Immigrants Bring Culinary Flair to Neighborhoods

In Bath Beach – a neighborhood in Brooklyn – a strong Guatemalan community is thriving. In the past decade, the number of Guatemalan immigrants in the neighborhood spiked by nearly 1,176 percent, according to a city Planning Development analysis of 2000 and statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. The New York Daily News reported this as the most dramatic increase of a specific immigrant group in the neighborhood.

Rafael Garcia, an immigrant who came from Guatemala at the age of 14, traveled to Bath Beach because he knew people that lived there. After beginning a career in construction and sending happy photos home to his brothers and sisters, the seven siblings followed suit.

Now 37, he owns a bakery with his wife. The eatery serves up traditional Guatemalan pastries like custard-filled breads. La Bendicion is one of many immigrant businesses that have opened up along Bath Ave., including deli Tienda Guatemalteca.

“Bensonhurst and that whole part of Southern Brooklyn has become much more diverse, because the older, white, mostly Italian population has been in decline for some time,” sociology professor Philip Kasinitz told the publication. “This has left inexpensive housing available for many new Latino immigrants.”

United States immigration is boosting the economy, according to Richard T. Herman, an immigration lawyer and co-author of Immigration, Inc. Herman told The News Record that many immigrants have an innate entrepreneurial attitude, good work ethic and ambition. He cited that non-American born individuals are twice as likely to open up their own business, which is a crucial asset to the economy.

With roughly 3.5 million open jobs in America, many of which Americans are unwilling or not qualified to fill, immigrant workers help move the economy forward.