Latino immigration affects us all

by Nathan Spoden, University student

Twenty years ago, the Lake Street area in Minneapolis was infamously known for its crime, gangs, drug dealing and strip clubs. At that time, a house in the area sold for $60,000. One Twin Cities native recalls the ethnic population in the area consisting almost entirely of black and white residents. But in the ’90s, a change occurred. Immigration increased, and droves of Latino immigrants began to migrate to the Lake Street area.

What happened, however, was that the area began to improve. What the Latinos brought with them were close-knit communities and a strong work ethic.

Churches in the area that were barely alive were suddenly filled with an active congregation. Businesses were opened all along Lake Street and run-down, vacant buildings were turned into thriving markets, restaurants and services. Because Latinos frequented their locally owned businesses, the area prospered, and the city of Minneapolis could improve the infrastructure of the area and promote growth. And it did grow.

Essentially, the influx of immigrants cleaned up the area. It created more jobs and more revenue for the city, and the security of the area significantly improved. While it’s still not the shiniest place in town, the house that sold for $60,000 before the Latino immigrants arrived now sells for $130,000.

I, too, have personally benefited from this as I do most of my shopping at the businesses along Lake Street. The area is vibrantly colored, the store clerks are overly friendly, the food is delicious and cheap and the clothes are inexpensive and of very good quality. I can’t not shop there. It’s so convenient. It’s a wonderful place for me and apparently for many others. And it’s just but one instance of Latino immigrants not only supporting themselves but also benefitting our society as a whole.