a profile of
immigrants in arkansas 2013
A Study of Demographic characteristics & Economic Impact A special supplement from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
This special feature summarizes three
a profile of
immigrants in arkansas 2013
volumes commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to analyze and better understand the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas. Volume 1, Changing Workforce and Family Demographics, provides a demographic and socioeconomic profile of immigrants and their children, including a description of immigrant workers in the Arkansas economy. Volume 2, A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas: Economic and Fiscal Benefits and Costs, presents an analysis of immigrants’ impact on the Arkansas economy and on state and local budgets. Volume 3, A Profile of the Marshallese Community in Arkansas, focuses on Marshall Islanders—a group that is important to Arkansas but inadequately described in national Census Bureau surveys. The report—produced by researchers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Arkansas—is a follow-up to a similar study in 2007. The updated data in this report supports the Foundation’s mission to improve the lives of all Arkansans by closing the educational and economic gaps that leave many families behind. The study is part of the Foundation’s continuing commitment to identify and support those factors that can help the state move the needle from poverty to prosperity. The methods and findings of the study were discussed at two meetings of an advisory group composed of experts from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors in Arkansas. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation would like to thank the advisory group who helped to design, shape, and review the report.
Advisory group members included:
Contents 3 Arkansas immigrants grow in diversity, numbers and influence 4 New Americans 4 Light bulbs come on at academy for nonprofit leaders 5 State’s economy grows through immigrant work and spending 6 Marshallese support industry in Northwest Arkansas 6 Justice workers fight silent epidemic of wage theft 7 No dreams deferred 8 Communities united for change
infographic designs Joel Richardson layout Arkansas Times cover photo Jason Miczek
• Phyllis Poche, Director, Census State Data Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock • Frank Head, Director, Catholic Charities Immigration Services– Springdale, Diocese of Little Rock • Diana Gonzales Worthen, Director, Project Teach Them All, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville • Andre Guerrero, Director of Programs for Language Minority Students, Arkansas Department of Education • Robert Martinez, Board of Visitors, University of Arkansas at DeQueen • Al Lopez, School/Community Liaison, Springdale School District • Rafael Arciga García, Arkansas League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Office of Latino
Academic Advancement, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Michel Leidermann, Director/Editor, El Latino Spanish Weekly Sandy Harris Joel, Marshallese Program Coordinator, Credit Counseling of Arkansas, Inc. Mireya Reith, Executive Director, Arkansas United Community Coalition Deanna Perez Williams, PhD, Coordinator, Arkansas Migrant Education Program, Boston Mountain Educational Cooperative Logan Hampton, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Adjoa Aiyetoro, Director, Institute for Race and Ethnicity, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
To read the three volumes of A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas that analyze the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas, visit wrfoundation.org.
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Arkansas immigrants Naomi Turner
grow in diversity, numbers and influence Over the last ten years, the immigrant population in Arkansas has almost doubled, but according to research commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, immigrants still represent only 5% of the state’s total population. “The Foundation’s primary goal with this report,” says Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation President and CEO, “is to provide relevant data to help community, business, and policy leaders better understand the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas.” The three-volume report, A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013, describes the demographic characteristics of the state’s immigrant population, their economic and fiscal impact, and the state’s Marshallese community. The report – produced by researchers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Arkansas – is a follow-up to a similar study in 2007. Volume 1 of the report notes that Arkansas ranked fourth among states in immigrant population growth in the 10year period ending in 2010. The state’s foreign‐born population rose by 82 percent during that decade. Approximately two-thirds of Arkansas’s immigrants come from Latin America, and Latino immigrants and their children comprise the state’s fastest-growing demographic group. Families from the Marshall Islands, from Asia, Africa and Europe are also among the state’s increasing immigrant population. “The diversity of many communities in our state has increased exponentially over the past 10 years, “says West-Scantlebury. “That means we have to pay attention to all members of our community having access to the same opportunities to succeed.” The percentage of children of immigrants in Arkansas doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent over the 10-year period ending in 2010. The number of
Latino children in the state grew by 38,000 while the number of white children fell by 23,000. The study noted that 82 percent of children with immigrant parents were US-born citizens. State Chamber of Commerce CEO Randy Zook says the immigrants represent more than just new residents. “They are an important part of the state’s economic future,” he says. The state’s relatively strong economy and low cost of living attracts immigrants and eases their integration into Arkansas life. While 30 percent of Latino immigrants live below the poverty line, Arkansas immigrants are just as likely to own their own homes as immigrants are nationally. Half of the state’s Latino immigrants and two-thirds of other immigrants own their own homes. “The economic benefit is only part of the story we want to tell,” says WestScantlebury. “Immigrants are long-term residents of the state and are contributing to stronger neighborhoods and vibrant communities.” Nearly half of Arkansas’s immigrants—44 percent—reside in the three Northwest counties of Benton,
Marshallese girls pick fresh herbs during a special cooking week.
