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Hispanics Continuing Explosive Population Growth…Miami’s Hispanics Dispute Assertions That Latino Migration Threatens To Divide The U.S.

Hispanics, Asians Continuing Explosive Population Growth

Genaro C. Armas

June 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON - Explosive growth among Hispanics and Asians fueled a surge in the U.S. population from 2000 to 2003 as the national count pushed closer to 300 million.

Hispanics, the nation's largest minority group, rose 13 percent from April 2000 to July 2003, to 39.9 million, according to Census Bureau figures released Monday. That far outpaced the 3.3 percent increase in the American populace during the same time, to 290.8 million.

Asians were the next-fastest-growing among the large minority groups, up 12.6 percent, to 11.9 million, while the Black population rose nearly 4 percent, to 37.1 million.

About 4.3 million people listed themselves as of more than one race, up 10.5 percent from 2000.

The population of Hispanics and, to a lesser extent, Asians, rose in nearly every state over the 1990s, due in large part to immigration. The latest data appear to show a continued steady flow of immigrants into America despite the recession and the effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said John Logan, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Albany.

"This is the story of the whole United States now," Logan said. "It's not just a New York or Los Angeles phenomenon."

Anglos remain the single largest group at 197.3 million, up just 0.9 percent from 2000 to 2003. That number refers to those U.S. residents who are not of Hispanic ethnicity and who selected only "White" as their race.

"Non-Hispanic White" is what would generally be considered the majority group in the U.S. population, though they are not officially designated as such.

Over two-thirds of U.S. residents are Anglo. Bureau projections released earlier this year showed that Anglos and minority groups overall would be roughly equal in size by 2050.

The youthfulness of minorities and the aging of the Anglo population overall provides further evidence suggesting the nation's demographic future.

For instance, about 34 percent of the nation's Hispanics are younger than 18, compared with just 22 percent of Anglos. Fifteen percent of Anglos are 65 or over, a rate three times as high as for Hispanics.

The significance could be felt on voter registration rolls as more Hispanics become eligible to vote. Historically, Hispanics have registered at much lower rates than Anglos and Blacks.

The expected continued influx of younger Hispanic and Asian immigrants could also replenish the U.S. labor force as the massive baby boom generation approaches retirement age, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Looked at another way, the median age of Anglos is nearly 40. It is 34 for Asians, 31 for Blacks and 27 for Hispanics.

The median age for multiracial Americans is 20. The option to select more than one race on a census form was first given in 2000.

The Census Bureau counts "Hispanic" or "Latino" as an ethnicity rather than a race, so Hispanics can be of any race.

Who We Are Calls Hispanic Migration A `Threat'

In a new book, a Harvard professor says immigrants from Mexico and other Latin countries threaten to divide the United States. Hispanics in Miami dispute the book's assertions.


March 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

An upcoming book from a renowned Harvard professor that calls Hispanic immigration a threat to the United States is drawing criticism from Miami's Hispanic intelligentsia -- even though the book seems to be torn between its suspicion and admiration of Miami.

Saying that mass migration from Mexico and other Latin countries is a ''threat'' to the United States, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington theorizes that ``the persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures and two languages.

``If this trend continues, the cultural division between Hispanics and Anglos could replace the racial division between blacks and whites as the most serious cleavage in U.S. society.''

Huntington, author of the book The Clash of Civilizations, declined through his aide, Todd Fine, to be interviewed for this story.

An excerpt of Huntington's forthcoming book, Who We Are (Simon & Schuster) appears in the current issue of Foreign Policy and on the magazine's website, Foreign


Huntington devotes a large portion of his writings to Miami, the city he calls ``the most Hispanic large city in the 50 U.S. states.''

Not a place full of people who keep quiet when they disagree, Miami's Hispanics are among those firing back. Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, who is on a fellowship at Princeton University, is writing a book in response.

''I'm taking him on,'' said Ferre, who is Puerto Rican. ``He is saying that Hispanics coming to the U.S. are going to ruin this country, and I don't believe that. I think we're just going to add to the American creed.''

Florida International University professor Damian Fernandez, who is quoted in the new book, called Huntington's premise ''problematic.'' Huntington quotes Fernandez in his book as saying Cubans ``built modern Miami.''

Fernandez said Huntington never contacted him, although he did make that remark as part of an academic discussion.

''I cannot buy this conclusion,'' Fernandez said, adding that he supports Huntington's right to express his views because it can trigger debate. ``You can't have it both ways. You can't say these people are a challenge to us and at the same time say they are doing something as good as the city of Miami has become in terms of its global stature.''

Critics have called Huntington a ''xenophobe'' and claim that his theories can provide fodder to white supremacist and racist groups.

University of Miami professor Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, said he was surprised by Huntington's article.

''I don't agree with the premise,'' he said.

FIU sociology professor Lisandro Perez, who studies migration patterns, said Huntington's hypothesis is contrary to previous research done on the subject.

For example, Huntington claims that Hispanics, particularly Mexican Americans, fail to assimilate into American society because they preserve their Spanish longer than other immigrant groups preserve their native languages.


Perez said his own research on children of Hispanic immigrants in Miami and the Southwestern United States shows that Huntington's theory is a ''red herring.'' He said children of Hispanic immigrants learn English and prefer it.

''The article is extremely weak and very irresponsible because it runs contrary to so much evidence,'' Perez said. ``Maybe a debate will come from all of this, which could be positive in the long run.''

While Huntington's position on Hispanic immigration is clear, his characterization of Miami borders on admiration. Huntington refers to Miami as the ''prototype'' of a region within the United States that is ``culturally and linguistically distinct, and economically self-reliant.''

He then rattles off a slew of statistics that he uses to show the firm grip Cubans and other Hispanics have on Miami: 75.2 percent of Miamians speak a language other than English at home; 60 percent of Miami's residents are foreign born; in 1998, a Spanish-language station became the No. 1 station watched by Miamians.

''The Cuban takeover had major consequences for Miami,'' Huntington writes.

The consequences: The elite and entrepreneurial class fleeing Castro in the 1960s started dramatic economic development in South Florida. They invested in Miami because they couldn't send money home. Personal income growth in Miami skyrocketed in the 1970s and 1980s. Payrolls tripled between the 1970s and 1995.

"The Cuban economic drive made Miami an international economic dynamo, with expanding international trade and investment,'' he writes. "Such eminence transformed Miami into a Cuban-led, Hispanic city.

"The Cubans did not, in traditional pattern, create an enclave neighborhood. Instead, they created an enclave city with its own culture and economy, in which assimilation and Americanization were unnecessary and, in some measures, undesired.''

Huntington then goes on to draw deep distinctions between Cuban and Mexican immigrants, who absorb the brunt of his criticism.


Fernandez said those distinctions may be part of a ''divide and conquer'' strategy to create conflict between Cubans and Mexicans.

Gregory Rodriguez, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, responded to Huntington in a column published in the Los Angeles Times.

''Huntington's discovery of the new enemy will not promote the cohesion among Americans he sees as indispensable to the country's survival,'' Rodriguez wrote.

'On the contrary, it's the irrational fear of the `undesirable other' that has always been -- and continues to be -- the greatest threat to American national unity.''

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