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Hispanics Are Closer to Becoming the Majority in Texas

4 years ago
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With an explosive population growth in Texas in the last decade, Hispanics are closer to reaching parity with whites in the second most-populous state and transforming its politics.

Hispanics were at the leading edge of the state's population surge in the last decade, accounting for more than two-thirds of the growth, making up 38 percent of the state's 25.1 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest figures. The state's population growth was bigger than any other state, with only California having more people.

Most remarkable, Texas' non-Hispanic whites – widely referred to as Anglos – are no longer the majority ethnic group in that fiercely tradition-bound Anglo culture. Whites now make up only 45 percent of the state's population, down from 52 percent in 2000. Blacks stayed the same at 11 percent.

"It's not just a sea change, it's a tipping point," state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, where two-thirds of the residents are Hispanic, told The New York Times. "San Antonio looks like what Texas is going to look like in 15 years."

These changes will have a long-term impact on politics in Texas, where Republicans hold sway while Democrats are making inroads in cities like Dallas and Houston, whose voters favored Barack Obama for president in 2008 even though the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, carried the state.

The new population figures will give Texas four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, expanding its political clout and share of the Electoral College pie. Census data will be used to redraw districts for Congress and the state Legislature. Some liberal analysts caution that the Republican-controlled Legislature in Austin, which may not want to strengthen the influence or voice of Hispanic Democrats, will be doing the redrawing of boundaries.

Still, the national political implications of Texas' Hispanic growth and overall population gains include short-term and long-term changes, namely, will bigger Hispanic clout turn a red state into a purple state?

With the second largest number of electoral votes, Texas has always loomed large in presidential campaigns. For now it will likely stay in GOP hands. But soon the Texas electorate will be that much larger, more diverse and less predictable.

More dramatic is the realistic prospect that Texas -- with a budget larger than some nations and a powerful economic engine of its own -- could have more Hispanics than Anglos.

"The Texas of today is the U.S. of tomorrow," said Steve H. Murdock, a former Census Bureau director who is now a Rice University sociology professor, told USA Today.

There is a downside to all this. For one thing, the population growth will put even more pressure on the state's mediocre public school system at a time when Texas like many other states -- Wisconsin is a scary example -- plans cuts in education, including teacher layoffs, school closings and other unpopular belt-tightening measures.

Texas' rapidly changing demographics are so crucial and complex that The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization, has summoned a daylong symposium on Feb. 28 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin to discuss the impact that the coming Hispanic majority will have on the state – from public education, higher education, energy, health care, workforce development and criminal justice.

How did the Lone Star State grow so much so quickly in the last decade?

Texas drew people from other states, like California, Florida and Arizona, attracting professionals, retirees, blue-collar workers and tech entrepreneurs with jobs and low taxes. The state also became home to refugees from Hurricane Katrina and remained a destination for legal and illegal immigrants.

Unlike Arizona, Texas has a relatively benign approach to illegal immigration and it also enjoys a largely skilled or educated and political savvy immigrant population, and it has pro-immigrant liberal enclaves in the cities and suburbs of Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.

Texas, like California, Florida and elsewhere, has an expanding middle-and-upper-income Hispanic population – college educated professionals, business executives, entrepreneurs, politicians, professors, doctors, lawyers – that exerts considerable influence in development, commerce and culture. San Antonio, with its rich Mexican-American history, has been at the vanguard of Hispanic influence in the state. It was the first major American city to elect a Hispanic mayor (Henry Cisneros, 30 years ago) and its mayor today, Julian Castro, a Democrat, is seen as a future national political figure.

The fastest-growing counties are in the suburbs of Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where rural towns have been turned into middle-and-upper-income exurbs that together make up sprawling metropolises. The San Antonio-Austin corridor and the counties along the Rio Grande enjoyed large growth while the rural areas of West Texas shriveled.

The Texas of endless plains, cowboys and cattle ranches has become a bit emptier while the populous cities sprawl farther out, and the state becomes more urban, more dense, more Hispanic.

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Where's the beef? I grew up in Texas in the 50's. Anglos and Hispanics worked and lived in the same communities, to mostly beneficial effect. I see no problem with Texans of capacity to contribute from whatever background. What is the writer's point, exactly?

February 22 2011 at 9:32 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

This is not rocket science. Because of illegal immigration, the hispanic population will be the largest culture of people in the United States by 2020, if not sooner. This is not meant to be racist in any way, shape or form. It's just based of facts and statistics.

February 22 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to missbzmommy's comment

it is because Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens

February 22 2011 at 4:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Because the borders are wide open! Close the borders now!

February 22 2011 at 11:20 AM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply

But are they LEGAL Citizens?

February 22 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to girl4diam's comment

please note that the article is discussing Hispanics who can vote, only American citizens can vote so YES they all are legal citizens just like you.

February 22 2011 at 11:17 AM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply

Illegal Aliens are able to vote too.
But FYI, this article is about the CENSUS data taken in 2010 in which Obamanation's administration counted Illegals as citizens.

February 22 2011 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

If you are educated at all, you would recognize the history of Texas is made up of
Mexican-Americans from the time of the theft or Manifest Destiny that made it a part of the U.S. You cry foul now that the crows have come to roost. And enough about "they don't want to be Americans", why should they? They don't need to buy into "love it or leave it". Maybe they see our country as a place for work only.
They can always go home and with the rise of the Mexican economy, we are to them what they were to us -for our own purposes. A place to explote & leave in the dust.

February 22 2011 at 12:51 AM Report abuse -18 rate up rate down Reply

Because of the proximity to Mexico, this news shouldn't be too suprising. The time is near when questionaires etc will no longer differentiate between "white" and Hispanic and probably never SHOULD have been to begin with! One thing seems imprtant to me: that all adults be taking classes toward citizenship, including the use of English, and that Once someone's status is recorded, they have a fixed period of time to enroll. Firm rules for deportation must also be in place for those not cooperating in seeking citizenship, because America cannot continue to ignore those using our generosity but not wanting to BE an American!

February 21 2011 at 11:39 PM Report abuse +33 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ajschrod's comment

What generosity is that. Giving borrowed money tax cuts to the wealthy and then pay for it by cutting social security income for seniors. By giving corporate tax breaks to companies so they can hire more overseas workers or rather just pocket the money and then engage in union busting and wage concessions of american workers. Yes we are a generous bunch.

February 22 2011 at 11:11 AM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply

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