October 15th marked the end of Latinx Heritage Month, a month-long celebration of the cultures and contributions of the Latinx community across the United States. New Orleans is renowned for its mixture of European, African and Caribbean cultural influences. However, New Orleans has also historically been a destination for immigrants from Latin America. One unique connection New Orleans has to Latin America is one of the city’s once-booming industries: the banana trade.
New Orleans’s placement on the mouth of the Mississippi River made it one of the most important port cities in the United States. In 1933, the United Fruit Company (which dominated the banana trade in Central America and the Caribbean) moved its headquarters from Boston to New Orleans. From that point on, the banana trade created a consistent flow of immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean. During this time the Honduran population grew rapidly and became the most prominent Latinx community in the city. Parts of the metro area where these immigrants settled were even given names like “the Barrio Lempira” (named after the Honduran currency) and “Little La Ceiba” (named after a Honduran port city).
In 2000, the Honduran population had remained fairly constant for the past decades with about 8,112 Hondurans living in the metro area. After Katrina, there was an uptick in the Honduran population as immigrants came to work as day laborers to help rebuild the city. According to the 2010 census, the population had grown to about 25,000. However, Hondurans are not the only Latinx group with a strong presence in New Orleans. Today, the city is home to a “pan-Latin[x] community,” with a total population of over 76,000. Honduran, Mexican, Nicaraguan, El Salvadorian, Garifuna, Los Isleños, Cuban and Brazilian communities (among others) have all contributed to the cultural richness of the city.
New Orleans is made special because of our diversity and unique “gumbo” of cultures. However, instances of housing discrimination, particularly on the basis of national origin and immigration status have shut out Latinx people from living in the city. The Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination based on national origin and it applies to everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status. A recent poll shows that 31% of Latinx people report having faced discrimination when looking for a house or apartment. According to another study done in New York City, Latinx people are “28% less likely to have a landlord return their calls and 49% less likely to receive an offer at all,” compared to prospective white tenants.
To learn more about housing rights and immigration status, check out our past blog post. If you have been discriminated against because of your national origin or immigration status, contact our office at (877) 445-2100. We also offer Spanish language interpretation.