Hispanics top list of U.S. minorities

Posted 11:30 p.m. Feb. 6

by Melissa Kronfeld
U-WIRE Washington Bureau

Hispanics are now the largest minority group in America, according to Census Bureau figures released in late January.

The Hispanic population, which reached 37 million in July 2001, has surpassed the country’s African-American population, which remains at 36 million people.

With the U.S. population at 281 million people, Hispanics make up 13 percent of American residents. The United States now has the world’s fifth largest Hispanic population, according to the figures. Mexico retains the largest, followed by Spain, Columbia and Argentina.

The main reason for this population explosion stems from high immigration and birth rates among the Hispanic population, the Census Bureau reported.

One in every five children born in the U.S. is of Hispanic origin. According to the Census Bureau, the majority of Hispanics reside in Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. California has the largest number of Hispanic residents, the Bureau reported.

Despite its vast size, the Hispanic population is among the most diverse in the U.S. Varying in terms of ethnicity, religion, culture, and even language, the Hispanic population hails from many different countries.

More than half of all Hispanics come from Mexico, with the remaining individuals coming from Central and South America, Puerto Rico, and nearly four percent from Cuba.

The report said a significant number of Hispanic-Americans remain in the middle to lower class.

But the White House maintains that it is trying to change that trend. On Jan. 19, the Bush administration gave a five percent budget increase to colleges primarily serving Hispanic students.

“President Bush is committed to making higher education more accessible and affordable, and his budget reflects that commitment,” U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige told reporters.

By 2010, Hispanics will comprise 15 percent of the U.S. population. That could translate into ever-increasing ties with Latin America and a new voting bloc for politicians to target, policy experts point out.

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