Latino Immigration into US: Leo Chavez

Leo Chavez, UCI professor of anthropology and Chicano/Latino studies, has been researching immigration for more than 25 years. He has written a book on the ways immigrants are represented in the media and popular discourse in the U.S. Video by Kerrin Piche Serna, University Communications.

Video: Leo Chavez: Why Immigration Reform Is So Difficult: Latinos as Threat in the Media

Are Latinos a threat to the U.S.? 

by Erin Carlyle

Growing up in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, Leo Chavez never felt less than fully American.

After all, his father’s family came to America from Spain in the early 1600s and his mother’s joined them from Mexico fourgenerations ago. His family claims as its ancestor the first Chavez to settle in the American Southwest.

But over the past few decades, Chavez, a 57-year-old anthropology professor at UC Irvine, has watched with alarm as portrayal of Latinos has pervaded popular culture and seeped into political discourse. Chavez calls this portrayal the“Latino Threat”and it goes something like this:

Latinos are a threat to the nation. Latinos have too many babies. Latinos can’t or won’t learn English. Latinos refuse to integrate. Latinos are replicating their own culture in the U.S. Latinos are part of a conspiracy to take over the American Southwest.

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