Births, not new immigrants, push U.S. Latino growth

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With immigration slowing, babies born in the U.S. rather than newly arrived Mexican immigrants are now driving most of the fast growth in the Latino population.

A new analysis of census data highlights a turning point in Hispanics' rapid U.S. growth. Demographers point to the potential for broader political impact as U.S.-born Mexican-Americans widen their numbers over non-citizen, foreign-born counterparts, who wield no voting rights.

"As these young Latinos age, they will enter public schools, participate in the nation's economy as workers and consumers, and enter the growing pool of Hispanic eligible voters," said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, who co-authored the study released Thursday.

The analysis focuses on the growth of Mexican-Americans, who make up more than 60 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population. Tracing a mass Mexican migration to the U.S. that began in 1970 and reached its height during the 1990s, it finds that young Mexicans who crossed the border many years ago are now adding to the population by having many children. That is a contrast to other racial and ethnic groups, who on average are older.

Currently, the median age of Mexican-Americans is 25, compared to 30 for other Hispanic subgroups, 32 for blacks and 41 for whites. Mexican-American women typically will have given birth to 2.5 children by their mid-40s, higher than for other groups.