Nebraska: A gateway for immigrants

Posted on February 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm

By Haley Dover

A reasonable cost of living and jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and meatpacking contribute to Nebraska becoming a gateway into America for the growing foreign-born population, an immigration expert said Thursday.

Caroline Brettell, an SMU anthropology professor, said many small businesses are being revived by immigrants. / Courtesy photo

Caroline Brettell, an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University who has studied global immigration patterns, said the growing foreign-born population in Nebraska is part of a national trend of immigrants seeking new destinations.

In a lecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, Brettell noted that 44.4 percent of Nebraska’s foreign-born residents have moved to the state since 2000.  In Lincoln alone, 7.4 percent of the population is foreign-born.  Nationally 12 percent of the population is foreign born.

Cities like Boston, Atlanta and Phoenix increasingly have become popular destinations for immigrants, she said, but traditional gateways like New York City, Chicago and Miami remain popular, too.

“Continuous gateways have always attracted more than their fair share of immigrants,” Brettell said. “Immigrants are still going to those traditional cities.”

New patterns have shown immigrants moving into the suburbs, rather than to the center of cities, she said.

Lincoln residents may notice the immigrant population from neighborhoods or small businesses that they own. Brettell finds that many small businesses are being revived in the hands of the immigrant population.

Brettell said some things to watch for in a growing foreign-born community are: political mobilization, festivals, bilingual education and opportunities for interaction between immigrants and native-born people. She has recently been considering a project that would study where cultural interactions occur.

As the United States is considered a melting pot, Brettell said everyone has a connection to immigration in some way.

“We all have a story of immigration,” she said,  “whether it is recent or in our distant past.”



Related Stories


Center works to make dreams come true

CFPIN thumb

By Madison Bell Every day, as Khaleed Haji sweeps the floors of a retirement home, he imagines he is still teaching Kurdish, English and science to high school students in Baghdad, Iraq. He wasn’t fluent in English, but even before he arrived in America he knew the language fairly well. Now, as a refugee living […]

April 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm


Lincoln Yazidis seek own TV channel

4sem thumb

By Emily Rust They’re creating a voice for the voiceless. Lincoln, Nebraska, is home to the largest Yazidi community in the United States, and for the first time, this community has a chance of having a unique television channel focused on them. In 2014, 4Sem TV (pronounced char-shem) started in Germany through, which focuses […]

April 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

Our Stories

Answers, support on DAPA and DACA

DACA thumb

By Maranda Loughlin Mexican, Central American, Burmese, Karen, Iraqi and Vietnamese mothers sat in the center of a classroom at Elliott Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. Around the classroom verbs and nouns were written on construction paper showing popular words and how to spell them: “Run,” “Walk,” “Mother,” and “Father.” Typically the mothers come to […]

April 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Admin Login | 402-472-3034 | Contact Us | About Us | Site by Ebbeka Design