How Do We Keep a Changing America Safe?

In a political context, we hear a lot about changing demographics these days. Who is going to vote, what do they look like, where do they live, which party are they going to side with?

But our majority minority future is much broader than that — and has implications that go far beyond politics.

Our demographics define identity, our workforce, and the ways we relate to each other.

The U.S. is projected to become a majority minority country by the year 2045, according to Axios. With a rise in Latinx and Asian immigrants and a lower birth rate among white Americans, non-Hispanic white people have become the minority in 32 more U.S. counties since 2010.

Next year, the entire under-18 population will be majority non-white.

Late last year Pew Research found that Generation Z is our most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet.

These realities leave us with the option to either embrace these changes or allow racism and xenophobia to intensify.

I’m a firm believer that America is better than the racism and xenophobia that course through our society; in these changes lie an opportunity to help us grow as a nation.

In analyzing the data from our nation’s most recent Census, William Frey of Brookings discussed the future of America’s ethnic diversity — and how, ultimately, that’s driving growth as white Baby Boomers are aging.

“If we didn’t have the minority growth this decade, we would’ve had a much, much lower growth in the United States population. The Hispanic population accounted for half or more of the growth in 18 states, and that was only the case for nine states in the 1990s. And as far as cities are concerned and metropolitan areas are concerned, those metropolitan areas in the older, whiter part of the country are benefitting more from the new minorities more than Florida or Texas or California or someplace like that because these are the places that really have to sustain that growth and are really aging rapidly…

In a way, they’re a gift for the country this decade because demographically we would be on the road to Japan, which has a very slow-growing, aging population.”

Of the three fears people have when it comes to immigration, culture, economy and security, we’ve found anxieties around safety and security to be the most deeply held.

People worry: Are immigrants and refugees threats or protectors? Are they national security or public safety threats, or do they make positive contributions to communities, even serving in law enforcement and in the military?

So then, how do we keep a changing America safe? How do these demographic trends affect local policing? Are police officers equipped to ensure the safety of all residents?

Picture this: You’re a male police officer called about a domestic violence incident between a husband and wife, both of whom are Muslim. You hear there may have been physical assault, which needs to be reported within 48 hours. But you need evidence. The woman claims she was hit in the back of the head by her husband. And she’s wearing a hijab that she refuses to take off in front of you because she’s devoted to her faith. What would you do? How would you pursue justice — while respecting religious and cultural sensitivities?

I chatted with a police officer for this week’s Only In America podcast episode who faced that very situation. And as an immigrant and a Muslim himself, he knew how to find a solution quickly.

Diversity in law enforcement helps build trust in communities, in turn keeping all of us safer.

Sherif Almiggabber is an officer within the Community Engagement Unit at the Montgomery County Police Department, where he has worked for 13 years. Montgomery County, Maryland — right outside of Washington, D.C. — is one of the most diverse counties in America and has about 1 million residents. As the community is diversifying, law enforcement leaders are working on building a force that better reflects the community they serve.

As an immigrant and as a Muslim, he’s not only a police officer to the Muslim residents of Montgomery County. He’s the guy who prays with them every Friday and speaks at the local mosque.

I got to chat with him about the differences between being a police officer in Egypt and the U.S. — plus, instances where he’s used his cultural awareness to solve conflict and fight crime.

You can listen to the full episode here: https://immigrationforum.org/article/keeping-a-changing-america-safe/

You can listen to the full episode here: https://immigrationforum.org/article/keeping-a-changing-america-safe/

President and CEO of National Immigration Forum, author of “Crossing Borders” (April 2022, Rowman & Littlefield), host of the podcast, Only in America.