By Deborah Notkin, AILA Past President
On Thursday, Dec. 2, I served as the moderator of a panel in a program in New York sponsored by the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Northeast Chapter in association with the Colombian American Association, Ecuadorean American Association, Peruvian-American Association and Venezuelan American Association. This was the Fifth Year for this “Hispanic Market Forum” program. The goal of the event was to present an objective and concise analysis, about the new developments and trends in this important market sector. Among the topics of discussion were 1) U.S. Hispanic Market Growth and Trends 2) Economic Impact of Immigration on Consumption 3) Culture and Consumption Patterns of Immigrants and Further Generations 4) Incorporation of the Hispanic to the Mainstream Market
The distinguished panelists were Jeffrey S. Passel, Senior Research Associate, PEW Research Center. Mary Giovagnoli, Director, Immigration Policy Institute, and Douglas Darfield, Senior VP of Multicultural Measurement, The Nielsen Company. The audience was primarily those interested in marketing within the Hispanic community throughout the U.S,.
It is clear that the population of those considered “Hispanic” is growing rapidly and the panelist from the PEW Research Center indicated that this growth has more to do with domestic births than immigration. Border crossings from Mexico are way down due to the recession but the undocumented population in the U.S. isfor the most part staying in the U.S. even with the increasing adversity they face.
It was also clear from the statistics that integration into American Society as a whole was profound. Douglas Darfield of Nielsen presented the language and cultural aspects of generations of Hispanics. “Second generation” Hispanics, including those brought here at an early age tended to speak both English and Spanish fluently and the third generation were English speakers with diminishing proficiency in Spanish and a broad range of social contacts.
A film created by a partner at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, the hosts of the event, dramatically outlined the continuing growth of the billions of dollars in consumption and business creation and growth (large and small) directly emanating from the Hispanic community in the United States.
Mary Giovagnoli of IPC perked up everyone’s ears when she reported on the millions of dollars in lost revenues suffered by the State of Arizona after the passage of SB 1070. Her IPC research also indicated that Hispanic entrepreneurs were less likely than the general population to know how to find support for financing of their businesses, a fact that was of great value to the financial institutions and consultants at the event.
Although the program was not meant to focus on the plight of Hispanic immigrants not in legal status in the U.S., this factor was impossible to ignore. By the end of the meeting it was clear that, from an economic perspective, the legalization of youth through passage of the DREAM ACT, would allow this young sector to achieve their full productive capabilities and consequently contribute more fully to the economy of the U.S. And based upon the benefits of those legalized under the old Amnesty Program of 1987, it was clear that a pathway to legalization for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would greatly increase wages, consumption, new business generation and home ownership. In short, legalization would create a significant economic benefit for this country.
During the question and answer period, several in the audience expressed their frustration with television sound-bites demonizing undocumented immigrants, especially in light of the fact that surveys indicate that 80% of the U.S. population support a legalization program as an essential part of fixing our broken immigration system.