36.3 The attack on Latina/o human rights in the United States: Theoretical and methodological challenges

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 9:30 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Rogelio SENZ , College of Public Policy, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Karen Manges DOUGLAS , Sociology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
Maria Cristina MORALES , Sociology, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Latina/os are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States.  The Latino population has more than tripled in the last three decades.  They now account for one of every two persons added to the U.S. population.  Further, it is projected that the Latina/o share of the U.S. population will increase from 16% in 2010 to 30% in 2050 while that of the white population will decline from 65% to 46%.  It is this divergent demographic future that has led to the rise of policy initiatives to halt Latina/o immigration and to apprehend and deport undocumented Latina/os.

This increasingly hostile environment has threatened Latina/o basic human rights.  They are viewed as an invading threat that does not belong in this country.  The antagonism against Latina/os is driven by racism and a fear that they are encroaching on the comfortable space where whites have been advantaged due to their whiteness.

Despite attacks on Latina/o basic human rights in the U.S., there is an absence of human rights concerns in research on Latina/os.  This dearth reflects the U.S. practice of granting rights on the basis of citizenship rather than on the mere basis of being a human being.  Nonetheless, attention to human rights issues affecting Latina/os has increased after 2001 with the heightened criminalization of immigrants and militarization of the border.

This paper has several goals.  First, we provide an overview of the theoretical perspectives and sociological toolkits that scholars have employed in the study of Latina/os. Second, we provide the historical context in which whiteness became an asset for U.S. citizenship along with the racialization of Latina/os.  Third, we overview the contemporary context in which Latina/os live.  Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the sociology of Latina/os and its potential linkage to a human rights perspective.