Fuerza en Diversidad: The Dynamics of Latino Immigration in the San Francisco Bay Area

091809_LAM_HILTON_Damien_264_D7H1211So, you had a great time last Friday September 18th at the Independencia event.  There was salsa, merengue, bachata, reggaeton, samba y hasta rock!   Now your feet hurt and you may be a little “tired” from all the drinking and mingling, but now looking at the pictures you are wondering, where do these people from?  People with different accents – of all shapes and sizes – represent Latinos A Morir and the collective energy of formulating a buen ambiente to celebrate the independence days of numerous Latin American countries.    You might have also noticed that LAM members reside in different countiessome come from the East Bay or the Peninsula or Marin County.  Heck, there may have been some pachangueros who came all the way from Sacramento!

But if you take a moment to look beyond social events and parties, you will see that Latinos are a growing force in the Bay Area.

If you live in San Francisco, you may be familiar with the Mission district, which is home to numerous MexicanSalvadoranNicaraguan and Guatemalan immigrants.   If you keep driving a little bit south, you will notice the Brazilian restaurants in Daly City, San Bruno and Burlingame.

Finally, if you get down to the peninsula, you may be surprised to find a growing population of South American professionals working in the Silicon Valley.

Latino populations in the Bay Area vary not only by the passport they hold, but by their time in the United States, the reasons for coming and their ability to create strong networks. The total growth of Latin America-born immigrant population has increased two fold in the past twenty years, which adds to the local population of Latin American descent – which is already in the millions. Some came with their families when they were younger, others to study and even more to work.   Regardless of their reason they migrated, Latinos are proud of their roots and yes, sometimes in certain situations (especially fútbol-related) they can be a little patriotic, but in the end, solidarity with fellow Latin Americans seems to be stronger!

Lastly, as the growth in immigration continues and by living in the United States, there is also a rise in the numbers of those interested in Latin America and its cultures.   This irreversible trend is something we should welcome, cultivate and enjoy – because in the end, friendship does not have borders.

So next time you are at another LAM event, look around you, notice la fuerza en nuestra diversidad and make new connections!  Most likely, you will probably speak to an individual with a desire to succeed – but an even stronger drive to incorporate roots and culture in his/her triumphs.