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The Online Newsletter of PALCUS 
Special Edition, September 2013




Should Portuguese Americans be officially classified as Hispanic/Latino?

An analysis of survey findings


Responding to a request for information regarding the attitudes of Portuguese Americans towards the possibility that this population group might be counted in Census 2020 under the "Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin", the Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS) launched a survey to gauge the sentiment of its constituency. Asked what position PALCUS would take on the issue, the Board of Directors felt strongly that it would not adopt an official position without consulting the constituency that it was created to serve.


Clearly this topic has raised much impassioned debate over the years regarding the pros and cons of classifying Portuguese Americans as "Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin".  PALCUS undertook this survey in good faith in an attempt to provide an objective view of the self-identification of Portuguese Americans. Such a survey, to our knowledge, has not been previously attempted. The results of this survey shed light on the attitudes of Portuguese Americans toward their racial and ethnic identification in America and provide a basis for further advocacy on this topic.


PALCUS now makes public the findings yielded as a result of its efforts to engage Portuguese Americans in voicing their own preferences concerning how they are classified racially and ethnically in the United States Census. PALCUS will continue to participate in the dialogue with officials of the U.S. Census Bureau to represent the opinions of its constituency.


PALCUS gratefully acknowledges the work and expertise of Dulce Maria Scott, Ph.D., Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Social Work, Criminal Justice and Family Science, Anderson University, Indiana and PALCUS research consultant, for the design of this survey, analysis of the results, and preparation of this report.  The executive summary and the full report follow.

Executive Summary:


Subject: This report analyzes the results of a survey conducted by the Portuguese American Leadership of the United States (PALCUS) which attempts to measure the attitudes of Portuguese Americans concerning the official ethnic classification attributed to them by the U.S. Census Bureau.


Methodology: A short survey questionnaire was prepared and sent to PALCUS's membership and to pertinent community organizations, which subsequently forwarded it to their respective memberships. The questionnaire was also published on various online sites and venues from February 25, 2013 through March 11, 2013. After the elimination of incomplete answers, the survey yielded 6,051 complete responses, many of which, in addition to answers to the questionnaire, included narrative comments.


Findings: Of the 6,051 complete responses, 90.2 percent of respondents indicated that  they had identified themselves as not being of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin or Non-Hispanic in the 2010 Census. Among all respondents, 83.7 percent were not in favor of Portuguese Americans being ethnically classified as Hispanic/Latino in Census 2020, 11.6 percent were in favor, and 4.5 percent were undecided.


When asked whether they identify themselves as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish, 87.2 percent indicated that they do not This sentiment is pervasive among Portuguese American respondents of all adult ages, generations, and race categories in the United States. The majority of biracial and multiracial Portuguese Americans (73.2 percent) also prefer not to be defined as Hispanic/Latino.


Of the 6,051 respondents, although only 12.8 percent identify themselves as being Hispanic/Latino, 26 percent would indicate that they were of Hispanic, Latino/Spanish origin if Portuguese were added to this ethnic category in the 2020 United States Census. Thus a small but significant percent of respondents, across all age, generation and race categories, would comply with Census procedures even though they do not identify as Latino/Hispanic.

Among those who supported the addition of Portuguese to the Hispanic/Latino/Spanish Census classification (11.6 percent), the geographical and linguistic similarities between Portugal and Spain are the main arguments that justify their position. That is, given that people from Spain can be classified as Hispanic/Latino in America, so should people from Portugal. However, for those who are opposed to the Portuguese being considered Latino/Hispanic (83.7 percent), the prevailing sentiment is that as a largely white and of European origins, Portuguese Americans should not be classified under an ethnic/racial category that was created to identity people who have origins in Central and South America.


Conclusions: The results of this survey shed light on the preference of Portuguese Americans concerning their racial and ethnic identification in United States official data and statistics, a classification that has the potential to affect their destiny and path of integration into American society. The data collected in this survey show that Portuguese Americans, who responded, overwhelmingly prefer to continue to integrate into American society as a white population of European descent rather than as part of the Hispanic/Latino population.


Recommendations: During the implementation of this survey, officials at the Census Bureau stated that this agency will not designate the Portuguese population as Hispanic/Latino in Census 2020. As such, there is no urgency at this time for the community to come together and take action to influence the Bureau's decision process. Nevertheless, PALCUS will make these findings known to the general public and to U.S. government officials to work toward ensuring that all concerned constituencies are aware of the preferences of Portuguese Americans relative to their official racial and ethnic classification in the United States of America.


Download the full survey results and analysis here.

If you have questions or comments, please contact PALCUS at 202-466-4664 or



PALCUS would like to have you as a member!


Membership in PALCUS strengthens our national voice and provides opportunities for Portuguese-Americans. Please join, renew or upgrade your membership to the next level today!


Please register and send your contribution via our website: http://palcus.org/join  OR

Mail a check payable to PALCUS, 9255 Center St., Suite 404, Manassas, VA 20110


Questions?  Contact us via email: palcus@palcus.org  or phone: (202) 466-4664.

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Email: palcus@palcus.org

Website: www.palcus.org

Phone: 202-466-4664


9255 Center St., Suite 404

Manassas, VA 20110  


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PALCUS Mission

In order to create a singular voice to advocate  for the Portuguese American and Luso-American communities at large, the Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States Inc. (PALCUS) was founded in 1991  as a 501 3 non partisan, non profit, organization headquartered in Washington D.C.
The PALCUS mission is to address domestic and international concerns of the  Portuguese American Community.
The Council conducts an expanding program of educational and public affairs activities on issues of interest to the Portuguese American community and of salience to the Luso-American Relationship.
PALCUS is committed to serving the community through increasingly active government relations efforts, the promotion of a greater awareness of ethnic accomplishments and encouraging stronger ties between Portugal and the United States. In this role PALCUS advance the community professionally, politically and culturally while working to ensure that issues directly affecting our community are addressed through our network of government and community leaders.

PALCUS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.  Donations are tax deductible to extent allowed by law.