California 38th District
One of the great population trends in the United States is the upward social movement of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the Los Angeles Basin, from crowded entry-level neighborhoods out on freeways to suburban cul-de-sacs. It is visible east and southeast of Los Angeles, in suburbs that over a generation have changed from solidly white Anglo to largely Latino. Many people here have climbed the economic ladder by working in small smokeless factories along railroad tracks and riverbeds and beneath roaring freeways, and in small business offices and stores. These workers have made Los Angeles the nation’s top metropolitan area for manufacturing, surpassing Chicago. Their values resemble those of working-class Americans of the 1960s: pro-family and traditional (L.A.-area Latinos have lower-than-average divorce rates), patriotic and hardworking (Latino males have the highest workforce participation of any measured group, and the incomes of U.S.-born Los Angeles County Latinos are at the county average).
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Many of these relatively new residents live in the 38th Congressional District of California, where the percentage of Hispanics in 2007 was 74%. This is a swath of Los Angeles County anchored by four primarily Hispanic suburbs. To the northwest is Montebello (Italian for “beautiful hill”), a working-class suburb just beyond East Los Angeles and once the site of oil drilling. Heavy traffic on the Union Pacific line from the Long Beach port has led to proposals to place the rails underground to minimize dangers and routine traffic interference. To the east is La Puente, a center of the light manufacturing economy that created thousands of jobs in the Los Angeles Basin. Increasing numbers of its small businesses are owned by Asians, Latinos, and African-Americans. Farther east is the old town of Pomona, the district’s largest city and the site of the Los Angeles County Fair. It has been troubled for decades by gang wars. To the south are Norwalk, a rail crossroad astride the Santa Ana Freeway, and Santa Fe Springs.