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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can Immigrants Save Small-Town America?


Next month, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the legality of a law passed back in 2006 by the city council of Hazleton, Pa.

Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act denies permits to businesses that employ undocumented immigrants and it fines landlords who rent them apartments.

Rep. Lou Barletta, who was then the mayor of Hazleton, said the law was needed because crime rates shot up and hospitals and schools were overburdened after an influx of Hispanics.

The city became a rallying point for anti-immigration forces as a prime example of the need to shut down borders.

But then a funny thing happened: The law didn’t deter immigrants. They kept coming, and as the Hispanic community became established, members started buying homes, cars and opening stores.

Now the Associated Press quotes a bakery owner hoping this new wave of entrepreneurs will revitalize his street. The Hazleton experience mirrors the findings in a recent study about what happens when immigrants come to town.

Patrick Carr, a sociology professor at Rutgers University, is lead author of the paper, published in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, which also looked at St. James, Minn., a town that welcomed immigrants.

“There are no real findings to indicate that immigrants brings anything but positive things,” Carr told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.


  • Patrick Carr, sociology professor, Rutgers University

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