Video: Census: More minority children were born in US

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    >>> the u.s. census bureau is out with a new face for america. for the first time ever, more than half the babies born last year were minorities. according to the government, blacks, hispanics, asians and other minorities accounted for more than 50% of all u.s. births. nonhispanic whites made up almost half. the executive director and the " washington post " nia-maleka henderson. she is with the romney campaign. we await new words from mitt romney regarding the new york time article. i grew up in texas and my entire life we heard the world needed to wake up. the hispanic population would be representing enormous numbers and could not be ignored. and politicians in texas , those even in this red state of texas who are successful worldwide were like governor perry many many ways who adopted or adapted to survive politically in embracing some parts of the hispanic community.

    >> i think that's absolutely right. what you're seeing is that was one of the reasons why perry was so for and in favor of the dream act . recognizing it was something that doesn't impact the majority of american latinos in this country but it does signal that you understand the needs of the latino communicate when it comes to policy and changes. you can say the same thing for the attorney general up in utah. the attorney general in utah basically went against the wave of anti-immigrant legislation that we saw in arizona , that we saw in florida . basically that, if you could demonstrate you speak english and pass a back ground check, we'll give you a worker's permit. signaling solutions in the communicate. that's one of the reasons when you take a step back and start talking about the latino vote in 2012 , it is the beginning of a huge wave that we're going to see across the country. it is definitely a trend.

    >> it is a trend. let's go back to some of the republican debates that we saw. the large round of applause that came when governor perry was taken on, regarding the dream act that often comes when you hear from people who support jan brewer , for example, of arizona , who want tough immigration laws . they feel the federal government is not doing their job. this morning on " morning joe ," joe scarborough points out how he believes mitt romney 's team or mitt romney is not up in a way that karl rove , as he pointed out, and even george bush regarding the importance of the latino vote.

    >> that's absolutely right. what is happening, arizona is the perk example with jan brewer . 73% of babyboomers, 65 or oriole, are white. compared to 20% who are 18 and younger are white. you see a huge dem gratic change where the majority of young people in arizona are either latino or black. people of color . it is not a surprise the demographic changes are creating a political pools along ideological lines. however what both karl rove and president bush knew, in order to win the white house , they need 40% of the latino vote across the spectrum. across states in order to win the white house . and i think that's one of the reasons why mitt romney right now is back pedaling saying he supports the rubio plan for the dream action. he is bringing in hispanic outreach person. the rnc is. to ensure they can start talking to latinos about the issues they care about which is not necessarily immigration but it is jobs and education. however, is it too late for the romney campaign?

    >> let me bring you back in. i know you're traveling with the romney campaign. it was an excellent point made by joe scarborough this morning on his show that at least in his estimation, mitt romney is not perhaps, maybe has a tin ear to the concerns that his party certainly needs the latino vote or a great portion of it if they plan to win.

    >> reporter: he is certainly coming late to this party. it is partly because he is from massachusetts, a state that hasn't had to deal with the influx of immigrants. and it isn't as diverse a state as texas is, florida is, as arizona is. of course, john mccain came in at a very different place as well because he had some familiarity with these issues. you did see mitt romney a couple weeks ago overheard in a fund-raiser talking about the need to reach out to latinos . talking about the fact the party won't be able to expand. won't be able to survive on a national stage if they don't start reaching out to latinos . today you heard mitt romney drop the name of marco rubio . you also have somebody like susanna martinez publicly criticizing romney and the idea of self-deportation. i think republicans are certainly under the gun at this point and trying to frame these issues, immigration and jobs in a way they can attract latinos . that 40%, they have to get over that hump if they're going to want to win the white house .

    >> let me bring you back in. to her point, susanna march teen a's point, what the heck does self-deportation even means. she was on the list of people that could be vp picked for mitt romney and specifically what joe scarborough that, if you lose the hispanic vote, you become the minority party . and that was his message to republicans and mitt romney .

    >> it's very true. she is a special case . she has more of an extreme agenda when it comes to immigration. and one of her policies when she was elected was precisely not just self-deportation but a bigger crackdown and going further than arizona jan brewer 's piece of legislation. so i think what she was looking for was something that was much more extreme and harsh. in regard to what joe scarborough is saying, it is absolutely important for both parties to start reaching out to the latino community today now and early. one of the thing when it come to the republican strategy, they know they have a latino vote problem. it is not surprising why you have over 22 states that have passed very difficult voter i.d. laws that were not in the books in 2008 but exist now in 2012 . that's one of the reasons, they realize that these key states, we're about florida . we're talking about texas , air eric nevada, colorado. they all have the potential to become purple states , meaning they're the swing states . and it will be dependent on the latino vote.

    >> go ahead.

    >> reporter: to expand this out a little bit, the african-american vote is also important. if you think about ohio, george bush was able to win ohio because he was able to expand the african-american vote. a lot of the policies and sort of approaches that ken melmen the rnc chairman put in place came to play in that election. it is not just the latinos . they have to think about how they can peel off some of these african-american voters as well.

    >>> they don't need all of them. just a portion of these different populations.

    >> thank you both. greatly appreciate it.

updated 5/17/2012 11:28:11 AM ET 2012-05-17T15:28:11

For the first time, racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the U.S., capping decades of heady immigration growth that is now slowing.

New 2011 census estimates highlight sweeping changes in the nation's racial makeup and the prolonged impact of a weak economy, which is now resulting in fewer Hispanics entering the U.S.

"This is an important landmark," said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University. "This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders."

