Mexican Americans (Spanish: mexicano-estadounidenses or estadounidenses de origen mexicano) are Americans of full or partial Mexican descent. In 2019, Mexican Americans comprised 11.3% of the U.S. population and 61.5% of all Latino Americans. In 2019, 71% of Mexican Americans were born in the United States, though they make up 53% of the total population of foreign-born Latino Americans and 25% of the total foreign-born population. The U.S. is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world (24% of the entire Mexican-origin population of the world), second only to Mexico itself. Most Mexican Americans reside in the Southwest (over 60% in the states of California and Texas). Many Mexican Americans [quantify] living in the United States have assimilated into U.S. culture which has made some become less connected with their culture of birth (or of their parents) and sometimes creates an identity crisis.
|10,931,939 (by birth)|
37,186,361 (by ancestry)
11.3% of total U.S. population, 2019
|Regions with significant populations|
(also emerging populations in
|Predominantly Roman Catholic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Spanish Americans, other Latino Americans|
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|Chicanos and Mexican Americans|
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Most Mexican Americans are of varying degrees of Spanish and Indigenous descent, being made up of varying Peninsular Spanish (Spaniard born in Spain that resided in the colonies of the Spanish Empire), Criollo Spanish (Spaniard settler born in the colonies of the Spanish Empire), White Mexican (after the independence of Mexico), and Mexican mestizo origin (multiracial people with a combined European and Indigenous American ancestry). Others are Indigenous primarily descended from one or more of the over 60 Indigenous groups in Mexico (approximately 200,000 people in California alone). It is estimated that approximately 10% of the current Mexican American population are descended from early Spanish and Mexican residents such as New Mexican Hispanos, Tejanos, and Californios, who became U.S. citizens in 1848 through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican–American War. Mexicans living in the United States after the treaty was signed were forced to choose between keeping their Mexican citizenship or becoming an American citizen. Few chose to leave their homes in the States. The majority of these Hispanophone populations eventually adopted English as their first language and became Americanized. Also called Hispanos, these descendants of colonial Spanish settlers from the Viceroyalty of New Spain and independent Mexico from early to middle XIX century differentiate themselves culturally from the population of Mexican Americans whose ancestors arrived in the American Southwest after the Mexican Revolution.
Although most of the Mexican American population was deemed white by the Treaty, many continued to face discrimination in the form of Anti-Mexican sentiment, rooted in the idea that Mexicans were "too Indian" to be citizens. Despite assurances to the contrary, the property rights of formerly Mexican citizens were often not honored by the U.S. government. Continuous large-scale migration, particularly after the 1910 Mexican Revolution, added to this population. During the Great Depression, many Mexican Americans were repatriated or deported to Mexico. An estimated 355,000 to 2 million people were repatriated in total, 40 to 60% of whom were American citizens - overwhelmingly children. Critical race theorist Ian Haney López, posited that in the 1930s, "community leaders promoted the term Mexican American to convey an assimilationist ideology stressing white identity" and that by the 1940s and 1950s, the community had fractured over the issue of cultural assimilation with some anti-assimilationist youth rejecting Mexican American and instead developed an "alienated pachuco culture that fashioned itself neither as Mexican nor American" while others developed a more assimilationist stance by promoting the Mexican American identity "as a white ethnic group that had little in common with African Americans." The anti-assimilationist challenge to Mexican American identity would form the basis of Chicano/a identity in the 1960s, which itself was influenced by the reclamation of Black by African Americans. Although Chicano/a had previously been used as a classist and racial slur to refer to working class Mexican American people in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, the Chicano Movement reclaimed the term to promote cultural revitalization and community empowerment in the 1960s and 1970s.
In the 1980s, following the decline of the Chicano Movement, assimilation and economic mobility became a goal of many Mexican Americans in an era of conservatism, many of whom adopted the terms Hispanic and Latino. Prior to this time, the United States Census provided no clear way for Mexican Americans to identify. On the 1980 census, the U.S. government promoted the term Hispanic while Chicano appeared as a subcategory underneath the category of Spanish/Hispanic descent. Immigration from Mexico increased greatly during the 1980s and 1990s and peaked in the mid-2000s. With the peak of immigration in the 1980s the Immigration Amnesty was passed, letting many of the Mexican immigrants get their residency in the United states. The Great Recession (2007-2009) resulted in a decline in immigration from Mexico.