The 2010 Census told us we would have faced an absolute decade-long decline in our under-18 population, had it not been for the gain of 5.5 million Hispanic and Asian youths. Between now and 2030, there will be an absolute decline of 10 million (mostly baby-boom) whites from the ranks of our working-age population.

Those ranks can be replenished only by the growing minority youth population. Much of this growth will occur because of births, regardless of immigration trends.

The contributions these people make will depend heavily on the opportunities they receive, particularly through education. Barriers are especially challenging for many minority children with talent and high aspirations, who continue to attend segregated, underfunded school systems. Currently, high school dropout rates for Hispanics are more than twice as high as those of non-Hispanic whites. More than a third of Hispanic and black children live in poverty.

Advancement of our young people into middle-class jobs at all skill levels is essential to future economic growth. That growth is, in turn, essential to our country’s ability to provide opportunities and social supports.