Arkansas’s relatively strong economy and low cost of living attracts immigrants.
Washington and Sebastian. Many live in the cities of Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville and Fort Smith. Another 17 percent live in Pulaski County, home to the state’s capital city of Little Rock. Over half have been in the state more than 10 years. A handful of rural communities in Yell, Sevier and other western counties have also seen a significant influx of immigrants. Most counties in Arkansas’s south and east have foreign-born resi-
dents that account for less than two percent of their overall populations. “We encourage our state’s community leaders and policymakers to use the report to engage in data-driven conversation about the positive impact of immigrants on our state’s communities and economy,” says Dr. West-Scantlebury. “We need to invest in the future of immigrants if the state is to benefit from their culture, productivity and economic contributions.”
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Director Frank Head Jr. says CCIS helps immigrants travel the long, complicated road to U.S. citizenship.
The Latino nonprofit Leadership Academy gives new leaders a suite of new skills in nonprofit management.
Light bulbs come on at academy for nonprofit leaders
The road to becoming a U.S. citizen is long, complicated and often difficult,
When two different Arkansas nonprofit groups learned each was planning
and the laws surrounding immigration can befuddle citizenship applicants.
separate training for new nonprofit leaders, they found a way to make one-
But immigrant families have a guide and advisor in Catholic Charities Immigration Services in Springdale, which helps immigrant families through the years-long citizenship process. “Last year we helped people from 32 different countries. But the majority come from Latin American countries – Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras,” Frank Head Jr., the agency’s director, said. Arkansas is home to the nation’s fastest growing immigrant population, and many recent immigrants live in the state’s northwest corner. CCIS is the only nonprofit provider of immigration services in the state accredited by the Federal Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Springdale organization helps immigrants start the citizenship process, and it provides referrals for training on preparation to enter the workforce. The organization also refers immigrants to English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and provides other critical supports. The immigration services organization receives support from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. By preparing immigrants to become economically successful members of American society, CCIS serves the Foundation’s overarching goal of reducing the number of Arkansas families in poverty.
Frank Head said the Foundation assistance has had a dramatic effect. “The grant has helped us increase our intake by 20 percent,” he said. Many people assisted by CCIS since receiving a 2011 Foundation grant are approaching the final steps toward naturalization – tests on U.S. history and the American political system, and finally the swearing-in ceremony, capping what for many has been a lifelong journey. Five staff members, including Head, are certified to act as immigrants’ legal representatives before the federal Board of Immigration Appeals, the nation’s highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. Among other kinds of immigration cases, the appeals board considers petitions to classify the status of family members’ relatives still abroad for preference immigrant visas. Often immigrants come to the United States alone, and seek citizenship to bring their families to the United States through an arduous years-long process. “Our primary mission — and the reason why the Catholic Diocese works on these issues — is family reunification,” he said. “We help people through the paperwork and the process so they can bring their families here and reunite.”
plus-one equal much more than just two. One Community Una Communidad! and Arkansas Communities of Excellence (ACE) came together with help from Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation President and CEO Dr. Sherece WestScantlebury, and together they crafted a plan for leadership training to have broad impact on Arkansas communities. The result was the annual Arkansas Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy, which is now helping to develop new leaders in communities of color around the state and to find new partnerships committed to achieving racial and economic justice. In 2011, the Academy’s first class included some 26 Latino and Marshallese leaders from 14 Arkansas groups such as LULAC 761 and New Latino Movement, both of Fayetteville; Hispanic Community Services of Jonesboro; the Association of Women of Arkansas in Little Rock and others. “This was a really diverse group of people to work with,” said Al Lopez of Una Communidad! “We brought together people from all over the state, and it was really interesting to see what they were all doing in their communities.” The Academy, partly funded by the Foundation, gives new leaders a suite of skills in fundraising, programming, nonprofit management and more
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through workshops, coaching and interaction among the Arkansas nonprofit leaders. ACE and Una Communidad! were co-training partners and community advisors, and the Maryland-based Center for Leadership Innovation served as the training resource. Academy graduates and their organizations will continue to receive mentoring and technical assistance as needed. Lopez, a longtime community advocate in Northwest Arkansas, said the Academy was a life-changing experience for many, including himself. As the first class began the training, many participants weren’t sure where it would take them. “In the beginning, we were all a little hesitant. We didn’t know each other, and we were wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into,” Lopez said, laughing. But as the participants began to find common ground, they also began to come up with a wealth of ideas for organizing and partnerships. “You could almost see the light bulbs coming on over our heads,” Lopez said. “I think people really learned a lot from the experience because it was something we really needed.”
