OGDEN — Weber County has the highest concentration of Latinos of any county in Utah, according to the latest population estimates.
The concentration is particularly marked in Ogden, where nearly a third of the population is Latino, nearly top among Utah’s larger cities.
Within Ogden schools the focus is yet even more pronounced — just over half the students identify as Latino, most of any public school district in the state.
To be sure, only a portion of the Latinos in Ogden and Weber County are immigrants, born outside the country. A smaller percentage count as undocumented immigrants. But across Utah’s largest cities, the concentration of Latinos in Ogden among the foreign-born population is highest. And many Latinos, even if U.S. citizens, have immigrant relatives or friends. Thus, the seeming unending debate over immigration policy, immigration reform, hits close to home for many local Latinos and has broader ramifications across Ogden and the the rest of Weber County.
In that context, the Standard-Examiner is launching Meet Your Latino Neighbors, a series offering the stories of a few of the many Latinos here and their perspectives on immigration. Latinos are a large bloc here, but the reach of their voice doesn’t always seem commensurate with their share of the population. This series, running each Sunday through Jan. 12 next year, aims to help share that voice, if even just a little bit.
Here are some numbers:
Latinos make up 18.7% of Weber County’s population, or 47,991 of the 256,359 people here, which is the highest concentration in the state, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2018. Next is Salt Lake County, at 18.6% percent Latino.
Latinos account for 32.3% of Ogden’s population, according to Census Bureau American Community Survey estimates for 2013-2017, or 27,591 of the city’s 85,497 residents. Among Utah locales with more than around 1,700 in inhabitants, that concentration trails only West Valley City, 37.7%, and Kearns, a township in Salt Lake County, 32.9%.
In the Ogden School District, 50.9% of the students were Hispanic as of October 2018, according to Utah State Board of Education figures. That was top among the 41 public school districts in Utah, followed by the Salt Lake School District, 37.2%.
The Latino population in Weber County has grown exponentially. In 1980, Latinos accounted for 5.9% of Weber County’s population, 8,570 of the 144,616 residents, compared to the latest figure, 18.7%. In Ogden that same year, Latinos represented 9.8% of the population, 6,324 of 64,407 residents, compared to the latest figure, 32.3%.
In Ogden, 12.8% of the population was foreign born, representing 10,913 people, according to the Census Bureau American Community Survey figures for 2013-2017. Of those, an estimated 3,194 were naturalized citizens and the other 7,719 fell in some other category, whether legal resident, undocumented or something else.
In Ogden, 81.8% of the foreign-born population originally comes from Latin America, mainly Mexico followed by Central America, according to American Community Survey figures for 2013-2017. That’s the highest concentration of foreign-born Latinos among Utah’s largest cities. Next was West Valley City, where 70.6% of the foreign-born population originated in Latin America.
Among Latinos overall in Weber County, immigrant or citizen, 79.6% were of Mexican heritage and 5.1% had roots in Central America, according to the 2013-2017 American Community Survey figures.