That's exactly the question that researchers at the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California seek to answer.
In a recent report, they state that currently there are about 3.7 million affluent Hispanics nationwide. U.S. Census Bureau data for 2002 shows that 36 percent of Hispanic households had middle-class wealth.
The very existence of the Hispanic middle and upper classes has gone unnoticed in mainstream society, with their image remaining as a poor immigrant group, according to the Institute's President.
There are many routes to the middle class, he points out. "You get Hispanic entrepreneurs. You have people coming over (emigrating from other countries) with money already or an education. You get people with educational capital rather than monetary capital. Then you get job mobility of Latinos occurring."
He said that ruling out immigrants and first-generation Hispanics as having the ability to move into the middle class would be wrong.
The report also notes that half of wealthy Hispanics are foreign born.