Is the new Pope Latin American? Are anchor babies American?

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr. in his March 25th article on this website, Pope Francis is not Latino (and barely Latin American),claimed that as a child of immigrants to Argentina, albeit one born in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio could not be considered either Latino or Latin American since he is the first generation of his family born in a Latin American country.

While I would concede that Pope Francis is not Latino, since this term applies to those children born in the United States of parents from Mexico and countries further south, I would take issue with the second part of his argument that Francis is barely Latin American.

Hector’s questioning of the Pope’s “Latin American-ness” makes me think of two groups of people: the ‘Know Nothings‘ of 19th century U.S. politics who were a nativist, racist group of Protestants who looked upon the newly-arriving Catholic Irish and Germans as the tools of the Papacy bent on taking over and toppling the American democratic experiment(reflected in many ways by Pat Buchanan and his ilk today) and, more recently, those in Mexico who questioned President Vincente Fox’s “Mexican-ness” and “Latin American-ness” in the early 2000s since his parents were both children of immigrant families—his paternal grandfather being from Germany via the United States originally in the 1870s and his mother being the child of Basque parents who herself was born and emigrated from Spain with her parents as a child. Vincente Fox himself being born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico.

From reading Hector’s article, it appears that he believes in a “2nd generation rule” when it comes to being American or Mexican or Argentinian or Latin American. That is, the grandchildren of immigrants to Latin American countries or to the United States only truly deserve the titles. People like Pope Francis or my late wife, who were born to immigrants in their new homeland, are somewhat less than those who have been here at least one additional generation. So, the children of my wife’s siblings can claim the title ‘American’ but my wife and her siblings born here cannot. That seems to put Hector on the same wavelength as those who claim that, despite the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, children born of undocumented immigrants here on U.S. soil, the so-called ‘anchor babies’ should not be eligible for citizenship even if their parents have made their homes here for years and years(de facto if not de jure immigrants).

Hector is reflecting an unfortunate but truly American attitude, whether being argued as a devil’s advocate or not, in that, he argues for an attitude that I would think he would find ugly in his fellow citizens if applied to him or other Americans of Latino descent.

By Being Latino Contributor, Jeffery Cassity.  Jeffery Cassity is a mostly socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Anglo male who is involved in his local Hispanic community as the widower of a 1st generation Mexican-American woman and his active, some would say hyperactive, membership in the local Council of the League of Latin American Citizens(LULAC).


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