Dominican Americans

Ramona Hernández

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Dominican Americans

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  • History of the Americas
  • US Cultural History


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Massive emigration from the Dominican Republic to the United States began in 1966. A large contingent of Dominicans left their native land between 1963 and 1965 in the wake of political instability. Many of those who left during these years belonged to the elite classes of Dominican society. In 1966, however, Dominican migration changed: it became an enormous exodus of people looking for jobs. In 1960, fewer than 10,000 Dominicans resided in the United States. By 1980, the number of Dominicans in the United States had increased to 170,817, and by 2010, to over 1.4 million, according to the US Census. The majority of Dominicans came between 1990 and 2000. During that decade, almost 300,000 Dominicans obtained permanent residence, and 90 percent of them obtained it through the Family Reunification Act of 1965. Most Dominican migrants settled in New York. In 1980, over 73 percent of Dominicans resided in the state of New York, and New York City housed close to 95 percent of that population in the United States. In 1990, Dominicans were the largest immigrant group in New York City, with a population of 332,713. Their remarkable demographic growth resulted from immigration influxes combined with high fertility rates among Dominican women. The massive arrival of Dominicans coincided with a socioeconomic restructuring in the labor market; more jobs were being created in the service sector than in any other area, and stable, unionized blue-collar manufacturing jobs were rapidly disappearing. In 1990, the growth of the Dominican population in New York City decelerated. But, the Dominican population grew fast in other states across the United States, particularly in the Northeast, California, and Alaska. Such growth created Dominican communities with vibrant businesses, a cultural presence, and an active political life. A Dominican community today shows distress and progress simultaneously. In Florida, Dominican households’ annual income in 2010 was half of the income of non-Hispanic whites; in New York, one-fourth of Dominican families lived below the poverty line, and more Dominicans were deported back than were those to all other Caribbean nations combined. Yet, Hollywood movie star Zoe Saldana became an American household name, Julissa Reynoso served as the youngest US ambassador at that time, Thomas Perez served as Assistant Attorney General for the civil rights division of the US Justice Department in the Obama administration, and Dominicans elect their own to political posts in many of the cities where they now live. The annotations reflect the above descriptions of US Dominicans. They also point out the most salient issues in Dominican scholarship, debates, and what remain unquestionable truths about the character of this group.

Article.  9380 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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