Singer Jhené Aiko has Japanese and Dominican heritage
Singer Jhené Aiko has Japanese and Dominican heritage Creative Commons

A study by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute analyzed information from the Census Bureau over the past two decades and concluded that the number of Latino and Asian American or Pacific Islander (also known as "AAPI Latinos") rose from 350,000 to 886,000 in that period. The study also included research from the the 2000 census, as well as 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey on population characteristics for 2010 and 2022.

The population trajectory has its roots in a long history of Latino, Asian, and Pacific Islander citizens interacting while meeting labor demands in the United States. According to the study, AAPI Latinos fall into four different groups:

  • Asian immigrants from Latin America.
  • Individuals born in the United States to AAPI and Latino parents.
  • Filipinos who are perceived as ethnically ambiguous due to the Spanish colonial history endured by both the Philippines and Latin America.
  • A small community of descendants of Puerto Rican laborers who immigrated and intermarried with Native Hawaiians in the late 19th Century.

Despite the growth of the AAPI Latino population, the study says, the population is often overlooked because of the reliance on monoracial categorization and the challenges of data collection that tend to exclude multiracial and mixed ethnicities.

According to the study, "AAPI Latinos have historically straddled the line between AAPI and Latino, having to choose one identity or the other, when in reality, there should be an acknowledgment and understanding of AAPI Latinos as their own growing category."

The study also offered several insights about the socioeconomical characteristics of AAPI Latino, including:

  • AAPI Latinos are very young, with close to half under age 18.
  • Very few (5%) AAPI Latinos are noncitizens, lower than the rate of the Latino (19%) and AAPI (26%) populations.
  • Two-thirds of AAPI Latinos speak English only at home, with another one-quarter speaking at least two languages.
  • AAPI Latinos have similar levels of formal education as the overall adult population but lag behind the AAPI population.
  • AAPI Latinos' poverty and low-income rates are on par with those of the total population and slightly higher than the AAPI population.
  • The homeownership rate of AAPI Latinos lags behind both the total U.S. and the AAPI populations.

As Axios reports, some of the most notable AAPI Latinos include Japanese Dominican American singer Jhené Aiko, Chinese Mexican American U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez of New Mexico and the 2024 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry Brandon Som.

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