Hispanics, the people of Latin American origin, have become the largest minority in the United States in place of Blacks, according to the latest census.
Hispanics (of any race), as of July 2003, numbered 39,899,00 against 37,099,000 Blacks. The Hispanic population increased 13% since the 2000 census while the Black population rose 4.4%.
The next fastest growing group is Asian, which increased 12.5% in the same period.
American Indians and Alaskan natives numbered 2,787,000, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander 495,000, people who claim two or more races 4,308,000, and Whites (non-Hispanic) 197,328,000, an increase of 0.9%.
The total US population as of July 2003 was 290,810,000, according to the census.
The comparative increase is not welcome to all. Dan Stein, executive director, Federation for American Immigration Reform, said that these numbers "are a by-product of the high rate of illegal immigration and the failure of state and local governments to enforce immigration laws".
He complained: "The number of illegals coming into public schools in this country is skyrocketing, and schools are struggling under the burden."
Asked why few complaints are heard about the increase in the numbers of Asians, Stein said: "The baseline is so much lower to begin with. And Asians, as a group, are quite varied and diverse. Many have financial and geographic mobility that contrasts with the incredible poverty rates of many Hispanics."
J Gregory Robinson, a demographic statistician for the Census Bureau, said that one reason Asians might have been comparatively overlooked in the debate over immigration is that so many of them are working-age adults, 18 to 64 years old.
As of last summer, 66% of Asians were in this age group, the highest proportion of any race or ethnic group.