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81st Arizona Town Hall
Arizona Hispanics: The Evolution of Influence
Oct. 27 - 30, 2002

Between 1990 and 2000, Arizona's Latino population increased by almost 90 percent. Already more than one quarter of Arizona's population, Hispanics are projected to become the largest of all of Arizona's population groups by the year 2045. Basic issues involving the impacts that this rapidly growing population group will have on Arizona's education, immigration, economic, health care and justice systems were discussed. Following are just a few of the recommendations and ideas from the 81st Town Hall on this important topic.

  • The growing Hispanic population provides multilingualism and cultural diversity that will give Arizona an enormous opportunity and necessary tools to succeed in a global economy.
  • Arizona's untapped Hispanic market has tremendous buying power. A comprehensive economic impact study should be completed by appropriate agencies to fully explore, define and capture the emerging influence of Hispanics on the Arizona economy.
  • The high Hispanic school dropout rate and under achievement must be addressed and the education of Hispanic youth must be made a priority.
  • English fluency is important in order to improve Hispanics' socioeconomic position and employment opportunities in this country... Competency in English is essential, but a child's primary language should be used as a tool to develop a second language competency and to teach educational content.
  • The number of Hispanics in political office is not keeping pace with the growing Hispanic population. Major political parties should extend greater efforts to encourage and support Hispanics' attempts to enter politics...
  • High numbers of transient immigrants in Arizona's border counties place a tremendous burden on the state's health care system, raising challenges and requiring solutions that must be uniquely tailored to the border counties.
  • The incidence of violence and victimization of Hispanics is a serious problem. The responsibility for arriving at solutions rests both with the Latino community and Arizonans generally.
  • Current federal immigration policy does not reflect the economic reality of Arizona, or the United States. Federal immigration policy must be changed and/or updated to reflect this reality…. Arizona needs a viable guest worker program that is fair and equitable to all.

Education is key to moving toward a sense of "all" Arizonans pulling together for a better Arizona. Inclusive practices and policies, shared values and common goals will contribute to a sense of "all." When all Arizonans recognize that our needs, goals and basic values are aligned and inextricably intertwined, regardless of our diverse backgrounds and cultures, we will all pull together for a better Arizona.

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