State’s economy grows Immigrant families are key contributors to Arkansas’s future workforce and growth, in fact, according to a recent report they contribute nearly $4 billion annually to the state’s economy. These facts are contained in the threevolume report, A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013, funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. The report describes the demographic characteristics of the state’s immigrant population, their economic and fiscal impact, and the state’s Marshallese community. The report – produced by researchers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Arkansas – is a follow-up to a similar study in 2007. “If we are going to be able to plan for the future in a productive way, we need good data,” says Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation President and CEO. “This report provides the basis for an informed conversation about how our state can and should support opportunities for all residents.” While the first volume of the report delineates the growth in the state’s immigrant population, the second volume shows that immigrants have a positive effect on Arkansas’s economy. According to the report, the total economic impact of immigrant consumer spending in the state was $3.9 billion. This is an increase of $1 billion in just six years. “Immigrant families are working hard
and having a positive impact on the state” says, Steve Appold, economic researcher from the Kenan Institute. “In fact, for every dollar the state spends on an immigrant family, Arkansas nets $7 in business revenue and tax contributions.” The research also shows that the Latino immigrant share of workers doubled from two to four percent between 2000 and 2010. “Eighty-eight percent of immigrant Latino men in Arkansas are employed. That’s a higher rate than any other immigrant or native-born group,” says West-Scantlebury. “And while the economic impact is concentrated in Northwest Arkansas and in Little Rock, six other counties also had immigrant populations with at least $65 million in consumer buying power.” Although immigrants account for only five percent of the state’s population, they comprise seven percent of the state’s workers. While they contribute heavily to key industries such as manufacturing, construction, agriculture and foreignborn professionals, 17 percent are also physicians and surgeons in the state. “Immigrants’ contribution in spending across Arkansas’s economy likely will continue to grow as their share of the state’s total population and workforce increases,” says WestScantlebury. “The economic impact of this population is a major factor in the future growth of our state.”
through immigrant work, spending
Immigrant families are key contributors to Arkansas’s future workforce and growth.
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Marshallese support industry
The Jones Center
in Northwest Arkansas Arkansas might seem an unlikely landing place for immigrants from the Pacific Islands. However, thousands of workers from the Marshall Islands now call the Natural State home. A new three-volume report, A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013, funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, includes a volume that provides the first comprehensive look at the Marshallese population in Arkansas. The other two volumes of the report describe the demographic characteristics of the state’s immigrant population and their economic and fiscal impact. The report – produced by researchers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Cha-
pel Hill, and the University of Arkansas – is a follow-up to a similar study in 2007. “The Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas is an important factor in a quickly diversifying population,” says Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, President and CEO of the Foundation. “You can’t get a complete picture of Arkansas’ foreign born residents unless you spend some time looking at the circumstances and assets of this community.” Arkansas has the largest population of Marshallese individuals on the U.S. Mainland and after Hawaii the second‐ largest Marshallese population outside the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Approximately 4,300 out of 22,400 Marshall Islanders in the United States lived in Arkansas in 2010. About 88 percent of the Marshallese in Arkansas live in Washing-
Arkansas has the largest population of Marshallese on the U.S. mainland.
Group educates workers on rights and other issues in the workplace.
