Latino Influence Changing California's Inland Empire

Latino Influence Changing California's Inland Empire

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 A new study released Saturday by the Brookings Institution, in Washington D.C. has found that the Inland Empire had the largest increase in Latino population of any metropolitan region in the nation during the last decade.

The study is the latest to underscore the dramatic demographic trends occurring in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which saw significant growth in the last decade.

An examination of census data last year found that the construction boom of the early 2000s helped fuel the increase in Latino population. As hundreds of thousands of immigrants chased construction and service jobs and the chance to own a home in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the region's Latino population soared. Latinos were onequarter of Riverside County's population in the 1990 census, for example, and 43% by 2007.

The Brookings study found that between 2000 to 2008, more than 630,000 new Latino residents were added to the two counties. The region also saw a significant loss of white residents during the same period, the study found.

Alan Berube, research director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program told the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which first reported the study, that the demographic shift was creating a "cultural generation gap."

This demographic shift of Hispanic Latinos is led by both high immigration and high birth rates of its largest contingent, Mexican Americans – or Chicanos – and is literally changing the complexion of the ongoing debate about race and multicultural relations in the United States. Latinos are a force of change pulling the nation away from issues it has traditionally, and literally, seen as Black (African American) and White (European-American) problems.

The report said the impact of a growing Latino population is being felt in mainstream American politics, law enforcement and economic traditions.

The Inland area has the second highest disparity between the racial and ethnic between young and older people. Two-thirds of seniors are white but 73 percent of children are non-white.

From 2000 to 2007, the number of immigrants in San Bernardino and Riverside counties grew 55%, from 490,946 to 761,629, a Public Policy Institute study found. Despite being far larger at 3.5 million, the immigrant population in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area grew by just 161,000, or 4.6%, in the same period.

The studies didn't fully consider the more recent economic downturn in the region.