Cen­sus shows area’s His­panic pop­u­la­tion drop­ping

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SUNDAY SELECT - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

De­spite be­ing a na­tion of im­mi­grants, the United States has had a long, trou­bled his­tory with im­mi­gra­tion, even though im­mi­grants fought our wars, built our rail­roads and en­riched our cul­ture.

All too of­ten, the con­flict over im­mi­gra­tion has had to do with eth­nic­ity.

Anti-Ir­ish ri­ots roiled Philadel­phia in 1844 and signs read­ing “Ir­ish need not ap­ply” filled ci­ties across the coun­try.

Nev­er­the­less, the Ir­ish flee­ing the potato famine pop­u­lated the Union Army in the Civil War and built the canals along the Schuylkill River and the na­tion’s rail­roads un­der gru­el­ing con­di­tions.

In 1902, the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act made per­ma­nent a law first en­acted in 1882 and was the first U.S. law im­ple­mented to pre­vent a spe­cific eth­nic group from im­mi­grat­ing to the United States. It was not re­pealed un­til 1943. Dur­ing World War I, anti-Ger­man sen­ti­ment was so strong, the Jus­tice Depart­ment, pre­par­ing a list of all Ger­man aliens, counted about 480,000 of them, more than 4,000 of whom were im­pris­oned in 1917-18 on sus­pi­cion of es­pi­onage — all while Theodore Roo­sevelt de­nounced “hy­phen­ated Amer­i­can­ism.”

Th­ese days, when the sub­ject of “im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy” is raised, the tar­get of those dis­cus­sions are more of­ten than not, His­pan­ics (al­though Syr­ian and Mus­lim refugees from the Mid­dle East may soon over­take His­pan­ics as the prime topic of dis­cus­sion).

Af­ter all, no one is dis­cussing build­ing a wall along the Canadian bor­der.

This fo­cus on His­pan­ics is no doubt be­ing driven, in part, by the fact that U.S. Cen­sus pro­jec­tions show that in the near fu­ture, nonHis­panic whites will no longer rep­re­sent a ma­jor­ity of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, “among the pro­jected 441 mil­lion Amer­i­cans in 2065, 78 mil­lion will be im­mi­grants and 81 mil­lion will be peo­ple born in the U.S. to im­mi­grant par­ents.”

Al­though non-His­panic whites will re­main the largest ra­cial or

eth­nic group in the over­all pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to Pew, they will be­come less than a ma­jor­ity. Cur­rently 62 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, whites will make up 46 per­cent of it in 2065.

His­pan­ics will be 24 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, while they are 18 per­cent now. The per­cent­age of Asians will more than dou­ble, from 6 to 14 per­cent, and blacks will re­main at es­sen­tially the same per­cent­age, about 12 or 13 per­cent.

Th­ese changes will pro­duce a ris­ing share of non­white po­ten­tial vot­ers. One im­por­tant fac­tor is the ris­ing age of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion — peo­ple born in the U.S. to at least one im­mi­grant par­ent. This group’s me­dian age is 19, mean­ing half are younger and in­el­i­gi­ble to vote. But by 2065, their me­dian age will be 36, ac­cord­ing to Pew.

It is im­por­tant to note in the con­text of this po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion that not all His­pan­ics are im­mi­grants and not all im­mi­grants are His­pan­ics.

In fact, in Mont­gomery County, the ma­jor­ity of im­mi­grants are Asian.

As the tem­per­a­ture of the po­lit­i­cal rhetoric around im­mi­gra­tion rises, it’s sig­nif­i­cant that the lat­est cen­sus fig­ures, re­leased Thurs­day, show that in the four coun­ties cov­ered by Dig­i­tal First Me­dia news­pa­pers in the Philadel­phia area, the His­panic pop­u­la­tion is ac­tu­ally fall­ing in pro­por­tion to the rest of the pop­u­la­tion.

In Berks County — which has the high­est pro­por­tion of His­panic res­i­dents and is wrestling with the con­tentious is­sue of a hunger strike be­gun last month at an im­mi­grant de­ten­tion cen­ter in Leesport — the lat­est U.S. Cen­sus fig­ures show in just one year, a drop in the His­panic pop­u­la­tion of more than 5,300 peo­ple.

Sim­i­larly, there were about 2,000 fewer His­pan­ics in Ch­ester, Delaware and Mont­gomery coun­ties in 2015 than there were in 2014, Cen­sus fig­ures show.

De­tails of the new 2015 pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mates for all lo­cal­i­ties are not re­leased yet, but they are for Mont­gomery County and they paint an in­ter­est­ing pic­ture in terms of the im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy dis­cus­sion.

The cen­sus de­tails re­leased Thurs­day show that in 2015, 86,377 of Mont­gomery County’s res­i­dents were for­eign born, rep­re­sent­ing about 11 per­cent of the county’s pop­u­la­tion.

Of that for­eign-born pop­u­la­tion, the ma­jor­ity (53.8 per­cent) en­tered the coun­try be­fore 2000 and 83 per­cent of those res­i­dents are now U.S. cit­i­zens.

Over­all, nearly half Mont­gomery County’s for­eign-born pop­u­la­tion (45.8 per­cent) are U.S. cit­i­zens.

Also, more than half of Mont­gomery County’s for­eign-born pop­u­la­tion (54.75 per­cent) are from Asia. About 20 per­cent are Latin Amer­i­can — de­fined by the cen­sus as Mex­i­can, Cuban or Puerto Ri­can — and 19.4 per­cent are from Europe.

Those cen­sus fig­ures also show that only 2 per­cent of Mont­gomery County’s for­eign-born pop­u­la­tion (16,626) en­tered the coun­try af­ter 2010 and more than 77 per­cent of that num­ber of most re­cent im­mi­grants are from Asia.

The largest por­tion of Mont­gomery County’s for­eign-born His­panic pop­u­la­tion — 29 per­cent of the for­eign born — en­tered the U.S. be­tween 2000 and 2009, dur­ing the pres­i­dency of Ge­orge W. Bush.

Even so, the ma­jor­ity of im­mi­grants now liv­ing in Mont­gomery County who en­tered the coun­try dur­ing Bush’s pres­i­dency nearly — 46 per­cent— are Asians.

Of the im­mi­grants now liv­ing in Mont­gomery County who en­tered the U.S. be­tween 2000 and 2009, 68 per­cent are not U.S. cit­i­zens.

By con­trast, most of the 16,615 who en­tered the coun­try in the last six years — 95.2 per­cent — are not U.S. cit­i­zens, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent cen­sus data.

The pic­ture th­ese fig­ures paint of im­mi­gra­tion in­di­cate that:

• Asians rep­re­sent the largest pop­u­la­tion of for­eign-born res­i­dents of Mont­gomery County;

• The largest per­cent­age of im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion from Latin Amer­ica, (29.1 per­cent) came dur­ing the pres­i­dency of Ge­orge W. Bush and even then, that the num­ber of Asians com­ing in the same pe­riod (46.7 per­cent) was still much higher;

• And the longer im­mi­grants now liv­ing in Mont­gomery County have been liv­ing in the U.S., the more likely they are to be U.S. cit­i­zens.

This chart of U.S. Cen­sus es­ti­mates for 2015 shows that the His­panic pop­u­la­tion, and the per­cent­age of the His­panic pop­u­la­tion in Berks, Ch­ester, Delaware and Mont­gomery coun­ties has dropped in the past year.

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