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Study: Births, Not Immigration, Driving Latino Growth In U.S.

In the last decade, births have surpassed immigration as the driving force behind the Latino population growth in the United States. That's according to a new study released by the Pew Hispanic Center, today.

Most of that growth, researchers found, came from Mexican-Americans. The study found that from 2000 to 2010, 4.2 million Mexicans emigrated to the United States, whereas 7.2 million Mexican-Americans were born in the country. Pew reports:

This is a change from the previous two decades when the number of new immigrants either matched or exceeded the number of births.

The current surge in births among Mexican-Americans is largely attributable to the immigration wave that has brought more than 10 million immigrants to the United States from Mexico since 1970. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, more than half (53%) of all Mexican- American births were to Mexican immigrant parents. As a group, these immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born Americans to be in their prime child-bearing years. They also have much higher fertility.

Another thing that contributed to this shift is that immigrant arrivals from Mexico has plummeted about 60 percent from 2006 to 2010. Pew attributes the drop to a poor American economy, more stringent enforcement of immigration laws and a stronger Mexican economy.

In an interview with the AP Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center and co-author of the study, said the underlying importance of the new numbers is that these Latinos will "enter public schools, participate in the nation's economy as workers and consumers, and enter the growing pool of Hispanic eligible voters."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.