Since the terrorist attacks two years ago, immigrants have become the object of fear and rage, and, increasingly, the subject of research. Both groups opposed to further immigration and those who advocate for immigrants try to buttress their arguments with the steady flow of reports, studies and findings from think tanks and universities. Four recently released reports, two of them about housing, should give both sides in the debate some fresh ammunition.
IMMIGRANTS AND HOUSING
Latinos are most affected by the lack of affordable and
low-rent housing in New York City, according to a new report (in
pdf format) by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
In Latino neighborhoods such as Washington Heights and Bushwick, residents
are spending most of their income on rent.
Seventy-three percent of nonimmigrant Latinos and 83 percent of immigrant Latinos
rent their home, the highest percentage than other groups (For Blacks, 78 percent
for nonimmigrants, 75 percent for immigrants, and, for whites, 53 percent for
nonimmigrants, 59 percent for immigrants), noted the study.
This report equivocally shows that affordable housing should be one of the
most important priorities for any elected official who cares about New York's
Latino community," study author Carlos Vargas-Ramos told the Daily News.
Another recently released study by the National Housing Conference also found
that immigrants are having trouble finding affordable housing.
Study author Barbara Lipman used census data and housing survey to
analyze immigrants's living condition and found that immigrants are
likely to spend more than half of their income on housing.
" Obviously, it's an issue if you're paying half of you income on your
housing; what do you have for anything else," she told Fresno Bee.
Lipman's study also shows that low and middle income immigrants are
six times as likely to live in overcrowded homes.
Last December, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plan to preserve
38,000 units of affordable housing, and build 27,000 more over the
next five years. Bloomberg has said that he is committed to the plan
despite the city's budget deficit.
MOVEMENT OF FOREIGN-BORN
A new census report tracking the movement of foreign-born population
from 1995 to 2000 found that New York state sent 205,000 more
immigrants to other states than it received from them. Similar
gateway" states such as California and Illinois also lost their
foreign born population to other states.
Some believe that immigrants are leaving the "gateway" states for
same reasons natives do: to find affordable housing and a better
standard of living.
" It's a middle-class flight motivated by cost and congestion,"
demographer William Frey told USA Today.
However, the same census report also shows that New York state had a
constant supply of new immigrants, with 583,769 people who were born
in another country entering the state in the same five-year period.
In New York City alone, foreign
born population accounts for 36
percent of the city's 8 million total population, according to 2000
A new study by University of California researcher Liza Catanzarite
shows that newly arrived Hispanic immigrant workers drove down wages
in working class and service jobs.
By analyzing 1990 Census data of male workers in 38 US
areas, including New York City, Catanzarite found that both native
people born and immigrants earned on the average 11 percent less than
others in comparable fields when they worked along side newly arrived
" These findings push us to understand that wage penalties in 'brown
collar' occupations stem from newcomer Latinos' marginal status, and
not from immigration per se," Catanzarite told the Associated Press.
term "brown collar" refers to occupations where Latinos are over
represented, mainly low-level service and manufacturing jobs,
according to the study. Immigrant Latinos constitute as much as 40-71
percent of workers in many of these fields.
Catanzarite also noted that new Hispanic immigrants are unable to
resist low wages and have little political power to demand higher
pay. She suggested that better protections for immigrants will, in
turn, help raise wages for all.
An immigrant from Bangkok, Thailand, Chaleampon Ritthichai is the editor of The Citizen.
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