, but it is not considered to be as severe as other places in the New World, possibly because of the following factors:

  • In the 8th century, nearly all of Spain was conquered (711–718), by the Arab-Berber/African Moors who had crossed over from North Africa. The first African slaves were brought to Spain during Arab domination by North African merchants. By the middle of the 13th century, Christians had reconquered the Iberian peninsula. A section of Seville, which once was a Moorish stronghold, was inhabited by thousands of Africans. Africans became freemen after converting to Christianity, and they lived integrated in Spanish society. African women were highly sought after by Spanish males. Spain's exposure to people of color over the centuries accounted for the positive racial attitudes that prevailed in the New World. Historian Robert Martínez thought it was unsurprising that the first conquistadors intermarried with the native Taíno and later with the African immigrants. [33]
  • The Catholic Church played an instrumental role in preserving the human dignity and working for the social integration of the African man in Puerto Rico. The church insisted that every slave be baptized and converted to the Catholic faith. Church doctrine held that master and slave were equal before the eyes of God, and therefore brothers in Christ with a common moral and religious character. Cruel and unusual punishment of slaves was considered a violation of the fifth commandment. [5]
  • When the gold mines were declared depleted in 1570 and mining came to an end in Puerto Rico, the majority of the white Spanish settlers left the island to seek their fortunes in the richer colonies such as Mexico the island became a Spanish garrison. The majority of those who stayed behind were either African or mulattoes (of mixed race). By the time Spain reestablished commercial ties with Puerto Rico, the island had a large multiracial population. After the Spanish Crown issued the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815, it attracted many European immigrants, in effect "whitening" the island into the 1850s. But, the new arrivals also intermarried with native islanders, and added to the multiracial population. They also identified with the island, rather than simply with the rulers. [5]

Two Puerto Rican writers have written about racism Abelardo Díaz Alfaro (1916–1999) and Luis Palés Matos (1898–1959), who was credited with creating the poetry genre known as Afro-Antillano. [34]

The Treaty of Paris of 1898 settled the Spanish–American War, which ended the centuries-long Spanish control over Puerto Rico. Like with other former Spanish colonies, it now belonged to the United States. [35] [36] With the United States control over the island's institutions also came a reduction of the natives' political participation. In effect, the U.S. military government defeated the success of decades of negotiations for political autonomy between Puerto Rico's political class and Madrid's colonial administration. [37] Puerto Ricans of African descent, aware of the opportunities and difficulties for blacks in the United States, responded in various ways. The racial bigotry of the Jim Crow Laws stood in contrast to the African American expansion of mobility that the Harlem Renaissance illustrated. [38] [39]

One Puerto Rican politician of African descent who distinguished himself during this period was the physician and politician José Celso Barbosa (1857–1921). On July 4, 1899, he founded the pro-statehood Puerto Rican Republican Party and became known as the "Father of the Statehood for Puerto Rico" movement. Another distinguished Puerto Rican of African descent, who advocated Puerto Rico's independence, was Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874–1938). After emigrating to New York City in the United States, he amassed an extensive collection in preserving manuscripts and other materials of black Americans and the African diaspora. He is considered by some to be the "Father of Black History" in the United States, and a major study center and collection of the New York Public Library is named for him, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He coined the term Afroborincano, meaning African-Puerto Rican. [40]

After the United States Congress approved the Jones Act of 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship. As citizens Puerto Ricans were eligible for the military draft, and many were drafted into the armed forces of the United States during World War I. The armed forces were segregated until after World War II. Puerto Ricans of African descent were subject to the discrimination which was rampant in the military and the U.S. [41]

Black Puerto Ricans residing in the mainland United States were assigned to all-black units. Rafael Hernández (1892–1965) and his brother Jesus, along with 16 more Puerto Ricans, were recruited by Jazz bandleader James Reese Europe to join the United States Army's Orchestra Europe. They were assigned to the 369th Infantry Regiment, an African-American regiment it gained fame during World War I and was nicknamed "The Harlem Hell Fighters" by the Germans. [42] [43]

The United States also segregated military units in Puerto Rico. Pedro Albizu Campos (1891–1965), who later became the leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, held the rank of lieutenant. He founded the "Home Guard" unit of Ponce and was later assigned to the 375th Infantry Regiment, an all-black Puerto Rican regiment, which was stationed in Puerto Rico and never saw combat. Albizu Campos later said that the discrimination which he witnessed in the Armed Forces, influenced the development of his political beliefs. [44] : 26

Puerto Ricans of African descent were discriminated against in sports. Puerto Ricans who were dark-skinned and wanted to play Major League Baseball in the United States, were not allowed to do so. In 1892 organized baseball had codified a color line, barring African-American players, and any player who was dark-skinned, from any country. [45] Ethnic African-Puerto Ricans continued to play baseball. In 1928, Emilio "Millito" Navarro traveled to New York City and became the first Puerto Rican to play baseball in the Negro leagues when he joined the Cuban Stars. [46] [47] He was later followed by others such as Francisco Coimbre, who also played for the Cuban Stars.

The persistence of these men paved the way for the likes of Baseball Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, who played in the Major Leagues after the colorline was broken by Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 they were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for their achievements. Cepeda's father Pedro Cepeda, was denied a shot at the major leagues because of his color. Pedro Cepeda was one of the greatest players of his generation, the dominant hitter in the Professional Baseball League of Puerto Rico after its founding in 1938. He refused to play in the Negro leagues due to his abhorrence of the racism endemic to the segregated United States. [48]

Black Puerto Ricans also participated in other sports as international contestants. In 1917, Nero Chen became the first Puerto Rican boxer to gain international recognition when he fought against (Panama) Joe Gan at the "Palace Casino" in New York. [49] In the 1948 Summer Olympics (the XIV Olympics), celebrated in London, boxer Juan Evangelista Venegas made sports history by becoming Puerto Rico's first Olympic medal winner when he beat Belgium's representative, Callenboat, on points for a unanimous decision. He won the bronze medal in boxing in the Bantamweight division. [50] The event was also historic because it was the first time that Puerto Rico had participated as a nation in an international sporting event. It was common for impoverished Puerto Ricans to use boxing as a way to earn an income.

On March 30, 1965, José "Chegui" Torres defeated Willie Pastrano by technical knockout and won the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association light heavyweight championships. He became the third Puerto Rican and the first one of African descent to win a professional world championship. [51]

Among those who exposed the racism and discrimination in the US which Puerto Ricans, especially Black Puerto Ricans, were subject to, was Jesús Colón. Colón is considered by many as the "Father of the Nuyorican movement." He recounted his experiences in New York as a Black Puerto Rican in his book Lo que el pueblo me dice--: crónicas de la colonia puertorriqueña en Nueva York (What the people tell me---: Chronicles of the Puerto Rican colony in New York). [52]

Critics of discrimination say that a majority of Puerto Ricans are racially mixed, but that they do not feel the need to identify as such. They argue that Puerto Ricans tend to assume that they are of Black African, American Indian, and European ancestry and only identify themselves as "mixed" only if they have parents who appear to be of distinctly different "races". Puerto Rico underwent a "whitening" process while under U.S. rule. There was a dramatic change in the numbers of people who were classified as "black" and "white" Puerto Ricans in the 1920 census, as compared to that in 1910. The numbers classified as "Black" declined sharply from one census to another (within 10 years' time). Historians suggest that more Puerto Ricans classified others as white because it was advantageous to do so at that time. In those years, census takers were generally the ones to enter the racial classification. Due to the power of Southern white Democrats, the US Census dropped the category of mulatto or mixed race in the 1930 census, enforcing the artificial binary classification of black and white. Census respondents were not allowed to choose their own classifications until the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It may have been that it was popularly thought it would be easier to advance economically and socially with the US if one were "white". [53]

The descendants of the former slaves became instrumental in the development of Puerto Rico's political, economic and cultural structure. They overcame many obstacles and have contributed to the island's entertainment, sports, literature and scientific institutions. Their contributions and heritage can still be felt today in Puerto Rico's art, music, cuisine, and religious beliefs in everyday life. In Puerto Rico, March 22 is known as "Abolition Day" and it is a holiday celebrated by those who live in the island. [54] The Spanish's limited focus on assimilating the black population, and maroon communities established from slave plantations, contributed to the majority African influence in black Puerto Rican culture.. [55] High amounts of interracial marriage and reproducing, since the 1500s, is the reason why the majority of Puerto Ricans are mixed-race European, African, Taino, but only a small number are of predominant or full African ancestry. [56]

The first black people in the island came alongside European colonists as workers from Spain and Portugal known as Ladinos. [57] [58] During the 1500s, the slaves that Spain imported to Puerto Rico and most of its other colonies, were mainly from the Upper Guinea region. [59] However, in the 1600s and 1700s, Spain imported large numbers of slaves from Lower Guinea and the Congo. [60] According to various DNA studies, majority of the African ancestry among black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans comes from a few tribes such as the Wolof, Mandinka, Dahomey, Yoruba, Igbo, and Congolese, correlating to the modern-day countries of Senegal, Mali, Benin, Nigeria, and Angola. [61] [62] [63] Slaves came from all parts of the western coast of Africa, from Senegal to Angola. The Yoruba and Congolese made the most notable impacts to Puerto Rican culture. [64] There's been evidence of intercolonial migration between Puerto Rico and its neighbors during the 1700s and 1800s, which consisted of migration of free blacks and purchases of slaves from neighboring islands. [65]

Language Edit

Many African slaves imported to Cuba and Puerto Rico spoke "Bozal" Spanish, a Creole language that was Spanish-based, with Congolese and Portuguese influence. [66] Although Bozal Spanish became extinct in the nineteenth century, the African influence in the Spanish spoken in the island is still evident in the many Kongo words that have become a permanent part of Puerto Rican Spanish. [67]

Politics and Government

Throughout the twentieth century, Puerto Rican political activity has followed two distinct paths— one focusing on accepting the association with the United States and working within the American political system, the other pushing for full Puerto Rican independence, often through radical means. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, most Puerto Rican leaders living in New York City fought for Caribbean freedom from Spain in general and Puerto Rican freedom in particular. When Spain ceded control of Puerto Rico to the United States following the Spanish-American War, those freedom fighters turned to working for Puerto Rican independence from the States. Eugenio María de Hostos founded the League of Patriots to help smooth the transition from U.S. control to independence. Although full independence was never achieved, groups like the League paved the way for Puerto Rico's special relationship with the United States. Still, Puerto Ricans were for the most part blocked from wide participation in the American political system.

