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Giving Compass' Take:
• The Midwest is becoming more diverse due to the influx of immigrant students, specifically focusing on schools in Sioux City, Iowa.
• The author maintains that the U.S. is experiencing its second wave of immigration. What will this mean for schools and communities that need to support immigrant students? How can donors contribute any extra resources?
• Read about this town that is embracing immigrant students.
America is in the midst of its second major wave of immigration, rivaling the first great wave, which crested in the early 1900s. About 6 percent of today’s immigrants are children and 26 percent of all children in the country in 2017 had at least one immigrant parent, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank dedicated to studying migration and immigration trends. And yet the immigrant experience is still an unusual one in Iowa — a state that holds enormous sway over the 2020 election but looks quite unlike the rest of the U.S. Iowa is 18 percent whiter than the country as a whole. It’s also home to far fewer immigrants — 5 percent to the country’s 13 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
But that’s changing.
The percentage of Iowan children from immigrant families grew from 2.4 percent in 1990 to 11.3 percent in 2017, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
As a result, Sioux City — a meatpacking town on the banks of the Missouri River — is more diverse than most of the rest of the state. In 2018, for the first time in district history, a majority of Sioux City’s 14,976 students, about 52 percent, were people of color. (The country as a whole passed that benchmark in 2014.) And 20 percent of district students are classified as English Learners; a third of these students report being born outside of the country, according to district documents.
Today, children from Central America, Mexico and Africa make up the bulk of the schools’ immigrant student population. Their parents are drawn by jobs in the packing plants and the low cost of living. Once they arrive, they tell their sisters and their cousins that it’s a good place to raise a family and the immigrant population grows some more. As of 2018, more than 10 percent of the city’s residents were born in another country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Read the full article about immigrant students by Lillian Mongeau at The Hechinger Report.