Hardly monolithic
Mexican-heritage people distinguished by wide diversity, nuanced views about immigration

By Juan Castillo
Saturday, November 10, 2007

The rise of mixed-citizenship families in the United States amplifies the breadth of diversity of people of Mexican heritage, distinguished by varying geographic origins,immigration status, age, class, education and politics.

It also illustratesthe folly of assuming that they are of one mind about anything. Indeed, ask them how they prefer to be identified, and the answers can be just as variable: American, Mexican American, Chicano, Tejano, Hispanic, Latino.

And like Americans at large, Mexican Americans hold complex and sometimes opposing views about illegal immigration, said Jose Limón,director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas.

"A lot of people make the presumption that (this) means Mexican Americans are anti-immigrant, but mainstream America isn't necessarily anti-immigrant," Limón said.

Many Mexican Americans, he said, support expanding opportunities for immigrants to legalize their status but are concerned about border security and don't want people with criminal backgrounds to be allowed in the country.

Others take a tougher stance.

"The problem is illegal (immigration); it's not immigration," says Leonard Davila, 59, a retired postal worker. "And if there's a problem, if getting a visa takes too long, well, there's people who can change that (in Congress), but don't expect to cut in line because you're here illegally."