Contemporary US immigrants and residential settlement patterns


Dr. Reanne Frank,  Department of Sociology
 Rank at time of award: Associate Professor


One of the most pronounced demographic trends anticipated in the Census 2010 is the spatial dispersal of the foreign-born population across the U.S. Unprecedented in the post-1965 immigration flow, immigrants and their offspring have begun moving beyond areas with traditional concentrations of immigrants to settle in places that have never before experienced sizable immigrant populations (Johnson and Lichter 2008; Massey and Capoferro 2008; Zúñiga and Hernández-León 2005). The rapid spatial diffusion of the immigrant population has been particularly pronounced in the suburban fringes of large metropolitan cities, in smaller metropolitan destinations, and in non-metropolitan rural areas (Leach and Massey 2008; Lichter and Johnson 2006). One study estimates that the foreign-born population in non-metropolitan areas increased by nearly 80 percent during the last decade and another study estimates that Hispanics account for roughly 44 percent of non-metropolitan population growth since 2000 (Donato, Tolbert, Nucci, and Kawano 2008; Johnson and Lichter 2008).

The national dispersal of immigrants has brought immigrant issues onto the agenda of community groups and local agencies across the country (Fennelly 2008). It has raised pressing concerns about inter-ethnic conflict, the adequacy and availability of educational and health services, and the future prospects of immigrants and their children residing in traditional versus non-traditional immigrant-receiving areas. We propose to utilize the New Immigrant Survey (NIS) to gain a better understanding of the residential patterning of the newly legalized immigrant population in the U.S. and identify the community-level features that make for a beneficial environment for immigrants and their children. The present study will be the first analysis conducted on a national scale that describes the geographic and social forces propelling new immigrants to different communities across the country as well as begin to describe the consequences of that spatial diffusion for immigrants themselves. 

Publications resulting from this seed grant