Immigration continues to be a priority in everyone’s agenda, and in particular in Southwest Detroit where most people are immigrants, especially Hispanics. On Thursday, March 14th, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) will hold its first meeting of the year at the Mexicantown Restaurant on Bagley Street.
The topic of this conference is Our Role in the Professional World and in the Community, and it addresses questions regarding what SHPE Detroit can do for its members, as well as for the Hispanic community in general around Metro Detroit.
21% of immigrants in Metro Detroit are Hispanic, and 78% of them believe in working hard to get ahead (compared to only 58% of US population). According to results published by the Immigration Task Force of The Chicago Council of Global Affairs Hispanic immigrants have surpassed the once largest immigrant group in Michigan (the Canadians), and hopefully this will mean a drastic improvement of our economy in the coming years.
An interesting detail about the Hispanic population in Michigan is that they are the most likely group to be LEP (Language Spoken at Home). This means that most Hispanics continue to use their native language at home (in this case Spanish), much more that immigrants from Asia or Europe.
However, according to the Pew Research Hispanic Center, Hispanics are becoming much more integrated, and are now an important part of every aspect of life in Michigan.
Over the past five years, Hispanic immigrants have begun to acquire fluent English skills at a faster pace than ever before. Pew Research surveys show that “... second generations of both groups [Asians and Hispanics] are much more likely than the immigrants to speak English; to have friends and spouses outside their ethnic or racial group, to say their group gets along well with others, and to think of themselves as a 'typical American.'"
Today, still only 1% of state legislators in Michigan are of Hispanic origin, in spite of the fact that the Hispanic population in Michigan ranks 20th in the nation, and 45% of them (196,000 people) are eligible to vote.
Since 2008, the Michigan legislature has passed 19 immigration related bills, most recently clearly in support of immigration reform.
Keeping up with the times, SHPE continuously holds events that provide the Hispanic community in Detroit valuable information and the tools to access training and opportunity. Last January, the Cesar Chavez Academy High School recently invited a team of 12 SHPE student members, both men and women, plus five student mentors to participate in the FIRST event. This year, the challenge was to design a robot that shoots Frisbees or discs into goals. Students working on this project began on January 5th, and will continue to do so until March 6th.
SHPE is also planning to present a COMPES Professional Development Conference at the Nissan Technical Center in Farmington Hills on Saturday, April 13th. The topic? “Thriving on Diversity”. The conference will address vital issues such as how to better understand the challenges that a diverse workforce implies, how to maintain technical strength, and how to further develop soft skills.