In 1913 New York Puerto Ricans helped establish La Prensa, a Spanish-language daily newspaper, and over the next two decades a number of Puerto Rican and Latino political organizations and groups—some more radical than others—began to form. In 1937 Puerto Ricans elected Oscar García Rivera to a New York City Assembly seat, making him New York's first elected official of Puerto Rican decent. There was some Puerto Rican support in New York City of radical activist Albizu Campos, who staged a riot in the Puerto Rican city of Ponce on the issue of independence that same year 19 were killed in the riot, and Campos's movement died out.

The 1950s saw wide proliferation of community organizations, called ausentes. Over 75 such hometown societies were organized under the umbrella of El Congresso de Pueblo (the "Council of Hometowns"). These organizations provided services for Puerto Ricans and served as a springboard for activity in city politics. In 1959 the first New York City Puerto Rican Day parade was held. Many commentators viewed this as a major cultural and political "coming out" party for the New York Puerto Rican community.

Low participation of Puerto Ricans in electoral politics—in New York and elsewhere in the country—has been a matter of concern for Puerto Rican leaders. This trend is partly attributable to a nationwide decline in American voter turnout. Still, some studies reveal that there is a substantially higher rate of voter participation among Puerto Ricans on the island than on the U.S. mainland. A number of reasons for this have been offered. Some point to the low turnout of other ethnic minorities in U.S. communities. Others suggest that Puerto Ricans have never really been courted by either party in the American system. And still others suggest that the lack of opportunity and education for the migrant population has resulted in widespread political cynicism among Puerto Ricans. The fact remains, however, that the Puerto Rican population can be a major political force when organized.


Puerto Ricans have been migrating to the continental United States since the 19th century and migrating since 1898 (after the island territory was transferred from Spain to the United States) and have a long history of collective social advocacy for their political and social rights and preserving their cultural heritage. In New York City, which has the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the United States, they began running for elective office in the 1920s, electing one of their own to the New York State Assembly for the first time in 1937. [15]

Important Puerto Rican institutions have emerged from this long history. [16] ASPIRA was established in New York City in 1961 and is now one of the largest national Latino nonprofit organizations in the United States. [17] There is also the National Puerto Rican Coalition in Washington, DC, the National Puerto Rican Forum, the Puerto Rican Family Institute, Boricua College, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies of the City University of New York at Hunter College, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women and the New York League of Puerto Rican Women, Inc., among others.

The government of Puerto Rico has a long history of involvement with the stateside Puerto Rican community. [18] In July 1930, Puerto Rico's Department of Labor established an employment service in New York City. [19] The Migration Division (known as the "Commonwealth Office"), also part of Puerto Rico's Department of Labor, was created in 1948, and by the end of the 1950s, was operating in 115 cities and towns stateside. [20]

The strength of stateside Puerto Rican identity is fueled by a number of factors. These include the large circular migration between the island and the mainland United States, a long tradition of the government of Puerto Rico promoting its ties to those stateside, the continuing existence of racial-ethnic prejudice and discrimination in the United States, and high residential and school segregation. [21] [22] [23] Notable attributes that set the stateside Puerto Rican population apart from the rest of the US Hispanic community, is facts such as, Puerto Ricans have the highest military enrollment rates compared to other Hispanics, Puerto Ricans are more likely to be proficient in English than any other Hispanic/Latino group, and Puerto Ricans are also more likely to intermarry other ethnic groups, and far more likely to intermarry or reproduce specifically with blacks than any other Hispanic/Latino group, especially African American males with Puerto Rican females. [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32]

During the 19th century, commerce existed between the ports of the eastern coast of the United States and Puerto Rico. Ship records show that many Puerto Ricans traveled on ships that sailed from and to U.S. and Puerto Rico. Many of them settled in places such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, some Puerto Ricans joined the ranks of the military armed forces. However, since Puerto Ricans were still Spanish subjects, they were inscribed as Spaniards. [33]

Even during Spanish rule, Puerto Ricans settled in the US. During the nineteenth century it was mostly political exiles who came to the mainland. [34] Since 1898, Puerto Rico has been an "insular possession" and "unincorporated territory" of the United States, ruled for its first half-century by American generals and non-Puerto-Rican civil servants from the mainland, fueling migratory patterns between the mainland and the island. After the end of the Spanish–American War a significant influx of Puerto Rican workers to the US began. With its 1898 victory, the United States acquired Puerto Rico from Spain and has retained sovereignty since. The 1917 Jones–Shafroth Act made all Puerto Ricans US citizens, freeing them from immigration barriers. The massive migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland United States was largest in the early and late 20th century, [35] prior to its resurgence in the early 21st century.

U.S. political and economic interventions in Puerto Rico created the conditions for emigration, "by concentrating wealth in the hands of US corporations and displacing workers." [36] Policymakers "promoted colonization plans and contract labor programs to reduce the population. U.S. employers, often with government support, recruited Puerto Ricans as a source of low-wage labor to the United States and other destinations." [37]

Puerto Ricans migrated in search of higher-wage jobs, first to New York City, and later to other cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. [38] However, in more recent years, there has been a significant resurgence in migration from Puerto Rico to New York and New Jersey, with an apparently multifactorial allure to Puerto Ricans, primarily for economic and cultural considerations [39] [40] with the Puerto Rican population of the New York City Metropolitan Area increasing from 1,177,430 in 2010 to a Census-estimated 1,494,670 in 2016, [41] maintaining its status as the largest metropolitan concentration and cultural center for Puerto Rican Americans by a significant margin on Continental America. The absolute increase in the size of the Puerto Rican population of the New York metropolitan area between 2010 and 2016 roughly approximates the total Puerto Rican population of the Orlando Metropolitan Area, which enumerated over 320,000 in 2013. The Puerto Rican populations of the Orlando and Philadelphia metropolitan areas approximate each other in following a distant second and third only to the New York metropolitan area in size.

New York City neighborhoods such as East Harlem in Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx and Bushwick in Brooklyn are often the most associated with the stateside Puerto Rican population. However, several neighborhoods in eastern North Philadelphia, especially Fairhill, have some of the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans in the United States, Fairhill having the highest when being compared to other big city neighborhoods. [42]

New York City Edit

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, large numbers of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York, especially to Brooklyn, The Bronx and the Spanish Harlem and Loisaida neighborhoods of Manhattan. Labor recruitment was the basis of this particular community. In 1960, the number of stateside Puerto Ricans living in New York City as a whole was 88%, with most (69%) living in East Harlem. [43] They helped others settle, find work, and build communities by relying on social networks containing friends and family.

For a long time, Spanish Harlem (East Harlem) and Loisaida (Lower East Side) were the two major Puerto Rican communities in the city, but during the 1960s and 1970s predominately Puerto Rican neighborhoods started to spring up in the Bronx because of its proximity to East Harlem and in Brooklyn because of its proximity to the Lower East Side. There are significant Puerto Rican communities in all five boroughs of New York City.

Philippe Bourgois, an anthropologist who has studied Puerto Ricans in the inner city, suggests that "the Puerto Rican community has fallen victim to poverty through social marginalization due to the transformation of New York into a global city." [44] The Puerto Rican population in East Harlem and New York City as a whole remains the poorest among all migrant groups in US cities. As of 1973, about "46.2% of the Puerto Rican migrants in East Harlem were living below the federal poverty line." [45] However, more affluent Puerto Rican American professionals have migrated to suburban neighborhoods on Long Island and in Westchester County, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The struggle for legal work and affordable housing remains fairly low and the implementation of favorable public policy fairly inconsistent. New York City's Puerto Rican community contributed to the creation of hip hop music, and to many forms of Latin music including Boogaloo, Salsa, Latin house and Freestyle. Puerto Ricans in New York created their own cultural movement and cultural institutions such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

New York City also became the mecca for freestyle music in the 1980s, of which Puerto Rican singer-songwriters represented an integral component. [46] Puerto Rican influence in popular music continues in the 21st century, encompassing major artists such as Jennifer Lopez. [47]

Philadelphia Edit

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, there was an estimate of 121,643 Puerto Rican Americans living in Philadelphia, up from 91,527 in 2000. Representing 8% of Philadelphia's total population and 75% of the city's Hispanic and Latino American population, as of 2010. Puerto Ricans are the largest Latino group in the city and that, outside Puerto Rico, Philadelphia now has the second largest Puerto Rican population, estimated at over 130,000. [48] Since 2010, Philadelphia replaced the city of Chicago as the city with the second-largest Puerto Rican population, Chicago's slightly shrunk and Philadelphia's continued to grow, more than ever before, not only having the second largest Puerto Rican population, but also one of the fastest-growing. [49] Most sources, including the most reliable, the United States Census Bureau, estimated that as of 2010, Puerto Ricans made up between 70–80 percent of Philadelphia's Hispanic/Latino population. [50] [51] Other sources put the percentage Puerto Ricans make up of Philadelphia's Hispanic population, as high as 90% and others as low as 64%. [52] [53] [54] [55] The influx of other Latino and Hispanic groups, namely Dominicans and Mexicans, between 2000 and 2010, may have slightly decreased the proportion Puerto Ricans make up of the city's total Latino and Hispanic population. Though, unlike many other large northern cities, which have declining or slow-growing Puerto Rican populations, Philadelphia has one of the fastest-growing Puerto Rican populations in the country.

