Census: Black, Hispanic populations nearly equal - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Census: Black, Hispanic populations nearly equal

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Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2001 12:00 am

By GENARO C. ARMAS

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON The fast-growing Hispanic population has drawn nearly even with

blacks, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates that analysts say

show an America more diverse than ever.

Hispanic population growth outpaced predictions by at least 2.5 million in the

2000 census, with much of that increase due to higher-than-expected rates of

immigration, analysts said Wednesday.

There were about 35.3 million Hispanics in America last year, an increase of

58 percent from 1990, the preliminary Census Bureau estimates show. The black

population, meanwhile, ranged between 34.7 million and 36.4 million, with the

exact figure uncertain because Americans, for the first time, were allowed to

check off more than one race on the 2000 census form.

Its a little surprising. But still, weve known the trends for some time,

said Hans Johnson, demographer with the Public Policy Institute of California

in San Francisco. We know eventually Hispanics will become the largest

minority group in the United States.

Though the figures are from a Census Bureau committee report, they are not

final and may change, cautioned Jorge del Pinal, a senior agency official in

charge of race and ethnicity statistics.

The bureau is scheduled to release more detailed statistics on Americas

racial makeup next week, including figures for other racial categories.

Assuming the numbers remain roughly the same, lawmakers will be dealing with

the public policy implications sooner than expected, said Marisa Demeo,

general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

For instance, recent Census Bureau data showed that Hispanics had lower rates

of educational achievement, and higher percentages of people living in

poverty, than non-Hispanic whites.

Our hope is perhaps now we will finally receive the needs we should have been

receiving all along, she said.

One earlier bureau estimate had placed the Hispanic population at 32.8 million

in November 2000. The 2000 census figure is officially tied to April 1 of last

year.

The government may have done a better job than expected in counting

undocumented immigrants, including newly arrived Hispanics, the Census Bureau

has said. Immigrants were one of the targets of a bureau outreach campaign

last year to increase participation in the national headcount.

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