Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Three Americas

An excellent four-part series on immigration, migration, and the changing face of America from journalist Johnathan Tilove.

Beginning in the 1980s and with surging speed in the '90s, it became plain that people moving within America choose different destinations from those moving to America, and that in the interplay of these movements, one America was coming to more nearly resemble three. They are:

-- The Melting Pot. Two decades and counting of record immigration has transformed the places most newcomers settle into a multicultural America without precedent anywhere in the world. It is in this tumultuous America -- the large metropolitan areas and states on both coasts, plus Texas and Chicago -- that most immigrants arrive. With their arrival, increasing numbers of existing residents leave. In the '90s, 25 percent more immigrants poured into the Melting Pot than in the '80s; at the same time, the exodus tripled.

-- The New Sun Belt. Unlike most immigrants, most people moving within the United States are relocating to an entirely different America -- a New Sun Belt with the feel and allure of a vast, immaculate suburb. This ascendant America of fast-growing states in the Southeast and non-California West accounts for about a fifth of the U.S. population as a whole, but was home to 79 percent of all the growth in the white population in the '90s. In all, these states gained twice as much population in the '90s as they did in the '80s.

-- The Heartland. The third America is less touched by arrivals, either from the rest of America or abroad. It is made up of the Midwest minus Chicago, New England minus Boston, and the parts of the South that are still more William Faulkner than Ted Turner. America's Old Country, it is becoming different from the other two Americas not because it is changing, but because it is not.

Parts one, two, three, and four.


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