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Conversatorios about Inequality and Social Mobility in the Latino Community
Analytical Summary

Authors: Lourdes Gouveia, Jasney Cogua-Lopez, Claudia Lucero, Claudia García and Yuriko Doku
Complete Summary: PDF
Leer el resumen completo en español: PDF

OLLAS has reported on the socio-economic characteristics of Latinos in Omaha and Nebraska for many years. For the past couple of years, OLLAS and other organizations have shared concerns about the barriers that may block the full deployment of this population’s talents and abilities, and their full and equitable integration into the city of Omaha. To explore these concerns, we organized a series of conversations (conversatorios) in March 2015 with proportionate participation of Latinos at the grassroots and in leadership positions. Eventually, these conversations were to be extended to include a wider array of stakeholders from the larger community. Read the summary of these conversations...


OLLAS Reports

Latinos throughout the City: A Snapshot of Socio-demographic Differences in Omaha, Nebraska
Authors: Jasney Cogua-Lopez, Lissette Aliaga-Linares, and Lourdes Gouveia

Date: December 2015
Complete Report: PDF (English)
Leer el reporte en español: PDF

Researchers from OLLAS have released a new report detailing the demographic makeup of Latinos throughout Omaha. This is the first detailed analysis of the trends of Latinos living in various parts of the entire city. It confirms and challenges generalizations that are frequently made about this population in Omaha.

The report chronicles the dispersion of Latinos throughout the city and their increasing diversity. This publication highlights that geographic location is predictably tied to socioeconomic conditions. The farther west in the city Latinos live, the more advantaged they are. This pattern also holds true for indicators such as educational attainment, income and occupation. However, it is not necessarily as straightforward as that... Read more...


A Demographic Portrait of the Mexican-Origin Population in Nebraska
Author: Lissette Aliaga Linares

Date: September 2014
Complete Report: PDF (English)
Leer el reporte en español: PDF

A study released from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS) chronicles the current state of Mexican-origin residents of Nebraska, finding that while the numbers of immigrants moving into Nebraska has slowed in recent years, the population continues to grow and become more a part of the state’s demographic makeup.

The study, which was also funded in part by the Sherwood Foundation, examined more than a century of census data from the United States, finding that the more than 140,000 Mexican-origin residents in Nebraska as of 2012 has rapidly increased since 1910 when there were less than 300 Mexicans living across the state. Read more...


Latino Businesses in Nebraska: A Preliminary Look
Author: Lissette Aliaga Linares

Date: March 2014
Complete Report: PDF (English)
Resumen ejecutivo en español: PDF (Spanish)

A report released by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) shows that while the number of Latino-owned businesses in Nebraska are growing, they are also the least likely to survive or expand.  

According to the report, which utilizes data from the public use microdata sample compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007, while the 3,063 Latino-owned businesses make up just 1.9 percent of businesses in Nebraska, those same businesses have come to represent the largest share of minority-owned firms in the state at 53 percent, which is nearly double the number that existed a decade prior in 1997. Read more...



Invisible & Voiceless: Latinos in Council Bluffs Iowa
Authors: María Teresa Gastón, Lourdes Gouveia, Christian Espinosa, Clare Maakestad, Christopher C. Blue

Date: November 2013
Complete Report: PDF (English)
Executive Summary: PDF (English) PDF (Spanish)

While Latino immigrant workers in Council Bluffs, Iowa have contributed significantly to the Iowa and Nebraska economies, they remain virtually invisible and lack a voice in the city’s key venues and institutions – this according to a new report being released by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) and funded in part by the Iowa West Foundation.

The report, titled “Invisible & Voiceless” combines data from the 2010 Census with 26 interviews with members of Council Bluffs’ civic, government, education, religious, non-profit and business communities as well as Latino voices gathered at interviews and a small number of Spanish-language workshops and focus groups. Read more...


Health Profile of Nebraska's Latino Population
Authors: Athena Ramos, Shireen Rajaram, Lourdes Gouveia, Yuriko Doku Drissa Toure, Anthony Zhang and Sondra Manske


Date: March 2013
Complete Report: PDF (English)
Executive Summary: PDF (English) PDF (español)

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS) has released a report and policy brief, in conjunction with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), describing the serious health problems facing the growing Latino and immigrant populations in Nebraska and Iowa, particularly the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. Read more...


