Lowcountry sees triple-digit growth of Hispanic community - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hispanic community grows in Bluffton, Hilton Head

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Bibiana Osorio, of Hilton Head Island, says coming to the Lowcountry has been a life experience. Bibiana Osorio, of Hilton Head Island, says coming to the Lowcountry has been a life experience.
BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) -

Census data show that growth of the Hispanic community in Bluffton are astounding.  

The town itself has grown tremendously - more than 800 percent - as a result of development, land annexation and the cost of living. 

The growth of the Latino community is almost four times that of the total population increase - at almost 3,000 percent in the town of Bluffton - and 800 percent in the unincorporated parts of Bluffton.  

According to U.S. Census data, Jasper County has the highest number of Hispanics in the state and Beaufort County has the third largest Hispanic population.     

"You don't see me going to Japan, or China or anywhere in Asia or anywhere in the world looking for a better opportunity, because I have it right here. I have a home," said Johnny Rivera of Hilton Head Island. 

"Life growing - it has been a life growing experience for me, not only being a teacher, but, being a part of the community, understanding the community," said Bibiana Osorio of Hilton Head Island. 

Both Rivera and Osorio have lived in other states, but they chose to call South Carolina home.  As do more than 200,000 other Hispanics, pushing South Carolina's growth up nearly 150 percent.

"It is good and important for the progress of the nation to embrace new cultures. Why? because you learn new things, you learn new languages, you learn how to cook a new dish," Rivera said. 

"They balance out generations who have been here a long time and have forgotten what it's like to come from a place that doesn't have running water or the Internet or video games ... that's [why we're] we are a great country," said Eric Esquivel of La Isla magazine.

Beaufort County as a whole has seen just a 12 percent increase in its Hispanic population. In the towns of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, the populations have grown well beyond that.

"Smile, reach out. Say hola. It means hello - simple very simple," Esquivel said.

Learning English is no easy task. Due to the incredible increases in the Hispanic and Latino communities in Beaufort County, the school district has a vibrant English as a Second Language program. More than 3,000 students are participating in the program. It is also offered to students' parents as a form of community outreach. 

Hispanic population grows 5 percent Georgia

In Georgia, the Hispanic population has grown from 5.3 percent in 2000 to almost 9 percent in 2010. None of the population numbers included represent undocumented immigrants or those who are here illegally, according to Census data. 

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