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DC-Metro Latino Research Initiative

The Washington DC-metro region has become an important immigration gateway and a laboratory of urban and suburban diversity. Nearly a million Latinos live in this metropolitan area, over half of whom are foreign-born. Latinos are the region’s largest and most rapidly growing minority group, and the area’s Latino population exhibits distinct characteristics relative to the rest of the country. Together with community and university partners, CLALS is undertaking an array of research projects to better understand the distinctiveness, challenges, and potential contributions of the DC-metro region’s Latino population. A majority of DC area Latinos comes from Central and South America, rather than Mexico, Cuba, or Puerto Rico. DC boasts the second largest Salvadoran population in the country, and is the only metropolitan region with Salvadorans as its largest Latino group. The region also has the largest Bolivian population in the U.S. Yet little is known about the circumstances of Latino lives in this region as compared with longer-established and frequently studied Latino populations in such states as New York, California, Texas, or Florida.

Center projects address such topics of concern to Latinos as psychosocial health, the effects of immigration status, gang activity, and community cohesion, among other topics. Latinos in the DC area are the demographic group most likely to start a business. Thus, CLALS is exploring keys to the success or failure of these business ventures. While the DC region boasts the highest percentage of Latino college graduates in the country, multiple center projects are focused on barriers to educational attainment for Latinos. CLALS is also working to provide legal advocates and social service providers with the knowledge they need to better serve Central American immigrants.

Current Projects

Latino Entrepreneurs and Strategic Decision-Making

Latino Bistro sign





A second phase of research on the factors influencing the decision making of Latino entrepreneurs in the DC-metro area is now well underway, carried out in collaboration with community partners Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC) and BizLaunch.

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The DC Area Survey: Mapping Diversity and Well-being

A close-up on a colorful map of DC





In partnership with the Metropolitan Policy Center, CLALS will conduct the inaugural DC Area Survey, an annual representative survey on global neighborhoods and Latino enclaves in the DC-metro area focused on neighborhood satisfaction and change, health, crime and policing, and governance.

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School Integration of Resettled Migrant Youth

A child's hand fits the last piece into the puzzle





With the resettlement of nearly 11,000 Central American youth throughout the DC-metro area since October 2013, CLALS is undertaking a pilot study of local schools' responses to the needs of this growing at-risk newcomer population and of how varying household arrangements are impacting educational opportunities for these youth. 

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Transnational Criminal Capacity of MS-13 in the U.S. and El Salvador

A map of the US and Central America links Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Salvador.





CLALS is conducting a multi-year research project to advance scholarship on the MS-13 gang’s criminal activities in the DC-metro area, Los Angeles, and El Salvador, and to assist law enforcement agencies in keeping pace with the gang’s expansion and evolution.

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Suburban Diversity    and Small Business Landscape

An aerial view of houses in a suburban neighborhood





In collaboration with the Metropolitan Policy Center, CLALS is exploring opportunities to conduct research on the ways in which small business influence social cohesion among distinct populations in mixed-race, mixed income suburban communities in DC-metro area.

More Soon

Archived Projects

Parental Deportation and Health of U.S. Citizen Children

Children with US flag bandanas stand in a crowd

Through a series of conferences, reports, and documentaries, CLALS partnered with the Center on Health, Risk, and Society to explore the health impact of mass deportations and to inform strategies to address the plight of Latino households and communities affected by the phenomenon.

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Small girl working on homework





In collaboration with AU's Collaborative for Urban Education, Research, and Development, CLALS researchers evaluated the impacts of an after-school program at CentroNía, a Columbia Heights-based bilingual charter school, on diverse aspects of Latino children’s development.

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