The Economic Impact of Latin American & Other Immigrants
Iowa, Nebraska and the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area
Authors: Christopher Decker with Jerry Deichert and Lourdes Gouveia


Date: November 2012
Complete Report: PDF (English)
Executive Summary: PDF (English)
Resumen y manual de aprendizaje: PDF (español)

Although recent research from the Pew Hispanic Center suggests that the rate of recent immigration to the United States has slowed considerably, other studies clearly show that immigrants make substantial economic contributions to the communities in which they settle.

This report focuses attention on the quantitative economic impact of first-generation, foreign-born individuals on the Omaha-Council Bluffs economy as well as the Nebraska and Iowa state economies in 2010. Read more...

The Omaha Site: Migrant Civil Society Under Construction
Series on Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement
Authors: Lourdes Gouveia, Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Yuriko Doku, Alejandra Toledo, and Sergio Sosa


Date: May 2010
Complete Report: PDF (English) PDF (español)

Omaha was one of nine cities in the United States chosen by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars to explore immigrant civic and political participation. Lourdes Gouveia and the OLLAS team, along with Sergio Sosa of the Heartland Workers Center, produced this bilingual report based on interviews and a round table with broad-based participation by the immigrant and Latino community.

Omaha es una de las nueve ciudades en los Estados Unidos que fué escogida por el Centro Internacional Woodrow Wilson para Académicos con el fin de examinar la participación cívica y política de los migrantes.  Lourdes Gouveia con el equipo de OLLAS y Sergio Sosa del Centro Laboral, produjeron este informe bilingüe basado en entrevistas y una mesa redonda con una amplia participación de la comunidad migrante y Latina.

Project Animate: Promoting Student Civic Participation through Latino Voter Mobilization
OLLAS Report No. 6

Author: Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado


Date: December 15, 2009
Complete Report: PDF

This project sought to expand voter outreach and mobilization of new registered and Latino voters through a series of activities in the greater Omaha metropolitan area. Following the successful development of a voter mobilization project undertaken in the 2006 election cycle, this project conducted door-to-door canvassing activities utilizing students to distribute nonpartisan voter information and engage in “get out the vote” activities with new Latino registered voters.

Nebraska’s Immigrant Population: Economic and Fiscal Impacts
OLLAS Report No. 5

Author: Christopher Decker with Jerry Deichert and Lourdes Gouveia


Date: October 12, 2008
Complete Report: PDF

Immigration issues have once again assumed center stage in policy circles at every level of government in the United States, as the number of new immigrants, many undocumented and many from Latin American nations, has risen markedly in recent years. This is certainly true in Nebraska. According to US Census figures for 2000, the total immigrant population in Nebraska was estimated to be 74,638. By 2006, this figure had risen to 99,500, a 33.3 percent increase. By comparison, the total native-born population in the state grew less than 2.0 percent over the same six-year period.

This study attempts to quantitatively measure the impact of the state’s immigrant population on the Nebraska economy, with some attention paid to Latin American immigrant groups.

Religion and Community: Mexican Americans in South Omaha (1900-1980)
OLLAS Report No. 4
Author: Maria Arbelaez

Date: April 2007
Complete Report: PDF

Mexicans, like all other ethnic groups that created the United States as a nation of immigrants, were adamant in establishing churches of their own. Ethnic religious affiliations were essentially of Judeo-Christian origin and benefited effectively from the tolerance of worship mandated by the Constitution. Freedom of belief was known, demanded, and exercised by all immigrants. For Mexican and other ethnic communities, religious belief and centers of worship were the very heart of their community and identity bonds, their source of strength and reason to persevere in a new society where multiple nationalities, cultures, languages, and ethnicities converged.

This report provides a historical account of three Christian churches in South Omaha: the Virgin of Guadalupe Catholic Church, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and the First Assembly of God Church. Chronologically, the congregations were organized between 1918 and 1948. These churches first were small community gatherings in family sitting rooms and rented shops. All of them were and still are located in South Omaha, and all were established by the Mexican community. Today these churches serve all those who reside in the area or attend ceremonies and rituals: old and new Latinos, the most recent generations of immigrants (Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Poles, Russian, Lithuanians, et al.), and recent refugee communities from Africa.

