<p>Brown University will release new data on the political attitudes, values, and behaviors of Latinos in Rhode Island on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. The data was collected as part of the Latino National Survey, a national poll documenting patterns and trends about the political and social attitudes of Latino residents, the nation’s largest, fastest growing, and increasingly diverse ethnic-racial segment of the population.</p>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new report analyzing political attitudes and civic engagement of Latinos in Rhode Island will be released by Brown University on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. The report, titled Myths vs. Reality: Results From the New England Latino Survey, was authored by a research team led by Evelyn Hu-DeHart, director of Brown University's Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, and including colleagues from Brown, Roger Williams University School of Law, The Rhode Island Latino Policy Institute and Providence College. The research was made possible by a $150,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation.

The grant allowed researchers to extend to New England the Latino National Survey, a study of political and social attitudes of more than 8,600 Latino residents of the United States. The research team surveyed an additional 1,200 Latino residents of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts (citizens and non-citizens) using anonymous, bilingual telephone surveys in 2007-08. The New England survey is twice as long as some of the most extensive current national surveys, say the researchers, thus allowing them to capture Latino diversity in terms of immigration status, citizenship, national origin, gender, education, income, place of residence, and differences in state government partisanship and institutional structures.

Myths vs. Reality presents 10 common myths about the Latino community, then debunks them using the New England survey data. While the report focuses on Rhode Island’s community, the researchers highlight areas in which the findings differ from those in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Myths include “Latinos do not want to become Americans,” “Latinos are not politically active,” “Latinos drain money from the United States,” and “Latinos do not want to learn English.”

Among the findings:

  • the majority of Rhode Island Latinos plan to stay in the United States for the rest of their lives and seek to participate and blend fully into U.S. society;
  • the majority of Rhode Island Latinos are registered voters and participated in the last election;
  • Rhode Island Latinos stress both the importance of learning English as well as maintaining Spanish in their own families and in the Latino community at large;
  • the prevalence of remittances — sending money to relatives and friends outside the United States — varies widely across groups in the survey. Among U.S.-born Latinos in Rhode Island, 60 percent have never sent remittances.

“This data provides scholars, government leaders, and policy-makers with a much-needed baseline of data and understanding of this segment of the population,” said Evelyn Hu-DeHart, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and principal investigator of the study. “The information collected by this project will help overcome the current reliance on nationally based data that forces a standardization and homogenizing of Latino experiences, which is not reflective of reality.”

The research team includes Brown University’s Matthew Garcia, associate professor of American civilization; Cynthia Garcia Coll, professor of education; Jose Itzigsohn, associate professor of sociology; and Marion Orr, professor of political science. Tony Affigne, professor of political science at Providence College, and Jorge O. Elorza, associate professor of law at Roger Williams University School of Law and coordinator for The Rhode Island Latino Policy Institute, were also members of the research team. The group will release the report at a reception hosted by The Rhode Island Latino Policy Institute on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, at 6 p.m. at the Rhode Island Foundation. 

The group is also planning a national conference for fall 2009 that will bring together academic and community-based scholars and policy-makers to share and discuss this research. The Rhode Island Foundation has provided seed money for the event.

The complete report and the full data set will available online Thursday, Oct. 30, at http://www.brown.edu/race, under the Latino National Survey-New England heading.