Cambio de Colores 2005

Latinos in Missouri:
Connecting Research to Policy and Practice
Hoy y Mañana

Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri-Columbia,
March 30, 31 & April 1st, 2005

Positioning the Heartland: Exploring the Implications of Changing Demographics on Policy

Theme: Change and Wellbeing

Moderator: Gwen Richtermeyer, Director, Business Research & Information Development Group (BRIDG), University of Missouri-Kansas City


  • Donald J. Hernández, Department of Sociology and Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, University of New York, Albany
  • Michele Waslin, Senior Immigration Analyst, National Council of La Raza

In the spirit of connecting research to policy, “Positioning the Heartland: Exploring the Implications of Changing Demographics on Policy,” opened the Cambio de Colores 2005 plenary sessions. Session co-presenter Dr. Donald J. Hernández, professor of Sociology at the University of Albany, SUNY, provided research and census data regarding the growing number of immigrant children and families in the United States, particularly in Missouri.

According to 2000 census data, 20 percent of children in the U.S. are from immigrant families, compared to 13 percent in 1990. 62 percent of these immigrant families are from Latin America. Missouri has seen a 50 to 99 percent increase in immigrant families since between 1990 and 2000.

These families, according to Hernández’s research, are often living in poverty and have at least one parent with limited English proficiency. Hernández noted that his information was somewhat inaccurate because it was recorded in 2000 and because it does not take undocumented immigrants into account.

Dr. Michele Waslin, Senior Immigration Analyst for the National Council of La Raza, connected Hernández’s research to federal, state and local immigration policy.

“The current (immigration) system is desperately broken and in need of repair,” she said, noting that a Green Card holder could wait up to 13 years to legally bring a spouse to the U.S.

Waslin spoke specifically about the increasing interest in immigration policy as an attempt to curb terrorism since September 11, 2001. Waslin said that policies such as Arizona Proposition 200 and the federal CLEAR and Real ID Acts could violate civil rights for many immigrants.

Waslin concluded the session by encouraging attendants to write government officials to prevent such policies from being implemented and to promote positive immigration reform, “so that families can be reunited, workers can be treated fairly, and people don’t have to live in the shadows.”

Day 1, Wednesday March 30. 1 PM Plenary Session.

By Rachel Higginbotham

By Rachel Higginbotham

This conference report contributed by

Mid-Missouri bilingual newspaper.