- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Habla espanol?
In more American homes, the answer is "Si." Census 2000 data released so far for 13 states show more U.S. residents are speaking Spanish at home, an inevitable trend given the surge in the nation's Hispanic population over the 1990s.
For some small communities in Indiana and Oregon two states to receive the detailed long-form data yesterday that means local governments struggling to break down language barriers to meet the needs of their newest residents.
In places like Santa Ana, Calif., about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, business owners say knowing how to speak Spanish and English is a necessity. Many city workers are already required to know more than one language.
Three-quarters of Santa Ana's population is Hispanic. Of residents age 5 and older, 70 percent spoke Spanish at home, up from 59 percent in 1990.
"It's a pretty unique city in that rarely do you have such a complete culture imprinted on it," said Steve Morris, manager of Austin Hardwoods in Santa Ana, which supplies lumber products to contractors. In recent years, Mr. Morris said he learned some Spanish and hired a bilingual salesperson to expand his clientele.
Nationally, the Hispanic population rose 58 percent during the decade to 35.3 million. Hispanics now rival blacks as the nation's largest minority group.
While immigrant gateways like California have long had the infrastructure to deal with non-English-speaking immigrants, states like Indiana attracted Hispanics in waves not seen before the 1990s, said demographer William Frey of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank, the Milken Institute.
Those states in the Midwest and South attracted "less-skilled migrants from Latin America or the rest of the United States who will pose new challenges for English-only social and government services," Mr. Frey said.
The latest figures come from detailed 2000 census long-form data being released by the Census Bureau over the next month. Ten states received figures yesterday.
All states are scheduled to receive numbers by early June.
Some highlights from yesterday's release:
In Indiana, the percentage of residents age 5 and older speaking Spanish at home increased from 2 percent in 1990 to 3 percent in 2000. Translated into hard numbers, the number of Spanish-speaking residents more than doubled to 185,000.
During the same period, the percentage of foreign-born residents from Latin America surged from 18 percent to about 42 percent.
In California, 12.4 million residents said they spoke a language other than English at home. Of that total, 65 percent spoke Spanish.
cIn Oregon, a smaller percentage of those speaking Spanish at home say they can also speak English "very well" 46 percent in 2000, down from 56 percent a decade earlier.
Daniel Juarez runs Immigration Project, a Granite City, Ill.-based operation that helps new immigrants in rural southern Illinois gain citizenship. Many of his clients came to work in the area plant and tree nurseries; others are migrant farm workers.
When it comes to services, Hispanics are still being neglected, said Mr. Juarez, who is an immigrant from Peru. "They struggle for services because [the population] is still growing," he said.

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