Latino Political Participation in Nebraska: The Challenge of Enhancing Voter Mobilization and Representation
OLLAS Report No. 3
Author: Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado

Date: October 2006
Complete Report: PDF

This OLLAS policy brief seeks to enhance basic information regarding the role Latinos will play in shaping the future of politics in Nebraska in the short and medium term. Because issues such as immigration policy, fair housing, labor practices, and public education have risen to the top of the political agenda nationally and statewide, and because these issues most directly impact the lives of Nebraska’s growing Latino constituencies legitimately, we must consider to what extent Latino stakeholders can shape the debate and articulate acceptable policy responses to these matters.

How effectively these issues are dealt with will have major implications for all Nebraskans. This report sets out the basic parameters for an initial analysis of Latinos' political participation in Nebraska. In order to arrive at a more conclusive statement, we must continue to gather data and engage in multiple discussions. Nevertheless, we hope this report will begin to inform a broader conversation on Latino and immigrant political participation across Nebraska.

Examining the Impact of Parental Involvement in a Dual Language Program: Implications for Children and Schools
OLLAS Report No. 2

Authors: J. F. Casas, C. S. Ryan, L. Kelly-Vance, B. O. Ryalls, A. Ferguson, and C. L. Nero

Date: August 2005
Complete Report: PDF

This study focuses on a dual language (Spanish-English) program in the Omaha Public Schools. Dual language programs are programs in which children develop proficiency in two languages simultaneously. These programs are currently seen as the gold standard second language education because of the large amount of empirical support they have received with respect to children’s academic gains. All of the dual language classrooms are comprised of half native English speakers and half Spanish speakers.

Parental involvement has received much empirical attention with respect to traditional school programs; however, little is known about the role of parental involvement in dual language programs (Lindholm-Leary, 2001). Systematically studying dual language programs is an especially important area of investigation because of the latest census trends and because barriers to parental involvement for language minority children are likely to differ from those of language majority children.

For a list of additional publications produced from this project, please visit the Faculty Publications page on the OLLAS website.

Educational Achievement and the Successful Integration of Latinos in Nebraska: A Statistical Profile to Inform Policies and Programs
OLLAS Report No. 1

Authors: Lourdes Gouveia and Mary Ann Powell

Date: March 2005
Executive Report: PDF
Complete Report: PDF

Resumen Ejecutivo en Español: PDF
(Translation provided by El Perico weekly bilingual newspaper)

The unprecedented and continuous growth of the Latino population in Nebraka compels us to engage in institutional changes, comprehensive policy reforms, and innovative programs that enhance the productive integration of this population into our state. As an abundant body of research and informed practices make clear, education is the bedrock of successful integration for current and future generations of Latinos. No longer can a job, obtained without a high school or college education, provide the opportunities it may have once provided to older generations of Americans or, for that matter, first-generation immigrants. The latter tend to measure their socioeconomic success relative to conditions of unemployment and below-poverty wages they may have left behind. Their children’s socioeconomic mobility will hinge on educational attainment in this country.

This report was prepared by OLLAS at the request of the State of Nebraska Mexican American Commission (MAC). It is, in part, an update of earlier reports prepared for the commission by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Its main contribution is as a resource for program managers and policymakers in formulating policies and innovative programs to address the recalcitrant educational gap affecting the Latino population. The report combines of census and educational data and our analysis is grounded in current sociological and educational research.

The Development of Mexican Nonproliferation Export Controls
CITS Special Report

Author: Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado
Date: December 2004
Complete Report: PDF

This report by OLLAS assistant director Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado is part of a developing research and outreach project with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia. It involved working with Mexican government officials to design and implement national responses to international agreements and obligations to ensure command and control of critical nuclear, biological, and chemical materials in Mexico. Dr. Benjamin-Alvarado conducted a comprehensive survey, which he administered in Argentina and Cuba previously, later in 2005 to assess Mexican export controls.

The Integration of the Hispanic/Latino Immigrant Workforce
State of Nebraska Mexican American Commission Project Report

Authors: Miguel A. Carranza and Lourdes Gouveia
Date: May 2002
Complete Report:

The main purpose of the study was to explore the degree to which Latino newcomers are being effectively and positively integrated into the economic, social, and political lives and institutions of the state and local communities. The project consisted of three phases. The first was based on analysis of Census 2000 figures, government documents, media archives, and published research. The second phase developed a survey questionnaire mailed to a wide array of agencies and organizations directly or indirectly charged with integrating newcomer populations. In the third phase we conducted focus groups with newcomers and key organizations in three Nebraska communities. This project represents an important step by Nebraska to address the serious dearth of research on the state’s Latino population.

