The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities

The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities

The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities

The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities

Synopsis

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

Excerpt

In the first half of the 20th century, California was the "promised land," and the state grew and prospered with expanding economic opportunities and burgeoning migration. The newcomers came mostly from the Midwest; they were largely white and Protestant, and although Hispanics and Asians lived in California, in the years after World War II it was still an "anglo" state.

Beginning in 1965, however, changes in the immigration law altered the influx from abroad and transformed the nation, especially California. Once a destination for young migrants from within the United States, California changed to become a worldwide magnet. The California of the last two decades of the 20th century differs markedly from the California of image and perception in the 1960s. The state is now the promised land for a new wave of immigrants and is populated by a very different racial and ethnic mix. How will these new waves of immigrants mesh with the existing population?

In this book I discuss how the blending will occur across the geography of California. What are the geographic outcomes of this fundamental transformation of the state's population? What is happening now, and what can and might happen, in California's cities, towns, and neighborhoods as the new migrants take up their lives in a new and different society? I explore the constraints, problems, and implications of the intersection of 5 million newcomers in the past 15 years with the 25 million residents already in the state.

Although the debate about immigration and the perceptions that fuel that debate unfold on the national stage, the consequences of immigration itself are focused sharply on certain places. The process of immigration operates like a giant parabolic mirror, collecting newcomers from around the world and concentrating them in particular communities, many within California. Although this book examines the trajectories of immigrant successes and failures in California, the major emphasis is on the way in which . . .

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