Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Immigration Reform Protests and NW Arkansas

The massive demonstrations by Hispanics throughout the nation on the issue of immigration reform are a demonstration that this growing segment of the population may finally be coming of age politically. There have been immigration reform bills in the past, but the public outpouring by the Hispanic community has never been so great. There were no protests here in NW Arkansas, but the effect of the protests may eventually be felt here.

Immigration of people from other nations and cultures are what has made the US a great and dynamic nation, and although laws are necessary, I don't think they should be racist and restrictive. As the granddaughter of immigrants from Finland and Sweden, I have experienced first hand how people from other nations make our own nation stronger. The strong work ethic and emphasis on education made the northeastern Minnesota area where I grew up a dynamic community of many cultures where education was prized. Our public schools there were far superior to those in other parts of the state until the mining boom there dissipated in the past 25 years or so. The desire to assimilate spurred the new citizens to raise their children to surpass their own educational and professional achievements and contribute to their communities in a positive manner. The original arrivals could not speak English when they arrived and most worked at menial jobs. Their children all spoke English, worked at better jobs than their parents had, and many encouraged their children, in turn, to obtain college educations to become professionals.

In the past, various ethnic groups have provided massive migrations to our shores. Many of these groups were discriminated against when they first arrived, but now they have become part of the fabric of our nation. The Irish and Italians who arrived in the late 19th and early 20th century are typical of this pattern. Many of the Irish became policemen in the Eastern cities where they settled. And in NW Arkansas the Italians who settled here have created traditions which continue to enrich the area culture and economy (for example, the Tontitown Grape Festival, restaurants, and home-grown industries), even as their children and grandchildren have assimilated and prospered.

For northwest Arkansas, the continued development of the area depends on immigrants. Our area is in a new initial phase of the typical immigration pattern for newly arrived groups. There are increasing numbers of Asians and Pacific Islanders as well as Hispanics moving to the area. Many of the latter are first generation arrivals who don't speak much English. Some are illegal. But their children all attend our public schools and enrich the cultural environment, enhancing the world view of the native Arkansan children. With time these families will assimilate, just as previous generations have done. And our area will be richer for their presence.

The economy of our area also depends on these new arrivals. Much of the new construction of area housing, as well as factory jobs, is made possible by these new arrivals. Many builders now prefer Hispanic crews--they work hard and they take pride in their work, creating beautiful homes for residents and others who are relocating here because of Wal-mart and other major businesses in the area. Many of these new immigrants also work in jobs--for example, in the poultry plants--that local people do not want. They pay taxes and pay into the social security system, helping to assure that when baby boomers and even their children retire, there will be money for the system to be able to pay social security benefits. Without them, our area would not be the driving economic engine that it is.

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1 comment:

melissa said...

as someone who studies the subject, it's refreshing to read such a well written, on-the-mark blog entry. funny, because my finding this was at random looking through your MLS site. i am a first-time buyer, but obligated to buy from a family real estate agent. were i not previously obligated, i would enjoy the opportunity to meet and work with you.