Immigrants in U.S. suburbs

Authored by: Kyle Walker

The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138290235
eBook ISBN: 9781315266442
Adobe ISBN:


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Immigration to the United States has long been associated with the urban enclave. Under classic urban theoretical models, immigrants sought out ethnic neighborhoods in the vein of classic enclaves like the Lower East Side in Manhattan or Chinatown in San Francisco. In these neighborhoods, immigrants would build thriving ethnic economies to gain a foothold within American society. Once acculturated, some immigrants would then move out of these enclaves into neighborhoods where native-born Americans represented the majority. Contemporary immigration to the United States, however, can no longer be accurately characterized by these classic theoretical models. Over the past two decades, urban and migration scholars have documented the settlement of immigrants in suburbs, often directly on arrival to the United States. These immigrants span the socioeconomic and cultural spectrums, including highly skilled migrants forming “ethnoburbs” on the urban fringe; undocumented immigrants seeking employment in suburban industries like construction and landscaping; and refugees who have been sponsored by suburban organizations. The presence of these immigrants in the suburbs has generated a wide range of political responses, ranging from welcoming initiatives to restrictive policies.

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