The report comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the legality of Arizona's strict immigration law, with many states weighing similar get-tough measures.

"We remain in a dangerous period where those appealing to anti-immigration elements are fueling a divisiveness and hostility that might take decades to overcome," Harrison said.

As a whole, the nation's minority population continues to rise, following a higher-than-expected Hispanic count in the 2010 census. Minorities increased 1.9 percent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 percent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years.

But a recent slowdown in the growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations is shifting notions on when the tipping point in U.S. diversity will come — the time when non-Hispanic whites become a minority. After 2010 census results suggested a crossover as early as 2040, demographers now believe the pivotal moment may be pushed back several years when new projections are released in December.

The annual growth rates for Hispanics and Asians fell sharply last year to just over 2 percent, roughly half the rates in 2000 and the lowest in more than a decade. The black growth rate stayed flat at 1 percent.

The immigrants staying put in the U.S. for now include Narcisa Marcelino, 34, a single mother who lives with her two daughters, ages 10 and 5, in Martinsburg, W.Va. After crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in 2000, she followed her brother to the eastern part of the state just outside the Baltimore-Washington region. The Martinsburg area is known for hiring hundreds of migrants annually to work in fruit orchards. Its Hispanic growth climbed from 14 percent to 18 percent between 2000 and 2005 before shrinking last year to 3.3 percent, still above the national average.

Marcelino says she sells food from her home to make ends meet for her family and continues to hope that one day she will get a hearing with immigration officials to stay legally in the U.S. She aspires to open a restaurant and is learning English at a community college so she can help other Spanish-language speakers.

If she is eventually deported, "it wouldn't be that tragic," Marcelino said. "But because the children have been born here, this is their country. And there are more opportunities for them here."

Hispanic population boom may have peaked
Of the 30 large metropolitan areas showing the fastest Hispanic growth in the previous decade, all showed slower growth in 2011 than in the peak Hispanic growth years of 2005-2006, when the construction boom attracted new migrants to low-wage work. They include Lakeland, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta; Provo, Utah; Las Vegas; and Phoenix. All but two — Fort Myers, Fla., and Dallas-Fort Worth — also grew more slowly last year than in 2010, hurt by the jobs slump.

Pointing to a longer-term decline in immigration, demographers believe the Hispanic population boom may have peaked.

"The Latino population is very young, which means they will continue to have a lot of births relative to the general population," said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the Population Reference Bureau. "But we're seeing a slowdown that is likely the result of multiple factors: declining Latina birth rates combined with lower immigration levels. If both of these trends continue, they will lead to big changes down the road."

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the census data, noted that government debates over immigration enforcement may now be less pressing, given slowing growth. "The current congressional and Supreme Court interest in reducing immigration — and the concerns especially about low-skilled and undocumented Hispanic immigration — represent issues that could well be behind us," he said.

Minorities made up roughly 2.02 million, or 50.4 percent of U.S. births in the 12-month period ending July 2011. That compares with 37 percent in 1990.

In all, 348 of the nation's 3,143 counties, or 1 in 9, have minority populations across all age groups that total more than 50 percent. In a sign of future U.S. race and ethnic change, the number of counties reaching the tipping point increases to more than 690, or nearly 1 in 4, when looking only at the under age 5 population.

The counties in transition include Maricopa (Phoenix), Ariz.; King (Seattle), Wash.; Travis (Austin), Texas; and Palm Beach, Fla., where recent Hispanic births are driving the increased diversity among children. Also high on the list are suburban counties such as Fairfax, Va., just outside the nation's capital, and Westchester, N.Y., near New York City, where more open spaces are a draw for young families who are increasingly minority.

According to the latest data, the percentage growth of Hispanics slowed from 4.2 percent in 2001 to 2.5 percent last year. Their population growth would have been even lower if it weren't for their relatively high fertility rates — seven births for every death. The median age of U.S. Hispanics is 27.6 years.

Births actually have been declining for both whites and minorities as many women postponed having children during the economic slump. But the drop since 2008 has been larger for whites, who have a median age of 42. The number of white births fell by 11.4 percent, compared with 3.2 percent for minorities, according to Kenneth Johnson, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire.

Asian population increases also slowed, from 4.5 percent in 2001 to about 2.2 percent. Hispanics and Asians still are the two fastest-growing minority groups, making up about 16.7 percent and 4.8 percent of the U.S. population, respectively.

Blacks, who comprise about 12.3 percent of the population, have increased at a rate of about 1 percent each year. Whites have increased very little in recent years.

Other findings:

—The migration of black Americans back to the South is slowing. New destinations in the South, including Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Orlando, Fla., saw sharp drop-offs in black population growth as the prolonged housing bust kept African-Americans locked in place in traditional big cities. Metro areas including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco had reduced declines or gains.

—Nine U.S. counties in five states saw their minority populations across all age groups surpass 50 percent last year. They were Sutter and Yolo in California; Quitman in Georgia; Cumberland in New Jersey; Colfax in New Mexico; and Lynn, Mitchell, Schleicher and Swisher in Texas.

—Maverick County, Texas, had the largest share of minorities at 96.8 percent, followed by Webb County, Texas, and Wade Hampton, Alaska, both at 96 percent.

—Four states — Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas — as well as the District of Columbia have minority populations that exceed 50 percent.

The census estimates used local records of births and deaths, tax records of people moving within the U.S., and census statistics on immigrants. The figures for "white" refer to those whites who are not of Hispanic ethnicity.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Data: 2010 U.S. Census data

Data provided by U.S. Census Bureau


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