Latin American Immigration to New Jersey

Jesse Fried • Jun 14, 2017

As far as I understand it, Latin American immigration to NJ is a relatively recent phenomenon, not going back much earlier than the 1960's, and reaching a peak more recently. Now, the demographic category "Hispanic or Latino (any race)" accounts for 13% of NJ's population, reflecting a massive migration. Despite the limitations of this somewhat strange demographic designation, the indication of a massive, globally significant population shift is clear.

Many of the same neighborhoods of NJ's cities that played host to European immigrants in the early 20th century have gone on to be of service to Dominican, Colombian, Salvadoran, Peruvian, Mexican and other immigrants in more recent decades. Like their European predecessors, they often start out with very little, take relatively undesirable jobs to make a living, and maintain strong ties to their native countries. Arguably, these working class immigrants of the present face more severe barriers of discrimination, a more difficult economic climate, and fewer opportunities for social mobility than did their early 20th century predecessors.

Charting the location of every enclave of every Latin American nationality in NJ would be an interesting but very complicated project. All of NJ's major cities, and many towns, have sizeable Latin neighborhoods. Paterson, Elizabeth, Perth Amboy and many smaller cities are overwhelmingly Latin American in character.

Drive down Bergenline Ave in Hudson County and you'll get a sense of the massive scale and diversity of NJ's Latin American immigrants.