California, New Mexico hold major political debates in Spanish

California, New Mexico hold major political debates in Spanish
Ahead of November elections, two heavily-Spanish-speaking areas of the United States are holding political debates between candidates in Spanish language.

On Tuesday, New Mexico incumbent Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, will debate Democratic challenger Gary King in a Spanish-language debate sponsored by Univision. Martinez will answer questions in fluent Spanish while King will use an interpreter, KSFR reported.

According to the US Census, New Mexico’s population is about 47 percent Latino, the highest percentage of Latino residents among US states.

In California, candidates in the 21st Congressional District race took part on Saturday in a Spanish-language debate sponsored by Univision Fresno and Fresno State University. The area that encompasses the 21st District is around 70 percent Latino, according to 2010 US Census data.

Incumbent David Valadao, a Republican, is the son of Portuguese immigrants. He learned Portuguese originally before English, according to The Fresno Bee. He said he picked up Spanish while speaking with workers on his family’s ranch.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (Mark Wilson / Getty Images / AFP)

Democratic challenger Amanda Renteria, former top staff member to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Debbie Stabenow, is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, The Fresno Bee reported. She has spoken both English and Spanish since childhood.

The landmark debates come amidst a new report that found there are currently a record amount of US households that do not speak English.

The Center for Immigration Studies used US Census data to find that, in 2013, a record 61.8 million US residents (native-born, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants) spoke a language other than English at home – an increase of 2.2 million from 2010, the survey found. That number has grown by nearly 15 million since 2000 and by almost 30 million since 1990.

The most common non-English language is Spanish, with 38.4 million speakers, followed by Chinese (3 million speakers), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), and French (1.25 million). Korean and Arabic also have over a million speakers.

The fastest growing languages are Spanish (up 1.4 million, 4 percent growth), Chinese (up 220,000, 8 percent growth), Arabic (up 188,000, 22 percent growth), and Urdu (up 50,000, 13 percent growth).