Immigrant communities play a significant role in the analysis of an urban environment. First and foremost, it should be pointed out that immigrant flows are, as a rule, unequally spread throughout the country. In other words, immigrants tend to prefer big cities to small communities. The relevant phenomenon might be explained by a series of factors.
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One of the principle reasons to prefer such large cities as Los Angeles and New York resides in the fact that they open up more opportunities for immigrant groups to strengthen their positions in the social and political life. Thus, immigrants have more chances to unite on the common basis and receive more instruments to achieve their aims (Nicholls 9).
In addition, big cities enable immigrant communities to lead a reserved life in case they choose to. In other words, those groups that do not search for efficient assimilation or fail to fulfill this aim, have a chance to create their own environment within which they can comfortably exist. Such a voluntary refusal of accumulation might be illustrated by the “community gardens” created in Los Angeles by Latino immigrants in an attempt to “re-create homeland” in the urban city (Hondagneu-Sotelo 1).
Moreover, history shows that big cities have always been more open to the new cultural tendencies and trends than smaller communities. Thus, for instance, such cities as Los Angeles and New York would relatively willingly accept the hip-hop invasion, facilitating the immigrants’ assimilation, in such a manner (Forman 67).
In the meantime, it should be admitted that the already settled communities show the unwillingness to accept newcomers. The explanation is rather evident as the formers reasonably treat new immigrants as a threat to their established environment or as competitors (Nicholls 9). As a result, settled communities try to limit the number of newcomers by increasing deportations, imposing restrictions on employment and limiting mobility capacities. Meanwhile, the discrimination of the new-comers often leads to the increase of oppositional powers in political circles (Nicholls 9).
In some cities, immigrant communities struggle to receive consistent influential power that enables them to exercise the so-called “right to the city”, that is, according to Harvey, “a right to change ourselves by changing the city” (Harvey 23). Unfortunately, analysts admit that there are currently few mechanisms that might assist in achieving the relevant aim.
According to Harvey’s evaluation, the only tools that immigration communities have in strengthening their “rights to the city” are social movements and revolution. Both mechanisms, meanwhile, have critical drawbacks. Whereas the radical character of the latter solution is evident, social movements, likewise, possess little competitive capacity to resist the authoritative power of the local elites that impose their interests on the city’s residents (Harvey 39).
Nevertheless, despite the fact that communities still have insufficient power to take part in the city’s decision-making, some of their achievements cannot be denied. The most vivid example of the effective change performed by the separate communities is the labor movement’s victory in the fight for the justice for immigrant workers in Los Angeles (Soja 123).
Therefore, one might conclude that in spite of the fact that there are few mechanisms that can help immigrants participate in politics; those that exist might still be rather productive in case they are wisely applied. Numerous examples illustrate how significantly the immigrants’ influence contributes to the reshaping of the urban environment.
Forman, Murray. “Represent’: race, space and place in rap music.” Popular Music 19.1 (2000): 65-90. Print.
Harvey, David. “The Right to the City.” New Life Review 53.1 (2008): 23-40. Print.
Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. ” At home in inner-city immigrant community gardens.” Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 29.5 (2015): 1-16. Print.
Nicholls, Walter. “Politicizing Undocumented Immigrants One Corner at a Time: How Day Laborers Became a Politically Contentious Group.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 22.1 (2009): 1-39. Print.
Soja, Edward. Seeking Spatial Justice, Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2010. Print.