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What Really Drew Asian Immigrants to the Suburbs?

Perhaps, more than anything else, it was the allure of the "American Dream."
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Within the last decade, there has been growing interest in the “browning” of post-WWII suburbia. A slew of academic articles and social commentary on the "rise of the ‘ethnoburb'" focus on how these spaces are now landscapes of transnational Chinese import-export firms, Mexican bakeries, and Filipino supermarkets. The outlying communities of traditional immigrant gateway cities like New York or San Francisco continue to attract Asians and Latinos, but so do the bedroom communities of "unexpected" cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. Immigrants are not necessarily establishing roots in cities. Rather, they are immediately planting seeds in the hinterland.

As Timothy Egan noted in a 2011 New York Times op-ed, the trope of the immigrant needing to settle in an urban ethnic enclave and later, moving on "up" to suburbia is a dusty narrative of the past. There are many reasons for this - affordable housing, immigrants joining other established acquaintances or families, and class mobility (the Asian immigrants who arrived after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act were largely educated and skilled workers). But these conclusions leave out a fairly simple explanation as to why immigrants move to suburbia.