|McALLEN, February 21 - There is a big difference between the total number of Hispanics living in the Rio Grande Valley and the number that are U.S. citizens, a new report shows.
The number of Hispanics living in Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties is 1,138,350, according to NALEO. The number of Hispanic U.S. citizen adults in the same four counties is 511,892. And the number of Hispanic registered voters in the region is 411,260.
NALEO stands for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Ahead of the March 4 primary election, NALEO's educational fund has issued a 2014 profile of the Hispanic electorate in Texas and the Hispanic candidates running for office in the Lone Star State. In the study, NALEO refers to Hispanics as Latinos.
The study shows that the Valley has the highest number of Hispanics registered to vote, more than Harris County, Bexar County, Dallas-Fort Worth, or El Paso County. However, when it comes to the overall Hispanic population, Harris County and Dallas-Fort Worth has more Hispanics than the Valley. Meanwhile, Bexar County has the most Hispanic U.S. citizen adults in Texas, followed by Harris County and then the Valley.
The study paints a picture of the Valley having more non-citizen Hispanics and a younger Hispanic population than other metro areas in Texas.
In a news release unveiling its new report, the NALEO Educational Fund says “Texas is home to nearly ten million Latinos, who comprise over one-third of the state’s residents (38 percent). Between 2000 and 2010, the state’s Latino population grew from 6,669,666 to 9,460,921, an increase of 41.8 percent. During the same period, Texas’ total population grew from 20,851,820 to 25,145,561, an increase of 20.6 percent. The increase in Texas’ Latino community equaled nearly two-thirds (65.0 percent) of the state’s total population growth. Latino voter turnout in Texas mid-term Congressional elections also continues to increase, growing from 623,000 in 1998 to 1,012,000 in 2010, an increase of 62.4 percent.”
NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas issued this statement: “These numbers equate to real political power in the upcoming midterm elections, with the Latino electorate accounting for more than one out of every five registered voters (22 percent) in the state of Texas. In the coming days and months, it will be critical for campaigns and candidates to actively engage Texas Latino voters on the issues that matter most if they want to gain the support of this increasingly influential electorate.”
The report then goes on to analyze the chances of Hispanic candidates running in Texas statewide and congressional races. It says former professional photographer and Army veteran Ray Madrigal, a Democrat, and former television personality Miriam Martinez, a Republican from McAllen, are facing uphill battles against the frontrunners in their respective contests - state Senator Wendy Davis and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
The NALEO Educational Fund says it has been actively working to ensure that the state’s Latino community has the information necessary to make their voices heard at the ballot box. It says these efforts include operating the NALEO Educational Fund toll-free bilingual hotline 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) and the yaeshora.info website. The group says it wants to provide Texas Latino voters with vital information on every aspect of the electoral process in 2014, from registering to vote, to voter ID requirements, to finding their polling place on Election Day.
Click here to read the full report.