Ten or 15 years ago, residents of the Lehigh Valley would rarely, if ever, hear Spanish on the street. The suddenness of that change frightened some blue-blooded, long-time city residents, and it certainly explains some of the white flight in all three cities. But as Smith, the immigration research, cautions, Hispanic assimilation is only mid-cycle. The majority of Hispanic families have only lived here for two generations, and a Pew study found that the median age of second-generation Hispanic immigrants is only 14 years old. In other words, the Lehigh Valley and place like it still hang in limbo between first-generation immigrants and their second-generation children, who socialized in American schools, learned the English language, and grew up on Disney and MTV.
- Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, Senior Editor, The Atlantic