Chicago Edit

Puerto Ricans first arrived in the early part of the 20th century from more affluent families to study at colleges or universities. In the 1930s there was an enclave around 35th and Michigan. In the 1950s two small barrios emerged known as la Clark and La Madison just North and West of Downtown, near hotel jobs and then where the factories once stood. These communities were displaced by the city as part of their slum clearance. In 1968, a community group, the Young Lords mounted protests and demonstrations and occupied several buildings of institutions demanding that they invest in low income housing. [56] Humboldt Park is home to the one of the largest Puerto Rican communities in Chicago and is known as "Little Puerto Rico" or Paseo Boricua. [57] [58]

Orlando Edit

Orlando and the surrounding area has had a sizable Puerto Rican population since the 1980s, as Florida as a whole has always had a decent sized Puerto Rican population. A big contributing factor for the growth of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida was Walt Disney World, who heavily recruited employees in Puerto Rico. Central Florida's Puerto Rican population began to skyrocket starting in the early 2000s and accelerating in the 2010s, with many New Yorkers of Puerto Rican ancestry (Nuyoricans) moving to Florida, joining the island-born Puerto Ricans. [59]

During this time, the 1990s and early 2000s, the overall migration patterns out from Puerto Rico to the US mainland began to switch and Orlando became the main destination from Puerto Rico by far, replacing New York City. Puerto Ricans are largely spread out in the Orlando area, but the heaviest concentration is in the southern portions, like Kissimmee, Poinciana and many other areas in Osceola County, where Puerto Ricans make up the majority of the population. [60] [61]

In 1950, about a quarter of a million Puerto Rican natives lived "stateside", or in one of the U.S. states. In March 2012 that figure had risen to about 1.5 million. That is, slightly less than a third of the 5 million Puerto Ricans living stateside were born on the island. [12] [13] Puerto Ricans are also the second-largest Hispanic group in the US after those of Mexican descent. [10]

Historical population
YearPop. ±%
Source: The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives [62]

Population by state Edit

Relative to the population of each state Edit

The Puerto Rican population by state, showing the percentage of the state's population that identifies itself as Puerto Rican relative to the state/territory population as a whole is shown in the following table.

State/Territory Puerto Rican-American
Population (2010 Census) [63] [64]
(2010) [note 1]
Most recent estimate
(2017) [65]
Alabama 12,225 0.3 20,027 0.5
Alaska 4,502 0.6 7,637 1.0
Arizona 34,787 0.5 41,901 0.6
Arkansas 4,789 0.2 6,088 0.2
California 189,945 0.5 212,500 0.6
Colorado 22,995 0.5 27,872 0.6
Connecticut 252,972 7.1 298,603 8.2
Delaware 22,533 2.5 31,514 3.2
District of Columbia 3,129 0.5 6,320 0.9
Florida 847,550 4.5 1,120,225 5.4
Georgia 71,987 0.7 99,085 0.9
Hawaii 44,116 3.2 45,995 3.2
Idaho 2,910 0.2 3,445 0.2
Illinois 182,989 1.4 202,046 1.6
Indiana 30,304 0.5 45,746 0.7
Iowa 4,885 0.2 7,545 0.2
Kansas 9,247 0.3 11,734 0.4
Kentucky 11,454 0.3 19,312 0.5
Louisiana 11,603 0.3 17,109 0.3
Maine 4,377 0.3 6,091 0.3
Maryland 42,572 0.7 60,781 1.0
Massachusetts 266,125 4.1 327,959 4.9
Michigan 37,267 0.4 42,952 0.4
Minnesota 10,807 0.2 14,344 0.3
Mississippi 5,888 0.2 7,766 0.2
Missouri 12,236 0.2 15,577 0.2
Montana 1,491 0.2 2,136 0.2
Nebraska 3,242 0.2 6,765 0.3
Nevada 20,664 0.8 28,046 1.0
New Hampshire 11,729 0.9 16,331 1.2
New Jersey 434,092 4.9 470,640 5.3
New Mexico 7,964 0.4 9,895 0.5
New York 1,070,558 5.5 1,112,123 5.7
North Carolina 71,800 0.8 101,921 1.0
North Dakota 987 0.1 2,099 0.3
Ohio 94,965 0.8 125,554 1.1
Oklahoma 12,223 0.3 17,334 0.4
Oregon 8,845 0.2 9,904 0.3
Pennsylvania 366,082 2.9 472,442 3.7
Rhode Island 34,979 3.3 40,065 3.9
South Carolina 26,493 0.6 38,025 0.8
South Dakota 1,483 0.2 2,514 0.3
Tennessee 21,060 0.3 31,295 0.5
Texas 130,576 0.5 189,643 0.7
Utah 7,182 0.3 9,176 0.4
Vermont 2,261 0.4 2,335 0.3
Virginia 73,958 0.9 106,472 1.3
Washington 25,566 0.3 28,346 0.4
West Virginia 3,701 0.2 6,494 0.4
Wisconsin 46,323 0.8 56,028 0.9
Wyoming 1,026 0.2 1,002 0.2
USA 4,623,716 1.5 5,588,664 1.7

Out of all 50 states, the ones with the highest net inflow of Puerto Ricans moving there from the island of Puerto Rico between 2000 and 2010 included Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. [10] New York, which has joined this list since 2010, remains a major destination for Puerto Rican migrants, though only a third of recent Puerto Rican arrivals went to New York between 2000 and 2010. [66] There is also a notable number of stateside-born Puerto Ricans moving from the Northeastern states to South Atlantic States, especially to Florida, but to a lesser degree many are also going to Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia as well. [64] The Northeast Corridor remains a major destination for Puerto Ricans, however the population is also growing throughout the United States, particularly in the South. [24] [67] From 2010–17, Florida's Puerto Rican population increased from 847,000 to 1.120 million, increasing by nearly 300,000, allowing Florida to replace New York as the state with the largest Puerto Rican population. Puerto Ricans have been heavily increasing in many other parts of the country too, such as Texas and Ohio. [68]

Despite Puerto Rican populations in New York and New Jersey being relatively stagnant, other parts of the Northeast continue to see very strong growth, particularly Pennsylvania and Lower New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island). Pennsylvania easily having the second largest numerical increase of Puerto Ricans for the past 10–15 years, showing an increase of over 110,000 from 2010 to 2017-second only to Florida. Connecticut having the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans in the United States, from 2010 to 2017 (Pre-Maria) the percentage went up about 1.1 percentage points which is a percentile increase more than any other state, and currently over 8 percent of the state is of Puerto Rican ancestry, sitting nearly three whole percentage points above the second highest percentage. Of smaller states with populations under 3 million, Rhode Island has the fastest growing number of Puerto Ricans. [69] New York is still a relatively popular destination for those migrating from Puerto Rico, though not as much as in the past, as said earlier Florida and other Northeast states are now receiving larger numerical growth. However, much of the stagnant population growth is due to an equal number of Puerto Ricans leaving New York as there is Puerto Ricans moving to New York, as many people of Puerto Rican ancestry now living in other states are originally from the New York City area.

Although Puerto Ricans constitute over 9 percent of the Hispanic population in the United States, there are some states where Puerto Ricans make up over half of the Hispanic population, including Connecticut, where 57 percent of the state's Hispanics are of Puerto Rican descent and Pennsylvania, where Puerto Ricans make up 53 percent of the Hispanics. Other states where Puerto Ricans make up a remarkably large portion of the Hispanic community include Massachusetts, where they make up 40 percent of all Hispanics, Rhode Island at 39 percent, New York at 34 percent, New Jersey at 33 percent, Delaware at 33 percent, Ohio at 27 percent and Florida at 21 percent of all Hispanics in each respective state. [63] The U.S. States where Puerto Ricans were the largest Hispanic group were New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii. [63] U.S. states with higher percentages of Puerto Ricans then the national average (1.5%) as of 2010, are Connecticut (7.1%), New York (5.5%), New Jersey (4.9%), Florida (4.5%), Massachusetts (4.1%), Rhode Island (3.3%), Hawaii (3.2%), Pennsylvania (2.9%) and Delaware (2.5%). [69]

Historically, Puerto Ricans were the largest Hispanic/Latino group in the New York metropolitan area, however the Puerto Rican population in the area began to decrease due to rising cost of living and in turn the overall Hispanic/Latino population began to diversify with increases in other Latino groups. During the same time, the Puerto Rican population has increased in many other areas throughout the country and in areas with large Hispanic/Latino communities, Puerto Ricans represent the majority of Latinos in the following Central Florida around Orlando, but also some areas in the Tampa and Jacksonville areas, southwest New England especially around Hartford and Springfield, South Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania including the Philadelphia area and various smaller metro areas like Allentown among others, and the stretch from Western New York to Northeast Ohio including the metropolitan areas of Rochester, Buffalo and Cleveland. [69] Hispanic/Latino populations in the Northeast Ohio and Western New York areas in particular, tend to be 80–90% Puerto Rican. [64] However, Central Florida and Southwestern New England, which is Connecticut and western Massachusetts, have the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans by percentage of the total populations of these areas as a whole. [64]

Relative to the Puerto Rican population nationwide Edit

Puerto Rican population by state, showing the percentage of Puerto Rican residents in each state relative to the Puerto Rican population in the United States as a whole.

State/Territory Puerto Ricans
Population (2010 Census) [63] [64]
Percentage [note 2]
New York 1,070,558 23.15
Florida 847,550 18.33
New Jersey 434,092 9.39
Pennsylvania 366,082 7.92
Massachusetts 266,125 5.76
Connecticut 252,972 5.47
California 189,945 4.11
Illinois 182,989 3.96
Texas 130,576 2.82
Ohio 94,965 2.05
Virginia 73,958 1.60
Georgia 71,987 1.56
North Carolina 71,800 1.55
Wisconsin 46,323 1.00
Hawai'i 44,116 0.95
Maryland 42,572 0.92
Michigan 37,267 0.81
Rhode Island 34,979 0.76
Arizona 34,787 0.75
Indiana 30,304 0.66
South Carolina 26,493 0.57
Washington 25,838 0.56
Colorado 22,995 0.50
Delaware 22,533 0.49
Tennessee 21,060 0.46
Nevada 20,664 0.45
Missouri 12,236 0.27
Alabama 12,225 0.26
Oklahoma 12,223 0.26
New Hampshire 11,729 0.25
Louisiana 11,603 0.25
Kentucky 11,454 0.25
Minnesota 10,807 0.23
Kansas 9,247 0.20
Oregon 8,845 0.19
New Mexico 7,964 0.17
Utah 7,182 0.16
Mississippi 5,888 0.13
Iowa 4,885 0.11
Arkansas 4,789 0.10
Alaska 4,502 0.10
Maine 4,377 0.10
West Virginia 3,701 0.08
Nebraska 3,242 0.07
DC 3,129 0.07
Idaho 2,910 0.06
Vermont 2,261 0.05
Montana 1,491 0.03
South Dakota 1,483 0.03
Wyoming 1,026 0.02
North Dakota 987 0.02
USA 4,623,716 100

Even with such movement of Puerto Ricans from traditional to non-traditional states, the Northeast continues to dominate in both concentration and population.

