Hispanics to outnumber whites in California

Anne Hobson | Contributor

A new report from the California Department of Finance indicates that the state’s Hispanic population will surpass the number of whites in the next two years.  In 2014, California will join New Mexico and Hawaii as the third state with a non-white majority. This shift occurs amid the resurgence of the immigration debate.

In a speech at a majority-Hispanic high school in Las Vegas on Wednesday, President Barack Obama trumpeted the importance of overhauling the current immigration system.  This speech comes in the wake of criticism from Latino activists for  defaulting on his promise to make immigration reform a priority of his first term.

In reaction to a compromise reached by a bipartisan group of eight senators, Obama announced his support of immigration law enforcement, a clearly defined path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and changes to the current legal immigration system.  The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. hovers around 11 million. California boasts the largest number of illegal immigrants at 2.3 million.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a vocal figure in the U.S. immigration debate, is part of the Senate working group.  Their blueprint details efforts to improve border control, monitor visitors, and enforce laws restricting the hiring of undocumented workers.  It would also grant millions of illegal immigrants immediate and provisional status to live and work in the United States. The House of Representatives is working on releasing their own bipartisan outline of immigration reform.

Whites comprised 40 percent of the state’s population in comparison to Hispanics at 38 percent in 2010.  By 2020, these numbers are expected to rise to 36.6 percent and 40.8  percent respectively.  By mid-2013 Hispanic population will break even with whites, ultimately surpassing white population by 2014.  This shift parallels the nationwide increase in Hispanic population from 12.5 percent of the total to 16.7 percent.

The California Department of Finance report is based on the U.S. Census and state health department statistics. It suggests that California’s population will rise from 38 million to 50 million by 2049 and will remain young relative to the populations of other states because of the high volume of immigration.

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