New immigrants avoiding big cities, study finds
More new immigrants are settling in mid-size metropolitan areas like Detroit and Minneapolis, according to a study released Monday.
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Painter and Yu found that immigrants continue to have lower homeownership rates than native-born Americans having the same income and education levels. "Many of these immigrants may be waiting for other family members to join them before setting down more permanent roots," explained Painter, who plans future research into the disparity in homeownership rates.Skip to next paragraph
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Immigration watchers draw various lessons from the findings.
"Newly arriving immigrants are likely to settle where there are job opportunities and affordable places to live,” says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “It also dispels one of the key assertions of the immigration enthusiasts [who] often look at the fact that immigrants tend to congregate in areas of the country where the economy is most robust, and conclude that immigration is the cause of economic growth. This study suggests that they are confusing cause and effect. If a robust economy exists, the effect will be an influx of immigrants."
Others point to wider trends. “I’m not sure how much this says about immigration, per se, that immigrants are avoiding – like the rest of us – large cities which are clogged with employment, the cost of living is higher, taxes are higher, and the quality of life is deteriorating,” says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.
Some immigrants' rights groups say the move to smaller cities makes sense.
“Given the negative attitudes towards immigrants, the incessant persecution by immigration agents, and the lack of jobs," says Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, “immigrants may believe that smaller cities offer all the right options: a place to live unnoticed, a somewhat welcoming environment, and less competition for lower-paying jobs.”
Still others question whether it’s too soon to draw too many conclusions because of the heated political climate, the recent downturn in the economy, and the coming 2010 census.
“This study is only looking at home ownership and may be overtaken by the next census,” says Karthick Ramakrishnan, who studies immigration patterns and demographics at the University of California, Riverside. “There are many variables that need to be examined because of the push and pull over immigrants – some declaring that they drag the economy down and others saying it props them up.”