The largest populations of Puerto Ricans are situated in the following metropolitan areas (Source: Census 2010):

Communities with the largest Puerto Rican populations Edit

  • New York City: 723,621 Puerto Rican residents, as of 2010 [63] compared to 789,172 in 2000, decrease of 65,551 representing 8.9% of the city's total population and 32% of the city's Hispanic population, are the city's largest Hispanic group. : 121,643 Puerto Rican residents, as of 2010 [63] compared to 91,527 in 2000, increase of 30,116 representing 8.0% of the city's total population and 68% of the city's Hispanic population, are the city's largest Hispanic group.
  • Chicago: 102,703 Puerto Rican residents, as of 2010 [63] compared to 113,055 in 2000, decrease of 10,352 representing 3.8% of the city's total population and 15% of the city's Hispanic population, are the city's second largest Hispanic group.

The top 25 US communities with the highest populations of Puerto Ricans (Source: Census 2010)

    – 723,621 – 121,643 – 102,703 – 50,798 – 41,995 – 35,993 – 31,881 – 31,201 – 30,506 – 29,640 – 29,286 – 28,160 – 27,734 – 25,677 – 24,947 – 24,672 – 24,057 – 23,759 – 23,074 – 22,076 – 21,914 – 21,128 – 21,015 – 20,505 – 19,875

Communities with high percentages of Puerto Ricans Edit

The top 25 US communities with the highest percentages of Puerto Ricans as a percent of total population (Source: Census 2010)

    – 44.70% – 44.55% – 36.50% – 35.82% – 35.11% – 33.66% – 33.19% – 33.06% – 31.97% – 30.72% – 29.93% – 29.23% – 26.74% – 25.81% – 25.11% – 23.99% – 23.87% – 23.79% – 23.08% – 22.80% – 22.63% – 22.60% – 22.20% – 22.14% – 22.10%

The 10 large cities (over 200,000 in population) with the highest percentages of Puerto Rican residents include (2010 Census): [63]

Dispersion before 2000 Edit

Like other groups, the theme of "dispersal" has had a long history with the stateside Puerto Rican community. [70] More recent demographic developments appear at first blush as if the stateside Puerto Rican population has been dispersing in greater numbers. Duany had described this process as a "reconfiguration" and termed it the "nationalizing" of this community throughout the United States. [71]

New York City was the center of the stateside Puerto Rican community for most of the 20th century. However, it is not clear whether these settlement changes can be characterized as simple population dispersal. Puerto Rican population settlements today are less concentrated than they were in places like New York City, Chicago and a number of cities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

New York State has resumed its net in-migration of Puerto Rican Americans since 2006, a dramatic reversal from being the only state to register a decrease in its Puerto Rican population between 1990 and 2000. The Puerto Rican population of New York State, still the largest in the United States, is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to have increased from 1,070,558 in 2010 to 1,103,067 in 2013.

Puerto Rican migration trends since 2006 have been highly complex: New York State gained more Puerto Rican migrants from Puerto Rico (31% of the mainland total) as well as from elsewhere on the mainland (20% of interstate moves) between 2006 and 2012 than any other U.S. state, in absolute numbers, even while the southern United States gained the highest number as an overall national region. [67] Also, unlike the initial pattern of migration several decades ago, this second significant Puerto Rican migration into New York and surrounding states is being driven by movement not only into New York City proper, but also into the city's surrounding suburban areas, including areas outside New York State, especially Northern New Jersey, such that the New York City metropolitan area gained the highest number of additional Puerto Rican Americans of any metropolitan area between 2010 and 2016, from 1,177,430 in 2010 to 1,494,670 in 2016. [41]

Florida witnessed an even larger increase than New York State between 2010 and 2013, from 847,550 in 2010 to 987,663 in 2013, [72] with significant migration from Puerto Rico, as well as some migration from Chicago and New York to Florida. [67] However, most of the Puerto Rican migration to Florida has been to the central portion of the state, surrounding Orlando. Orlando and to a lesser degree Philadelphia and Tampa have witnessed large increases in their Puerto Rican populations between 2010 and 2013 and now have some of the fastest growing Puerto Rican populations in the country. According to the Pew Research Center, Puerto Rican arrivals from the island since 2000 are also less well off than earlier migrants, with lower household incomes and a greater likelihood of living in poverty. [67] After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, devastating the infrastructure of the island, New York, Florida and New Jersey were expected to be the three likeliest destinations for Puerto Rican migrants to the U.S. mainland, when premised upon family ties. [73]

Since Hurricane Maria in September 2017, about 400,000 Puerto Ricans (and counting) have left the island for the US mainland, either permanently or temporarily. Nearly half of which went to the state of Florida alone, especially to the metropolitan areas of Orlando and Miami, and to a lesser degree Tampa and Jacksonville. The other half are spreading out throughout the country, but went mostly to the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and numerous smaller cities across the US Northeast. The 2017 population count was 5.5 million, now with the migration boom due to Hurricane Maria, as well as live births taken into account, the US Puerto Rican population is now estimated at 6 million as of 2018. This drop in Puerto Rico's population resulting in the increase in the stateside Puerto Rican population, is the result of Hurricane Maria and other recent natural disasters, as well as economic decline on the island, however many Puerto Ricans have since been moving back, though not enough to reverse the population decline in Puerto Rico.

Concentration Edit

Residential segregation is a phenomenon characterizing many stateside Puerto Rican population concentrations. While blacks are the most residentially segregated group in the United States, a 2002 study shows that stateside Puerto Ricans are the most segregated among US Latinos. [74]

  • Bridgeport, Connecticut (score of 73)
  • Hartford, Connecticut (70)
  • New York City (69)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (69)
  • Newark, New Jersey (69)
  • Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, Ohio (68)

Stateside Puerto Ricans are disproportionately clustered in what has been called the "Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Washington Corridor" and in Florida along the East Coast. The U.S. Northeast Corridor, coined a "megalopolis" by geographer Jean Gottman in 1956, is the largest and most affluent urban corridor in the world, being described as a "node of wealth . [an] area where the pulse of the national economy beats loudest and the seats of power are well established." [75] With major world class universities clustered in Boston and stretching throughout this corridor, the economic and media power and international power politics in New York City and the seat of the federal government in Washington, DC, also a major global power center.

Segmentation Edit

These shifts in the relative sizes of Latino populations have also changed the role of the stateside Puerto Rican community. [76] Thus, many long-established Puerto Rican institutions have had to revise their missions (and, in some cases, change their names) to provide services and advocacy on behalf of non-Puerto Rican Latinos.

According to the 2010 US census, of the stateside Puerto Rican population, about 53.1% self-identified as white, about 8.7% self-identified as black, about 0.9% as American Indian, about 0.5% as Asian, and 36.7% as mixed or other. [63] Though over half self-identified as white, the Puerto Rican population is largely made up of multi-racials, most Puerto Ricans are mixed to varying degrees, usually of white European/North African, black West African and indigenous Taino ancestry. [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] The average genomewide individual ancestry proportions have been estimated as 56% European, 28% West African and 16% Native American. [81] However, there are significant numbers of (pure or nearly pure) blacks and whites within the Puerto Rican population as well. [83] Historically, under Spanish and American rule, Puerto Rico underwent a whitening process, in particular, the island had laws like the Regla del Sacar, in which people of mixed-race origin were identified as "white", the opposite of the one-drop rule in the United States. [79] [84] [85] [86]

Puerto Rican culture is a blend of Spanish, Taíno and West African cultures, with recent influences from the United States and neighboring Latin American and Caribbean countries. Due to Puerto Rico's status as a US territory, people in Puerto Rico have the most exposure to US culture and Puerto Ricans in the mainland United States tend to be the most "American-ized" of all major Hispanic groups. Though, 1st-generation Puerto Rico-born migrants tend to be more traditional, while people born in the US mainland of Puerto Rican ancestry tend to merge traditional Puerto Rican culture with mainland American culture.

Language Edit

The Puerto Rican variant of Spanish is mainly derived from the Spanish spoken in southern Spain and the Canary Islands. It also has noticeable influences from numerous languages, including Taíno and various West African languages. It is very similar to other Caribbean Spanish variants.

About 83% of Puerto Ricans living in the United States ages 5 and older speak English proficiently, of whom 53% are bilingual in Spanish and English, and another 30% speak only English fluently with little proficiency in Spanish. The other 17% speak only Spanish fluently and report speaking English "less than very well" with little proficiency in English, compared to 34% of Hispanics overall who report doing so. [69] [87] According to a 2014 poll, only 20% of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States speak Spanish at home, and only 78% chose to answer the poll in English instead of Spanish, significantly more than other Latino groups polled. [88]

Many first- and second- generation Puerto Ricans living in New York speak "Nuyorican English", a mix of local New York English with Puerto Rican Spanish influences, while many Puerto Ricans living in other US cities speak with a similar English accent. More Americanized Puerto Ricans speak the local English accent with little to no Spanish traces, sounding similar to other local groups including Black Americans or assimilated Italian Americans.

Religion Edit

The vast majority of Puerto Ricans in the United States are adherents of Christianity. Though, Catholics are the largest in number, there are also significant numbers of followers of numerous Protestant denominations. Protestants make up a larger proportion of the Stateside Puerto Rican population then they do of the population of Puerto Rico. Some Puerto Rican Catholics also cohesively practice Santería, a Yoruba-Catholic syncretic mix. Smaller portions of the population are non-religious. A very small number of assimilated stateside Puerto Ricans practice other religions, particularly in the inner city neighborhoods of Philadelphia and New York.

Sports Edit

The most popular sports among stateside Puerto Ricans are Baseball and Boxing, with sports like American football and Basketball also having a strong following. Roberto Clemente and Hector Camacho are some Puerto Rican sports legends. Some stateside Puerto Ricans who recently emerged as pro athletes include Carmelo Anthony and Victor Cruz.

