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


Pastor travels to find answer and church

Rafique thumb

By Kollin Miller A small room is lined with about a hundred chairs. Split into two sections with rows of six, seven, eight or nine. A small wooden table serves as an altar, and a large wooden cross with a stained-glass center stands behind it. People start to trickle in, and soon, nearly every chair […]

November 14, 2015 at 11:21 am


Long-time friends find way to do more

Rodrigues thumb

By Bailey Neel For refugees who come to this country with nothing, it takes just a few people to make all the difference. People willing to give money, time and energy to complete strangers. Lutheran Family Services, Catholic Services and other organizations count on these people to help refugees transition to a new country and […]

November 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm


My family has a long history in the U.S.

Tatum thumb

By Sophia Tatum A miniature, scale-model of the pilgrim ship the Mayflower sits on a bookshelf in my family’s home library. It might look like its primary function is for home décor, as it does somewhat match the dark woods of the bookshelves and warm colors presented in the paintings on the walls. This model […]

October 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Our Stories

Everyone’s talking about Aguek Arop

Aguek thumb

By Megan McGill Fourth Quarter On a corner of 38th Street in South Omaha resides an old white house. It hides behind an old oak tree, whose branches cover the front porch. The house is lined with a silver fence that encloses the small front lawn. A single detached garage sits on the side. In […]

November 13, 2015 at 11:34 am

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