Latinos on Pace to Become Largest Population Group in Texas by 2022

Latinos are on pace to become the largest population group in the state of Texas in less than five years.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Lone Star State welcomed 234,000 new Hispanic residents in 2017.

That brought the Hispanic population in Texas to more than 11 million people.

The growth could mean increased social and political power, according to activists and political science experts.

Dozens of families took to Klyde Warren Park on Sunday afternoon to enjoy the splash water park and food trucks available.

It proved to be a warm welcome to Texas for the Perez family.

"I really like the environment here," said Rosana Perez who moved to Texas from New York three weeks ago with her husband and 1-year-old son.

"One of the main reasons was because of our kids. I have a 1-year-old, one on the way and here in Texas there's a quality of life because it's a more family-oriented state," she said.

Perez said she also appreciates the importance placed on religion in Texas.

Just as the Perez family is moving to Texas, so are other Latinos.

In fact, the Hispanic population continued to climb leading experts to project the minority group will outnumber the white population by 2022.

A state demographer told The Dallas Morning News that the Latino population had initially been projected to outnumber the non-Hispanic white population by 2020, but was moved after a slowdown in immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries as well as a dip in the birth rate among Hispanics.

"It's going to continue to grow," said Rene Martinez of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "It's going to continue to be young. From a consumer standpoint, our buying power is tremendous."

Martinez said with increased power comes greater responsibility within the community, especially when it comes to education.

"Education impacts on the cycle of poverty," he said speaking to the Latino community. "Getting a good education and staying out of trouble; being good contributing citizens to this community, which many of us are. That fringe group that the president talks about, those people who are involved in crime, that's the one-percent. And by the way, those come in all colors."

When it comes to politics, University of Texas at Arlington political science professor Allan Saxe stresses Latinos are a diverse voting group – with some Latinos staunchly in support of many traditional, socially conservative values in line with the Republican Party – while others align more with Democrats when it comes to immigration and social services.

Either way, Saxe said, there is a lot of political power to wield.

"[Latinos] can have a lot more power if they sort of play hard to get," he said. "So maybe the Republicans, maybe the Democrats but if they give everything they have to one political party it reduces, I think, their power."

First generation Texans like Emmanuel Quijada embrace that notion.

"I think we're going to take a major role in our community," he said. "We're going to take more roles in the government, all that stuff, and that's pretty cool."

Those lured to Texas by the hope of raising a family welcome it too.

"That's great news that we're going to be the majority because we're doing something great for this country," Perez said. "Working hard, raising our kids to love this country the way we love it too because there's many opportunities the country has given us and so I'm very proud of our culture."

The next census will be in 2020.

There is controversy surrounding the federal government's effort to ask people about their citizenship status on the form.

Critics argue it discriminates against immigrants and would only decrease participation and an accurate count.

The census helps determine things like political representation in Congress and federal funding of programs.

The U.S. Commerce Secretary previously stated that the question was needed in part to help the government enforce the Voting Rights Act, a 1965 law meant to protect political representation of minority groups.

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