- Arts & Entertainment
- Science & Environment
- Student Life
By Victoria Piccoli. October 24, 2013 - 3:30 pm
The College of Social Sciences at the UH-Manoa along with the Migration Policy Institute, presented their study titled Newcomers to the Aloha State: Challenges and Prospects for Mexicans in Hawai’i Sept. 23-24.
The presentation was authored by Dr. Monisha Das Gupta, Sue Haglung and Dr. Jeanne Batalova, who together dedicated nearly three years of hard work to the research of this study.
The study presented unique demographic, socioeconomic, and cultural profile of Mexicans in Hawai’i.
“In 2010, Dr. Monisha Das Gupta, co-author and a professor of ethnic studies and women’s studies, came across this project (Mexicans in Hawaii) and needed a graduate research assistant, so I applied and got hired.” said Sue Haglund co-author and Ph.D. candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa and adjunct professor at HPU. “That project catapulted to doing this pilot study. And, calibrating with Migration Policy Institute and Dr. Jeanne Batalova.”
The report used qualitative surveys, in-depth interviews, and data analysis from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Haglund’s background allowed her to give the Hispanics who she interviewed the option to have the interview conducted in Spanish or English.
“It’s a huge component to have the language skills to communicate with the community, and I think that regardless of not being of Mexican origin, for I am Panamanian … when you live in the United States long enough especially when you are a newcomer the common language that bonds you to other Spanish speakers,” she said. “What I learned the most was, that you don’t have to go far from where you live to help out your community.”
The Mexican community in Hawai’i is currently served through the consulate in San Francisco, making it difficult for Mexican nationals to access consular services and keeping their identification documents updated.
“Mexicans are not well incorporated into mainstream society in terms of accessing resources and services,” said co-author Batalova. “Further, the Mexican community is divided along generational, legal status and class lines and does not necessarily share common goals and identity. Collectively, this can make it even more challenging for the Mexican community to represent itself politically and culturally.”
The study’s results and information were eye opening for some members of the local community.
“A lot goes on in our community that we do not realize and that people can be discriminated against,” said HPU psychology student Aaron Via. “And I think that everyone should be represented, and that Mexicans should have the access to a consulate.”
In the press release sent out by the Migration Policy Institute and College of Social Sciences, Hawaii’s Gov. Neil Abercrombie said, “In Hawai’i, we recognize that our diversity defines rather than divides us. These findings will inform our decisions in addressing the needs of this valued and growing facet of our community as its members contribute to our island culture and economy.”
The study was a pilot study that allowed the team, local legislature, and the Mexican consultant to see the needs of the local Hispanic communities in Hawai’i.
It also shed a new light on the Mexican community and what types of discrimination, harassment and language needs that the Hispanic communities face while in Hawai’i.
“It’s not about us, it’s about who our work can help,” Haglund said. “It’s just a beginning; we have barely scratched the surface.”