Immigration in a Changing Economy: California's Experience

Immigration in a Changing Economy: California's Experience

Immigration in a Changing Economy: California's Experience

Immigration in a Changing Economy: California's Experience

Excerpt

California's transformation into a diverse racial and ethnic society through immigration has attracted the attention of the rest of the country and of other parts of the Western world. The ambivalence many hold about the changes taking place in California is palpable not only within the state but in the country at large. The 1992 riots in Los Angeles, which involved African Americans and the newly arrived immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and Korea, were perceived by some as a natural outburst of the underlying tensions that the newcomers were creating. And when an unusually deep and long recession hit the state's economy in the early 1990s, some saw the backlash against immigration, symbolized by the passage of Proposition 187, as inevitable.

California is becoming a society where no one racial/ethnic group forms the majority. Hence, those who see California as a trendsetter for the rest of the nation are looking closely for clues about how such changes can best be managed. Others, perhaps less optimistic, are looking for clues about whether such a truly multi-ethnic society can indeed prosper and function peacefully.

We undertook this study (1) to promote a better understanding of the immigration phenomenon in California by assessing the effects it has had over the years on the state's demography, economy, people, and institutions and (2) to identify the present and future challenges immigration poses for California. In our findings, we hope, there are lessons to be drawn for other states, the nation, and even other countries.

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