Music Edit

Salsa and Merengue are most popular among older Puerto Ricans. However many older Puerto Ricans who were raised stateside since childhood, instead of coming at a later age, prefer Latin Freestyle and Hip Hop, usually that of the 1980s and 90s. Most popular among stateside Puerto Rican youth are Reggaeton, Latin trap and Bachata. Other genres like Hip Hop, R&B, Club, Rock and Pop are popular with Puerto Ricans who mainly use English. New York Puerto Ricans helped form many genres including Boogaloo and Salsa in the 1960s and 1970s and Hip Hop, Latin house and Latin Freestyle in the 1980s, usually with help of other ethnic groups. Some stateside Puerto Ricans who emerged as popular musicians include Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez and Big Pun.

Intermarriage Edit

Puerto Ricans have a 38.5% intermarriage rate, the highest amongst Latino groups in the United States. [89] Puerto Rican intermarriage and procreation rates are highest with Dominican Americans, another Caribbean Latino group with very similar culture, high US population numbers, and that usually live in the same neighborhoods. There are also relatively high rates with other groups such as African Americans, Jewish Americans, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Trinidadian Americans, Haitian Americans and Jamaican Americans. [65]

Contributions Edit

Numerous Puerto Ricans born and raised in the United States made notable cultural contributions in government, military, television, music, sports, art, law enforcement, modeling, education, journalism, religion, science, among other areas. Conversely, cultural ties between New York and Puerto Rico are strong. In September 2017, following the immense destruction wrought upon Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo led an aid delegation to San Juan, [90] including engineers from the New York Power Authority to help restore Puerto Rico's electrical grid [91] subsequently, on the one-year anniversary of the storm, in September 2018, Governor Cuomo announced plans for the official New York State memorial to honor the victims of Hurricane Maria, to be built in Battery Park City, Manhattan, citing the deep cultural connections shared between New Yorkers and Puerto Ricans. [92] The Hurricane Maria Memorial was unveiled on March 26, 2021 in lower Manhattan. [93]

Income Edit

The stateside Puerto Rican community has usually been characterized as being largely poor and part of the urban underclass in the United States. Studies and reports over the last fifty years or so have documented the high poverty status of this community. [94] However, the picture at the start of the 21st century also reveals significant socioeconomic progress and a community with a growing economic clout. [95] Middle-class neighborhoods predominately populated by Puerto Ricans are mostly found throughout Central Florida, including Orlando, Tampa and their suburbs. [96] Significant numbers of middle-class Puerto Ricans can also be found in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, in upper North Philadelphia, particularly around the Olney-Juniata-Lawncrest area and in Camden County, New Jersey outside the city of Camden, and in the New York City metropolitan area, particularly in the eastern portion of the Bronx and Westchester County, as well as many suburbs of Miami and Boston and throughout New Jersey and southern New England. Smaller, more scattered numbers of well-off Puerto Ricans can be seen throughout the United States, in both traditional Puerto Rican settlements in the Northeast and Midwest, and in progressive sunbelt cities of the South and West. [97]

The Latino market and remittances to Puerto Rico Edit

The combined income for stateside Puerto Ricans is a significant share of the large and growing Latino market in the United States and has been attracting increased attention from the media and the corporate sector. In the last decade or so, major corporations have discovered the so-called "urban markets" of blacks and Latinos that had been neglected for so long. This has spawned a cottage industry of marketing firms, consultants and publications that specialize in the Latino market. [ citation needed ]

One important question this raises is the degree to which stateside Puerto Ricans contribute economically to Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Planning Board estimated that remittances totaled $66 million in 1963. [98]

The full extent of the stateside Puerto Rican community's contributions to the economy of Puerto Rico is not known, but it is clearly significant. The role of remittances and investments by Latino immigrants to their home countries has reached a level that it has received much attention in the last few years, as countries like Mexico develop strategies to better leverage these large sums of money from their diasporas in their economic development planning. [99]

The income disparity between the stateside community and those living on the island is not as great as those of other Latin-American countries, and the direct connection between second-generation Puerto Ricans and their relatives is not as conducive to direct monetary support. Many Puerto Ricans still living in Puerto Rico also remit to family members who are living stateside. [ citation needed ]

Gender Edit

The average income in 2002 of stateside Puerto Rican men was $36,572, while women earned an average $30,613, 83.7 percent that of the men. Compared to all Latino groups, whites, and Asians, stateside Puerto Rican women came closer to achieving parity in income to the men of their own racial-ethnic group. In addition, stateside Puerto Rican women had incomes that were 82.3 percent that of white women, while stateside Puerto Rican men had incomes that were only 64.0 percent that of white men.

Stateside Puerto Rican women were closer to income parity with white women than were women who were Dominicans (58.7 percent), Central and South Americans (68.4 percent), but they were below Cubans (86.2 percent), "other Hispanics" (87.2 percent), blacks (83.7 percent) and Asians (107.7 percent).

Stateside Puerto Rican men were in a weaker position in comparison with men from other racial-ethnic groups. They were closer to income parity to white men than men who were Dominicans (62.3 percent) and Central and South Americans (58.3 percent). Although very close to income parity with blacks (65.5 percent), stateside Puerto Rican men fell below Mexicans (68.3 percent), Cubans (75.9 percent), other Hispanics (75.1 percent) and Asians (100.7 percent).

Educational attainment Edit

Stateside Puerto Ricans, along with other US Latinos, have experienced the long-term problem of a high school dropout rate that has resulted in relatively low educational attainment. [16]

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, while in Puerto Rico more than 20% of Hispanics have a bachelor's degree, only 16% of stateside Puerto Ricans did as of March 2012. [10]

Social issues Edit

According to U.S. Census figures, the Puerto Rican population has one of the highest poverty and incarceration rates among all ethnic groups in the United States. [100] The Puerto Rican community is also one of the most segregated ethnic groups in the country. [101] [102] [103] [104] The stateside Puerto Rican community has partnered with the African American community, particularly in cities such as New York and Philadelphia, not only because of cultural similarities, but also to combat racism and disenfranchisement of the mid to late 20th century in their communities as a unified force. [105] [106] [107] Though often perceived as largely poor, there is evidence of growing economic clout, as stated earlier. [95] [108]

The Puerto Rican community has organized itself to represent its interests in stateside political institutions for close to a century. [109] In New York City, Puerto Ricans first began running for public office in the 1920s. In 1937, they elected their first government representative, Oscar Garcia Rivera, to the New York State Assembly. [110] In Massachusetts, Puerto Rican Nelson Merced became the first Hispanic elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the first Hispanic to hold statewide office in the commonwealth. [111]

There are three Puerto Rican members of the United States House of Representatives: Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, José Enrique Serrano of New York and Nydia Velázquez of New York, complementing the one Resident Commissioner elected to that body from Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans have also been elected as mayors in three major cities: Miami, Hartford and Camden. Luis A. Quintana, born in Añasco, Puerto Rico, was sworn in as the first Latino mayor of Newark, New Jersey in November 2013, assuming the unexpired term of Cory Booker, who vacated the position to become a U.S. Senator from New Jersey. [112]

On June 26, 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican millennial, won the Democratic primary in New York's 14th congressional district covering parts of The Bronx and Queens in New York City, defeating the incumbent, Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, in what has been described as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm election season. [113] Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and has been endorsed by various politically progressive organizations and individuals. [114] She is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. [115]

There are various ways in which stateside Puerto Ricans have exercised their influence. These include protests, campaign contributions and lobbying and voting. Compared to the United States, voter participation by Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico is very large. [ citation needed ] However, many see a paradox in that this high level of voting is not echoed stateside. [116] There, Puerto Ricans have had persistently low voter registration and turnout rates, despite the relative success they have had in electing their own to significant public offices throughout the United States.

To address this problem, the government of Puerto Rico has, since the late 1980s, launched two major voter registration campaigns to increase the level of voter participation of stateside Puerto Rican. While Puerto Ricans have traditionally been concentrated in the Northeast, coordinated Latino voter registration organizations such as the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (based in the Midwest), have not concentrated in this region and have focused on the Mexican-American voter. The government of Puerto Rico has sought to fill this vacuum to insure that stateside Puerto Rican interests are well represented in the electoral process, recognizing that the increased political influence of stateside Puerto Ricans also benefits the island.

This low level of electoral participation is in sharp contrast with voting levels in Puerto Rico, which are much higher than that not only of this community, but also the United States as a whole. [117]

The reasons for the differences in Puerto Rican voter participation have been an object of much discussion, but relatively little scholarly research. [118]

Voter statistics Edit

When the relationship of various factors to the turnout rates of stateside Puerto Ricans in 2000 is examined, socioeconomic status emerges as a clear factor. [119] For example, according to the Census:

  • Income: the turnout rate for those with incomes less than $10,000 was 37.7 percent, while for those earning $75,000 and above, it was 76.7 percent.
  • Employment: 36.5 percent of the unemployed voted, versus 51.2 percent for the employed. The rate for those outside of the labor force was 50.6 percent, probably reflecting the disproportionate role of the elderly, who generally have higher turnout rates.
  • Union membership: for union members it was 51.3 percent, while for nonunion members it was 42.6 percent.
  • Housing: for homeowners it was 64.0 percent, while it was 41.8 percent for renters.

There were a number of other socio-demographic characteristics where turnout differences also existed, such as:

New York’s Puerto Ricans:Formation and Future of a New Community

New York&rsquos Puerto Rican immigrants, who have already established a community in the city larger than the population of Seattle or New Orleans, are a historical accident. When mass immigration from Europe was shut off in 1924, it seemed reasonable to expect that the last great wave of foreign immigrants had swept through the city. For a century it had taken in great numbers of Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Poles, Greeks, and other Europeans. But in 1924 it appeared that this movement had come to an end. For where were further foreign migrants to come from? The Mexicans, who did not fall within the scope of the quota law, stayed in the Southwest. The French Canadians, also outside the quota system, did not venture beyond New England.

New York City was still a magnet for migrants, but now they were English-speaking migrants, young men and women from all over the country, and Negroes from the South. For twenty years there was no considerable foreign immigration. The European refugees were relatively few in number compared to the immigrant movements of the past. The New York City public schoolteacher could always expect to have a few children from foreign countries, but the experience of whole classes, whole schools, of children who did not speak English, was, it seemed, a thing of the past.

