A shift in gateways for immigration to the U.S.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
For most of the United States’ history, a majority of immigrants have entered the U.S. via and settled in – initially, anyway – New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.About 10 years ago, however, the Brookings Institution noted that new arrivals were bypassing such traditional “gateway” cities and increasingly choosing suburbs or smaller cities in the Southern and Western regions of the country.
In December 2015, Brookings reported that the number of immigration gateways (where growth in the number offoreign-born residents outpaces native-born population growth) has soared from the traditional three to 57. Eight out every 10 new immigrants to the United States lives in one of these gateway locations. Of these 57, many are considered “emerging gateways” – areas that historically had inconsequential foreign-born populations but have recently experienced a steep increase in immigration.
As of 2014, a full 8 percent of the total foreign-born population lived in the major emerging gateways of Nashville, Indianapolis, Columbus, and the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Another 11 percent of new immigrants settled in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Orlando and Phoenix, which the Brookings Institution dubbed minor emerging gateways.
Charlotte, for example, has the fastest-growing Latino population among all the new gateway cities. Thirty years ago, Latinos comprised less than one percent of the Charlotte’s metro population. Today, they account for 14 percent of the region’s residents.
Residents and business leaders report that, rather than being a burden on these gateway locations, immigrants bring a cultural and economic energy to the regions. From new cuisines and ethnic festivals to ready labor forces and entrepreneurial drive, the new gateways are experiencing a level of diversity and vitality – immigrants tend to lower the average age of a population – that has not been seen in decades.
As the number of gateways grows, more and more regions in the U.S. will be able to experience the boons that come with an increasing immigrant populace. Staunching such growth, however, would serve no purpose but to stagnateaging local economies, sending business and youth elsewhere.