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Professor lectures on Latinos

Grace McCormack | Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California Los Angeles, addressed the implications of the United States’ increasing Latino population Monday in McKenna Hall.  

In a lecture titled “Young Latinidad and the Future of America,” Hayes-Bautista said the growing percentage of Latinos in the United States is inevitable and beneficial.

“In Texas and in California and in New Mexico, over 50 percent of the babies born are Latino,” he said. “This is the norm.”  

Latinos are also a sizable minority in other states, such as Illinois and New York, Hayes-Bautista said.

“As a whole, the state will work more, work more hours per week, use less welfare, have fewer heart attacks, have fewer cancers, have fewer strokes [as the Latino population grows],” he said.

Hayes-Bautista said his research shows these statistical shifts are largely due to cultural differences between Latinos and other Americans.

“Latinos have the highest labor force participation of any group in the country and are far more likely to start a business,” he said. “Latinos have historically very low welfare utilization rates.”

Despite their potential positive impact on the United States, the media portrays Latinos mostly negatively, Hayes-Bautista said.

“If you go home and watch the 11 o’clock news, what’s it likely to be?,” Hayes-Bautista said. “Gangs, illegal immigration, teenage moms.”

This portrayal differs largely from present Latino realities and history, Hayes-Bautista said. North America contained early Latino settlements whose people participated in past wars and helped finance the American Revolution, he said.   

“Because of Latinos, because of the values,  because of the families, because of the faith, we have always been building this country since 80 years before [the settlement of Jamestown, Va.],” he said. “Latinos have been helping to defend the freedoms of this country since 1776.”

November’s elections clearly indicate present-day Latinos will have a similarly-profound impact on the United States, Hayes-Bautista said.

“The Latino electorate stepped forward and changed the course of this nation’s history by causing the re-election of President Obama,” he said. “Not because of President Obama, but because Latinos made the difference.”