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Immigration expert targets media’s Latino prejudices

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POSTED September 25, 2009 1:42 a.m.
STOCKTON — Challenging the likes of Pat Buchanan, Latino immigration expert Leo Chavez will discuss at University of the Pacific how pundits and the media have contributed to prejudices and stereotypes used to malign Latino immigrants – particularly Mexicans – in the U.S. Chavez’s presentation will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Pacific Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

The topic stems from the central argument of Chavez’s new book, “The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens and the Nation”. Chavez argues that the media and pundits have help create a “Latino Threat Narrative” that offers an extreme portrayal of Latino immigrants as illegitimate members of society. This has created a culture of exclusion towards Latino immigrants, he says.

“The Latino Threat Narrative posits that Latinos are not like previous immigrant groups, who ultimately became part of the nation,” Chavez writes. “According to the assumptions and taken-for-granted ‘truths’ inherent in this narrative, Latinos are unwilling or incapable of integrating, of becoming part of the national community.”

In his book, Chavez argues that pundits such as Buchanan—and the media at large—nurture and perpetuate the notion that Latinos, particularly Mexicans, are an invading force bent on reconquering land once considered their own, and that Latinos are destroying the American way of life through a perceived refusal to learn English and an “out of control” birthrate.  In the book he challenges well-known authors such as Samuel Huntington, Peter Brimelow and Buchanan.

Chavez is currently an anthropology professor at the University of California, Irvine. He is also the author of the books “Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society” and “Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation.” His lecture is the keynote event for Pacific’s Latino Heritage Month celebration, which also includes presentations on the history of Latino Music and the history of National Dia De La Raza and Indigenous People Day, an immigration forum and Latino homecoming celebration for parents of Latino students.
For more information contact Arturo Ocampo at 209.946.2551.
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