E.g., 04/19/2014
E.g., 04/19/2014

Newcomers to the Aloha State: Challenges and Prospects for Mexicans in Hawai'i

This report explores the unique features of the Mexican community in the state of Hawai'i, identifying the challenges and prospects faced by a population that has grown significantly in the past two decades. The report compares this group to Mexican-origin residents on the continental U.S. and the state population overall.

Findings include that Mexicans represent a relatively small but growing population in Hawai'i, but that the community is dispersed within and across the Hawaiian islands. In addition, this community lacks common goals and a cohesive identity, which may make it more challenging for the Mexican community to represent itself politically and culturally. Despite the fact that the majority of Mexicans in Hawai'i have lawful U.S. immigration status, many feel targeted by immigration enforcement authorities. In addition, Mexican-origin residents of Hawai'i struggle economically compared to the overall population of the state, although they are fairly prosperous in comparison to their counterparts in the continental United States.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including that the state address the integration prospects of this community by expanding language access for Spanish speakers, plan for age-appropriate services for young children and elderly residents of Mexican origin, and work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure its enforcement is direct at its priority targets.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

A. Purpose and Methodology

B. Report Organization

II. Origins, Size, Growth, and Geographic Distribution

A. Historical Background

B. Demographics

C. Age and Gender Distribution

D. Place of Former Residence

E. Geographic Dispersal within Hawai'i

III. Citizenship and Legal Status

A. U.S. Citizenship and Permanent Residency

B. Legal Status

C. Mexicans Eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Initiative

D. Period of Entry

IV. Language and Education

A. English-Speaking Ability

B. Education

V. Economic Outcomes and Challenges

A. Mexicans in the Armed Forces

B. Civilian Labor Force Participation and Employment

C. The Impact of the 2007-09 Recession on the Industry of Employment

D. Economic Well-Being

VI. Building a Community: Opportunities and Challenges

A. Social Institutions as Community Building Blocks

B. Context of Reception and Integration

VII. Conclusions

A. Mexican Government

B. State of Hawai'i

C. Prospects