Karen Auge, Denver Post, December 15, 2011
By 2021, children of color will make up the majority of Colorado’s under-18 population, a milestone that will be achieved in part because of the rapid growth of children born to immigrant parents, according to data compiled by the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
The change in the state’s demographic landscape reflects what is happening around the country, said Lisa Piscopo of the children’s campaign.
The report, released Wednesday, predicts the demographic shift will have broad implications for the state’s economy and education system, and it calls on state leaders to ensure that children of immigrants aren’t left behind.
Children of color already make up half the young people in 15 Colorado counties, including Denver, Adams, Arapahoe and Pueblo, as well as much of the San Luis Valley.
In 2009, nearly a quarter of Colorado’s kids–about 254,000–were children of immigrant parents, and the vast majority, about 87 percent, were born in this country.
Nationally, Colorado’s income gap between immigrant and non-immigrant families is second only to Nebraska’s, according to the study.
Kids of immigrant parents are also less likely to do well in school. Last year in Colorado, only 5 percent of fourth-graders who are not native English speakers could read at grade level. By comparison, 45 percent of fourth-graders fluent in English could read at grade level. That achievement gap was the second greatest in the country, according to the children’s campaign data.
Even if not a single additional immigrant entered the state, the growth trend would probably continue, the report concludes.
Such growth is driven by immigrants who are already here having children, not by those coming into the country.
“That train,” Piscopo said, “has already left the station.”