Counting down: 12 for 2012

Published 8:54 am Sunday, January 1, 2012

Walter Schwartz and Bernado Reinoso are helping Latino families in Austin with basic chores and paperwork. Schwartz has also driven families back to Mexico during the past few months while Reinoso helps with filing taxes and other services.

8. Will Hispanics continue to leave Austin?

As some Hispanic families left the area this fall, one thing was certain: 2012 is going to be an interesting year for Austin’s cultural well-being.

Many Hispanic residents and families left the area this fall because of layoffs at local meatpacking companies and perceived police crackdowns on Latinos. In addition, Burmese refugees called the Karen have slowly entered the area in small numbers.

Diversity isn’t the only thing growing in Austin. The city’s population grew by more than 1,000 residents from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, the Hispanic population more than doubled, from 1,400 residents to 3,800 residents.

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The Mower County area is a hotbed of immigration debate, mirroring national trends concerning recent immigration. Though there may be people leaving, there will be even more people coming into the area and it remains to be seen what effect new residents will have on an already shifting community.