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Census Report Confirms Most in Santa Ana Foreign-Born

Community learns what it already knew. Study also says three other large Californian cities are among six in the U.S. with such majorities.

December 18, 2003|Jennifer Mena | Times Staff Writer

Foreign-born residents form majorities in six large U.S. cities, including Santa Ana, Glendale and El Monte, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report issued Wednesday.

Topping the list of cities of 100,000 people or more are Hialeah, Fla., and Miami, with an estimated 72% and 60% of residents born abroad, respectively.

Next come Glendale, with an estimated 54%, and Santa Ana, with 53% of its population of 337,977 coming from outside the United States. Census officials said the figures for the two cities were statistically indistinguishable.

The report, which for the first time analyzes sample data on foreign-born populations from the 2000 census, echoes conclusions of previous reports that counted Santa Ana's large foreign-born population, mostly natives of Mexico, and a smaller group from Vietnam.

In a 2002 survey, the Census Bureau estimated that 48% of Santa Ana's population is foreign-born. The figure for 2001 was 56%. Joseph Costanzo, a census researcher coordinator, said the study released Wednesday uses responses from one-sixth of the 115 million American households that received the census long form. The previous surveys involved samples as small as 750,000 respondents, he said.

The differences in the results can most likely be attributed to differences in sample size and do not necessarily indicate fluctuations in the foreign-born population in Santa Ana, Costanzo said.

Other large cities with high foreign-born populations are Daly City, Calif., 52%; El Monte, 51%; Elizabeth, N.J., 44%; Garden Grove, 43%; and Los Angeles, 41%.

The report was old news to Santa Ana officials, who have long responded to the needs of the foreign-born by increasing the number of bilingual employees and outreach programs to serve their needs.

"What we have found is that it makes a big difference when we have bilingual staff in City Hall and the Police Department," said City Council member Jose Solorio. "In the past, we could have a police officer respond to a call and there would be a need for a translator. We've eliminated that problem."

Solorio said the city also provides written information in Spanish, Vietnamese and Cambodian.

The Santa Ana Police Department has 180 bilingual police officers, who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Persian and constitute 51% of the force. Of non-sworn department employees, 66% are bilingual, said Police Department spokesman Sgt. Baltazar De La Riva.

Of the city's 1,571 employees, 43% receive extra pay for their language skills, said Enrique Alva, director of personnel.

At the Santa Ana Unified School District, bilingual education director Howard Bryan said that 68% of the district's students are learning English and that most of their parents were born outside the United States. Bryan said the district estimates about one-third of the city's adults are "under-schooled," and "that puts pressure on us to provide services to help parents help their children."

The district provides or assists in offering elementary school classes for adults, as well as high school equivalency courses and English.

"Other communities don't have this," Bryan said.

"But they don't have our population."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Golden State melting pot

Four of the six large American cities with majorities of foreign-born residents are in California, according to a new census analysis.

Highest percentage of foreign-born population, 2000

For cities with a population of 100,000 or more

*--* City Total population Foreign-born Percent Hialeah, FL 226,419 163,256 72 Miami, FL 362,470 215,739 59 Glendale 194,973 106,119 54 Santa Ana 337,977 179,933 53 Daly City 103,621 54,213 52 El Monte 115,965 59,589 51

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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