Immigration Boosts Diversity In the U.S. -- Again
Friday, October 17, 2014
As in the first great wave of immigration that began at the end of the 19th Century, newcomers are once again bringing color, culture and commerce to the United States. In what demographers have termed the Second Great Wave of Immigration, diversity in the U.S. has increased more rapidly over the past few decades than it had since the turn of the 20th Century.
This time, however, immigrants are moving farther inland and not just clustering in populous coastal cities like New York, Miami, San Francisco or Seattle. This dispersion of racial and ethnic diversity is changing how Americans live and work together. Perhaps most significantly, such increased diversity broadens the educational and social experiences of children, while, at the same time, creating challenges for teachers and school districts.
First starting to arrive in the early 1970s, the new wave of immigrants is less likely to be impoverished and assimilate more quickly than their Ellis Island counterparts. Better quality of – as well as access to – transportation has prevented coastal clustering of immigrants who formerly arrived and stayed in the same cities for generations. Immigrants now travel to find elbow room and economic opportunity, moving to the South and Midwest. Their destinations include small towns and rural areas, not just big cities and suburbs.
As it did during the first great period, immigration today brings tensions and conflict over everything from schools and affordable housing to religion and law enforcement. However, it also brings a vibrancy that has revitalized small towns, offered a steady workforce to American companies and boosted entrepreneurship in the United States. Immigrants, in fact, are more than twice as likely to start new businesses as native-born Americans.
Such revitalizing diversity is important for American economic growth because existing populations are not growing as quickly as the economy. The white population is actually declining among its younger segment. In fact demographers project that, in light of census projections, the white population in the United States will not only be a minority, in 10 years or so it will actually begin to shrink.
With the changing face of America must come changing attitudes. In order to embrace the benefits of immigration, Americans must be open-minded to immigration and new cultures. Not only does it make social and economic sense, it’s the foundation on which the country was built.