Report: Las Vegas Attracts High Number of Immigrants - 8 News NOW

Report: Las Vegas Attracts High Number of Immigrants

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LAS VEGAS -- A new report finds Las Vegas is one of the top cities in the United States considered to be an "emerging gateway for immigrants." It is a place where people who are not born in the U.S. come to find opportunities.

But the city's struggling economy may soon change that trend. According to the study released by the Brookings Institute, over the last decade Las Vegas was a hot spot for immigrants, especially those from Mexico.

But with the current recession, that wave of immigration has slowed down because the jobs they had are now disappearing.

As a hairdresser in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in northeast Las Vegas, Adella Calleros hears many stories from her customers.

"With the situation of the economy now, a lot of people have not been able to work and have gone to different states," she said.

Robert Lang, Director of Brookings Mountain West, said according to the report, for many years Las Vegas has attracted many low-skilled immigrants with no high school degrees. They come for jobs in construction and the service industry, many of which are fading away.

"It stalled out, most of that immigration, and the future of the mix maybe a little different," he said.

According to Lang, the change may bring more high-skilled immigrants to Las Vegas over other parts of the country, so long as Las Vegas invests in bringing a diversity of businesses to the area.

"If we are the global center of gaming if we export advanced business services then we need higher skilled people," said Lang.

But that change will take time, and time will be tough for those who rely on the kind of industries that are struggling in the current economy.

"If they are coming here thinking that they will come and work and have a better situation for themselves, I don't think it's going to happen right now," said Calleros.

According to Brookings, other cities that draw many low-skilled workers include Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Places like Atlanta and Orlando, meanwhile, have immigrants who on average are better educated. Researchers say that's because they have no one dominant industry, but a healthy variety of businesses.

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