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Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland

Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland
    Book Description:

    Responding to inaccuracies concerning Latino immigrants in the United States as well as an anti-immigrant strain in the American psyche, this collection of essays examines the movement of the Latin American labor force to the central states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Contributors look at the outside factors that affect migration including corporate agriculture, technology, globalization, and government, as well as factors that have attracted Latin Americans to the Heartland including religion, strong family values, hard work, farming, and cowboy culture. Several essays also point to hostile neoliberal policy reforms that have made it difficult for Latino Americans to find social and economic stability. The varied essays in Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland seek to reveal the many ways in which identities, economies, and geographies are changing as Latin Americans adjust to their new homes, jobs, and communities. Contributors are Linda Allegro, Tisa M. Anders, Scott Carter, Caitlin Didier, Miranda Cady Hallett, Edmund Hamann, Albert Iaroi, Errol D. Jones, Jane Juffer, Laszlo J. Kulcsar, Janelle Reeves, Jennifer F. Reynolds, Sandi Smith-Nonini, and Andrew Grant Wood.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09492-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Heartland North, Heartland South
    (pp. 1-22)

    The neoliberal restructuring of the international economy since the early 1970s has changed the world to an extent perhaps not seen since the late nineteenth century. Coupled with revolutionary developments in technology and communication, the mobility of capital has accelerated following the deregulatory dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and U.S. policy-centered Washington consensus. Not surprisingly, this global transformation has been accompanied by a substantial increase in the movement of labor and populations in general. For the well-positioned few, it has proved a time of great optimism and reward. In contrast, millions of ordinary people have been dispossessed...

  6. Part I. Geographies in Historical Perspective

    • CHAPTER 1 Mexicans in the United States: A Longer View
      (pp. 25-41)

      The making of the United States as a modern nation was realized through a creative combination of violence, primitive accumulation, diplomacy, and engineering undertaken by powerful elites headquartered in eastern cities. During the first half of the nineteenth century, those directing the fate of the United States set out to incorporate vast tracts of middle and western North America into its national territory. In this process, areas formerly claimed by French, British, Russian, and Spanish (and then Mexican) authorities gradually gave over to Anglo-American conquest. The year 1845, for example, saw the young nation add the breakaway Republic of Texas...

    • CHAPTER 2 Betabeleros and the Western Nebraska Sugar Industry: An Early-Twentieth-Century History
      (pp. 42-66)

      The rolling plains of Nebraska are punctuated by the towering silos and buildings of the sugar factories: skyscrapers of the prairie by day, lighthouses of the land by night. These buildings and businesses arose in the early 1900s to meet the demand to extract sugar from a new plant introduced in the area: beets. From the beginning, the sugar beet industry never stood on its own as an American enterprise. The fields and sugar-manufacturing buildings located on U.S. soil were the exception. Just as this nonindigenous crop needed to be imported to the Heartland, so did the labor for the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Latinos and the Churches in Idaho, 1950–2000
      (pp. 67-98)

      With its headwaters tumbling out of the snowcapped Teton Mountains straddling the Idaho-Wyoming border to the east, the Snake River churns across the southern Idaho plains, then turns northward before reaching the Oregon border, where it forms the boundary between the two states. An army of engineers descended upon the Snake and its tributaries in the twentieth century, damming its waters for agriculture and industry, building canals, and pumping water onto its arid expanses. Sage-covered plains and valleys yielded to expansive farms that produced an abundance of potatoes, sugar beets, onions, alfalfa, peas, hops, fruit trees, and, more recently, grapes....

  7. Part II. Contesting Policy and Legal Boundaries

    • CHAPTER 4 Seeing No Evil: The H2A Guest-Worker Program and State-Mediated Labor Exploitation in Rural North Carolina
      (pp. 101-124)

      In the aftermath of the 2008 economic meltdown on Wall Street, we’ve seen renewed consensus on the vital role of the state in moderating capital flows and regulation of capitalist enterprises. This shift away from the Washington consensus that enjoyed hegemony since the mid-1980s invites a reevaluation of the period of neoliberal globalization. In the 1990s, many social analysts pointed out risks of nation-states losing power and sovereignty vis-à-vis the private sector, especially in the developing world. Yet studies of neoliberalism revealed many examples in which agents of the state, rather than simply withdrawing from economic regulation, reoriented their role...

    • CHAPTER 5 On Removing Migrant Labor in a Right-to-Work State: The Failure of Employer Sanctions in Oklahoma
      (pp. 125-144)

      In February 2008, former Mexican President Vicente Fox spoke to a crowded auditorium in Tulsa, Oklahoma, advocating for further economic integration between the North American partnering nations.¹ As a free-market campaigner, Fox in his speech hailed the benefits of unrestricted free enterprise for the corporate benefits and jobs it creates. While his business-friendly and pro-immigrant audience gave him a standing ovation, a group of thirty or so anti-NAFTA protestors picketed the talk outside. Holding signs that read “Remember the Alamo” and “No to Amnesty and Open Borders,” the demonstrators expressed discontent with NAFTA for the outsourcing and increase in Mexican...

