Atlanta is a prime example of an immigrant gateway city in the United States, according to a scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Audrey Singer, a visiting scholar in the Brookings Institution’s Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, recently published a study, “The Rise of New Immigrant Gateways.” The report can be found at www.brookings.org/urban/publications/20040301_gateways.htm.
“Atlanta is a great example of an emerging immigrant gateway,” Ms. Singer told GlobalAtlanta in a phone interview. “It stands out because the growth in its foreign-born population over the past two decades has been really incredible.”
“Emerging immigrant gateways,” she said, are cities that experienced rapid growth of both the foreign- and native-born populations between 1980 and 2000.
Atlanta is “the leader of emerging gateways,” Ms. Singer said because in 2000, the city had 10 times the number of immigrants it had in 1980.
Like in other emerging gateways, including Dallas and Washington, most immigrants coming to Atlanta are responding to the needs of the local labor market and are filling jobs here, she said.
What is different about Atlanta, however, is that the immigrant influx is a metropolitan-wide phenomenon, with Atlanta immigrants living almost exclusively in the suburbs, rather than the central city, Ms. Singer added.
This means that local areas have to be prepared in ways they had not in the past, including improving the infrastructure for job training and education in schools, she said. Ms. Singer’s study shows that foreign-born growth rates in 13 states in the west and southeast U.S., including Colorado, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina, were more than double the national average over the past 20 years. Ms. Singer refers to several other types of immigrant gateways in her study. Cleveland and Buffalo, New York, for example, are “former gateways” that attracted immigrants in the early 1900s but no longer do. Chicago and New York are examples of “continuous gateways” that have traditionally received and continue to receive large numbers of immigrants.
“Post World War II gateways” are cities like Los Angeles and Miami that have begun to attract immigrants in the past 50 years. Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul are “re-emerging gateways” that had fast immigrant growth in the early 20th century, slow growth in the mid-century and are now becoming important gateways again.
Ms. Singer calls destinations like Salt Lake City and Raleigh-Durham that have recently attracted significant numbers of immigrants “pre-emerging gateways.”
Contact Ms. Singer at (202) 797-6241.