An Introduction to the Hispanic Population in Denton County
DATE POSTED: 07/01/2020  |     |   Category: Shoulder to Shoulder

As we process a specific phase of racial reconciliation brought on by recent events in our country, I would like to offer a personal perspective on cultural and ethnic elements that relate to my own associational ministry work with the Hispanic population in Denton County.  I offer this perspective in broad strokes with the hope that it stimulates further analysis and dialogue as we strive to reach all population groups with the gospel.

U.S. census data had the Hispanic population in Denton County hovering around 160,000 when I first began my ministry assignment a little over four years ago.  Census projections estimate the total Hispanic population in the county at around 274,000 by the year 2030.  They account for 20% of the county’s population.

I see four basic groupings of Hispanics in our county.  Again, remember that I am speaking in broad strokes here.

  1. Undocumented Hispanics who are looking to better their personal, family and/or economic condition and work under oppressive conditions, fearing being identified and deported.
  2. Recently arrived documented Hispanics of mid-to-higher social status in their countries of origin who are looking to better their personal, family and/or economic situation or have fled political or economic difficulties. They tend to work better paying jobs, but not all of them.  A high percentage of these continue to live out their native cultural social standards by distancing themselves from Hispanics of lower social, cultural, or educational status.
  3. Hispanics who arrived years ago—many undocumented—but who have since attained legal status. They have established themselves in society and are somewhat upwardly mobile.  They are buying houses and working better paying jobs.  They work hard to provide their children with access to a college education.  Some have attained better jobs in the hope that their children will follow them in their line of work.  Even though they remember the hardships they faced when they first arrived and the struggles they endured to get to their current point in life, they hesitate to identify with newly arrived undocumented immigrants.  This may possibly be the result of a fear of being associated by others with their own former immigration status.
  4. Hispanics born in the U.S.A. (2nd, 3rd, 4th generations and beyond—some who even trace their roots in Texas to when it was still part of Mexico). Many prefer to speak English over Spanish.  For most, speaking English is a personal preference though they speak and read Spanish equally well.  However, some either never learned to speak Spanish or quit doing so, which makes English their heart language.  They have integrated into American culture but have added their own Latin flavor to it.  They take advantage of the educational, labor, and social opportunities here, but many of them have stamped their Hispanic cultural and familial upbringing into their own way of life.  They live bi-culturally, sometimes tri-culturally.  They give me the impression that they understand the plight of undocumented immigrants and are interested in helping them resolve their situation.

As I stated at the beginning, these are broad-stroked personal observations on my part.  I look forward to further study and dialogue on this topic with my Hispanic fellow ministers and with all friends in the DBA.

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