The new immigration battleground
Ever wonder why white opposition to darker-skinned immigrants seems to be centered in outer suburbs such as Prince William and Stafford counties? An analysis of new Census data provides the answer.
The reason, the American Community Survey reports, is that immigrants from Latin America and other places are flocking to small towns and outer suburbs rather than concentrating in the center of large cities, as had been the case for immigrants for the last two centuries.
According to a New York Times report, Los Angeles County, a traditional Hispanic draw, showed little immigrant growth while immigration exploded in suburban Newton County outside of Atlanta. Closer to home, Stafford County saw its immigrant population triple during the past decade. Other Virginia hot spots are Prince William and Loudoun counties.
The Times notes that many Hispanics are drawn to outer suburbs by lower living costs, as well as by once-plentiful construction jobs that went bust with the recession.
This helps to explain why Stafford County is proposing to get tough on illegal immigrants, and why Prince William County, led by board of supervisors chairman and rising state politician Corey A. Stewart, cracked down starting in 2007.
Prince William's law prodded many Hispanics to leave the county, regardless of their immigration status or citizenship, because they felt they were being profiled by police. Stewart wants to take the Prince William experience statewide with his "Virginia Rule of Law" campaign.
The sad truth is that these settlement patterns are sparking racism that had seemed to be abating in America. Just 50 years ago, so-called "blockbusting" led African-Americans into tight, white, ethno-centric neighborhoods of big cities such as Chicago and New York.
The battleground has since shifted to the wide highways and big-box stores of outer suburbia. But the dynamics are the same. White Americans had felt safe in such places but somehow now feel threatened by new arrivals. The reason? It's only skin deep.
| December 15, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Prince William County, Va. Politics, Virginia, crime, development, economy, education, history, housing, immigration, police, real estate, religion, schools, traffic, transportation
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