Yesterday, Pew Research unveiled a giant report headlined, "A Growing Share of Latinos Get Their News in English." The study adds a new dimension to the immigration reform debate, as it found that Latin Americans are both learning English at greater rates, and increasingly investing themselves in American culture. The report makes it clear that most Latinos follow news sources in English, whether they are immigrants or were born in the United States, and are likely following the national debate on immigration.
According to the statistics, in 2012, 82% of Hispanics got at least some of their news in English, an increase from 78% in 2006, while only 68% got their news in Spanish, as opposed to 78% in 2006. Also, 32% of Latinos get their news exclusively in English (up from 22% in 2006), while only 18% restrict themselves to Spanish sources (down from 22% in 2006).
Pew discussed several demographic patterns that go hand in hand with the results, noting that Latino adults increasingly speak English proficiently (59% of respondents were deemed proficient, compared to 54% in 2006), and that the slowing of immigration means that the proportion of foreign-born Hispanics declined from 55% to 51% between 2006 and 2012. Similarly, Latino adults are, on average, spending more time in the United States than they did in the past, with an average of 20 years per person in 2011, as opposed to 17 years per person in 2006. Finally, the 800,000 United States-born Latinos who enter adulthood each year are generally very proficient in English and very culture-savvy.
The true emphasis of the poll is clear: Hispanics fully understand what's going on with immigration reform proceedings. They know that President Barack Obama is unlikely to sign a bill unless it guarantees a path to citizenship, and they are aware of the insulting demonization of immigrants by the GOP. President Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote last year, and the GOP seems unlikely to pick up any of those votes, thanks to the continual delays to immigration reform.
While Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) infamously stereotyped many immigrants as marijuana haulers last week, he did note that some Latino children go on to become valedictorians. What King didn't recognize is that, valedictorians or not, Latinos keep up with American culture, and have become much more politically astute than King or many members of the GOP imagine. Arguments against immigration reform that suggest that Latinos are either intellectually deficient or incapable of speaking English should always have been irrelevant, and now there's concrete research to prove it.