In 1898, however, a major potential source of non-English-speaking migrants had been placed under the American flag, free from the operation of the restrictive immigration laws which came into effect in the 20&rsquos, and free, too, from the kind of administrative border controls that keep down immigration from Mexico today. Puerto Rico took a long time to discover New York. Why the beginning of mass emigration was delayed until 1945 is hard to say. From 1929 to 1939, the depression kept down immigration to this country, except in the case of political and religious refugees after that year the war made normal immigration difficult. But in 1945, with the war ended, with prosperity continuing, and with a cheap airline service operating to New York, a path from the island to the city was finally opened. In twelve years the city has been transformed. Today, almost 10 per cent of the population of New York is Puerto Rican, and the percentage will certainly continue to rise. In Puerto Rico itself, the population has more than doubled since 1898, with births exceeding deaths by 65,000 a year. There is no reason why, in a prosperous year on the mainland, Puerto Rican immigration should not go to 70,000 (as it did in 1953), and even in a relatively poor year (as in 1954) one may expect more than 20,000. But this is only one source of the increase of New York&rsquos Puerto Rican population&mdashanother is the high rate of increase of the Puerto Rican population already in New York. Any relatively young group like the New York Puerto Ricans may be expected to have an exceptionally high birth rate but the Puerto Ricans of child-bearing age have a birth rate higher than that of other New Yorkers.

New York, certainly, is only at the beginning of its Puerto Rican epoch. The majority of Puerto Rican migrants will continue to come to New York because it is a short airplane ride away, it offers a wide array of jobs to unskilled workers with no or little knowledge of English, its wage rates are good, and it is easy to go back home from New York if one wishes (and there is much movement back and forth). Indeed, New York is today more attractive to Puerto Rican migrants than it was thirteen years ago: the mere fact that 650,000 or more Puerto Ricans now live there means that it is a much better place to live for the others just arriving. It has more stores, churches, movie houses, institutions, dance halls, organizations, and newspapers run by and for Puerto Ricans. It has more employers used to Puerto Rican labor and willing to employ it. And its institutions&mdashits schools, hospitals, welfare and social services&mdashhave adapted themselves to the special needs of their new clients and are understanding of their special problems. Regardless of how things appear to the casual observer of the overcrowded Puerto Rican quarters, life in New York is far better for Puerto Ricans than it is in Puerto Rico, and far better than it was for European immigrant groups earlier.

There is sometimes an advantage to being historically exceptional: the Puerto Ricans are unquestionably better off than they would have been if they had begun their immigration in 1925 instead of 1945. For in those twenty years two things occurred in the world that transformed the way the city would meet a great wave of poor, foreign, and, to some extent, racially different migrants. Those two things were the depression and Nazism. The depression led to the creation of a great structure of special services for the poor and all those afflicted by the accidents of a modern urban society. More than that, it resulted in a change in dominant attitudes toward the poor. For twenty years the national administration was in the hands of a party dependent on the votes of the poor and the recently poor. By 1945, the experience of depression and the New Deal had convinced everyone that the poor were entitled to assistance from the government.

New York&rsquos welfare services, public and private, in 1945 were probably the best in the country. Indeed, as the old immigrant quarters emptied out, the institutions that had served them and developed rare skills in doing so found themselves with underemployed resources. In 1945 a poor family on the Lower East Side could find private institutions ready to supply an unexampled range of services&mdashday care for pre-school children, supervised play and clubs for older children, classes for adults, music lessons and art lessons, free milk, lunches, and snacks, and a great deal more.

But in addition there was the impact of Hitlerism and the Second World War, which by reaction had helped to create a sympathy for the racially different. This sympathy was not strong enough to overcome the longer established and deeply ingrained prejudice of Americans against the dark-skinned, but nevertheless it offered a great deal of competition to that older feeling and muted any easy expression of aversion. In New York City the decline of racial prejudice had been most marked. The Jewish group had strong reasons to oppose the expression of prejudice and discrimination. New York State had been the first to pass a law against discrimination in the sale of housing, and the first to pass a law against discrimination in employment the city was the first to pass a law against discrimination in the rental of housing. New York, one could fairly say, was the ideal place for foreign immigrants marked by quasi-racial characteristics (as is true of the Puerto Ricans, with their markedly Negroid and Indian features).

There was only one serious obstacle facing the Puerto Rican migrant. In 1945, and indeed until the present day, living quarters in New York were scarce and expensive. Since there had been little residential building for fifteen years before 1945, since New York was entering on a period of prosperity which severely taxed its existing housing resources&mdashhow was it possible for Puerto Ricans to find any place to live at all? This was the gravest problem they faced&mdashbut here too the fates were kind. The particularly strict rent control laws of the State of New York stimulated landlords to seek out every possible means for increasing the income from their properties. The chief means was by &ldquofurnishing&rdquo and subdividing existing apartments. Furnished rooms and apartments, &ldquohotel&rdquo rooms, new apartments gained by subdivision&mdashall were exempt to some extent from the restrictions of rent control. And so the Puerto Ricans became the first great immigrant group that did not begin its career in the traditional immigrant quarters. Even so, it was not easy for the Puerto Ricans to find places to live, but without rent control&rsquos stimulating landlords to devise new accommodations it would have been literally impossible and there might not have been any large-scale Puerto Rican immigration at all. If the Puerto Ricans found it hard to find places to live, their neighbors found it equally hard to move away. All were thus forced into a closer proximity than they might have wished, and the Puerto Ricans were unable to preempt one large area as their central settlement. They had to move in where they could. The process of subdivision brought them into middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, and for the first time the whole process of acculturation, instead of going on inside the borders of some great ghetto, took place right under the eyes of the middle classes. Even so, the Puerto Ricans have been subjected to less discrimination than any previous large immigrant group. Of course they have poorer quarters, and pay more for them&mdashbut this is mostly because they are newcomers, have little money, and are only gradually learning how to deal with New York&rsquos peculiar housing market. Of course, too, they have the inferior jobs&mdashbut again this is mostly because they are newcomers, not well educated, and often do not speak English, or speak it poorly. And of course there is widespread expression of distaste&mdashbut this is purely personal and the press and the public authorities are careful to avoid evidence of prejudice. The public authorities in particular, aware that the Puerto Ricans are citizens and may vote, are notably friendly. When we consider the impact of the West Indians in London, we may appreciate how remarkable has been New York&rsquos calm and efficiency in absorbing much greater numbers of Puerto Ricans.

Indeed, when one considers the way the older New Yorkers calmly adapt themselves to the problems of a school system that can no longer offer their children the education it did (it must devote itself to the more pressing problems of the newcomers), of neighborhoods in which overcrowding creates an insuperable garbage-disposal and noise problem, of public parks that seem to have become the preserve of the Spanish-speaking, one may well ask whether there is not something oddly quiescent about New York&rsquos acceptance of the Puerto Ricans. Is this not another case of the New Yorker&rsquos complete helplessness in the face of &ldquotrends&rdquo and &ldquodevelopments&rdquo which perpetually transform his environment and which he makes little effort to combat or to guide? I believe it is. The New Yorker is indifferent to his neighbor&mdashfor many reasons which I will not go into, for my subject is the Puerto Ricans, not the New Yorkers. And he is as indifferent to the Puerto Rican as he is to anyone else. Living right next door to an apartment house (now calling itself a &ldquohotel,&rdquo or announcing &ldquofurnished singles and doubles&rdquo), he will simply step carefully to avoid banana peels and watermelon rind, and know little and care less about the life lived within twenty feet of his apartment.

Three books have recently appeared which seek to describe and understand the life of the New York Puerto Ricans only the first in a stream that will certainly grow, they are by a journalist, an anthropologist, and a doctor. 1 They permit one to begin to outline the special characteristics of the Puerto Ricans. These books, with varying degrees of success, describe the characteristics of Puerto Rican life in New York City, and help enlighten us as to what the impact of Puerto Rican immigration on New York has been.

New York, I have suggested, has served the Puerto Ricans well&mdashby the standards that commonly prevail in such matters as mass immigration. Now I would like to turn around and ask, how well has it been served by the Puerto Ricans?

To begin with, there is one way in which the United States, and New York too, has always been well served by its immigrant groups, and the case of the Puerto Ricans is no exception: New York has a great number of dirty and poor-paying jobs which, in the absence of new immigrants who will take them because they have no alternative, must be given to the incompetent and unreliable. It is these jobs that the Puerto Ricans have taken&mdashpreparing food, clearing dishes, making beds, washing linen, all the work that must go on because New York provides entertainment and services for the rest of the nation in its restaurants and hotels. The restaurant and hotel trades are now so heavily dependent on Puerto Rican labor that it is hard to see what they would have done for help had there been no Puerto Rican migration&mdashperhaps a heavier inflow of Negroes from the South would have taken place. The Puerto Ricans have gone into other work, too, particularly light factory work, and the women have gone into the garment trades.

And yet, while we in America expect the immigrant to work hard at a dirty, ill-paying job, we do not expect him to stay at it forever, and we certainly do not expect his children to follow him in it. And we will not consider an immigrant group desirable if it is content to remain in such work. How a society is to reconcile the expectation that everyone will rise with the fact that there is an irreducible minimum of jobs which are unpleasant and poorly paid, I do not know&mdashhowever, American society has not yet been forced to this reconciliation, for even after European immigration was cut off, Mexicans, Negroes, and Puerto Ricans were available to take up the work at the bottom. Nor do I know how it is possible to reconcile a widespread racial prejudice, which makes social advance difficult, with the universal insistence that only such advance makes life worthwhile. Indeed, it is the tragedy of the Negroes that they are in this impossible situation, and the Negro crime rate is part of the result.

American society supplies two paths for this upward movement: small business and education, both relatively open to the ambitious, both requiring only small capital investments which should be available to some among even the most impoverished ethnic groups. And the two generally work together: the small improvement in the economic situation of the small shopkeeper or manufacturer permits him to maintain his children in school and permits them the more striking movement upwards that is characteristic of the second generation. This pattern has been the characteristic one for those groups&mdashsuch as the Jews and the Japanese&mdashwhich have made the most striking advance. It demands that the group should have the skills, ability, and energy to engage in business and that it should have the outlook that sees education as a good (whether for itself or as a means to better-paying jobs hardly matters), and the ability to inculcate this outlook in its children.

