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Study: Texas needs to invest more in Hispanic growth

By: Ruben Veloz
EL PASO, Texas - Some state educators say Texas isn't doing much to invest in the growing Hispanic population, and according to one study the future of the state's economy depends on Hispanics being able to get higher-paying jobs.  
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics make up 38 percent of the state's population, but by the year 2020 experts predict Hispanics will become the new minority-majority in the state.  

Researchers say much of the growing Hispanic population isn't coming from Mexico, but from people moving in from other states.
 "Well you know I am Hispanic so I think that's great," said Canutillo resident Diana Pulido. "We are pretty hard workers you know as a community."
The Hispanic population is nothing new to the borderland; the Census Bureau says 80 percent of El Paso's population is Hispanic, but experts say if Texas ignores the growing Hispanic population, the state's economy will suffer.
Researchers warn if nothing is done to give the growing Hispanic population access to opportunities, the state will become poorer and less competitive.
"We have two choices. We can either educate that fast-growing Hispanic population or not," said Dr. Diana Natalicio.
Natalicio has been president of the University of Texas El Paso for 26 years.
She is credited for increasing the school's national standing and increasing student enrollment.
"I did it with a team of people who believe in public education as I do and who believed in the talent in this community," said Natalicio. "It's rich, there is huge talent and historically it simply was being squandered."
Today, nearly 80 percent of the student body is Mexican-American.
Educators say ignoring the trend wold be like ignoring the importance of health care, and infrastructure.  
Natalicio told KFOX14 ignoring the growing Hispanic population could be devastating, not only to the state but the nation.
"They are going to have issues that we are going to have to deal with, we are going to have to support them rather than having them become productive members of society," said Natalicio.
Some El Pasoans believe the rising cost of education is what's holding many people back.
"Lower tuition,  lower the University cost and the community cost so it would be easier than having to go to college instead of having working two jobs," said Canutillo resident James Ruiz.
Others say the issue should be centered with parents who don't do enough to push their kids to pursue a college degree.
"There is a lot of scholarships you can get just for being a quarter Hispanic and there is a lot of incentive to go far," said east El Paso resident Raneem Karboji.
Natalicio said the issue isn't only figuring out how to make education affordable, but also accessible.
"The talent is there, the question is how we capitalize on that so that everybody wins," said Natalicio.