In January 2000, Legislative Bill 1363 was introduced to the Nebraska legislature by a group of seventeen state senators. The purpose of LB 1363 was to create the Task Force on the Productive Integration of the Immigrant Workforce Population. As part of its initiative, the Task Force held a series of public hearings that gave individual citizens across the state an opportunity to express their views and ideas about the opportunities and challenges "oldtimers" and new arrivals to Nebraska face as a result of an increasing immigrant workforce population in their respective communities. The second component of the initiative was to sponsor a research study on this same topic. The authors were selected by the State of Nebraska's Mexican American Commission, the result of which is the above report.

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OLLAS Data Series

In January 2010, the OLLAS Data Series was launched in an effort to provide useful reference tools for community organizations, policy‐makers, students and scholars seeking to understand changing demographic trends. The data series will focus on the Latino and foreign‐born population in Nebraska and across borders.

Demographic and Socio-Economic Trends

1. Latino Voting Eligibility in Nebraska


The Office of Latino/Latin American Studies of the Great Plains (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) has released a data brief examining the extent to which Latinos in the state – and within specific districts and counties – are eligible to vote. The brief, coauthored by Lourdes Gouveia and Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, utilizes estimates from both the 2010 Census and the recently published data from the 2005-09 American Community Survey (ACS). Unlike the 2010 Census, the ACS includes questions about citizenship, which allowed the authors to estimate the percentage of Latinos of voting age, or near-voting age, who are citizens and thus eligible to vote in forthcoming elections. "The report, which is suggestive of the potential impact of Latino population growth in future elections, is also particularly timely because Nebraska legislators will be engaged in a lively discussion about redistricting in the coming weeks and months," Gouveia said. "These are important decisions where party politics often play a significant role and where minority populations’ impact on future elections could be diluted if their numbers are seriously split across district boundaries." Leer el reporte en Español ►


2. Nebraska's Foreign-Born and Hispanic/Latino Population: Socio-Economic Trends, 2009

This is the second report in the OLLAS’ data series entitled “Demographic and Socio-Economic Trends.” The first report can be located on the OLLAS website. The data series focuses on the Latino and foreign-born populations in Nebraska and comparisons with other population groups. The bulk of the data for this report comes from the American Community Survey (ACS). In some cases, however, data are unavailable in the single-year American Community Survey releases. For this report, we have used data from the 2000 U.S. Census and from the three-year estimates, 2006-2008 ACS, in addition to the 2009 data. We also include a few tables comparing socio-economic changes between 2008 and 2009 in order to offer a glimpse as to how the recent economic crisis, which began just before the start of 2008, affected these various population groups.


3. Nebraska's Foreign-Born and Hispanic/Latino Population: Demographic Trends, 1990-2008

The first report in the OLLAS Data Series, entitled “Demographic and Socio-Economic Trends,” documents the demographic changes experienced by Nebraska’s foreign-born population as a whole and the Hispanic/Latino population in particular, since at least 1990. It utilizes data from the U.S. decennial censuses.  The bulk of the report is based on OLLAS tabulations gleaned from the 2008 American Community Survey.


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OLLAS Policy Briefs


Hispanic Entrepreneurship in Nebraska: Trends and Economic Profile

Author: Lissette Aliaga Linares
Date: December 2014
Full Text: PDF

The growth of the Hispanic population in Nebraska was accompanied by a significant increase in Hispanic entrepreneurship at the beginning of the 2000s. From 2002 to 2007, the 3,065 Hispanic-owned businesses constituted a small but dynamic and resilient segment of business growth in the state. Did participation in self-employment decrease for Hispanics after the economic crisis of 2008? What are the characteristics of Hispanic-owned businesses and Hispanics business-owners in Nebraska? Do some of these characteristics reveal social or economic barriers that could prevent these businesses from succeeding? Read more...


The Impact of Health Reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Latinos and Immigrants in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area

Authors: Jim P. Stimpson, Kelly Shaw-Sutherland and Yang Wang
Date: March 2013
Full Text: PDF (English) PDF (español)

This policy brief presents evidence for major barriers to access medical care for Latinos and immigrants and the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve health insurance coverage. The brief also outlines some potential solutions. Read more...