  8. Part III. Transnational Identities and New Landscapes of Home

    • CHAPTER 6 Rooted/Uprooted: Place, Policy, and Salvadoran Transnational Identities in Rural Arkansas
      (pp. 147-168)

      In a globalized world, place and policy continue to matter. While theories of transnationalism emphasize the ways in which migrants’ social ties and cultural imaginaries transcend boundaries, this transcendence is structured by the geographies of economic production and state policies. Particular sites of settlement in the United States, often determined by emergent labor markets, also profoundly shape the experiences of particular migrant communities. Rather than an incidental backdrop, place exerts an influence through specific contexts of cultural practice and historical heritage as well as emergent configurations of racial and ethnic identities.

      In light of this, the recent trend of Latin...

    • CHAPTER 7 Contesting Diversity and Community within Postville, Iowa: “Hometown to the World”
      (pp. 169-198)

      The most prominent welcome sign to Postville, Iowa, population approximately 2,500, boldly stakes a claim to be “Hometown to the World.”¹ This boundary marker is a material trace, indexing a once-held majority position that embraced human diversity within a much-contested human geography of social struggle over who is entitled to live on Main Street. Main Street is a metonym standing for the rise of the American middle classes in the period between the American Civil War and World War I.² It engenders the promise and fulfillment of the American dream in rural “hometowns” where social class divisions are imagined to...

  9. Part IV. Media and Reimagined Sites of Accommodation and Contestation

    • CHAPTER 8 Humanizing Latino Newcomers in the “No Coast” Region
      (pp. 201-221)

      HYRUM, UT—When they left for school Tuesday, they had a mom at home. Now, they don’t.

      The three Paulino girls are waiting for a call from their mom, who was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents when she was working at a meat-cutting plant here. Seven-year-old Kathya can’t sleep without her. Eleven-year-old Jacqueline is wearing Mom’s brown Old Navy sweatshirt until she comes home. And 9-year-old Brenda is keeping Mom’s rosary close to her heart.

      “Nothing has ever made us feel this sad,” Jacqueline said, her eyes puffy from crying.

      The girls were among the 300...

    • CHAPTER 9 Immigrant Integration and the Changing Public Discourse: The Case of Emporia, Kansas
      (pp. 222-246)

      Now that the problem with the Somalis has been resolved, Emporia can now focus on the real problems at hand. Dogs riding in the back of trucks, the Mexicans, and continue to save the fairgrounds.

      The above comment, posted on a local blog in Emporia, Kansas, sums up a fascinating story of immigrant integration and acceptance in the American Heartland. In January 2008, Tyson Foods, Inc., the largest employer in town, announced that it would discontinue the slaughter operations in Emporia and eliminate 1,500 of the 2,400 jobs in its meatpacking plant. In its press release, Tyson pointed out that...

  10. Part V. Religion and Migrant Communities

    • CHAPTER 10 “They Cling to Guns or Religion”: Pennsylvania Towns Put Faith in Anti-immigrant Ordinances”
      (pp. 249-268)

      When images of Barack Obama bowling in Altoona, Pennsylvania, appeared on national television in April 2008, it was clear that he was not exactly in his element. Perhaps it wasn’t, however, the fact that he is a terrible bowler. Perhaps it was his discomfiture with local politics, a possibility seemingly confirmed a few days later when, in San Francisco, he made the comment for which Hillary Clinton and John McCain would level charges of elitism. Noting that small towns in Pennsylvania and the Midwest have lost jobs and been ignored by both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations,...

  11. Part VI. Demographics

    • CHAPTER 11 Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Demographic and Economic Activity in Six Heartland States, 2000–2007
      (pp. 271-306)

      Latin American migrations away from traditional growth states to regions such as the U.S. Heartland have been dubbed “new destinations” (Zúñiga and Hernández-León 2005). The forces, both demographic and economic, behind this most recent of immigrations is an amalgam involving local communities in vastly different parts of the world being thrust together by the forces of globalization. The problem is quite complex, and no answer can be postulated without a deep understanding of the various inter- and intraconnections between the movement of people in one direction and a movement of capital in the other (Kwong 1997; Sassen 1988, 1995). Certainly...

  12. Conclusion: Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Reshaping Communities, Redrawing Boundaries
    (pp. 307-310)

    Why, in this era of free trade, digital revolution, and globalization, is the movement of people so regulated? Money, goods, and services are encouraged to circulate freely in the world economy, but workers—those who by and large produce wealth—are not. Instead, they face strict limitations, especially when considering transnational possibilities. The discrepancies of the neoliberal ideology that profess free markets, democracy, and freedom but simultaneously erect barriers and police the movement of people through detention and deportation strategies have resulted in a stark paradox of our time. Global migrations everywhere, including to the U.S. heartland, are witnessing similar...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 311-316)
  14. Index
    (pp. 317-320)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-328)