- McLean County's Hispanic and Latino community has grown from 3,833 in Census 2000 to more than 5,500 today, estimated Cristina Deutsch, Hispanic outreach director for Bloomington's Western Avenue Community Center.
- The number of McLean County residents from India has grown from less than 1,300 in Census 2000 to about 4,400 today, according to the McLean County India Association
"They come because there's jobs here and they can provide an education for their children," said Deutsch
, who emigrated from Bolivia 40 years ago.
The Hispanic migration to the United States actually started about 35 years ago, as a small group arrived to work for the railroads, she
said.That increased about 25 years ago, as farmers from small ranches in Mexico were drawn to Central Illinois by jobs detasseling corn and beans.
A 1986 law that provided amnesty for more than 2.5 million undocumented workers in the U.S. -- allowing them to obtain permanent residency -- dramatically changed immigration patterns, Deutsch
"The need for service workers was there.That's why they were able to stay," Deutsch
said of local Hispanics.
Today, those workers do everything from work in restaurants and factories to clean offices, she
"I don't want to give the idea that it's only those menial jobs that we do.There are a lot of us immigrants from Latin America and Spain who are teaching in universities, who are doctors, but they're getting paid well so they're not noticeable," she
...Cristina Deutsch, Hispanic outreach director at Western Avenue Community Center in Bloomington, has been working with Hispanic immigrants for 20 years.
The program helps new arrivals deal with schools, health care, employment, housing and the law.
The Pantagraph/LORI ANN COOKCristina Deutsch
helped Thaniti Missakasavake with his
immigration papers recently at Western Avenue Community Center
During a recent interview, she
explained the role Hispanics play in the local economy, their desires and motivations.