La población hispana en los EE.UU. crece de manera espectacular: 1 millón 400.000 de nuevos hispanos, en apenas doce meses. A juicio del Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com; Hispanics Gain in Census, May 10, 2006), ese crecimiento demográfico alimenta el inmenso debate de fondo sobre el puesto de los hispanos, inmigrantes o no, en el futuro de la Nación.
Este es el artículo del Wall Street Journal:
Hispanics Gain en Census
Mid-Decade Estimate Creates
Fuel for Immigration Debate
By June Kronholz
May 10, 2006.
The nation's Hispanic population grew by almost 1.4 million in a year, with much of the growth coming from births rather than immigration — a finding that has big implications for the nation's demographic makeup and for its simmering immigration debate.
Hispanics accounted for nearly half the 2.8 million people added to the U.S. population from July 2004 to July 2005, more than any other group, according to a mid-decade estimate from the Census Bureau. Over the last five years, three times more Hispanics than whites were added to the nation's population.
Whites accounted for less than 67% of the overall population in 2005, down from about 70% in 2000 — and their share is certain to continue slipping because of high Hispanic birth rate. The number of African Americans, meanwhile, about equal to Hispanics five years ago, now trails them by more than six million people.
The Census figures underscoring the rapid growth of Hispanics could be drawn into the immigration debate when it resumes in the Senate as early as next week.
Among other things, cultural conservatives, who fear their way of life is being changed by immigration, could stiffen their opposition to a compromise Senate bill that they see as an amnesty for illegal immigrants. The Republican Party's security-first wing also could be energized by a census finding that the country added one million immigrants in the 2004-2005 year, many of them likely illegal.
The Census Bureau didn't differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants, but illegal immigration has ballooned in the past decade, with the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. now estimated to be about 12 million.
By showing that Hispanics are now by far the nation's largest minority group, the census estimates also could fuel a simmering unease among blacks that they are losing ground, politically and economically, to recent arrivals.
Blacks have largely remained on the sidelines in the immigration debate. But recently, some black leaders have worried that massive immigration in the past decade has undercut wages and job opportunities for lower-skilled workers, and has diverted attention from the problems of the black community.
At the same time, the census estimates provide ammunition to supporters of an immigration-overhaul bill, particularly business groups and employers who have been a loud voice on Capitol Hill. They increasingly depend on Hispanic and other immigrant workers as the native-born population grows older.
The census estimates put the median age for U.S. whites now at 40.3 years, 13 years older than it is for Hispanics and 10 years older than it is for blacks. The median is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger. With native-born workers now older and better educated than in the past, employers want freer access to immigrant workers who can replace them. Employers especially have opposed a House bill, passed last year, that would criminalize illegal immigration and force workers to leave the country.
Currently, only about 19% of eligible Mexicans have become U.S. citizens, says the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank. But the tough House bill, and the high visibility of immigration generally could prompt more Hispanics to register to vote, creating a potentially powerful bloc.
The census estimates come as the Senate is set to resume debate on a bill that would give legal status to most illegal immigrants now in the U.S. and allow millions more to enter the country through a guest-worker program. Hispanics account for about 82% of the illegal population, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington research group.
The Senate bill has sparked huge rallies among Hispanics, who see the measure as an avenue to permanent residency. But it also is generating opposition among conservatives Republicans and some Democrats. A compromise fell apart last month, in part because the Democratic leadership feared handing Republicans a political success and possible enduring Hispanic loyalty.
The Census Bureau uses birth, death and immigration data to calculate its mid-decade estimates. The figures are July 1, 2005, estimates and show a total U.S. population of 296.4 million, an increase of 15 million since the last census in 2000.
Hispanic immigration added 500,000 from 2004 to 2005, but natural growth — that is, births over deaths — accounted for 800,000.
The census calculations also show that whites, while their numbers are still growing, are likely to account for an increasingly smaller share of the population. The number of whites grew by 500,000 from 2004 to 2005, with 200,000 of that growth from immigration.
But immigrant and native-born whites accounted for just 19% of the population growth, although whites are two-thirds of the population. And because whites are generally older than minorities, their share of the population is certain to continue to slip.
About 22% of whites are under age 18 compared with one-quarter of the population generally and one-third of Hispanics. The U.S. fertility rate — that is, the number of births per woman — is about 2. But the fertility rate among Mexican-born women is about 3.5.
The growth in the black population comes mainly from births — the Census Bureau recorded just 89,000 black immigrants from 2004 to 2005. But with a far lower birth rate than among Hispanics, blacks also are likely to have a shrinking share of the population.
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