Many Hispanic Americans are recent immigrants from impoverished countries. Many can only find work in unskilled jobs.
With effort and education, they or their children may yet achieve middle-class prosperity.
Others have been here a long time but suffer from generations of discrimination, notably the Chicanos of the West and Southwest.
With poverty come such familiar problems as family instability, drug addiction, and crime. Gangs such as the Latin Kings (founded in the 1940s) seem like routes to status and income for some desperate Hispanic American youths.
Undocumented workers are especially likely to be poor. They often accept low wages and poor working conditions for fear that their employers will turn them in to the INS.