In the Balance: Immigrant Economic Contributions and the Advancement of Human Rights in Nebraska
OLLAS Policy Brief No. 1
Authors: Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado and Lourdes Gouveia
Date: October 2008
Full Text: PDF (English) PDF (español)



The Health-Care Debate and Nebraska's Latino and Immigrant Populations
OLLAS Policy Brief No. 2
Authors: Lourdes Gouveia with Yuriko Doku
Date: October 2009
Full Text: PDF





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OLLAS Fact Sheets

Demographic Characteristics of the Latino Population in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area
Authors: Lourdes Gouveia, Christian Espinosa and Yuriko Doku
Date: May 2012
Full Text: PDF (English) PDF (español)

This is the first installment of  fact sheets about the Latino  population in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Statistical Area. Together, these fact sheets will provide the context for a forthcoming report on the economic and fiscal impacts of this population in the metro area. Read more...

Este es el primer número de una serie de boletines informativos acerca de la población latina en el área estadística metropolitana de Omaha-Council Bluffs. Esta serie servirá de contexto al reporte venidero sobre los impactos económicos y fiscales de la población latina y migrante en el área metropolitana. Leer más...

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OLLAS Faculty, Staff and Partners Presentations

Hispanic Population Growth: Opportunities and Challenges, Gouveia, 2014

Three Things to Remember about Latinos in Nebraska, Aliaga Linares, 2014

Latino Businesses in Nebraska: A Preliminary Look, Aliaga Linares, 2014

Pulling Open the Sticky Door: Social Mobility among Latinos in Nebraska, Aliaga Linares, 2014

Latinos and the Future of Nebraska, Aliaga Linares, 2013

La presencia de los latinos en el área metropolitana de Omaha y Council Bluffs, Gouveia, 2012

Impactos socio-económicos de los latinos en los Estados Unidos: Implicaciones políticas, Gouveia, 2012

¿Por qué Omaha? Inmigrantes Latinoamericanos y su impacto en Nebraska, Gouveia with Espinosa, 2011

Immigrant Labor and Development Strategies at a Time of Crisis: The Nebraska Case, Gouveia, 2010

South Omaha Development Project: English / Español, Hawkins with Toledo and Doku, 2010

La realidad migratoria de los guatemaltecos en los Estados Unidos y en el estado de Nebraska, Sosa, 2010

Nuevos destinos y políticas migratorias: Migrantes en Nebraska, USA, Gouveia, 2008

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Other OLLAS Publications



Quick Facts on South Omaha
Most Recently Updated: 3 April 2014
View: PDF

Click the image to read some quick facts about South Omaha, produced by OLLAS for the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS) Annual Meetings, which took place at the Hilton Omaha, Thursday, April 3 - Saturday, April 5. The MSS hosted a tour of South Omaha on Saturday, April 5 from 9:30-11:00am.



Quick Facts on Inequality
Most Recently Updated: 6 February 2014
View: PDF

Check out some tables about inequality and Latinos in Nebraska. This information was presented by Dr. Lourdes Gouveia, OLLAS Director and Professor of Sociology, at a special screening of the film Inequality for All on February 6, 2014.


Nebraska Immigration and Latino Issues Related Legislative Bills
Most Recently Updated: 4 April 2011
Chart: PDF

The year 2011 saw many Latino and Immigration-related bills in the Nebraska State Unicameral. View the OLLAS-created chart to read a summary.



Second-Generation Latinos in Nebraska: A First Look
Authors: Lourdes Gouveia and Mary Ann Powell
Date: January 2007
Full Text: PDF, Web
Migration Policy Institute- Migration Information Source

Nebraska’s foreign-born population grew faster than that of any other Midwest state between 1990 and 2000. The state also experienced the second-highest increase in the number of children of immigrants in prekindergarten to fifth grade during the same period. This report sheds light on the second generation’s progress in the country’s heartland.


Nebraska’s Responses to Immigration
Immigration’s New Frontiers: Experiences from the Emerging Gateway States
Authors: Lourdes Gouveia
Date: 2006
Full Text: PDF

In the midst of the fiery debate regarding undocumented immigration, assimilation returned to the front seat it occupied during the early decades of the twentieth century. The main purpose of this report is twofold: (1) to take stock of the policies and accompanying community responses of the State of Nebraska, and (2) to inform policies and programs designed to address challenges and opportunities posed by a growing immigrant population.

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