But it does bring up an interesting point, as illustrated in this tweet from Texas-based writer Chris Hooks.
If countries are welcome to seize those parts of neighbors that share their language, the United States might be about to get slightly smaller.
According to Census Bureau data, there are at least five counties in which a majority of the population speaks Spanish. (The bureau has recent data only for larger counties.) They are:
- Yuma County, Ariz. 53.3 percent Spanish speakers.
- Imperial County, Calif. 77.5 percent Spanish speakers.
- Miami-Dade County, Fla. 74.4 percent Spanish speakers.
- El Paso County, Tex. 72.4 percent Spanish speakers.
- Hidalgo County, Tex. 84.4 percent Spanish speakers.
There are another 10 counties where a minority of the population speaks only English:
- Los Angeles County, Calif. 43 percent speak only English.
- Merced County, Calif. 48.2 percent speak only English.
- Monterey County, Calif. 45.4 percent speak only English.
- Santa Clara County, Calif. 47 percent speak only English.
- Tulare County, Calif. 48.5 percent speak only English.
- Hudson County, N.J. 39.5 percent speak only English.
- Doña Ana County, N.M. 47.5 percent speak only English.
- McKinley County, N.M. 42.7 percent speak only English.
- Bronx County, N.Y. 40.1 percent speak only English.
- Queens County, N.Y. 43.9 percent speak only English.
That doesn’t mean that the rest of the population speaks one other language, mind you. In the Bronx, Queens, Los Angeles and Santa Clara County — Silicon Valley — there are a range of other languages spoken beyond just English. (In Santa Clara County, home to a large Vietnamese population among other nationalities, census data suggest that only about 18 percent of residents speak Spanish.)
It’s also worth noting that none of these 15 counties has a density of foreign-language speakers that matches the saturation of Russian in Crimea. There, nearly all of the population speaks Russian. In our data, only Hidalgo County, Tex., got over 80 percent.
Were Mexico to seize the four counties on its border, though, it would be gaining about 12,300 square miles of territory, slightly more land than Russia took when it occupied Crimea. The population that would suddenly have a new nationality would be slightly more than the population of Crimea: 2.1 million.
What’s more, the population of those four counties (the five at the top of this article minus Miami-Dade), is more than 80 percent Mexican by origin.
It’s not clear what population or language density Trump thinks constitutes sufficient reason to seize another nation’s territory. If Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto were to seize those counties as part of his own territory, it would be up to him to convince Trump that the levels of cultural affiliation in those places — slightly lower than Crimea’s affinity for Russia — still meant that he was perfectly entitled to call them his own.