The Norman Hispanic population has surpassed the growth of the city News

Norman’s Hispanic population has grown faster in the past decade than the city’s overall population, and those in the community expect that growth will only continue in the coming years.

According to Census Bureau records, the city’s Hispanic population grew from 7,082 to 11,827 from 2010 to 2020. The city as a whole grew from 110,925 to 128,026.

The growth rate of the Hispanic community was 67% over the decade – 52% higher than the city’s overall growth, the data indicate. Hispanic residents, by 2020, make up 9% of the city’s population, up from 6% in 2010.

The numbers are even higher at Norman Public Schools-the student body was 16.3% Hispanic in the 2020-2021 school year, according to records.

The population trend in Norman is a microcosm of a larger one in Oklahoma. The state’s Hispanic population grew a full three percentage points to 11.9% in the decade, the data showed.

Even with the increasing population, some still believe that the numbers are undercounted.

Otto Orellana, a Guatemalan immigrant who moved to Norman from the Los Angeles area in the mid-2000s with his wife Saidy, said first-generation Hispanic immigrants often chose not to report out of fear. they to immigration officials who arrest them if they report to the census Saidy Orellana also said that natives from Latin American countries can only be identified as in the census, which lowers the number.

Report it or not, thousands of Hispanic residents now rule all walks of life in Norman.

“The majority [of people] being happy, making us feel accepted, so when we feel safe, accepted and celebrated for our difference, that’s a place you want to go and give your best, ”Saidy Orellana said.

Reasons to come, reasons to stay

Otto Orellana said a community like Norman is attractive for generations of Hispanic immigrants from Latin America.

The relatively moderate crime rate and pace of life offer a stark contrast to many countries in Central and South America under the thumb of civil war or drug violence, he said.

“When you move to Norman, oh my god – it’s incredible,” he said. “A lot of people say it’s heaven on earth.”

The Orellanas moved to Norman because there were no Hispanic churches in the city. They founded the Iglesia Pueblo de Dios, pastor of Otto Orellana.

When they first moved, their children stood in their almost-white school, Saidy Orellana said. While Hispanic students are well represented in the NPS student population, only 1.75% of teachers in the district were Hispanic as of December 2020, records show.

The Orellanas story is similar to that of Jonathan Quinonez, who moved to the Pauls Valley from the Los Angeles area in 1999 with his father. Like the Orellanas, Quinonez’s father moved to the area to become a pastor.

Quinonez said he was one of only two Hispanic students in his graduating class in 2006.

“It’s different, because of [Southern] California, everyone speaks Spanish, ”Quinonez said. Hispanics residents are the largest ethnic demographic in California, data shows.

Quinonez and Otto Orellana both noticed Hispanic residents moving away from California because of the lower cost of living in other parts of the country. Both said it would be easier, in other parts of the country, for them to achieve the “American dream” of a career and owning a home for themselves and their families, something Quinonez said is ingrained. of immigrants.

Since they moved to Oklahoma, Orellanas and Quinonez have both seen an increase in the Hispanic population. Otto Orellana said there are now five or six Hispanic churches in Norman.

When it comes to transfers, Quinonez said it “takes one person” for others to follow in their footsteps.

“A family member was here, told their family, ‘Hey, the cost of living is cheap here. You can buy five houses where the cost of your house is there,'” he said.

When they arrived in Norman, Hispanic residents were working in every profession, Otto Orellana said.

Cinthya Allen, Norman’s head of diversity and equity officer, said entrepreneurship is well known to the Hispanic population as well. Quinonez said there are two Hispanic stores in the city that he sees clients from his Farmer’s Insurance office.

In his office, Quinonez said he has seen more Spanish -speaking clients as the Hispanic population grows.

“Just being a resident of Norman and seeing more businesses open, restaurants open, with natural latino or cuisine, is just interesting,” Allen said.

Allen, who lived in Norman for 21 years after moving to Oklahoma City from Mexico, said he stayed in the city after attending the University of Oklahoma. He said there is an international student presence at OU that makes it receptive for Hispanic students.

The university also provides careers for Hispanic youth, Otto Orellana said.

“Norman brings the best opportunities,” he said.

‘A more inclusive space that draws people’

When asked how much he expects the Hispanic population to grow over the next decade, Otto Orellana said he sees it as likely to double.

As the city’s Hispanic population grew, the city and community services became more accommodating. The city and NPS websites can be translated into Spanish, and the school district has bilingual staff at the sites with the highest need, NPS communications director Wes Moody said. NPS also has Hispanic families every night, Moody said.

But the community needs to continue to be more responsive to population growth, Saidy Orellana said. He said he wanted the NPS to have an evening orientation in Spanish.

Allen said his office is looking at how to expand “opportunity awareness” for aspects of city life such as entrepreneurship and civic engagement for the Hispanic population and others.

“It’s diverse elements like this that create a more inclusive space that draws people in,” Allen said.

“Its goal is not just to know the numbers, but to implement these methods to improve the lives of these communities,” Saidy Orellana said.

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