Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nation of foreign settlers

Even if the markets have been flat, at least one area of the American landscape is booming:
The number of immigrants living in American households rose 16 percent over the last five years, fueled largely by recent arrivals from Mexico, according to fresh data
by the Census Bureau.
Sixteen percent in half a decade, not even taking into account the children of immigrants who were born stateside.

Most are from Mexico:
More of America’s immigrants, legal or not, come from Mexico than any other country, an estimated 11 million in 2005, compared with nearly 1.8 million Chinese and 1.4 million Indians.
Indians in the US brought enjoyed a median income of $43,539 in 2004. The Chinese within the US trailed closely at $39,850. Mexicans, on the other hand--$20,814 for males in 2000 (for Chinese men the same year it was $40,423). Our Asian pals are also around 5 times as likely to obtain at least a bachelor's degree, and only one-twelfth as likely to be involved in criminal activity. Glad to see where filching the cream of the crop.

They are fanning out across the country:
And increasingly, immigrants are bypassing the traditional gateway states like California and New York and settling directly in parts of the country that until recently saw little immigrant activity — regions like the Upper Midwest, New England and the Rocky Mountain States. ...

But it is in the less-expected immigrant destinations that demographers find the most of interest in the new data.

Indiana saw a 34 percent increase in the number of immigrants; South Dakota saw a 44 percent rise [I'll have to find another state to use in my talking point about Americans doing jobs Americans won't do--eventually, the myth will become a self-fulfilling prophecy with labor rates of destitution]; Delaware 32 percent; Missouri 31 percent; Colorado 28 percent; and New Hampshire 26 percent.

“It’s the continuation of a pattern that we first began to see 10 or 15 years ago,” said Jeff Passel, senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, who has examined the new census data. “But instead of being confined to areas like the Southeast, it’s beginning to spill over into some Midwestern states, like Indiana and Ohio. It’s even moving up into New England.”

The economic opportunities have begun to outweigh the cultural and social familiarity Hispanic immigrants enjoy in cities like Los Angeles, where over 40% of the population is now foreign-born. Unskilled immigrants that journey into uncharted territory find the same luscious pastures in the Midwest, South, and Northeast, that their forebearers found in the gateway states of California, New York, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida.

But now those states are coming to resemble the very Mexican miasmas immigrants were hoping to escape. Sam Quinones recently reported on a migrant family, the Magdalenos, some of whom had found enormous prosperity in Lexington, a city that does a treacherous job of 'looking like America':
Today, the Magdalenos in Lexington earn more than they did in Los Angeles, in a city where the cost of living is lower. Kentucky is now their promised land, and they talk about California the way they used to talk about Mexico.

"What we weren't able to do in many years in California," Alejandra said, "we've done quickly here."We're in a state where there's nothing but Americans. The police
control the streets. It's clean, no gangs. California now resembles Mexico — everyone thinks like in Mexico. California's broken."
I'd like to avoid using insectile analagoies, so I won't draw a comparison between locusts devouring every bit of vegetation the wind blows them over before moving on to somewhere less desolate and mostly Hispanic laborers moving northward, establishing ethnic enclaves before heading to less developed areas up north. But as Latin America moves northward, the number of places that aren't broken like Mexico are going to be reduced in number.

Inundated with cheap labor, the previously mentioned gateway states are among the least attractive in the country by several measures. Where they rank in terms of monetary standard of living (out of only 49 states plus DC):

25) Texas
29) Florida
34) Arizona
37) New York
46) New Mexico
47) California

Wealth disparity as measured by the state gini coefficients (the better the ranking, the more equitable the state's wealth distribution):

28) Arizona
37) New Mexico
43) Florida
44) Texas
46) California
50) New York

And Estimated average IQ (determined by NAEP results):

30) New York
35) Texas
42) Florida
43) Arizona
46) California
47) New Mexico

None of these places have proportionally enormous black populations, either. So it's reasonable (but wrong) to expect them to perform moderately well on a host of quality-of-life measures.

There are better places to go, where brighter, more cohesive communities with a relatively limited labor supply provide higher paying jobs, better education, and a generally propitious environment to settle your life into. But that, like the natural ambience of a newly constructed home in a booming subdivision on the outskirts of town, fades as more people get in on the good stuff.

We need a wall, tough punitions for employers who exploit subsidized labor, and the deportation of net liabilities who have their illegality revealed in the course of daily life within the US.


1 comment:

JSBolton said...

The advantage of immigrants is very largely in theor ability to put more people and incomes into a unit of housing, in a higher-cost area.
Eventually the median personal (not household!)incomes in those areas fall back to the national average, which all but eliminates that immigrant advantage, and to such extent, that they are pushed to fan out to less-affected areas.
The higher-cost areas never lose their high-cost status, though.