Justice workers fight silent epidemic of wage theft Most American workers take for granted that they’ll get a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, but for many others, theft of their wages by unscrupulous employers is an all-too-common occurrence. Jose-Luis Aguayo, director of the Northwest Arkansas Worker’s Justice Center, says Latinos who come to work in Northwest Arkansas are often victims
of what his organization calls a “silent epidemic” of wage theft. Vulnerability and poor English language skills among newly arrived Latinos sometimes makes employers think they can get away without paying workers’ wages. “There is a lot of exploitation,” Aguayo said. “Victims of wage theft are individuals who have been partially paid, or not paid at all, for the work they’ve done. Sometimes people aren’t paid the minimum wage or don’t receive overtime pay.” Statistics on wage theft are hard to come by because it often goes unreported by vulnerable workers. The Workers Justice Center, which receives support from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, works to stop wage theft and to improve conditions for low-wage workers in Northwest Arkansas by educating, organizing and mobilizing workers to help themselves find workplaces that are safe and fair. “We want to make sure our members understand what is involved in making a legal claim and understand the process,” Aguayo said. “And we want them to be aware of their rights, to educate them on
what they can do to tackle not only wage theft cases, but also any other issues that they have from a labor standpoint.” The Northwest Arkansas center is one of 25 such organizations nationwide and part of the Global Workers Justice Alliance, which focuses on the same issues and on international problems such as human trafficking. “We are not a union,” Aguayo said. “We are a nonprofit organization that concentrates on labor rights. We have a network of attorneys that assists us. But we try to assist people and find solutions before they go into the legal realm.” Northwest Arkansas’ poultry industry employs thousands of low-wage Latino workers, but the center’s work goes beyond a single group in a single industry. “It’s a mixed crowd,” Aguayo said. “When we deal with wage theft, we get people from construction, cleaning services and restaurants. When we get issues of workers comp, discrimination and OSHA violations, they often come from the poultry industry.” Although the majority of the center’s members are Latino, the staff tries to
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help everyone with a labor problem who comes in the door. “We have African-Americans, and we also have Marshallese who come in with issues of OSHA safety and health violations, injuries at work, workers compensation, unemployment assistance and any of the other issues as we see in the community,” Aguayo said. The staff doesn’t ask—and isn’t required by law to ask—about a worker’s immigration status. But regardless of legal status, undocumented workers who don’t speak English are often the most vulnerable, he said. “Because of their poor English language skills, they are also most likely to be targets for retaliation by their employers. They come to us for advice, not for legal advice, but for referrals,” he said. “We want people to step out of the shadows and go from being vulnerable workers to being more conscious ones who know they are entitled to the same rights as anyone else.”
Marshall Islanders, like Latino immigrants, are largely a young, working population that will contribute to future population and workforce growth. “It’s no surprise to me that they’ve come to the United States and Arkansas seeking opportunities for employment and a better life,” said state Chamber of Commerce CEO Randy Zook. “That’s something they have in common with all immigrant groups.”
ton County, with the vast majority living in Springdale. “Technically, the Marshallese are not immigrants, but for all intents and purposes they may as well be,” says Rafael Jimeno, the University of Arkansas researcher who conducted the study. “Under an agreement with the United States, Marshall Islanders can travel and work without visas but they must apply to become legal permanent residents on the same terms as other nationalities.” Their special status is the result of a deal struck between the island nation and the United States in 1986 when the island achieved full sovereignty. Under that agreement, the Compact of Free Association, the United State provides defense, social services and other benefits to the Marshallese in exchange for the right to operate military bases on the islands. “Employment, educational opportunities and migration networks that started in the 1980s drew the Marshallese to Arkansas,” says Jimeno. “The Springdale poultry industry is the largest employer of Marshallese, with Tyson Foods, George’s and Butterball employing three-quarters of the islanders.” The report shows that the Marshallese community faces similar employment prospects, neighborhood conditions, living standards, needs for health-care and other services as those experienced by the Latino immigrant population.
Employment, educational opportunities and migration networks drew the Marshallese to Arkansas.
to improve outcomes for students by improving their ability to: • Successfully complete the courses they take • Advance from remedial to creditbearing courses • Enroll in and successfully complete gatekeeper courses • Enroll from one semester to the next and earn degrees and certificates Faculty and administrators work together to help students Achieve the Dream of graduation.
No dreams deferred Many community college students across Arkansas bring more than books to school. Often they also carry the weight of their upbringing in low-wealth, rural households and of general unfamiliarity with higher education processes. These barriers sometimes hamper the students’ success and block their path to graduation. Four Arkansas community colleges, with the help of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with the Lumina Foundation, are working to bring down these barriers through an initiative called Achieving the Dream. The initiative’s goal is to enable colleges
Two of the colleges, Phillips County Community College of the University of Arkansas and Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, have been honored as national leaders in efforts to provide more effective developmental education. The schools are officially designated “leader colleges” within the national Achieving the Dream initiative. They are among only 52 colleges nationally to be so recognized. Chancellor Steve Murray of the Phillips County Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA) says the program has helped change the school’s culture. Where once the college may have focused on boosting enrollment, it now focuses on student success, he said. “The purpose of this initiative is
to achieve success, especially with students of color and with economically disadvantaged students. Almost all of our students fit into that category,” he said. The five rural Delta counties that PCCUA serves are among the nation’s 100 poorest. And at PCCUA, the results have been dramatic. “We more than doubled our graduation rate since 2005,” said Deborah King, PCCUA’s vice chancellor for instruction. Both colleges have gone through a sea change—evaluating previous successes and failures, setting goals for improving rates of retention and graduation, establishing new standards, improving data collection, rethinking academic advising, revising curricula, and developing new student orientation procedures. Dan Baake, the Pulaski Tech president, echoed Murray’s remarks. “We have really geared up all across the college for the Achieving the Dream initiative” Baake said. “It’s helped us form an entirely new culture—how we think, how we do things, how we operate.” Pulaski Tech, he said, concentrates on helping Achieve the Dream students get
past gatekeeper courses, on remedial math, English and writing. “Once you get them through those remedial courses, they can go on to get their associate degree or transfer to a university,” he said.” If you don’t get them out of remediation, there’s no way they can succeed.” The other participating Arkansas colleges are the College of the Ouachitas in Malvern and National Park Community College in Hot Springs. PCCUA has three campuses in Helena-West Helena, Stuttgart and DeWitt. Murray said PCCUA’s work requires administrative innovation and a reexamination of instruction methods. The effort requires active participation from administrators and faculty. It also requires a frank examination of race, class, gender, and poverty in relation to student performance. “We take ownership of the barriers to success and no longer just see them as nonacademic issues that aren’t our responsibility, “ said Murray. “It’s changed the way we see ourselves.”
