"Impacts of New Immigrants on U.S. Rural Communities: the Midwest and South Compared"

David Griffith, a researcher collecting data on the experiences of immigrants and refugees in rural communities from Southwest Minnesota, Marshalltown, Iowa and across the South, and their affects on those communities, discussed the study's preliminary findings at a presentation at Southwest State University, Thursday May 1, 2003, 4:30 PM in Social Science Room 230.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture research project, headed by David Griffith, a professor of anthropology and senior scientist at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C, and Ed Kissam, a senior analyst for Aguirre International in California, was funded by the department's Fund for Rural America. These social scientists have focused their attention on the fourth great wave of immigration into the United States over the past decade. This migration has been characterized by the diffusion of new immigrants into new geographical regions, away from traditional destinations such as New York, Florida, Illinois, and California, and their movement into new industries. Rural areas in particular have seen an increase in workers moving into food processing industries, construction, nursery work, and landscaping. At the same time, the composition of the agricultural work force has changed as a result of managed migration programs and immigration from new sending regions in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. This seminar addresses these issues in the context of preliminary results from a study comparing several U.S. communities in the Midwest and South, including Marshall and Southwest Minnesota and Marshalltown, Iowa.

The team's goal is to come up with a list of best practices for all rural communities in dealing with immigrants and refugees. Some of what they want to know is how different agencies treat immigrants and refugees; what these people experienced getting to the U.S. and to the area; whether they have health care issues; how they found housing; whether they study English as a second language; whether they vote, and in what ways they are involved in the community.

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Last updated: March 21, 2006