Arizona's Latino Population Up 46 Percent

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PHOENIX—Arizona's Latino population grew by 46 percent, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday.

in 2010, Latinos made up nearly 30 percent of the state's 6.4 million residents, up from slightly more than 25 percent in 2000. The rate of increase, while substantial, was significantly slower than the 88 percent growth rate in the state's Latino population during the decade from 1990-2000.

Arizona's overall population growth rate was 29 percent, second only to Nevada's. The population gains means that Arizona will add another Congressional district to its current eight, and there are likely to be huge fights over how that dsitrict is drawn.

The state's white, non-Hispanic population as a proportion of the total population fell to less than 58 percent. from nearly 64 percent in 2000. The state's white population increased 13 percent over the past decade.

The Census Bureau and state Commerce Department estimated in 2009 that about 31 percent of the state's residents were Latino. Demographers attributed the lower total for 2010 to the recession and the state's crackdown on illegal immigration with a string of hard-line laws, including SB 1070.

The estimates were off by the most in the state's major urban areas of Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties, said Arizona State University demographer Tom Rex.

"There's lots of things that may have caused all that, but clearly the thought was how much of the influx of Hispanics was into the major urban areas," Rex said. "Therefore it would make sense that the combination of the recession and the employers sanctions law bear that out."

The state's white, non-Hispanic population fell to less than 58 percent of the total, from nearly 64 percent in 2000.

Among the state's children under under 18, 43 percent are Latino. That's a cautionary tale for Arizona politicians who are pushing crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, Arturo Vargas, executive director for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, told the Associated Press.

"I think it's reasonable to assume that the anti-immigrant, which many Latinos perceive as anti-Latino, sentiment, is having an effect on Arizona's children," he said. "I think that probably will affect their views on their political participation when they turn 18."