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Jason Miczek Brian Chilson AUCC director Mireya Reith says partnerships get results on immigration issues.
Communities united for change For the Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC,) partnership is powerful. “Everything we do, we do in partnership. We’re really about bringing people together,” said AUCC director Mireya Reith. AUCC is an immigrants’ rights nonprofit organization founded in 2010 to bring together Arkansas-based organizations and people across sectors to empower immigrants in Arkansas through organizing, coalition building, and promotion of civic engagement. AUCC supports immigrants and other multicultural communities to be agents of positive change in Arkansas through grassroots programs that help immigrants
to integrate into the Arkansas community and the state economy. In its initial stages AUCC concentrated on organizing, making contact with immigrant communities across the state and identifying potential partners. By now, Reith said, AUCC has 24 partner organizations across Arkansas, about 75 volunteers, and another 18 organizers who are immigrants themselves. The coalition currently has a presence in areas with a high concentration of immigrants in Springdale, Rogers, Fort Smith, Little Rock, Jonesboro and DeQueen. “For us it’s really about bringing different stakeholders together so they can identify principles and determine what path we’ll take collectively,” the director said. AUCC is affiliated with three national organizations, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FAIR), Reform Immigration for America (RI4A), and the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN). The 18 immigrant organizers are part of AUCC’s flagship program, known as Change Agents, which is supported by a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Through the Change Agents program, the coalition hopes to activate Arkansas immigrants to lead community-building efforts. The Change Agents themselves are people from low-income backgrounds
who haven’t previously served in leadership positions, but whose neighbors and colleagues identify them as having strong leadership potential. The coalition offers three organizer training sessions a year for Change Agents — one in their own communities, one at the state level, and one where each organizer goes outside the state to see how others work to support immigrants. The Change Agents training is handson. “This isn’t the kind of thing you learn in a classroom. You learn by doing it,” Reith said. Program participants develop local grassroots groups and implement immigrant-driven community projects. Most of AUCC’s partners are nonprofit organizations. But the coalition also has partnerships with some government agencies. One such partner is the office of Governor Mike Beebe, which works with AUCC in providing citizenship workshops. Other coalition partners are in law enforcement. They work together to identify needs in the immigrant communities and to assess the impact on immigrants of local and federally mandated law enforcement programs. By comparing notes, Reith said, partners learn about needs they didn’t know about previously. “One of the needs we see is information
focusing on the impact of these law enforcement programs,” Reith said. “For example we could establish a hot line for families that find themselves facing deportation or a family member facing deportation as a result of these programs.” AUCC also works in voter registration, voter education and voter mobilization. And the coalition is gearing up to study and report on federal immigration policies, Reith said. Eighty percent of AUCC’s work is with Latino immigrants, Reith said, but the coalition is constantly reaching out to other groups. “We’ve been in touch with the Marshallese community in Springdale, the Vietnamese community in Fort Smith. We’ve been involved with the people of the African diaspora around the state, and we’ve also made efforts to reach out to the Asian community and the Arab community in Little Rock,” she said. Reith said the time is right for helping immigrant leaders to emerge. “The immigrant communities have been here long enough that it’s perfect timing for this kind of work,” the AUCC director said. “They’ve established homes here, are raising their kids here, and very much see themselves as residents of Arkansas. They want to see Arkansas reach its full potential, which is what all of us want to see.”
a profile of
immigrants in arkansas
A Study of Demographic characteristics & Economic Impact A special supplement from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
8 — A PROFILE OF IMMIGRANTS IN ARKANSAS - 2013 | a special supplement from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation - wrfoundation.org
Published on Jan 16, 2013
This special feature summarizes three volumes commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to analyze and better understand the popul...