Immigration is carving a new landscape in New York City and, as New York City goes, so goes the country: 60% of the babies born in New York City have at least one foreign-born parent. The fastest growing groups through immigration are Mexicans, Guyanese and Bangladeshis and those three groups also have the highest birth rate.
There are 3.5 million immigrant residents in New York City alone. Mexicans quadrupled their immigration numbers in New York in the last decade jumping from 17th to 5th largest immigrant group in New York City. Dominicans are the number one immigrant group followed by the Chinese, the Jamaicans and the Guyanese. New York City holds only 1% of Mexican immigrants in the United States compared to 54% of the nation’s Dominican-born immigrants and 45% of the nation’s Bangladeshis.
This rising tide of immigrants in America cannot be unwashed from our land and drained away in prisons or stuffed in ships back to the homeland. Immigrants in New York City play a vital role replacing city residents who die or move away. Immigrants fill vacant housing, start small businesses and count for 43% of the city’s work force. Immigrants are vital to the economy — both locally and nationally — and to stem the need for immigrant infusion is to be anti-American and biased against those who are desperate to come here for a better life while, in turn, making our lives better. Immigration into New York City stanched the catastrophic loss of population in the 1970’s.
Immigrants solidified the city in the unpredictable 80’s and they pushed the city’s population number above the 8 million mark in 2000. This country was made great on the backs of immigrant huddle masses.
The influx of immigrants into New York City masks the massive loss of American-born Blacks in the city. In the four years between 2000 and 2004 New York City lost 30,000 Black residents
— a 1.5% decline. Whites are still more likely to leave the New York City urban core than Blacks, but Whites tend to move to the suburbs to live while still working in New York City thus keeping White investment in the New York City core alive.
Blacks choose to scatter to other cities in the South and upper Northeast in search of cheaper housing and better paying jobs or a quieter retirement. More Black residents who left New York City chose to move to Florida than New Jersey.
A net loss of black residents, even between censuses, would apparently be the first since the Civil War. In 1863, after mobs attacked blacks during the draft riots, many fled New York City. “By 1865,” Leslie M. Harris wrote in “In the Shadow of Slavery,” the city’s “black population had plummeted to just under 10,000, its lowest since 1820.”
Those who believe immigration is a bad thing need to re-evaluate the role of the immigrant in the long scope of the history of this nation.
You cannot repress the hope for freedom and the want to work a good job and expect good things to happen back to you for taking that hard-line position. If you try to poke a finger in a thousand holes to stop the flow of immigrants into America you are only creating a tidal wave of anger and fury that will overwhelm those who refuse to learn the lessons of history.
The immovable human forces that built this country into a powerhouse economy cannot be stopped. Those forces are driven by the dreams of immigrants who yearn to settle the land and to tame the wild demons that chased them here in the first place.