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Indiana’s Wonderful Diversity

In 1920, the U.S. Census reported that Indiana was the most white, native-born, Protestant state in the nation. There were a few pockets of African-American and foreign-born communities in the state, but homogeneity was the norm.

Today it’s a different story.

IMG Logo biggerAccording to 2007 data (more accurate data will be available after the 2010 census), one in 16 Hoosiers are Latino or Asian. Immigrants in Indiana are impacting our economy by paying an estimated $2.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Moreover, 36.5 percent of Hoosier immigrants (or 96,401 people) are naturalized U.S. citizens. To better this statistic, both Indianapolis and Ft. Wayne are partnering with the National League of Cities’ Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration project to encourage eligible immigrants to seek citizenship. Across all levels of government, officials are positioning Indiana as a friendly state that welcomes international visitors, immigrants and businesses. (The International Center of Indianapolis will honor Gov. Mitch Daniels later this month as its “2010 International Citizen of the Year” for his efforts in this regard.)

I got to learn about Indiana’s immigrant history and present-day status in 2008 when I coordinated the Indiana Town Hall Series. That series focused on immigration from the perspectives of the past, present and future. Subsequent partnerships have allowed me to become better acquainted with my fellow Mexican-, Burmese-, South African-, Indian-, Columbian-, and Australian-Hoosier neighbors!

So I’m proud to say that IHS is a partner of this year’s Indiana’s MultiEthnic Conference on April 26 at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites. The conference will feature panelists and speakers from across the nation and state and will highlight the importance of building and improving Indiana’s 21st century communities. You can learn more about this fantastic conference (all are welcome!) by going to www.indianamultiethnic.org or watching the video on YouTube.

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