July 2009 No. 3
The New Geography of United States
changing communities across the
United States. The movement of
immigrants from abroad to the heart of
America’s largest cities is no longer the
dominant pattern as it was in the past. The
restructuring of the U.S. economy and the
accompanying decentralization of cities and
growth of suburbs as major employment
centers have shifted immigrant settlement to
a new class of metropolitan areas. Emerging
destinations tend to be metropolitan areas
with more recent development histories, largely suburban in form. Many of the
newest destination areas have little history or identity with immigration.
This brief highlights the recent trends in immigration, including the new geography of
immigration and changes in the demographic characteristics of immigrants.
In some new destination areas, the pace of immigration has aroused social conflict
and anxiety over immigrants’ legal status and the costs of providing services such as
healthcare and education to the children of immigrants. Local pressures have
motivated many public officials to act—passing state and local laws and instituting
new policies aimed at immigrants. These responses have ranged from those that
serve to accommodate and integrate immigrants to those that seem designed to
explicitly intimidate and exclude immigrants.
These current trends and new settlement patterns result in many more states and
municipalities with a stake in the passage of federal immigration reform.
Consistent with the current economic recession and its concomitant decline in
economic opportunity, immigration shows signs of recent slowing after the great
wave of 1990s immigration. Today, the Census Bureau estimates more than 38
The New Geography of United States Immigration
million foreign-born persons reside in the United States, making up nearly 13 percent
of the U.S. population. According to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Cen