Births, Not New Immigrants, Push U.S. Latino Growth

WASHINGTON (AP) – With immigration slowing, babies born in the U.S. rather than newly arrived Mexican immigrants are now driving most of the fast growth in the Latino population.

A new analysis of census data highlights a turning point in Hispanics’ rapid U.S. growth. Demographers point to the potential for broader political impact as U.S.-born Mexican-Americans widen their numbers over non-citizen, foreign-born counterparts, who wield no voting rights.

“As these young Latinos age, they will enter public schools, participate in the nation’s economy as workers and consumers, and enter the growing pool of Hispanic eligible voters,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, who co-authored the study released Thursday.

The analysis focuses on the growth of Mexican-Americans, who make up more than 60 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population. Tracing a mass Mexican migration to the U.S. that began in 1970 and reached its height during the 1990s, it finds that young Mexicans who crossed the border many years ago are now adding to the population by having many children.

Currently, the median age of Mexican-Americans is 25, compared to 30 for other Hispanic subgroups, 32 for blacks and 41 for whites. Mexican-American women on average will have given birth to 2.5 children by their mid-40s, higher than for other groups.

Meanwhile, immigration from Mexico has fallen off in recent years, dropping by 60 percent since 2006 after a souring U.S. economy and stepped-up border enforcement made it harder and less desirable for undocumented workers to enter the country. As a result, the number of new immigrants from Mexico declined over the last decade to 4.2 million, from 4.7 million in 1990-2000.

In all, the Mexican-American population grew by 11.4 million over the last decade, of which 63 percent came as a result of births. That is a reversal from the previous two decades, when the number of new Mexican immigrants either matched or exceeded the number of Mexican births.

Among Hispanics as a whole, about 58 percent of the population increase since 2000 were a result of births.

The numbers come as Hispanic groups are seeking more political influence. States are currently redrawing their political maps based on population and racial and ethnic makeup. Now representing 16 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics added more than 15 million people over the last decade and accounted for more than half of the nation’s total population increase.

Still, their voting power has not always matched their numbers, partly because a disproportionate share of U.S. Hispanics are either children or non-citizens. Just 42 percent of all Hispanics in the U.S. are eligible to vote, compared to 78 percent for whites and 66 percent for blacks.

Currently more than 60 percent of all Hispanics are U.S.-born, many of them children.

Lopez says that is now changing, with some 600,000 young Hispanics who were born in the U.S. turning 18 each year to enter a widening pool of more than 21 million Hispanic eligible voters.

Other findings:

–About 6.5 million, or more than half of all Mexican immigrants, were in the U.S. illegally last year. Many of these illegal immigrants gave birth to children in the U.S.; about 68 percent of the 350,000 U.S. births to illegal immigrants last year were to Mexican parents.

–Birth rates differ by immigration status: on average, a Mexican immigrant woman in her 40s has 2.7 children, compared to 2.1 for a U.S.-born Mexican-American.

–About 1 in 10 of all native-born Mexicans opt to migrate to the U.S., seeking jobs and a better life. Among native-born Mexicans in their prime working ages of 30 to 44, the share is even higher: about 1 in 5 men, and more than 1 in 7 women migrate to the U.S.

The Pew analysis is based on 2010 census surveys from the U.S. and Mexico. Because the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask people about their immigration status, estimates on illegal immigrants are derived largely by subtracting the estimated legal immigrant population from the total foreign-born population.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • robert mathies

    are they having children with others of their race or are they intermingling with US citizens? Next question is who is picking up the bill for their costs – medical education etc?

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  • Really Tired of This

    mls, to that I say a hardy AMEN. I had a lady call yesterday and got irate with me because she needed help with her rent and I didn’t speak Spanish. I told her I would learn Spanish when I moved to Mexico. Iritates me to death.

    • Cynthia

      Just simply tell her Im sorry we don’t speak spanish have your own translater, I am bilinguial and I have to tell them I am Mexican American. But I get mad, when the only person they want to go to is me, when I know they can speak English enough to get their checks cashed and stuff….

  • RussP

    Because we have a foolish US law that says just being born in this country makes you a citizen, this will be a continuing problem. I believe most other countries base the child’s nationality on the parents status.

  • NiteNurse

    It’s interesting. No one had problems when the Irish came to our country many years ago after the potato famine hit their country. The Irish being catholic also bred like bunnies and now look at all the lazy Irish decendents we have on welfare in our country. This is America and our country was born because of immigrants both legal and illegal! So everyone remember where your own decendents came from before you start yelling about all the Mexicans having babies and taking over!

    • NiteWatering

      Well I am part Irish, part Swedish, part Native American and no telling what other parts, yet the line traced went all the way back to the Mayflower. Pretty sure all came here legally. BTW Irish are coming still today due to not getting jobs from their financial crisis.
      Many arrive from Cuba and not all coming via Mexico are Mexicans since they cross from South America looking for jobs also. There is no excuse today due to the ease of computers for not having everyone in America be here legally as a citizen or holding a non-expired visa.
      The reason admendments where allowed to be added to the Constitution is because they knew new problems after their times would arise, and yes this is one of those problems. I suspect the future will have sterilization in it for those who will not work and fully afford the children they have without the public paying for it. Because like China we will run out of space for growing food, have enough clean water and room for everyone to live. Not a lot of vast wildnerness left unless it is on public land and they are trying to even take and ruin that.

    • RussP

      The percentage of illegals was much lower (current estimates are 50% illegal today), the majority of immigrants had to pay their own way (no welfare) and the country wasn’t facing the defcits it is today and having to pay for all the entitlement programs we now have. Times change; the way things are handled need to change with them.

    • RussP


      Tried to find some thing to verify your lazy Irish on welfare claim but no luck. What I did find:

      Blacks = 12% of population but 37% of welfare rolls
      Hispanics = 16% of population and 18% of welfare rolls
      Whites = 65% of population but only 38% of welfare

      Doesn’t seem lazy Irish could make up that much of the welfare rolls and no, I’m not Irish.

  • FedUpTxn

    This is why we need to do away with anchor baby benefits. Texas will soon be bankrupt from carrying all these free loaders on our back. They know it, and that is their intent, to take over.

  • HooDatIS?
  • Hemroidious

    FedUpTxn, You said it. We have to stop the “Anchor Babies”.

  • darrell

    those births are called “anchor babies”; its just the second, third, fouth or more by the same illegal mother.

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  • NiteWatering

    I may be wrong, but I believe the law was put on the books when the US was a vast land that was widely non-populated. That is not the case anymore, so that law needs to be revised to where if your born in the US you still hold the Nationality of your parents like most other Nations do. We no longer need law breakers (came here illegally) to have their children become citizens by default.
    We should stick to our heritage and still let people from other Nations become Americans, but only if they broke no laws in coming here. Fact is many who think their lives are in jeopardy in their homeland often find out it’s no safer living here. Thus I think the best way for anyone to become a citizen is through work Visa’s that require them to learn to speak and write English to work here and in time be allowed to go for citizenship.

    • darrell

      the 14th amendment was enacted shortly after the civil war. its only real purpose was to insure that newly freed slaves and their children had the right of citizenship. it has been obsolete of its original intent for 100 years.
      it should be revised to read that children born to women who are not citizens of the U.S. retain the same citizenship as the mother.

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