The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation

The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation

The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation

The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation

Synopsis

News media and pundits too frequently perpetuate the notion that Latinos, particularly Mexicans, are an invading force bent on reconquering land once their own and destroying the American way of life. In this book, Leo R. Chavez contests this assumption's basic tenets, offering facts to counter the many fictions about the "Latino threat." With new discussion about anchor babies, the DREAM Act, and recent anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona and other states, this expanded second edition critically investigates the stories about recent immigrants to show how prejudices are used to malign an entire population-and to define what it means to be American.

Excerpt

I would not have guessed in 2008, when the first edition of this book was published, that the story line I called the Latino Threat Narrative would become so quickly and commonly referenced in political discourse. The Latino Threat Narrative consists of a number of taken-for-granted and often-repeated assumptions about Latinos, such as that Latinos do not want to speak English; that Latinos do not want to integrate socially and culturally into the larger U.S. society; that the Mexican-origin population, in particular, is part of a grand conspiracy to take over the U.S. Southwest (the reconquista); and that Latin women are unable to control their reproductive capacities, that is, their fertility is out of control, which fuels both demographic changes and the alleged reconquista.

Advocates for reduced immigration, media pundits, and politicians pushing tough immigration laws routinely characterize Latinos, both immigrants and citizens, along the lines of the Latino Threat Narrative. For example, Pat Buchanan has warned of Mexican-origin Americans having “no desire to learn English” and creating a “nation within a nation.” Even respected scholars such as Samuel P. Huntington have espoused the Latino Threat Narrative: “Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture”; “Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway.”

Such views have exploded into politics in Arizona, Alabama, and many other states where harsh anti-immigration laws have been passed. As I will show, images and rhetoric used in the politics surrounding get-tough state laws which seek to increase surveillance of immigrants, even to the point of having . . .

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