The Puerto Rican group in New York has already shown that it can make the first move, from work for others to self-employment, and on a fairly respectable scale. In this respect, it has already distinguished itself from the two other major migrant streams with which it has a certain kinship, the Mexican and the Negro. These latter groups have not been especially successful in moving into self-employment. Obviously, discrimination&mdashin getting credit, for example, has hampered all three groups. And yet there has been a difference among them, I think, in the ability to overcome discrimination. There are certain forms of business enterprise that involve very little capital and very little in the way of help from others&mdashall those, for example, that involve services to one&rsquos own group, such as grocery stores and restaurants adapted to the specific tastes of the group, or special agencies dealing with some need of the group&mdasharranging passage, transfer of money, and so on. A group may supply such services for itself and thus begin to collect small reserves of entrepreneurial skill and capital from which larger enterprises may grow, or it may allow these servvices to be supplied by others. The Puerto Ricans in New York supply these services for themselves. The first sign of Puerto Rican movement into a neighborhood is the bodega, or grocery store, and the store advertising pasajes&mdash tickets for trips to Puerto Rico. These are run by Puerto Ricans themselves. In the denser Puerto Rican neighborhoods, almost every retail establishment is run by Puerto Ricans. Indeed, so active are they in this respect that, as Christopher Rand points out, they will often run stores for the Negro group, despite the fact that the latter have been settled in New York far longer than the Puerto Ricans. In Chicago, where the two Spanish-speaking streams of migrants, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, meet, the Puerto Ricans, again demonstrating their entrepreneurial superiority, are much more energetic in striking out for themselves.

What explains this difference? It is one of the virtues of Rand&rsquos book that he is the first (as far as I know) to attempt to describe and explain it. The American occupation of Puerto Rico introduced a number of influences from the mainland:

American business went in and began selling American goods by American methods&mdashtoday one hears that Puerto Ricans know much more about installment buying than other Latin-Americans. They have also acquired a hunger for the gadgets money can buy. . . . Many Protestant missionaries also went to Puerto Rico from the mainland after 1898. . . .

And he quotes a sociologist on the impact of this movement:

The new missionaries . . . began presenting Christianity to the island as a religion of works&mdashlinked with uplift, change, ambition and all that&mdashrather than a religion of the status quo, as Spanish Catholicism had been. They founded schools, hospitals, and farm-improvement stations. They taught a belief in material progress. . . . In short, they implanted the so-called Protestant ethic on the island, and this led, inevitably, to things like a new middle class, a new money economy, and bigger commercial cities.

One may see how different this was from the experience of the American Negroes, freed from slavery and yet living in a society which continually impressed on them their inferiority or incapacity or the Mexican immigrants, coming from largely Indian villages and towns that had been influenced little by the Mexican national government and economy, let alone the much more active type of government and economy introduced in Puerto Rico after 1898.

What we speak of is a tendency how extensive and significant a tendency, it is not easy to say. Its causes are even more speculative. Yet it promises that within not too many years there will be a Puerto Rican middle class of some size and that middle class will represent a major step toward the solution of what New Yorkers conceive of as the Puerto Rican &ldquoproblem.&rdquo For if this middle class develops, the Puerto Ricans, despite the large dark-skinned element among them, may be looked upon as, say, Italians are today&mdashas an assimilating ethnic group, rather than a special racial group.

The development of a Puerto Rican middle class, if it occurs, may be made possible by the leaving behind of the dark-skinned members of the group in the Puerto Rican ghetto, the latter thus failing to share in the advance of the group and being assimilated in the minds of Americans&mdashand in actuality&mdashto the American Negroes. Evidence in all three books suggest such a possibility. On the other hand, if the Puerto Rican group maintains its unity&mdashas is likely, owing to its rather strong national feeling (perhaps the development of a sense of nationality binding dark-skinned and light-skinned together is another unanticipated gift of American occupation)&mdashif it remains cohesive, while one part of it rises, then we shall have a new situation in America: a dark-skinned element that is socially similar to one of the white ethnic groups. One wonders whether there will be any special burden of discrimination or prejudice that it will have to bear. I suspect not&mdashat any rate in New York, where law is rapidly wiping out the last pockets of permissible discrimination, by public or private bodies. In this case, the prejudice against Puerto Ricans may be no more severe than that against recent European immigrant groups, and then the example of a dark-skinned ethnic element akin in social status to European ethnic groups may do much to weaken prejudice against Negroes.

But is the shopkeeping propensity, about which there can be no argument, sufficient to create a Puerto Rican middle class? Is there a tendency for Puerto Ricans to go into the potentially more lucrative forms of enterprise? Do the many thousands of Puerto Rican women in the garment trades suggest the possibility of Puerto Ricans owning and managing their own small garment factories&mdasha path which many Jews trod to membership in the middle class and eventually great wealth? Is there a tendency for Puerto Ricans, again like the Jews before them, to own and manage the highly profitable rooming houses, hotels, and apartment houses in which they are now packed? Puerto Ricans would have some initial advantage in both types of business&mdashthey would know the language of their workers and tenants, they would be better acquainted with their foibles, they would be better able to get workers and tenants when these are scarce. There is no discussion in these books of this type of enterprise (though the Puerto Rican foreman in the factory employing Puerto Rican labor is already common). It would be important to know if this is happening.

However, there is evidence, unfortunately negative evidence, as to the Puerto Rican propensity to take the other great path upwards, through education. If one result of the American occupation was acquaintance with both the products and outlook of modern industry and commerce, one might well expect that another result would be a positive orientation toward education. In the U.S. itself, vast sums have always been spent on education, and the same has been true, mutatis mutandis, in the American possessions. Puerto Rico has benefited from this American propensity, and now possesses an effective system of education headed by a university that is probably one of the strongest ever developed in &ldquocolonial&rdquo territory. The Puerto Rican migrants are therefore better acquainted with the potential benefits of education than other groups have been. Dr. Padilla writes:

Among parents, formal education for their children is regarded as having a very important role in their aspirations . . . education is highly valued by all Hispanos. . . . Among recent migrants one of the foremost goals in their coming to New York is connected with educating their children to an extent they could not have achieved in Puerto Rico.

And yet: &ldquoA large number of children of migrants quit school as soon as they can get working papers or as soon as they have passed the required age for compulsory schooling.&rdquo The Puerto Ricans do indeed value schooling&mdashin this respect they are distinguished, for example, from the Mexicans yet the attitude of their children to school is not markedly different. In view of the group&rsquos strong drive for social and economic advancement, why does one not see Puerto Rican children knocking at the gates of the high schools and colleges, as other education-and mobility-oriented ethnic groups have done before them? True, there is a language problem&mdashbut other groups have had the same problem. One suspects that the language problem is more serious for the Puerto Rican group&mdashbecause of the proximity of the island, the frequent trips back and forth, the significance of Spanish as distinguishing the darker-skinned Puerto Ricans from the American Negroes.

Perhaps there are other reasons, too, for this apparent failure of the Puerto Ricans&mdashup to now&mdashto take advantage of New York&rsquos educational opportunities. Every group that emphasized education has been driven by the desire for material achievement and security. However, a rather special attitude to material gain must characterize those who take the long road of education to achieve it: an ability to defer gratification, perhaps based on the experience that gratification will not be permanently deferred. Perhaps, too, the material environment of New York is too overwhelming to permit deferment of gratification perhaps American influence in arousing a taste for material possessions in Puerto Rico has been too successful and children will not hold off leaving school to get jobs. And perhaps, for various reasons, New York schools are unrewarding and unpleasant for Puerto Rican children, though these schools have made and are making a great effort.

One is in any case at some loss to understand the failure of the Puerto Ricans to make intensive use of the educational path upwards. Yet if a sizable core of well-educated individuals fails to develop, the movement of the entire group will be seriously affected. It will possess only a small professional elite whose services will go to outsiders, it will have insufficient leaders, it will not be able to provide well-trained people for the share of public offices its voting strength should gain for it&mdashin short, it will be seriously hampered in changing from a group that is a &ldquoproblem&rdquo to a group that is a self-respecting and respected part of society. Unfortunately, we learn all too little about this aspect of things from our three books, and yet a good part of the future of the Puerto Ricans in New York (and of New York itself) depends on it.

There is another aspect of Puerto Rican experience in New York that is striking&mdashthe dependence of the Puerto Rican group on the elaborate structure of services for the poor and unfortunate that has been erected in New York City. It is of course not surprising that a new immigrant group should take advantage of whatever aid and services are available. What is surprising about the Puerto Ricans is the manner of their dependence. In the case of many Negroes in Northern cities, we may properly speak of the helpless dependence on public aid of people whose misfortunes have become too much for them. In the case of the Puerto Ricans, we must often speak of the active adaptation of a people to all the services that a modern welfare state makes possible. Among Puerto Ricans, there is less helpless dependence&mdashthough there is certainly a good deal of that&mdashand rather more of what we may call the instrumental use of welfare state services to work out the best possible life for oneself. Concretely, what this means is that state and private services are made part of the pattern of one&rsquos life, and used with all the skill one can muster to serve the general aim of &ldquoprogress.&rdquo I do not refer to relief alone. I also have in mind the special Puerto Rican attitude to the public hospitals, the police, and the various social welfare and social work agencies. Perhaps a few quotations from Dr. Padilla will suggest something of the character of this relationship:

A child who does not obey his parents . . . may be reported to a social agency. In the latter instance the parents want him placed in a school where &ldquohe will learn&rdquo and where he will be living away from the family. . . .

The individual who wants to make trouble for another with the police watches for some &ldquolegal technicality,&rdquo such as throwing garbage or water out of the window, on which to have his enemy delivered a summons. . . .

When a quarrel or dispute may possibly lead to a compromiso (a tough situation in which life or personal freedom may be risked . . .) the police are called to prevent the compromiso from burgeoning. Thus a lovers&rsquo spat may be reported to the precinct if it is interpreted as leading one of them to suicide.

