Every time I write anything about local demographics - such as last week's column on the disappearing middle class in greater Dallas - readers immediately blame illegal immigrants.

Another complained "you write a story about the tremendous increase in our low-income population without once mentioning the huge influx of low-income illegal immigrants."

Anne Marie Weiss-Armush, president of DFW International, sent me a report she compiled last year that painted a much broader - and more detailed - picture of North Texas immigration.

"One hundred percent of Dallas' growth from 1990 to 2000 was due to immigration," Ms. Weiss-Armush noted. "As the city of Dallas lost 131,000 Anglo residents, it gained 210,000 who were foreign-born."

Her report, "North Texas Immigration 2005: Dallas ... A Blueprint for the Future," made me realize that many of the area's newest arrivals are not sneaking across the border. Immigrants are coming from many parts of the world and settling in suburban areas as well as inner-city neighborhoods.

Vietnam sent Dallas-Fort Worth the second-highest number of legal immigrants (13,151) from 1991 to 1998, followed by India (6,557), China (5,494), the old Soviet Union (3,540) and El Salvador (3,097), the report noted.

Still, Dallas is more multicultural than most people realize, Ms. Weiss-Armush stressed. "Our doughnut shops are run by Koreans. Our pizza parlors are run by Albanians, and our dry cleaners are run by Asians."

DFW International, a network of 1,600 North Texas civic, educational and business organizations, believes that Dallas leaders should do a better job of planning for and even promoting the area's growing multicultural population.

Increasingly, these immigrant communities are settling in or near Dallas suburbs: Chinatown is based in Richardson; Koreatown in far northwest Dallas; Little India straddles Central Expressway at Belt Line Road; and Little Pakistan has grown in Carrollton.

Mexican immigrants own 800 restaurants in the Dallas metro area. In the Bachman Lake area, such eateries replaced massage parlors and sex shops.

Among the growing number of chambers of commerce in the Dallas area are ones for the Bangladeshi, Filipino, Swedish, Ethiopian and Thai communities.

English is not spoken in 26 percent of North Texas homes. In Dallas, 43 percent of families with public school students speak Spanish or one of 70 other languages.

While English proficiency may lag in immigrant groups, demand is rising for adult English language classes in Mesquite, Plano, Carrollton-Farmers Branch and Irving.

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