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Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina

New Roots in the Old North State

Hannah Gill

Publication Year: 2010

North Carolina is now one of the major Southeastern--and national--hubs for new and expanding Latin American immigrant communities. The state's Spanish-speaking population is currently close to half a million people, about two-thirds of whom hail from Mexico, bringing it near the very top of the nation in growth. This book is a concise introduction to Latino immigration in the state today. Drawing on first-hand oral histories, census data, and scholarly, documentary, and journalistic accounts, Gill explains why and how Latin American immigrants have come to North Carolina and what impact this changing demography has had on the social, economic, and political realities of the state since the 1990s. Always making the reader aware of the underlying national and global catalysts and conditions affecting immigration, Gill expresses the perspectives of both immigrants and long-time North Carolinians. The volume, intended for general readers, policymakers, law enforcement officials, and teachers and students, encourages readers to make connections between their hometowns and the increasing globalization of people, money, technology and cultural products. In doing so, it sheds light on the many diverse North Carolina residents who are, on the one hand, highly visible but, as Gill says, invisible at the same time.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-xiii

I first discovered in 2002 that I could get on a bus in my hometown of Burlington in the hilly Piedmont region of North Carolina and travel directly to Mexico by sunset of the following day. For just $185, “El Tornado” would take me to central Mexico in a comfortable and clean...

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INTRODUCTION: Mapping the Issues at the Heart of Change in North Carolina and the Southeast

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pp. 1-12

April 20, 2006, was a bad day to go out to dinner for anyone living in the North Carolina cities of Burlington, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Columbia, Durham, Huntersville, Lenoir, Lumberton, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. Across the state, restaurants closed down, their kitchens...

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1 PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE, PROMOTING OUR FUTURE: What’s at Stake in Alamance County and Beyond

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pp. 13-56

Red banners with the slogan “Preserving our heritage, promoting our future” line the streets leading to the courthouse in Graham, county seat of the Piedmont county of Alamance. Graham resembles other North Carolina downtowns, with a courthouse on a hill at the center of...

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pp. 57-69

As the sun sank over the Pamlico River on a Monday evening in April 2008, a crowd of more than a hundred people walked through the streets of the eastern city of Washington toward the county seat. They were headed to a meeting of Beaufort County commissioners, who planned...

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3 BIENVENIDOS A NORTE CAROLINA: The Economic, Work, and Social Realities of Migration from Both Sides of the Border

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pp. 71-107

Why have Latin American migrants come to North Carolina in the past thirty years? For Javier, who migrated to the state in 1999, North Carolina offered him employment unavailable in his hometown and the opportunity to reunite with his brothers who had migrated years before:...

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pp. 109-139

“Raleigh” is a song of a traveler that evokes the nostalgia of home while on the road. Ironically, “home” is not where band members were born but a new home in North Carolina that they have grown to love as immigrants. While the song expresses how they are resigned to a life of...

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5 DEFYING THE ODDS: Latino Youth, the Agents of Change

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pp. 141-173

Irene, Pedro, Joe, and Juliette have much in common. They are young Latinos between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six raised in North Carolina. They all have very recent Latin American roots: Irene was born in North Carolina to Mexican parents, and Pedro spent only the...

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pp. 175-179

On an early December morning in 2007 at Dillard Middle School in Caswell County, the bell rang and students poured into their seventh grade civics class for fourth period. It was hunting season in Caswell County, evident by the occasional rifle crack in the woods around the...


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pp. 181-187


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pp. 189-201

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pp. 203

I express my sincere gratitude to the many people who made this book possible: Elaine Maisner and all the talented individuals at the University of North Carolina Press; colleagues and manuscript readers Deborah Weissman, Charlie Thompson, and Leon Fink; my students at the...


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pp. 205-208

E-ISBN-13: 9781469603926
E-ISBN-10: 1469603926
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807834282
Print-ISBN-10: 0807834289

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010