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Are Latinos Assimilating Or Is America Assimilating To Them?

Hispanic Assimilation

First Posted: 12/02/11 07:33 AM ET Updated: 12/02/11 09:25 AM ET

For many immigrants arriving in the U.S., maintaining ties with their countries and cultures is becoming easier. Their countries, it seems, are coming straight to their doorstep.

Increasingly, Hispanics "have access to their cultural heritage and language through product and service offerings that are targeted to the Latino community," according to Hispanic Research Inc.

Take Pizza Patron, a new Mexican-themed pizza joint opening up in Fresno, California. "From the colorful decor to some of the pizza ingredients, which include Mexican-style chorizo sausage, Pizza Patron is committed to serving the Hispanic market," according to an article by The Business Journal.

Since 2007 all Pizza Patron restaurants accept Mexican Pesos (bills only) as payment. The Dallas-based pizzeria seeking to open franchises in predominantly Hispanic communities throughout the nation and hire bilingual managers and sales teams.

The Latino population continues to grow in the U.S. -- hitting 50.5 million people in 2010-- and to incorporate itself in the American mainstream. Yet, as more Latinos seek to keep strong bonds to their home countries and cultures, there is increasing uncertainty as to whether assimilation is in fact a possibility.

A recent study by The University of Southern California "Assimilation Tomorrow: How America's Immigrants Will Integrate by 2030", reinforces the notion that Latinos will assimilate and integrate more fully into American society in the next 20 years.

The percentage of immigrants speaking English well or very well is projected to rise from 57.5 percent in the year 2000 to 70.3 percent by 2030, according to the study.

Still, despite predictions of the future integration of Latinos in the U.S., many communities increasingly reflect their home countries.

Take, for instance, New York's Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens, under the tracks of the Roosevelt Avenue elevated train. A row of restaurants with Spanish names such as "La Nueva Colombia," "El Meson Colombiano" and "La Pequena Colombia" sell chorizo and morcilla sausage, arepas and other traditional foods from Colombia. The community is home to nearly 14,000 Colombians.

Parts of Manhattan are no different. "Hispanic families have been settling in East Harlem for decades, of course, but what's new is how they're going about changing community trends", according to Real Estate Weekly which refers to "Mexico Lindo," a bakery on Second Avenue near 116th Street in New York that sells Mexican treats.

And with newer generations of U.S.-born Latinos, assimilation will be a challenge. Instead, some predict the birth a new identity.

"This multigenerational dynamic will see more U.S. born Latinos creating a new identity and opportunities, while still nurturing their connection to their broader Spanish dominant base (many of them parents, and family)," Roberto Ramos, CEO of VOX Collective , said in a blog for HuffPost. "Spanish-dominant and recent arrivals Hispanics will still play a significant if somewhat lesser role, and they will benefit from the greater access procured by a new generation of U.S. born Latinos."

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Filed by Laura Steiner  |