Monday, December 11, 2006

it's a curve alright

I was kind of waiting for someone somewhere to comment on the NYT piece last week about anti-immigrant efforts in Altoona. The sad part is that there are almost no immigrants in Altoona to speak of. Even sadder is a quote from one of the local politicians saying they were just trying to "stay ahead of the curve". Well, some curves point downward.

It really is worth noting how few immigrants are there in Altoona? The piece references a census number that there were 295 foreign born residents of its 49,523 total population. (I actually get a number of 533 from the census but the point is the same, it's something between 0.5% and 1.0%). A better number: In 2000 the total number of foreign born residents who arrived over the previous decade was just 130 or 0.2% of the population. In other words, most have been in the US for more than a decade, many for many decades. Not only that but a third of those recent immigrants were already US citizens. Per the census Altoona had a total of 83 non-citizen recent immigrants. I bet a fair number of them are doctors and other professionals the community relies on for more than they want to admit. Per the NYT piece, one of them (literally 1+% of the recent immigrant flow) is a yet to be naturalized immigrant married to the politician quoted. What trend is he trying to prevent? Here is the historical trend for the foreign born population in Altoona*. It is kind of a curve into oblivion.

Just to be clear. This is not to pick on Altoona any more than Pittsburgh which can be much less welcoming than we like to think it is. I have some friends who are 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican immigrants, born, raised and had lived their entire lives in a suburban community I would rather not name. After 9/11 they found themselves continuously harassed because people assumed they were Middle Eastern not that that excuses anything... but the point is that people here don't even know what they are talking about when it comes to immigration of any kind...

I actually had a longer rant about this.. but best not to get myself in too much trouble.

* The 1950 number is just the foreign born white population because that is what the census reported. Total foreign born is going to be higher. Basically the foreign born population in Altoona is down ~90% between 1950-2000.

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