Ecuadorean Roots Run Deep, Here and at Home

There’s an estimated 600,000 Ecuadoreans in the tri-state area, about a third of them in New York City. (Photo via El Diario-La Prensa)

As tens of thousands of Ecuadoreans in the metro area prepare to vote in Ecuador’s general elections this Sunday, Feb. 17, El Diario-La Prensa reports extensively on this growing South American community whose numbers reach 600,000 in the tri-state area according to estimates.

In a four-part series that started February 13, El Diario reports that 67,563 Ecuadoreans from New York and New Jersey registered to vote for president and vice-president. Current president Rafael Correa is the favorite to win re-election. Voters will also elect an Ecuadorean living in the U.S. or Canada to represent them in the National Assembly back home. A story by Carmen Molina Tamacas from Feb. 14 highlights some of the community’s local milestones.

Ecuadoreans are making history in regional politics. In 2010, New York State Assemblyman Francisco Moya became the first Ecuadorean-American elected for public office in the nation. And since 2012 Gabriela Mosquera represents the Camden and Gloucester counties in the New Jersey State Assembly.

Ecuadoreans’ businesses are thriving, says Diego Muñoz [founder the Ecuadorean American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey], whose chamber has 25 members. They stand out particularly in the restaurant, travel agency, construction and food distribution sectors.

The article says there are at least 61 Ecuadorean community organizations in the tri-state area, and highlights such community leaders as Iván Freire Jr., 29, a research assistant to Mayor Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City who worked on a program to build a 35.2 miles bike lane. Freire is a third-generation Ecuadorean-American whose grandfather, Subliano Homero Freire, will turn 102 in September.

El Diario points out that the first wave of Ecuadorean immigrants arrived after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which opened the doors to immigrants from Latin America. The country’s economic crisis in the 1990s pushed a second wave of Ecuadoreans to the East Coast.

In today’s edition, reporter Carolina Ledezma profiles four successful second-generation Ecuadorean-Americans, including Francisco Moya, the son of a Vietnam veteran who got his degree in art history the same day his son of the same name got elected to the State Assembly.

Other community members profiled are Verónica Conforme, chief operating officer of the New York City Department of Education, and Neil Hernández, professor of Political Science at Hostos Community College and former commissioner from the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice.

All of them speak fondly of their parents’ American journey, but the most emotional story comes from Shirley Limongi, spokeswoman of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Shirley Limongi was an angel that saved her family from deportation. Her undocumented father was detained when he was working in a clothing factory, but when the immigration officers saw his pregnant wife, they let him go.

“When I think now about how difficult was for them to come here, to adopt a new culture without losing theirs, I better understand their sacrifices,” she said, noting that she didn’t realize that back when she was growing up. “I remember myself asking my mom to make meatloaf, and she had no idea what that was.”

On February 13, El Diario reported on the “Ecuayork” community by the numbers:

There’s 2 million Ecuadoreans in the U.S., according to figures from the U.S. Census and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. There are no exact figures but the Ecuadorean Consulate in New York estimates there’s 600,000 Ecuadoreans living in the tri-state area and for the general elections of February 17 there’s more than 70,000 people registered to vote.

There are more than 200,000 Ecuadoreans who call New York City home making them the fourth largest Latino group in the city after Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexicans.

609,762 – Ecuadoreans in the tri-state area according to the 2010 U.S. Census

$61,511 – Average family income

$310.2 million – Remittances sent from the U.S. to Ecuador every year

210,532 – Ecuadoreans in New York City

104,896 – Queens

40,227 – Brooklyn

38,534 – Bronx

71,854 – Ecuadoreans who registered to vote in the U.S. and Canada

20,640 – Registered in New York

 

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