The paradox of ethnic enclaves in the city

A recent article in the New York Times — devoted to the hollowing out of that city’s Little Cambodia — underscores a bigger picture at play in the United States and across North America.

New immigrants to North America aren’t necessarily flocking to the inner cities like they used to — and many are in fact bypassing the city cores in favour of suburbia, exurbia, or even smaller communities beyond urban regions. Of course, the Cambodian situation is unique — given the tumultuous recent history that nation has faced… but the trend is worth noting nonetheless.

Have our cities left immigrants behind?

Since the mid-’90s, a growing number of Cambodians have left the city, and the parties are held less often.

Data from the 2000 census shows that the city’s Cambodian population decreased by 31 percent from 1990 to 2000. According to a census analysis by the Hmong Studies Internet Resource Center, the decline occurred as nearly all the country’s other Cambodian communities were expanding.

At the high-water mark of 1990, census figures show, 2,565 Cambodians lived in the city, primarily in the Fordham, University Heights and Bronx Park East sections of the Bronx. Most were refugees who were resettled in New York after fleeing the repressive Khmer Rouge regime, which fell in 1979 and claimed nearly two million lives. According to an analysis of 2005 numbers prepared by the Census Bureau, barely 1,000 Cambodians then remained in the city.

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Filed under Immigration, New York

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