Within this umbrella term “Hispanic” there are various sub groups, usually defined by the origins of the first immigrants to the USA. Mexicans form the largest group, who make up more than half of the total, followed by the Puerto Ricans, who make up about a 10%, and then the Cubans who only represent about 3.5%. The situation is complicated by the often vague definitions and usage of the two words “Hispanic” and “Latino” or “Latina” which sometimes refer to different groups, and sometimes are used interchangeably. For the purposes of this paper the term “Hispanic Americans” will be used to refer to all those who share the cultural heritage which originated in Spain and was transported to the southern parts of the American continent. Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans are terms used to refer to people whose family origins are clearly from those particular countries. The term Latino American will be used to refer to those who have some connection with the Hispanic culture which is not specifically tied to the above named three groups. Many third and fourth generation Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic Americans have parents from more than one cultural heritage, or themseleve marry into different cultural groups and absorb much of mainstream American culture. These people lose their specific cultural ties to the home of their older relatives but many of them still retain elements of a more generalised Hispanic culture. This last group will be referred to as “Latino Americans”.
Relations between the USA and Mexico have been been economically tied together from the very beginning. In the first half of the twentieth century Mexicans arrived in large numbers seeking a better life and at first their focus was to recreate their homeland family and religious life in the cities of the southern states of America. The Depression of the 1920s resulted in rates of immigration being curbed for a time, and this allowed