Perhaps the most striking case is that of young Juan and Maria. They had had sexual relations.

The following day she told her best friend about it. . . . Her friend, a woman who had lived in New York for several years, told her she had to go to the police and inform them so that Juan would marry her. Maria went to precinct headquarters and told the desk sergeant that she had lost her virginity . . . the policeman . . . said, &ldquoThis is [statutory] rape,&rdquo and . . . she argued with him that it was not. . . . Maria [later] explained [to the anthropologist] that [as she understood it] if she accused Juan, he must then either marry her and honor her, or . . . have to go to prison.

Puerto Ricans expect and hope that the government will take an active role in the solution of personal and family problems when these become too heavy to bear, or demand some expert handling. We learn that wives will leave husbands who are cruel to them or fail to support them, knowing they can go on relief, get help with their children, or get jobs&mdashand this inevitably raises the power of women, and quite changes the relation between men and women in the family. Puerto Ricans with health problems, we learn from the excellent study of Dr. Berle (conducted in the same neighborhood investigated by an anthropological team headed by Dr. Padilla), will come to New York to take advantage of its free medical services for the poor&mdashand this becomes one of the causes producing the steady movement to New York. During the first year of migration there is a very heavy use by Puerto Rican families of hospital services, reflecting both this pattern of getting one&rsquos medical problems solved on arrival, as well as, more unfortunately, the fact that the first years after migration are likely to be those in which serious accidents occur.

When we look at this pattern in the light of the history of other ethnic groups, we recall that other migrants from agrarian and backward regions have shown a timid and even fearful approach to government and authority. The experience of a society in which one depends on a network of personal relations, largely based on kinship, to maintain security&mdashand this is the experience of the Puerto Ricans, in large part, just as it has been the experience of other migrants&mdashmakes it very difficult for one to know how to make use of those formal and bureaucratic means for maintaining or restoring security which the modern state has established. In particular, immigrants from traditional backgrounds have feared government interference with traditional family arrangements, its power to interfere with the way they handle their children, even to the extent of taking the children away and placing them in institutions. Such immigrants often fear hospitals, too, as places where parents and children might be spirited away for who knows what dread operation. But it would seem to be the case that this fear of government and bureaucracy hardly exists among the Puerto Ricans. They see government as benign and all-competent this attitude permits them to plan their lives in such a way that government and its services may play a significant role in them. Of course, there are numerous and often terrible problems of misunderstanding, incapacity, helplessness, confusion&mdashPuerto Rican families are often made miserable by the mysterious workings of bureaucracy, often come to grief in their inability to understand how to get the benefits these bureaucracies exist to dispense. And yet it is also true that the Puerto Ricans manage these things better than we might expect, and perhaps better than other immigrants in the past did.

To find out what the government allots to the indigent and troubled, and how benefits may be obtained, is no simple matter, particularly if one is not at home in the language of the government agency. It takes special skills and a good deal of time. These skills are sought out and valued by the Puerto Rican community. The store advertising pasajes will also generally indicate that the services of an abogado (lawyer) is available. &ldquoRecent migrants,&rdquo Dr. Padilla tells us, &ldquohave a strongly legalistic orientation and are very much concerned with such matters as using the legal systems to protect their rights. . . . People who &lsquoknow the country&rsquo are asked about &lsquogood&rsquo lawyers &lsquowho don&rsquot sell out&rsquo and &lsquowho talk in court.&rsquo&rdquo Elsewhere we learn that inquiries will be made about good social case-workers or investigators. There has developed within the Puerto Rican community a cadre of individuals who speak a fluent English, who dress and argue well, and are thus felt to be capable of guiding the less competent through the maze of agencies and procedure which he must thread to get relief, medical assistance, compensation for injuries, and so on.

I think it is historically something quite new that an impoverished immigrant group should see government not as an awesome power to be propitiated, or a threat to be circumvented, but as a positive good to be cultivated. As Dr. Padilla says at a number of points, the Puerto Rican acts on the premise that in this country &ldquothe law is for the worker and the poor.&rdquo Within this general orientation, of course, the Puerto Rican is well aware of the fact that not everyone is on his side. Thus, there is considerable ill-feeling between the New York police and the Puerto Rican population. The police are perhaps the arm of government that finds it hardest to accept the modern social-work, welfare-state outlook. The Puerto Rican will also encounter unsympathetic social investigators, and unsympathetic and perhaps even prejudiced hospital attendants and doctors. But this leads him not to withdraw but rather to complain, to demand his rights, to seek out other, more sympathetic, representatives of the universal good which is the state.

How may we reconcile the entrepreneurial energy and drive that we have earlier described as the heritage of American administration, with this positive attitude toward government aid that seems to be equally a part of that heritage? There is no necessary conflict&mdashexcept in terms of the mythology of free enterprise, which assumes that success is something gained in the teeth of government interference and opposition, or, at least, in an atmosphere of governmental indifference. The Puerto Rican wishes to be successful and independent. He comes to the mainland to seek &ldquoprogress.&rdquo But insofar as fate&mdashbecause of accident or illness (the common disasters of the poor and mobile), or a large family&mdashmakes it impossible to achieve this goal, he accepts the necessity of getting government assistance. It is considered improper, Dr. Padilla tells us, for a man to seek assistance if he is capable of working. Work, and progress through work, are still the first goal. However, this feeling coincides with a fairly heavy dependence on relief. This may be justified in many ways. Relief is for one&rsquos wife and children, not for oneself. Indeed, a good deal of relief for Puerto Ricans is of the supplementary assistance type, in which an income insufficient to maintain a large family is helped out by payments necessary to bring family income up to some fixed minimum. Then, too, Dr. Berle suggests, a man may interpret his failure to hold a job or get a good one as caused by illness, which will justify him in seeking and accepting government support. There are unquestionable trends in Puerto Rican attitudes that work against dependence on government&mdashin particular, a strong sense of dignity, a strong feeling about the things that shame one. But the needs of one&rsquos children, or illness, will overcome the feeling that the acceptance of relief affects one&rsquos dignity or is shameful. And under these circumstances, the Puerto Rican will address himself to the problem of getting this aid with efficiency and competence, and will on occasion even express pride in his management of the complex procedures necessary to get all the types of assistance to which a large family with insufficient income is entitled.

It is worth considering what the Puerto Rican pattern of life in New York City adds up to. Here is a group that is energetic and strongly oriented toward material progress that has positive attitudes toward education but does not seem to be able to implant them in its children that accepts as part of its outlook on life that government and private bureaucracy should play a large role in offering aid and solving individual problems. One must say that the picture is not very different from that of present-day Americans in general, except that the heritage of &ldquoself-reliance,&rdquo as against dependence on state and private bueaucracy, which today plays a largely mythical role in this country, never played much role in Puerto Rican life, and consequently places little restraint on a relatively uninhibited and instrumental use of formal agencies for aid and assistance.

The experience of the Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico itself is decisive in the establishment of these patterns their experience in New York will be decisive in either maintaining or altering them. We do not deal, as far as we know, with any immutable characteristics of a Puerto Rican &ldquonational character.&rdquo The most authoritative study of the people of Puerto Rico (The People of Puerto Rico, by Julian Steward and others) points out how varied are the circumstances under which Puerto Ricans live, how different consequently are the people in the plantation areas from those in the small-farm areas, how different the upper classes from the agricultural workers, and both from the developing middle classes. Of course, there are also common elements in Puerto Rican life&mdashthe Spanish language, certain kinds of music and dancing, certain customs. But most important in making the Puerto Ricans a single group is a common experience&mdashand the common experience of the American occupation and American influence (though it has of course affected different groups differently) has been perhaps most decisive. It explains much that we will consider &ldquotypically Puerto Rican&rdquo in New York. For example, it is responsible for the fact that the Puerto Rican experience with government has been on the whole a positive one. For decades, the role of government on the island has been all in the direction of a sound and understanding solution of problems. Economic enterprise is encouraged, the land problem is handled reasonably, taxes are low, migration is intelligently guided. Wherever its hand is visible, government has operated to alleviate misery and encourage enterprise. Why should not the Puerto Rican conceive of government as benign, intelligent, competent? One might point out that Puerto Rican society in its leading representatives sees the future of the island as dependent on the maintenance of a subtle interdependence with the United States, one in which benefits are maximized and deprivations minimized its greatest political leader is great because he manages this delicate relationship. In the same way, it would appear, the individual Puerto Rican, on the humblest level, may see his future as dependent on mobilizing the interest and good will of the proper public authorities.

We have said that the Puerto Rican is not so different from the American we might then add he is not so different from all those people in the modern world for whom government plays a decisive role. We have discovered in the last ten years with what incredible speed the ancient forms of a society may be overturned and transformed by the forces of government. The character of the oldest continuous civilization in the world has undergone such a transformation. It is not surprising that Puerto Rico, too, with a relatively weaker traditional culture than China, should be transformed by a weaker and more considerate governmental intervention. As the writers of The People of Puerto Rico point out:

Institutionalized changes have been destroying the personalized, hierarchical, and authoritarian relationships of the older hacienda system and the isolation and self-sufficiency of the small subsistence farmer. All socio-cultural segments of the island are becoming more alike in their cash-mindedness&mdashtheir dependence upon wages, the purchase of manufactured goods, the decline of home industries&mdashtheir stress on individual effort, their utilization of national health, educational and other services.

If national character has meaning in the case of Puerto Rico, it must be considered as a trend toward the values and practices of industrial civilization. . . .

I believe this is so. I have said that Puerto Ricans are, in their leading orientations, not so different from Americans. And now one must add: they are, in their leading orientations, not so different from what people everywhere are becoming under the impact of common forces which make us all more alike. In considering the potentialities of these orientations for creating a satisfying life for them in New York, we consider, in a measure, ourselves and in a measure, everyone else.

1 The Puerto Ricans, by Christopher Rand, Oxford University Press, 178 pp., $3.75 Up from Puerto Rico, by Elena Padilla, Columbia University Press, 317 pp., $5.00 Eighty Puerto Rican Families in New York City: Health and Disease Studied in Context, by Beatrice Bishop Berle, Columbia University Press, 331 pp., $4.75.