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Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland

Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America

Linda Allegro

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The Working Class in American History


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xiv

We began conceptualizing this project in 2007 when Oklahoma lawmakers—concurrent with other legislators elsewhere in the country—passed a draconian law attempting to expunge the undocumented population from the state. As Latin Americanists educated in New York and California, we were disturbed by the many inaccuracies disseminated about immigrants, ...

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pp. xv-xvi

The authors would like to thank the University of Tulsa Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for financial support. Special thanks to Justin Hobbs for creating the Heartland map. We also wish to express our gratitude to our editor, Laurie Matheson, for her support and vision.

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Introduction: Heartland North, Heartland South

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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, ...

Part I: Geographies in Historical Perspective

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Chapter 1. Mexicans in the United States: A Longer View

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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 ...

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Chapter 2. Betabeleros and the Western Nebraska Sugar Industry: An Early-Twentieth-Century History

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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. ...

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Chapter 3. Latinos and the Churches in Idaho, 1950–2000

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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. ...

Part II: Contesting Policy and Legal Boundaries

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Chapter 4. Seeing No Evil: The H2A Guest-Worker Program and State-Mediated Labor Exploitation in Rural North Carolina

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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. ...

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Chapter 5. On Removing Migrant Labor in a Right-to-Work State: The Failure of Employer Sanctions in Oklahoma

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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. ...

Part III: Transnational Identities and New Landscapes of Home

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Chapter 6. Rooted/Uprooted: Place, Policy, and Salvadoran Transnational Identities in Rural Arkansas

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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. ...

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Chapter 7. Contesting Diversity and Community within Postville, Iowa: “Hometown to the World”

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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. ...

Part IV: Media and Reimagined Sites of Accommodation and Contestation

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Chapter 8. Humanizing Latino Newcomers in the “No Coast” Region

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pp. 201-221

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. ...

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Chapter 9. Immigrant Integration and the Changing Public Discourse: The Case of Emporia, Kansas

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pp. 222-246

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. ...

Part V: Religion and Migrant Communities

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Chapter 10. “They Cling to Guns or Religion”: Pennsylvania Towns Put Faith in Anti-immigrant Ordinances

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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, ...

Part VI: Demographics

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Chapter 11. Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Demographic and Economic Activity in Six Heartland States, 2000–2007

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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. ...

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Conclusion: Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Reshaping Communities, Redrawing Boundaries

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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. ...

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pp. 311-316

Linda Allegro is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Oklahoma State University. Her publications appear in Latin American Perspectives, Red State, Centro: The Journal of Puerto Rican Studies, and Latino America: A State by State Encyclopedia. ...


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pp. 317-320

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094927
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037665

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The Working Class in American History
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OCLC Number: 843860774
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hispanic Americans -- West North Central States -- Social conditions.
  • Latin Americans -- West North Central States -- Social conditions.
  • Immigrants -- West North Central States.
  • Foreign workers -- West North Central States.
  • Social change -- West North Central States.
  • West North Central States -- Social conditions.
  • West North Central States -- Ethnic relations.
  • West North Central States -- Economic conditions.
  • Latin America -- Emigration and immigration.
  • West North Central States -- Emigration and immigration.
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