Great article in Crosscut about what is happening over on the Eastside with immigrant populations.
What draws immigrants to the Eastside and keeps them
there, even when, like Tushara, they go to work in Seattle? Lee could be
speaking for all of them when he answers, emphatically, with a single
word: “School! I needed to raise kids, and Bellevue’s the place to do
It wasn’t just the Bellevue schools’ celebrated instructional quality
(its average test scores place it among the top 10 districts statewide
in math and science and the top 30 in reading and writing) or their
ample tax base, which includes the wealthy lakeshore municipalities of
Medina, Clyde Hill and the Points.
It was the counter-intuitively congenial social environment of what was
then an upscale, predominately white, monocultural community. In
Bellevue and Newport, Pham found, he didn’t have to worry about his
three kids being bullied or sticking with their own kind for protection.
The friction, suspicion and resentment that can arise when struggling
minorities jostle against each were absent. “There’s more tension poor
to poor,” he explains. “Eastside people are very friendly and generous.”
“We find common denominators instead of looking for differences,” says
Lee. “It’s not like Los Angeles, where you’re all competing. If
everyone’s fighting for the same dollar, it’s difficult. But wealth
takes the pressure off. Instead of fighting, we continue to look to our
success, so we can attract more opportunity, more business growth.”
Stats from the story:
By 2010, 22 percent of the Eastside’s population was foreign-born, a
figure that has surely grown since. More than 30 percent of Bellevue and
Redmond’s populations were immigrants, up from just 13 percent in 1990 —
a larger share than Seattle’s 17 percent, and more than in any other
King County municipality save Tukwila and Seatac.
Many immigrants to those two cities (and to Kent, the largest in South
King County) come from different countries than those on the Eastside,
and under very different circumstances. Relatively inexpensive housing
has made them prime resettlement sites for refugees from such countries
as Myanmar, Somalia, Bhutan and Burundi, who, in past decades, would
have settled in South Seattle.
By contrast, nearly two-thirds of
Bellevue’s immigrants are from Asia; about a third of those came from
China, a quarter from India and 12 percent from Korea. They tend to land
with a leg up on the mobility ladder, bringing more education and, in
many cases, capital to start businesses.