Midwestern states that seem isolated from the immigration debate may be getting a firsthand view as new census date predicts a large increase in immigrants in the Midwestern region.
According to recent census data, Nebraska should prepare itself to see the immigrant population triple by 2050. The Midwestern state has a rather small Latino population of about 167,405 as reported in 2010. However, this will most likely rise to 538,941 by the year 2050. This means that the Latino population will jump from 9 percent to 24 percent. Nebraska is not a state that is usually linked with the Latino community, as Hispanics tend to reside in urban areas in coastal and Border States. However, more Latinos and Hispanics will begin moving to the suburbs and rural areas of the country in the near future. “It means that Hispanics and Latinos are the main engine of population growth not only in the country and in the state,” the NPR story quoted Lissette Aliaga-Linares, a research associate in the UNO Office of Latino/Latin American Studies.
The reason for the shift in population and migration towards Midwestern states is a decline in the number of white non-Hispanics. As this number declines, the number of Latinos steadily migrating into the states will continue to increase. Also, Latinos are moving into areas where there are jobs and a lower cost of living, safer communities and good schools. Finally there is the theory of chain migration where relatives and friends tend to follow immigrants into areas where they have already settled. “So going forward, it’s not going to be immigration necessarily that drives Hispanic/Latino growth, but natural change,” according to David Drozd, research coordinator for the UNO Center for Public Affairs Research. Immigrants are also finding that moving to less diverse communities may elicit resistance and even resentment from long-time residents. Nebraska and Arizona are the only two states in the country that do not allow undocumented immigrants who are accepted into a federal program that defers deportation for two years to obtain a driver’s license. Immigrants say that more needs to be done in areas such as Nebraska to address the needs and issues in the Latino community as the population will continue to increase over the next few decades.
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