UM study focuses on immigrant boom in South, Heartland states

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By the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor News Service


U.S. map demographicsANN ARBOR, Mich. – March 28, 2006 – As the U.S. Congress considers immigration reform, immigrants continue to move to new areas of the country, raising national awareness of the issue.

“The remarkable dispersal of immigrants to all parts of the country has given immigrants and immigrant minorities increased visibility,” said University of Michigan demographer William H. Frey at a Capitol Hill briefing on immigration this week.

Drawing on recent U.S. Census and survey statistics, and a Brookings Institution report he authored, Frey, who is a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research, detailed the recent dispersal of the foreign-born, Hispanic and Asian populations across U.S. states, counties and metropolitan areas in the last decade.

“In 1990, only 17 states had populations composed of at least 5 percent immigrants, compared to 29 states in 2005,” said Frey.

Frey contrasted traditional immigrant magnet states—California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois—with the fast-growing new immigrant destinations of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado, where the immigrant population has grown 200 percent or more between 1990 and 2005.

According to Frey, the foreign-born who are attracted to these new destinations are likely to be more recent U.S. arrivals, less well-off financially and more likely to be undocumented than those who reside in traditional magnet states.

With this fast immigrant growth and the sharp contrast between these immigrant minorities and the existing state residents, attitudes toward immigration in the new state destinations are different from those in traditional magnet states, Frey showed.

Analyzing data from a CBS News Poll conducted July 29 to Aug. 2, 2005, he found that 57 percent of those in new destination states felt that levels of immigration should be decreased, compared to 47 percent of those in traditional magnet states. In the new destination states, 72 percent opposed three-year work permits for illegal immigrants, compared to 55 percent in traditional magnet states.


For more information on Frey’s presentation, see  Contact Frey at (888) 257-7244.


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Established in 1948, the Institute for Social Research is among the world’s oldest survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely cited studies in the nation, including the Survey of Consumer Attitudes, National Election Studies, Monitoring the Future Study, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Health and Retirement Study, and National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the world’s largest computerized social science data archive. Visit the ISR Web site at for more information.

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