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Immigration Alters Political Terrain in Nation’s Largest Cities

Contact: Lisa James Goldsberry (518) 437-4989

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 16, 2003) -- Large-scale immigration has profoundly impacted demographics and created a political “representation gap” in large urban areas such as New York and Los Angeles, according to a new report issued Thursday.

John Logan, director of the University at Albany’s Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, and John Mollenkopf, executive director of CUNY’s Center for Urban Research, address the immigration issue in the new study, People & Politics in America’s Big Cities: The Challenges to Urban Democracy.

The report describes the “emergence of new immigrant minority groups - changing the competition for urban power from one that pits native minorities against whites to one that pits new immigrants not only against whites, but also against native minorities,” said Logan.

The most recent mayoral and city council elections in both cities revealed a strain in multiracial coalitions, according to Mollenkopf. “The changing composition of the populations and electorates of New York and Los Angeles created difficulties for the coalition of blacks, Latinos, and liberal whites that previously elected black mayors in the two cities.”

The result, according to the report, is “an increased tendency among white Democrats in New York to shy away from Democratic nominees supported by minority voters in favor of a white alternative, even one nominated by Republicans.”

Similarly, in Los Angeles, in the 2001 primary elections, white voters in both cities did not support the first Latino candidate perceived to have a good chance of winning the mayoralty and “exposing a potential white-Latino divide,” according to the report.

The report concludes that cities need to “negotiate this new stage of urban politics,” a key factor in the future prosperity of our cities since it will enable urbanites to develop broadly embraced solutions to their most pressing problems.

“New York and Los Angeles may provide helpful lessons about how to make this transition,” said Logan. “New York and Los Angeles are laboratories of the great changes under way in our largest cities. Together, they are home to two-fifths of the immigrants in America who have joined African Americans and earlier white immigrants in forging a new kind of urban society.”

The joint UAlbany-CUNY report, People & Politics in America’s Big Cities: The Challenges to Urban Democracy, can be downloaded at http://mumford2.dyndns.org/report.html.

About the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research

Recognized as one of the great urbanists of the 20th century, Lewis Mumford endorsed the creation of the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research in 1988. Under the leadership of Director John Logan, the Center currently focuses on four key initiatives: 1) Global Neighborhoods, 2) the Urban Historical Initiative, 3) the China Urban Research Network; and 4) the Hudson-Mohawk Regional Workshop. Each of these projects examines the impact of global changes on the U.S. metropolis and civil society, probes the 19th and early 20th Century roots of present-day cities and suburbs, and addresses urban change in other parts of the world, mostly notably China. Visit the Mumford Center at www.albany.edu/mumford.


Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. The University is engaged in a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu

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