August 09, 2007
The Hispanics are coming!

Actually, they're already here.

In a powerful sign of the region's growing diversity, more Hispanics than Anglos now live in Harris County as it led the nation in growth of minority residents, according to Census Bureau estimates to be released today.

This historic demographic shift reflects persistent immigration, high birth rates among Latinos and ongoing migration to outlying suburban counties, experts say. And a dramatic increase in Harris County's black population is partly attributed to an influx of residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina.


Today's Census Bureau data shows the latest population estimates for counties as of July, 1, 2006. Harris gained 121,400 minority residents between July 2005 and July 2006.

The minority population in the county is 2.5 million as of July 2006, or 63 percent of the total 3.9 million residents. In 2005, the county's population was 3.7 million.

There were an estimated 1.48 million Hispanics in Harris County in July 2006, or 38.2 percent of the county's total. That exceeded, for the first time, the county's estimated 1.44 million Anglo residents, who make up 36.9 percent of the population.

That marks a significant reversal since 2000, when the Hispanic percentage in Harris was 33; for Anglos it was 42.

The county's Hispanic population now ranks second in the country, tied with Miami-Dade, and behind Los Angeles.

Here's the census data for Harris County. For purposes of comparison, here's Fort Bend (40.8% white, 22.5% Hispanic), Galveston (61.5% white, 19.9% Hispanic), Montgomery (77.3% white, 16.0% Hispanic), and Waller (50.5% white, 22.0% Hispanic).

Karl Eschbach, associate director of the Texas State Data Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said the latest Census data reflect the ongoing transformation of Houston and Texas, where no group will be in the majority.

''The county is evolving into a diverse and multi-ethnic place that is making it a forerunner of what the United States is becoming," Eschbach said.

As our former demographer Steve Murdock used to say, as goes Texas so goes the rest of the country. FYI, the state as a whole is now 49.2% white, 35.1% Hispanic. We became a majority nonwhite state in 2003, though apparently that wasn't considered official until 2005.

This story was in the news in various forms around the state today. Here are a few clips, via the Texas Politics blog news roundup:

From Austin:

Travis, Williamson and Hays counties are not majority-minority, and the breakdowns have not changed much from 2005 to 2006, census data show.

Travis in 2005 was 52.8 percent non-Hispanic white and 47.2 percent minority; in 2006, the county was 47.8 percent minority, according to Greg Harper, a demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Williamson was about 31 percent and 32 percent minority in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Hays was almost 38 percent minority in both years.

The population growth of Travis, Williamson and Hays has been driven by domestic migration -- moves from other parts of the U.S. -- and the majority of this migration involves white people, state demographer Steve Murdock said. Generally, however, the growth of the Hispanic population is "a pervasive phenomenon" across the state, Murdock said.

Though Travis had not reached majority-minority level, Austin city demographer Ryan Robinson says the city has been majority-minority since 2004. He estimates that the city is 47.5 percent white this year.

From Dallas:

In Dallas County, minorities made up nearly 64 percent of residents in 2006, with Hispanics making up 37.7 percent of the population, compared with 36.1 for non-Hispanic whites.

"We are in the middle of the fourth decade of an ongoing demographic transformation the likes of which the country hasn't seen in 100 years," said Rubén Rumbaut, a sociologist at the University of California at Irvine.


The latest census numbers and their illustration of Hispanic growth come as the nation continues a vitriolic debate over immigration - both legal and illegal and largely Hispanic.

"A lot of the debate goes forward on the basis that this demographic shift is due to immigration," Dr. Rumbaut said. "It's 'get the illegal immigrants out.' It's 'let's make it as miserable as possible so that they just self-deport. We want those here to assimilate.' "

But the growth reported by the Census Bureau suggests the shift is due to native-born Hispanics, Dr. Rumbaut said. By the third generation, assimilation has set in, and "Spanish is dead as a door nail."

Fear of change fuels the fervor against immigrants and their children, he said.

"And fear just doesn't listen to facts," Dr. Rumbaut said.


Demographers and sociologists noted that the sweep of the change parallels the course of Italian immigration in the U.S.

First came the Italian immigrants, and then came the births of their citizen-children, Dr. Rumbaut said.

"The Italians were more or less like the Mexicans now," Dr. Rumbaut said. "They had little education. They were young men and coming to work. They were Catholics."

And they stirred up a lot of fear and loathing among the xenophobes, as did the Irish immigrants, too. Which are the two main ingredients to my ethnic makeup. All that happened a long time ago, but I feel a kinship to today's immigrants because of that anyway.

From El Paso:

In El Paso County, 81.4 percent of the population, or 599,353 people, was Hispanic as of July 2006, according to the Census Bureau.

One El Pasoan believes the city is ahead of the rest of the nation because the city has had a predominantly minority community for many decades.

"I think that El Paso is kind of like a hub, or a prototype, of what the United States is going to look like in the future in the sense that Hispanics are going to take professions they didn't have before," said El Pasoan Sandra Iturbe, who works for La Mujer Obrera, a workers' rights advocacy group. "I think that Mexican culture is going to be an economic motor for the U.S."

Census statistics indicate the Hispanic population in El Paso County increased by 12.1 percent from 2000 to 2006, while the non-Hispanic population decreased by 6.9 percent.

You get the idea. Stace has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 09, 2007 to The great state of Texas

Quick, let's build a wall. ;)

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast on August 9, 2007 3:26 PM