University of Southern California USC

Dowell Myers: Immigrants and the New Maturity of Los Angeles

Posted on by mbuchmei

On November 9, 2010, Professor Dowell Myers spoke on “Immigrants and the New Maturity of Los Angeles”. Robert Sainz, Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Community Development Department was the discussant. The full seminar is available for viewing at:

Los Angeles was the dominant destination for new immigrants to the United States in the second half of the 20th Century, however, this trend has been subsiding in recent years. In discussing the future demography of Los Angeles, Professor Myers unveiled the findings of the Population Dynamics Research Group’s latest study and debunked five myths underlying anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The 5 Immigration Myths and Professor Myer’s rebuttals to them:
Myth #1: Immigration is accelerating out of control.
Response: Annual immigration numbers declined in older gateway cities after 1990. Immigration to new gateway cities exploded up until 2000, but has since slowed in most areas of the U.S. Myers thinks that the percentage of foreign born individuals in California is stable, at or around the twenty percent range.

Myth #2: Immigrants are all newcomers.
Response: Not all immigrants are newcomers. An increasing percentage of them have been in L.A. for a longer duration.

Myth #3: Immigrants are unchanging over time.
Response: As time goes by, immigrants are change. They become citizens and change their habits to blend more with the mainstream, and their children are likely to achieve higher levels of education and succeed in society.

Myth #4: Immigrants are all foreigners and so are their children.
Response: Although approximately 60% of parents are foreign-born, 92% of the children are native born. This holds true across all races. These children are “our” kids. Furthermore, California is one of the most attractive states for children who are born here: approximately 67% of people born in California grow up and stay in this state. The implication is that it is necessary to invest in our kids because they are the future of the state!

Myth #5: Immigrants are a burden and not needed by society.
Response: Immigrants are needed, especially as the baby boomers head towards retirement age and become senior citizens. Many “helping hands” are needed to secure the future of our society as the ratio of retired to working age people starts to soar in 2011, which is the year in which the first boomers will turn 65.

Population Dynamics Research Group:
Pat Brown Institute:

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