Latino Studies Connecticut
Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, Anne Gebelein, Charlie Fuentes, Matthew Perse
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 March 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0117


New England, often imagined as the land of steady habits and racial homogeneity, has never lived up to this mythical narrative. Although the current total number of people of Latin American and Caribbean heritage and origin in New England is still small compared to other immigrant groups, the Latino population grew by 50 percent from 2000 to 2010, with Connecticut receiving more Latinos than any other New England state in the same decade. In this article, the term “Latino” is used as shorthand meant to encompass people of Latin American and Caribbean heritage and descent living—in this case—in the United States, also known as Latina/o/@/xs and including all subject positions and racial, ethnic, gender, and sexuality orientations. Without a doubt, the rapidly growing Latino population will have considerable impact on the state in the future and thus demands careful and close examination. Indeed, the shifting Latino demographics in Connecticut have much to teach us about broader national trends where the arrival and incorporation of Latin American and Caribbean migrants to new areas are reshaping social and political relations. Dating back to trade arrangements with the Connecticut Colony, Latin American and Caribbean populations have had an enduring relationship with the state. Today, US Latinos are the state’s largest ethnic minority, surpassing African Americans for the first time in 2000. Although concentrated in urban areas such as Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Latinos also live and work in rural areas throughout the state. In recent decades, Puerto Ricans, by far the state’s largest Latino population, are sharing spaces with growing Mexican and South American (especially Peruvian, Colombian, Ecuadorian, and Brazilian) communities. While most of the state’s Latinos face enduring structural challenges to economic, social, and political advancement, urban-based Puerto Ricans have managed to secure positions of power faster than any other migrant or immigrant group in the state’s history. After the post–World War II federal employment recruitment program Operation Bootstrap, Puerto Ricans in Connecticut grew from a few hundred to over 250,000 in 2010. With dense concentrations in several of the large cities, notably Harford, Puerto Ricans have taken office as mayors and state legislators. Following the research on the subject, we have organized this article into the three broad categories of politics, education, and health disparities. These categories reflect some of the realities and identify the unique characteristics of Connecticut’s Latino population. However, they also demonstrate the need for further research on this growing and diverse Latino community.

Connecticut Latinos: Regions, Demographics, and Migrations

The research of a number of nonprofit organizations has facilitated a greater understanding of Connecticut Latinos, their numbers, migration history, and contributions to the state. These include Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission of the State of CT, The Hispanic Federation, Junta for Progressive Action, and the Roper Center for Public Opinion. In addition, Dr. Ruth Glasser, Dr. José Cruz, and Orlando Rodriguez have been key scholars of Latinos in the state, and their work has been instrumental in detailing a history of Caribbean migration to Connecticut and Puerto Rican organizing and political ascendancy. From 2000 to the most recent decennial census of 2010, Connecticut’s Latino population grew from 320,323 (9.4 percent of total population) to 479,087 (13.4 percent of total population).

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