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Updated 10:00 AM April 10, 2006




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Trends show immigrants spread out nationwide

As Congress considers immigration reform, immigrants continue to move to new areas of the country, raising national awareness of the issue.

"The remarkable dispersal of immigrants to all parts of the country has given immigrants and immigrant minorities increased visibility," U-M demographer William Frey said at a recent Capitol Hill briefing on immigration.

Drawing on U.S. Census and survey statistics, and a Brookings Institution report he authored, Frey, a researcher at the Institute for Social Research, detailed the recent dispersal of the foreign-born, Hispanic and Asian populations across U.S. states, counties and metropolitan areas in the last decade.

"In 1990 only 17 states had populations composed of at least 5 percent immigrants, compared to 29 states in 2005," he said.

Frey contrasted traditional immigrant magnet states—California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois—with the fast-growing new immigrant destinations of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado, where the immigrant population grew 200 percent or more between 1990 and 2005.

According to Frey, the foreign-born who are attracted to these new destinations are likely to be more recent U.S. arrivals, less well-off financially and more likely to be undocumented than those who reside in traditional magnet states.

With this fast growth and the sharp contrast between these immigrant minorities and the existing state residents, attitudes toward immigration in the new state destinations are different from those in traditional magnet states, Frey said.

Analyzing data from a CBS News poll conducted July 29-Aug. 2, 2005, he found that 57 percent of those in new destination states felt that levels of immigration should be decreased, compared to 47 percent of those in traditional magnet states. In the new destination states 72 percent opposed three-year work permits for illegal immigrants, compared to 55 percent in traditional magnet states.

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