It was getting dire for the small towns of Middle America. Their populations were falling so low that businesses were being boarded up, schools closed and ghost towns were emerging. More and more people left each year and fewer were born than buried.
However, the New York Times reports that recently a new trend has breathed life into the region – more and more Hispanic settlers. Mexican grocery stores are opening behind shuttered storefronts and the schools are being filled with Spanish speaking children. It has even fallen to the Hispanic population to try to keep the region’s popular American culture alive by serving burgers and fries alongside tacos and burritos,
Predictably, not everyone is happy by the cultural shift, feeling that the way of life and the traditional culture of the region is being whittled away.
Some longtime residents of Ulysses, where the population of 6,161 is now about half Hispanic, grumble over the cultural differences and say they feel like strangers in their hometown. But the alternative, community leaders warn, is unacceptable.
“We’re either going to change or we’re going to die,” said Thadd Kistler, a lifelong resident who recently stepped down as mayor. “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.”
… At the hospital in town, exactly half of the 102 babies born last year were Hispanic. And in a telling sign of the future of the community, 13 babies were listed as having one white and one Hispanic parent.
It is a very human thing to want to pass on your way of life and values to your children, and I understand why people are sad to lose the traditional way of life in their communities. However, at least in these towns, without Hispanic immigration there wouldn’t be enough people to maintain this anyway, and the Hispanic people have really come to the rescue with a much younger, more stable, population. They bring with them the changing face of Middle America.