Academic journal article The Journal of Latino - Latin American Studies

The International Politics of a New Latino America: The Foreign Policy Preferences of Latinos and the National Interest*

Academic journal article The Journal of Latino - Latin American Studies

The International Politics of a New Latino America: The Foreign Policy Preferences of Latinos and the National Interest*

Article excerpt

Latinos are very thin regarding their involvement in US foreign policy and a plea was made that Latinos become more involved, indeed, that they cannot help but be more involved in the future. (Orozco and Wainer 2002.)

Introduction

Latino/Hispanic-Americans are the largest growing segment of the United States population.1 Over the last 30 years, the Latino population has tripled.2 Latino voter registration continues to increase with each national election, and there are still many more Latinos that have not bothered to begin the voter registration process. It is clear the Latino segment of the population is growing, and its impact on society needs to be understood empirically.

As the culture and society of America is being transformed with an influx of Latino immigration and the entrenchment of traditional migration sources, we are left with many unanswered questions regarding the course of American Politics and public opinion. Foremost among them, and widely neglected to this point, is the impact of a greater Latino population on the United States' foreign relations.3 What preferences will this group have, especially when compared to the American public-at-large? Will they be traditional or diverge from American public opinion at large? Critics of the Latino group contend that the group's disloyalty will shift the focus away from important American foreign policy concerns and will eventually bring down the state. This paper attempts to sort out Latino interests by looking at their current preferences in comparison with Anglos. Furthermore, it calls for research that can best categorize what might be called a Latino foreign relations mindset.

The question of Latino external preferences is important due to suggestions of disloyalty by academics and pundits alike. Samuel Huntington holds that the proliferation of Latinos will degrade the traditional national character of America and thus harm the state's national security (Huntington 2004a; 2004b). To put it more starkly (not to suggest that Huntington is linked to this faction), the Arizona Minuteman Project expresses its concerns bluntly on its webpage: "Future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation-state as a harmonious melting pot."4 Does an increase in the Latino population spell death for this nation-state?

The realities of Latino preferences are relatively unexplored and we have been presented with snap judgments about what in reality are complex preference formations among the Latino population. We must first begin to understand what the group thinks as a whole. In the future, we may seek to understand the diversity and complexity within the Latino ethnic group, for now it is important we understand the group as a collective and compare the group's preferences to the preferences of the rest of the American population. This comparison will take the form of a two-stage question. First, we must understand what the Latino group prescribes for foreign policy action and whether or not the goals they advocate differ from the general population. The second stage asks what response the Latino group displays when confronted with ongoing security operations. So we must ask, did Latinos view Iraq as a security threat like most of the American society prior to 2003 and do they support the War in Iraq once it began?

Most seem to assume that Latinos will look towards Latin America where foreign policy issues are concerned. The view is that Latinos are tied to their cultural homeland. Is this perception accurate? This research shows that Latino voters have similar opinions to the public, especially by those Latinos born in the United States. Is there a lack of support for American foreign policy preferences among the Latino community? In our appreciation, I contend, it would not be likely to find the disloyalty suggested by critics of Latino opinions. …

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