The term Hispanic was created by the U. S. federal government in the early 1970's in an attempt to provide a common denominator to a large, but diverse population with connection to the Spanish language or culture from a Spanish-speaking country. The term Latino reflects the origin of the population in Latin America and is increasingly gaining acceptance among Hispanics.  Both terms are used throughout this report.

Over the past 30 years, the Hispanic/Latino population in the United States has exhibited tremendous growth. Hispanics/Latinos comprise about 11% of the U. S. population, including 3.6 million residing in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  About 31 million individuals identify themselves as Hispanics.  Hispanics are projected to become the largest minority group by the year 2006.

It is anticipated that nationally, the Hispanic/Latino population will increase by 23% over the next 50 years. As projected nationally, the Hispanic/Latino population also will be the fastest growing population in the State of South Carolina.  According to Census 2000, Hispanics/Latinos  represent 2.36% of the State’s total population of 4,012,012.  This represents a 211.7% increase over the 1990 Census figures for this group.  This trend is expected to continue.

Note the statistics below:
With the increased numbers of Hispanics/Latinos in the State, there are increasing demands for specific services to meet the unique needs of this population.  In order to meet those needs in a timely and efficient manner, the State must identify barriers in the current service system that hamper the delivery of good health care, public education and other vital services.  This report attempts to  identify some of the barriers and makes recommendations to assist South Carolina’s transition to a multi-cultural and linguistically appropriate service delivery system. 

Many of the recommendations will not be easy to implement because of the overall perception that most Hispanic/Latino persons are in the country and state illegally; therefore, they are not entitled to the same services and rights as U.S. citizens and state residents.   However, the 2000 Census recorded 95,076 persons of Hispanic origin in the state.  Since undocumented immigrants tended to shy away from the Census count, the majority of these individuals are presumed to be of legal status.  Therefore, as this legal population continues to grow, so will their unique service needs.

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