There has been a great amount of controversy over the way immigration is changing the demographics of many communities in the U.S., especially small towns. However, a show set to air on September 21 is going to demonstrate just how immigrants have blended into American society and been accepted by the hosting communities. The show explores the question of whether white America should be afraid of becoming a minority, due to rapidly changing demographic shifts in results of immigration, yet it proved that immigration is not seen as a threat in some of the most impacted towns.
The show focuses the small town, Clarkston, in Georgia. In the 1980s, whites comprised 89% of the population while now they only make up 14%. This shift is the result of the federal government selecting this town as a prime location for refugees to from countries such as South Sudan, Bhutan, Somalia and Burma to settle in.
Although the documentary shown in the show demonstrates how negatively many whites and African-Americans thought about this influx of immigrants into the small town, there were also a few individuals who voiced their opinion on how they do not see any problem with the influx of immigrants into Clarkston. Graham Thomas, a white resident of Clarkston, proclaimed that he is tired of seeing the injustices played out against the immigrant community. For instance, he states that he is concerned about the decreasing property values, the loss of sense of community, and about how discriminatory public institutions such as hospitals and schools treat immigrants. However, “the town’s African-American mayor admits on camera that the main reason he even considered public service was that he felt he couldn’t just sit back and watch the immigrants take over his town — one that he remembered playing host to Ku Klux Klan rallies during his childhood”. On the other hand, the local shopkeepers admit that they have benefited by the influx of immigrants becasue it brought them great business. They even confess that they notice immigrants’ great effort to assimilate.
However, Clarkson’s peculiar immigration history does introduces some good questions: is it because most of the immigrants were and are all legal that it makes it easier for the American community to accept them? As protected-status refugees, they come with some limited government subsidies for their integration, so doesn’t that make it easier for them to assimilate in comparison to illegal immigrants? It is fair to say that because they are refugees they arrived to America eager to create for themselves a new permanent home and assimilate as quickly as possible?
Immigration has definitely created major demographic shifts in small towns, and while general white America may seem alarmed by the idea of becoming a minority, towns like Clarkston do not see it as a threat. Immigration is perceived as an enriching ingredient to the melting pot, where all of their cultures blend to create an authentic Clarkston culture.
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