Hispanics Reviving Faded Towns on the Plains


Sunday’s New York Times features an article on the growing Hispanic population in the Midwest. It specifically profiles small towns in Kansas where the aging, non-Hispanic white population has been in a steady decline, with several towns closing schools due to low enrollment. In recent years, however, an influx of Hispanic immigrants, mostly from Mexico, has served to reverse such trends. “In the process, these new residents are reopening shuttered storefronts with Mexican groceries, filling the schools with children whose first language is Spanish and, for now at least, extending the lives of communities that seemed to be staggering toward the grave.” According the 2010 U.S. Census, the Hispanic population in the rural Great Plains increased 54% in the last ten years. In western Kansas, almost every county experienced a decline in the non-Hispanic white population, some by as much as 10% or more, but a double-digit increase in the Hispanic population. Although the white population was initially unwelcoming, and some are still unwilling to accept the change, the Hispanic residents have been better received in the last couple of years. Former Ulysses, Kansas mayor Thadd Kistler adds: “We’re either going to change or we’re going to die…this is Ulysses now, this is the United States now, this immigration is happening and the communities that are extending a hand are going to survive.”



About dmgonzalez12

Dartmouth College, Class of 2012 A.B., East Asian Studies

Posted on November 14, 2011, in Article. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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