February 21, 2008


The newest frontier: Immigrants are transforming some surprising parts of America (The Economist, 2/21/08)

MILWAUKEE is a striking example of how much America owes to German immigrants. The city is a paradise for beer-swillers and sausage-scoffers (it was the scene of the “sausage summit” between Bill Clinton and Helmut Kohl in 1996). The grandest hotel is the Pfister, the local theatre is the Pabst, and one of the main streets is North Teutonia Avenue. The phone book lists 40 pages of Schmitts and Schmidts.

And yet today this frozen chunk of Greater Germania is being transformed by people from much sunnier climes. Milwaukee's 80,000 or so Hispanics make up almost 15% of the population. A company called El Rey Mexican Products owns a tortilla factory and five shops that sell everything from hot sauce to Mexican-bottled Coca-Cola. There are several local bilingual newspapers, including Voces de la Frontera. Pentecostal churches are popping up in disused stores and offering fiery services in Spanish.

When people think of recent American immigrants—particularly Latino ones—it tends to be in terms of a handful of states (California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Florida) and a handful of gateway cities (New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Chicago). But this is a habit that needs to be broken. One of the most striking demographic trends of the past couple of decades has been the dispersal of America's immigrant population. Immigrants are settling in small towns as well as big cities, in suburbs as well as inner-city ghettos, in rural areas as well as metropolitan ones, in the great American interior as well as on the coasts. The proportion of Mexican-born people living in states other than the four border states plus Illinois increased from 10% in 1990 to 25% in 2000.

It'd be nice to go to a department/grocery store that had more than one cash register open and not to pay tree removal guys more than lawyers. Of course, Real Americans want the stinkin'
Krauts deported too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2008 4:04 PM

No, the Germans can stay, because they got here legally, there are no revanchists among them, and because I never had to "press 1 for English" because of German immigration.

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 21, 2008 5:40 PM

My folks just paid 4 grand to have these five huge old white pines removed from next to the house. They were a menace.

Posted by: Bryan at February 21, 2008 5:45 PM

No self-respecting Mexican want to head to the hills to live with a bunch of Canuck wannabees.

However. . . their kids will go there to ski in the winter and boat on the lakes in the summer.

(Mexico-bottled coke, ah the good stuff, made with cane sugar not that corn syrup crap)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 21, 2008 7:00 PM

How about $75 an hour for a guy to shovel snow off roof?

Posted by: D Judd at February 22, 2008 6:10 AM

Is that OJ's going rate?

Posted by: ratbert at February 22, 2008 7:48 AM

Pap, I think you're on to something. Lots of the anti-immigrant anger may be due to the press 1 for English derangement syndrome.

Posted by: erp at February 22, 2008 5:48 PM