How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Nearly three-fourths of US Latinos are citizens, and other handy facts

Immigration Ceremony

Grant Slater/KPCC

A man takes his oath of citizenship at naturalization ceremony for 7,362 immigrants at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 27.

A post yesterday highlighted the basics from a new report exploring the characteristics of the nation's Latino population: Where most of them live (more than one in ten are in the Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area), who they are (65 percent nationwide are of Mexican birth or descent), and where the highest concentration of them is (Miami), along with a list of the top ten regions in the country that have the most Latino residents.

But the report where these numbers are found, released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center, goes much deeper than that. It also digs into socioeconomics, citizenship, education and other factors, and presents stark divisions that exist among the nation's most Latino cities and regions.

There's quite a bit packed into it, so I'll be breaking down the details in different posts. Among today's highlights: The Texas metro regions of San Antonio and Corpus Christi are among those boasting the highest share of Latinos who are native-born, are U.S. citizens, and are fluent English speakers. In terms of education, though, Latinos in some parts of Central California fare the worst, with roughly half lacking a high school diploma, and only a miniscule number holding college degrees.

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'America...it takes all kinds:' Author Simon Winchester on becoming a U.S. citizen

Screen shot from Amazon.com


The immigrant experiences shared in these digital pages are most often those of people whose families came to this country seeking better economic opportunities, freedom from hunger, freedom from oppression, an escape from war, or all of the above.

But what about those who come here not out of necessity, but because they fall in love with a place, an ideal? Bestselling author Simon Winchester is one of these. On July 4, the British-born writer of historical epics such as Atlantic and Krakatoa will take his oath of U.S. citizenship.

In a piece in Newsweek, Winchester writes movingly about his decision and his love affair with the United States, which began with his family's near-move from London to Tulsa, Oklahoma after his father received a job offer there. He didn't take it, but Winchester later came on his own, first as a traveler, then as a reporter. He returned here to live in the late 1990s.

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