Immigration's Impact on Tarrant County's Development: A Comprehensive Look

Immigration has had a profound impact on Tarrant County's development over time. From its early days as part of northern Mexico through its current status as a major metropolitan area with a diverse population including many immigrants from Latin America.

Immigration's Impact on Tarrant County's Development: A Comprehensive Look

Fort Worth, Texas, was part of northern Mexico before 1836, but it wasn't until the early 20th century that Mexican Texans and Texans began to populate the area in large numbers. The first case of Fort Worth residents with Spanish surnames appeared in the city directory from 1883-1886, which listed nineteen men with Spanish surnames who likely worked as traqueros (railroad workers) or vaqueros (cowboys). However, they were not permanently established, a trend common among Latinos who passed through Fort Worth in the late 19th century. The numbers remained low at the turn of the century, and forty-three men with Spanish surnames were listed as residents in and around downtown Fort Worth in the 1905-1906 city directory.

As the United States became a more attractive destination for immigrants, many of them arrived in cities across or near the U. S. By 1920, an estimated 3,785 people of Mexican ethnicity lived in Fort Worth. In the following video clips, we hear people talk about how the Mexican Revolution prompted their families' decision to move north of the border. In the 1920s, migration from south of the border to Fort Worth slowed.

With the end of the Mexican Revolution, fewer Mexicans saw the need to move north. Of those who arrived or were already living in Fort Worth in the early 1920s, many didn't stay long, as they were assigned to work in fields in the north and midwest of the United States. Others, just 250, voluntarily repatriated after the Mexican government offered to pay for their return to their homes. However, the city's Latino population grew. Part of that growth was attributed to families that fled the Cristera War (1926-192), although the wave of immigration caused by that conflict was not as great as that which occurred during the Mexican Revolution.

Whatever the reasons, in 1930, approximately 4,000 people of Mexican descent resided in Fort Worth. In the following video clips, Antonio Ayala explains the exodus of his family from the Mexican state of Guanajuato in June 1927 and Santiago Díaz talks about the repatriation of his father, who was one of 250 men who volunteered to return to Mexico with a train ticket purchased by the Mexican government. The rate at which Mexican citizens moved to the United States slowed in the 1930s and remained stable until the 1970s. With the Great Depression, anti-immigrant sentiment among Angles increased, leading to deportation and repatriation efforts during that period. As a result, ethnic Mexicans living in America faced a new set of challenges.

After World War II, rapid urbanization once again caused drastic changes in Fort Worth and among its Latino population. Families and individuals from all racial and ethnic groups moved from small cities across America to metropolises in search of new lives and opportunities. In Fort Worth, neighborhoods grew while some Latinos broke into the middle class and moved to neighborhoods that were previously reserved exclusively for Anglo-Saxon citizens. In these videos below, descendants of people of Texan origin talk about their move from small towns to Fort Worth and we hear about their experience as part of a Latino middle class that posed a series of unique challenges in the 1970s. Educational and professional opportunities in the 1970s and beyond have also contributed to an increase in both number and upward mobility among Latinos in Fort Worth. With Texas Wesleyan University and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth; University of Texas at Arlington; University of North Texas; and Texas Women's University in Denton; higher education has played an important role in bringing families and individuals to this city.

With a nearby military base, career men and women also arrived in Fort Worth and eventually settled there permanently. Many of these Latinos who came to Fort Worth for professional or educational opportunities eventually became leaders and mentors within their communities. In these videos below we learn about some of the reasons that brought some Latino business professionals, public officials, and educators to Fort Worth. Counties with smaller populations are also affected by migration but often experience emigration to other counties within Texas with fixed or low rates of domestic or international migration. Immigrants are more likely to settle in main counties within MSAs while domestic or internal migrants are more likely dispersed throughout suburban counties within MSAs. These counties are less connected than those with larger populations and tend to receive fewer migrants per county-to-county link.

Generally speaking, counties with larger populations have higher mobility rates; higher volumes of migration; higher overall migration rates; and greater overall connectivity with other counties. For example Harris County (the main county within Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA) received 76.4 percent of MSA immigrants compared to 67.8 percent for MSA domestic immigrants; 48.6 percent for MSA internal immigrants. New research from New American Economy shows that immigrants held 15.6 percent of all purchasing power within Tarrant County. With every 10-year census since 1850 there has been an increase in population share within metropolitan counties while non-metropolitan counties have seen a decline. Immigration has had a profound impact on Tarrant County's development over time. From its early days as part of northern Mexico through its current status as a major metropolitan area with a diverse population including many immigrants from Latin America, Tarrant County has seen its share of changes due to immigration trends over time. The influx of immigrants during times such as during World War II or after natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina has had an impact on Tarrant County's economy by providing new sources of labor for businesses looking for workers or entrepreneurs looking for new opportunities. Immigrants have also had an impact on Tarrant County's culture by bringing new ideas and perspectives into local communities through their presence at schools or churches or through their involvement with local organizations such as civic clubs or cultural organizations. Finally, immigration has had an impact on Tarrant County's politics by providing new voices for issues such as immigration reform or economic development initiatives. Immigration has had a significant impact on Tarrant County's development over time and will continue to do so into the future as new waves of immigrants come seeking new opportunities or fleeing difficult situations back home.