Hispanic Influx into Orange County and White families relocating With the demographic change, the city of Santa Ana in Orange County, California, has faced significant challenges. Mainly because of the deteriorating and overburdened school districts, most of the former white residents moved out into the surrounding cities. Today over 75% of the white residents are over the age of 55. The younger families with children all left. Santa Ana has experienced rapid growth, fueled by immigration, in the last few decades, going from a population of 15,000 in 1960 to over 300,000 by 2009. This has resulted in a housing crisis, overcrowding, and overburdened school districts. It has also placed increasing pressure on the county's court system and jails. Between 1980 and 1990, Santa Ana's population grew 45%, and persons per household increased by 38%. The increase reflects both cultural and economic changes in the population. Although a majority of residents (64%) in Santa Ana are Latino, they make up only 29% of the voters, likely because lower incomes and cultural alienation make them less likely to vote, but also because a high proportion of the residents are undocumented. (Myers and Menifee, 2000). At the same time as Santa Ana's population mix changed, so did the socioeconomic level of the community. County median family income increased, while Santa Ana's lagged behind. In 1960, the median family income in Santa Ana was just below 90% of the county's; by 1990 it dropped to below 70% (U.S. Census Bureau, 1960, 1990a). The flight of the professional labor force and their subsequent replacement by low-skilled Latino immigrants explains much of the decrease in income levels. The poverty conditions in Santa Ana surprise those unfamiliar with the area because Santa Ana sits in the middle of a wealthy county. Orange County placed in the nation's top 10 based on median household income ($49,750) in 1990 (Sales and Marketing Management, 1994). Meanwhile, approximately 18% of the total population in Santa Ana live at the poverty level, and 80% of those people are Latino. By the end of the 1970s and into the early 1980s the quality of life spiraled downward in Santa Ana, pushing those with the financial means to live or do business elsewhere. In 1976, the Los Angeles Times quoted a Santa Ana police lieutenant commenting about Santa Ana, "Name any problem of the inner city and we have it--poverty, the highest minority population, a heavy concentration of drug addicts, substandard housing....We really were in danger of losing the city" (Skolnick & Bayley, 1986, p. 15). Once a very prominent suburban community of Orange County, Santa Ana turned into the county's center of all social ills. At the same time, it created a window of opportunity for immigrants who could not afford to live anywhere else in the county. Immigrants moved to Santa Ana and added their modest resources to many of Santa Ana's most blighted areas. With the higher-density plan, city leaders envisioned "new demographics." A senior planner explained that, the goal of the plan was to attract all the "cute little yuppie couples" who had disposable income. The influx of wealthy people would fix "everything." The proportion of single-family (one-unit structures) housing stock decreased from 83% in 1960 to 59% in 1990. Such land-use policies changed Santa Ana's housing stock balance and contributed to the decline in home ownership to below 50% (U.S. Census Bureau, 1990a). At the same time, housing became more expensive all over the county and exacerbated the regionwide housing affordability problem. Here is an explanation from one Hispanic resident in Santa Ana, describing the very typical problem of overcrowding: "We live piled on top of each other, not because we enjoy living like this but because it is the only way we can have a place to live and food to eat-Santa Ana resident who lives with 12other people in a two-bedroom house." Nebraska sees influx of Hispanic workers in the meat processing industry White parents are making use of Nebraska's rules that let parents send their kids to any public school and are pulling their kids out of schools with lots of Hispanic immigrants. (same article here and here) Like many of Nebraska's school systems, the Lexington district where Eisenhauer is superintendent has seen an influx of Hispanics, largely because of jobs at the meatpacking plants, and an accompanying exodus of white students to public elementary schools just outside town. And there is nothing Eisenhauer can do about it. Nebraska law allows students to switch schools without giving a reason. The white parents are fleeing an ethnic group that does poorly in school and which has more problems with broken families, crime, and other social pathologies. But of course some scoundrels are going to unfairly accuse the parents of ignorant prejudice. There is a bill in the Nebraska legislature (which is uniquely unicameral if memory serves) to put a stop to white flight from schools. The one Hispanic state legislator is outraged that whites would flee from Hispanics. By contrast, I am outraged that illegal aliens are spreading across the great plains and that George W. Bush and Karl Rove want more, not less, of this. I am also outraged that these Hispanic illegal immigrants are there to drive down the wages in meatpacking plants where wages were already pretty low to begin with. The ability to send kids to other districts is preventing a white flight at the level of residential neighborhood living. Beginning in the 1960s, white flight to the suburbs left many big-city school systems across the country predominantly black. But what is happening in Nebraska is a different phenomenon: The white families are staying put; they are just sending their kids to school outside town. This is possible because Nebraska, unlike many other states and communities, does not require students to attend the schools in the district in which they live. If this bill passes then the white flight will escalate to the level of selling houses and buying or building houses in other school districts. This will be far more expensive for the white parents and will do serious harm to the quality of life in the towns and cities the whites will flee from. Take away the group that has the highest level of reproduction in marriage (Hispanics have about twice the illegitimacy rate of whites) and the most economically successful, educated, law-abiding, and civically active members of a community and that community will deteriorate. Of course, if more people who are poorly educated, earn lower incomes, have kids illegitimately at higher rates, and commit crimes at higher rates (and also see here) then the whites will eventually flee anyway. But take away their ability to put their kids in better schools and they will flee sooner and in larger numbers. What is most disappointing about this story if that even if a person is willing to move to a fairly lowly populated state that is widely seen as undesirable due to climate and business conditions immigration still reaches such places and make them worse than they already are. We need to put a stop to massive immigration before more places in America become places to flee from. Nebraska has a grade school system that is, in effect, a public school voucher system. Why hasn't this fact attracted more attention from policy wonks and political commentators? Parents can send their kids to any public school that they can manage to arrange to have their kids transported to daily. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the parents used this ability before the Hispanics showed up. One reason vouchers are feared by middle and upper class suburbanites is that the suburbanites see vouchers as a mechanism that would take from them the rights to good schools (read: good fellow students) that they purchased when they bought their expensive houses. If Hispanics rather than whites start using the Nebraska system to send their kids to schools in other districts then expect the white population in Nebraska to quickly shift against the continuance of the current system.