The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities


Once the prime destination for westward-moving young Americans, California has become a magnet for a new wave of migration in recent years. Changes in immigration law and the ebbs and flows of the increasingly global economy have led to an unprecedented influx of newcomers from every continent and every cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic group. How has the demographic structure of California changed in the past 15 years? What are the social and spatial consequences of this transformation? Where are the new immigrants living, and how successfully are they realizing their versions of the American dream? Examining the impact of large-scale immigration on local communities, this book presents an in-depth geographical case study of the most active "melting pot" in the United States today.

Situating migration in its social and economic contexts, Clark traces changes in United States immigration policy over the course of the twentieth century and considers implications for how we think about assimilation, pluralism, and American identity. The book then provides an overview of why contemporary immigrants come to California and who these individuals are. Examining the aggregate consequences of immigration upon California neighborhoods, cities, and counties, Clark traces the impact of migration on levels of fertility, poverty, and educational goals and attainment in different localities. Detailed findings are presented on patterns of skills, earnings, and public assistance, both for recent immigrants as a whole and for Mexican and Central American, Asian, and Middle Eastern immigrants as discrete groups. Additional topics covered include pathways to home ownership, challenges facingCalifornia's educational system, and political issues and trends.

A reasoned assessment of the costs and benefits of contemporary migration to California, Clark's analysis also has far-reaching implications for immigration debates c