Lehman College launches Mexican Studies Institute

David Hayes-Bautista, of UCLA, was the keynote speaker at the Mexican Studies Institute launch at Lehman College on Friday, May 11.
Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

The “minority” has now become the majority.

With about 88,000 Mexicans in the Bronx, they now have a place to call their own.

The CUNY Mexican Studies Institute , the first center of its kind east of the Mississippi, was launched at Lehman College on Friday, May 11 with a public conference focusing on health advantages and disadvantages experienced by the growing Mexican population.

The launch of the program comes at a significant time as the number of Mexicans living in the city has jumped from 58,000 in 1990 to more than 340,000 in 2010, according to the 2012 census.

In a census brief done by the New York City Department of City Planning, a neighborhood tabulation done of the E. Tremont area showed the Puerto Rican population declined by 11 percent, and Mexican population increased by 171 percent.

The launch also comes at a time when the federal immigration and Customs Enforcement agency acting through the FBI will begin using fingerprints from NYPD arrests to round up illegal immigrants.

Despite objections from Governor Andrew Cuomo and other city officials, the NYPD was informed, along with local police departments in New York, that the Secure Communities program will be activated this week across the state.

There are currently about 167 Mexican-American students registered at Lehman college, but Alyshia Galvez, of Lehman’s Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican studies thinks there are probably more who have not self identified.

The center’s goal will be to provide a place for demographic and academic research, as well as cultural events and forums.

“Mexican immigrants arrive in the United States, on average, in better health than most Americans, and continue to enjoy better outcomes despite their difficulties in accessing health care,” said Galvez.

“But their children do not fare as well.”

Galvez said that first generation Mexicans begin to experience the same conditions that afflict the U.S. as a whole including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

The conference, entitled “¡Salud! Beyond Deficits and Paradoxes in Mexican Immigration and Health,” brought in experts on Mexican immigration and health.

Speakers included Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of medicine, as well as experts from the University of Minnesota, the University of California at Berkeley, Rutgers University, SUNY Albany, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

“The number of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in New York City, as of 2010, was close to 350,000 and growing,” said Lehman President Ricardo Fernåndez.

“Lehman College is proud to provide a home for this important CUNY initiative, which will focus on both academics and service, providing a hub for research and advocacy projects throughout the University and the region.”

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