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Bob Clare tion was gauged by the rate at which they collectively acquired a knowledge of English. The one major group that has had the greatest difficulty in assimilatingthe black populationis English-speaking. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that many people will oppose the idea that any language other than English should be taught or learned. For despite the lan guage patterns of some I s on iso lated reservations, or th mbers of some ethnic religious grou r the resi dents of a few ethnic urban enclaves who continue to use their native languages for purely local and personal activities, no other language but Spanish has even the most remote possibility of becoming of national consequence over the long run. The catalytic forces that are contributing to the emerging role of Spanish in the United States are many and complex, but because they represent the culmination of long-run trends, these forces are more subtle in their impacts than forces. that cause abrupt changes. The importance of size The most important factor at work on behalf of a national English-Spanish bilingualism is the growing number of persons of Spanish heritage in our population. As of March 1978, the Spanishheritage population totaled over 12 miltion’s official population. This excludes 24 DECEMBER 28, 1979 the population of Puerto Rico and, probably, several million more illegal aliens of Spanish heritage. Between 1973 and 1978, the “officially” defined Hispanic population grew by 14 percent, whereas the non-Hispanic population increased by only 3.3 percent over the same interval. Increased migration and immigration, both legal and illegal, from Spanish-speaking areas, as well as extremely high fertility rates* of Hispanic women relative to all other ethnic and racial groups, makes it certain that these high growth rates will continue. If so, not only will the proportion of Hispanics continue to increase as,a percentage of the total population, but they will collectively supplant the black population as the nation’s largest minority group well before the year 2000. In addition to sheer numbers, there is the diversity of Spanish-origin persons. The largest Spanish-speaking group is of Mexican heritage. Historically, this population has been concentrated in the five Southwestern states of California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, but sizable Mexican-heritage populations have also developed outside that region. The Chicago metropolitan area, for instance, now has more persons of Mexican heritage than Colorado. Many * That is, the ratio of the number of children under five divided by the number of women aged 15 to 49. other Midwestern and West Coast communities are rapidly developing significant Mexican-American populations. Puerto Rico is also a continuing source of Spanish-speaking persons. Spanish is the official language of the island commonwealth. As citizens of the United States, Puerto Ricans have the freedom to move to the mainland at any time, and over the years many have migrated on either a temporary or permanent basis. The Puerto Rican population of the New York metropolitan area currently exceeds that of the largest city in Puerto Rico, San Juan. The Puerto Ricans of the mainland have tended to become concentrated in the urban areas of the Northeast, but they, too, have begun to disperse. Cities like Lancaster, Pennsylvania, now have sizable Puerto Rican communities. The influx of Cubans into southern Florida has been substantial since the advent of the Castro regime. Some initial federal efforts to disperse the Cuban refugees were largely unsuccessful. Exercising their freedom to live where they pleased, a majority of the Cuban refugees elected to reside in southern Florida. Numerous other Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean and Central and South America, as well as Spain itself, annually supply immigrants \(legally particular, there continue to be substantial movements of people from the