February 16, 2011 | Sacramento Bee | Original Article

Latinos Fuel Illinois Population Growth

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2011 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The growth of the Latino community since 2000 accounts for the population increase in Illinois in the last decade, according to a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund analysis of newly released Census 2010 data.  

Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population in Illinois grew 33% from 1.5 million to 2.0 million, and the Latino share of the population grew from 12% to 16%.  At the same time, the non-Latino population declined slightly by 0.8%.  The state lost a congressional seat, but that loss would likely have been greater were it not for the increase in the state's Latino population.

"As Illinois now undertakes its 2011 redistricting, those who draw its maps must recognize Latino population growth by ensuring the new maps allow Latinos to effectively choose their elected leaders," said NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas.  

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) prohibits jurisdictions from creating districts that through vote dilution may prevent Latinos and other protected population groups from electing candidates of their choice.  

"We call on Illinois to strictly comply with VRA's requirements during this year's redistricting process. It is now time to make sure Latinos can embrace the opportunity to translate those Census numbers into full and fair representation," said Vargas.  

Seven of the 10 largest cities in Illinois are also home to a majority of the state's Latino populations:  Chicago, Aurora, Cicero, Waukegan, Elgin, Joliet and Rockford.  Nearly two-thirds of Illinois Latinos -- 61% -- live in Cook County, with a majority residing in Chicago, the third-most populous city in the nation.  Latinos represent 28.9% of Chicago's population.  

The Census 2010 data also reveal significant Latino populations in many of the largest cities in Illinois, with Cicero having the greatest share of Latinos (86.6%).  (see below)

Top 10 Illinois Cities: 2010

City Total Population Latino Population Latino Share of Population
Chicago 2,695,598 778,862 28.9%
Aurora 197,899 81,809 41.3%
Rockford 152,871 24,085 15.8%
Joliet 147,433 41,042 27.8%
Naperville 141,853 7,574 5.3%
Springfield 116,250 2,325 2.0%
Peoria 115,007 5,628 4.9%
Elgin 108,188 47,121 43.6%
Waukegan 89,078 47,612 53.4%
Cicero 83,891 72,609 86.6%

"In order to ensure the state's future prosperity and well-being, policies must promote the economic, social and civic progress of the Latino community," added Vargas.  "The state's leadership must be accountable to its growing Latino population and ensure with sound policies that it promotes the economic, social and civil progress of the Latino community."