February 27, 2011
By JOEL CONNELLY
Resentment of immigrants is the darker side of the American dream. The ugliness reared its head with "Irish Need Not Apply" signs of the 1840's, and today with Sheriff Joe's raids for illegals in greater Phoenix.
The country was a magnet, however, then and now. King Canute could no more roll back waves than nativists can prevent the United States' evolution into a multi-racial, multi-cultural nation.
Not that some would not try, blinded by reality. Some of TVW's most riveting daytime programs have been throw-out-the-illegals floor debates on platform resolutions at Republican state conventions. The Chicago Sun-Times was deluged with hate mail after it ran a news series on the Windy City's expanding Hispanic populations.
"They're inundating us!" missives arrive not infrequently in my e-mail box from a once-sensible Seattle friend resettled in Arizona.
But I'm drawn to a recent study, "A Tipping Point Among America's Three-Year-Olds" from William Frey of The Brookings Institution.
Its title finding: White kids are now a minority, 49.9 percent, of Americans aged 3 and younger. In the District of Columbia and eight states, the pre-K and kindergarten populations are already minority majority.
Whites are still a 58.8 percent majority of all school enrollment (pre-K through grad school) but the percentage has taken a sharp dip from 64.6 percent just 10 years ago.
Throw them out? 'Won't make much difference.
"These dramatic shifts in the child population result from the aging and low fertility rates of whites, coupled with immigration and often higher fertility rates of younger Hispanics and other minority groups," Frey writes. "Today, most Hispanic growth is due to births to U.S. families rather than immigration."
An eye-popping example of the trend: Only 42 percent of Arizona residents under the age of 18 are whilte, while 83 percent of Grand Canyon State folk over 65 are white. Or as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., once said in a joke he regretted, "Leisure World? You mean 'Seizure World'."
California, our most populous state (37.5 million) is now majority-minority. Texas is moving in that direction. Far from the border, in suburban New Jersey, the 2010 Census shows more than three in ten young people are either Hispanic or Asian.
The trend is apparent on both sides of Washington's "Cascade Curtain." The state's Latino community grew rapidly in the last decade, to more than 750,000 people or 11 percent of the Evergreen State's populations. The Asian-American population in Washington grew by 50 percent to nearly half-a-million.
Two-counties in Eastern Washington -- Franklin and Adams -- are now majority Hispanic.
Immediate questions are political:
How will the State Redistricting Commission treat the rising Hispanic population? Will Hispanics FINALLY register to vote in such numbers as to displace the Cro-Magnon local burgers who run things in Eastern Washington? Will the Republican Party try to keep our land as white as it can, or court a Hispanic population with strong families ties and traditional values.
"Even if immigration stopped tomorrow, we will achieve a national minority majority child population by 2050 (by around 2023 if current immigration trends continue)," Frey writes.
The country, and Washington and Seattle, is at a fork in the road. We have a challenge of figuring out -- fast -- how to improve education for minority and English-as-second language kids who traditionally lag in our schools.
Congress needs to enact the DREAM Act as a path to citizenship for children of illegals who achieve in our education system and serve their country in the military. By their lives they are proving exemplars of the American dream.
This is not something to dread so much as an opportunity, the same as it was when the Irish and Italians and Slavs reached our shores.
"In a world where other developed countries are struggling with aging populations and shrinking workforces (think Japan) we can be grateful for the contributions that waves of first, second and third generations of Americans from Latin America, Africa and Asia are poised to make," Frey writes.
"Their youth, vitality and new ideas will serve to reinvigorate our workforce and communities in ways akin to the positive influences of earlier immigrants and their descendants."
Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer