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49 Regional Migration and the Metropolis A ccording to the  U.S. Census, since  Latinos have accounted for more than half of the Midwest’s net population growth. More than ever, globalism, suburbanization, and neighborhood change have emerged as crucial determinants of Latino migration across borders and regions. Mexicans account for over two-thirds of the Midwest’s Latinos and for roughly three-quarters of Latino growth while the nonLatino white population has decreased. Other sending regions, however, such as Texas, the Caribbean, and the rest of Latin American, have included similar patterns of back and forth travel, the sending home of portions of industrial income, and the temporary placement of children with relatives abroad. Transnational institutions emerged in everything from employment to religion and extended kin networks have also expanded over increasingly wider geographic areas.Within the Midwest, Michigan ranks second only to Illinois in the number of Latino residents and in the number added since  as the Mexican American population sustained a  percent increase statewide, to ,. The city of Detroit, meanwhile, once seen as the nation’s premier example of urban decay, seemed at century’s end to have halted its downward spiral of urban problems, although continued departure of white residents has halved their proportion in the city itself to merely  percent.59 Until the mid-s things did not look good for the city’s economy , due to the clear cyclical downturn in the automobile industry, in the making ever since the oil shocks of . During the s Detroit’s manufacturing base contracted as companies limited investments and downsized the workforce and the United Automobile Workers (UAW) struggled to preserve wage and benefits contracts that placed its members among the highest paid nationally. Many assembly lines closed, including the main Cadillac plant at Clark and Michigan, and other ancillary enterprises, such as the Fisher Body-Fleetwood factory, folded operations. Both of these operations were located near the Southwest Side barrio, and their loss caused many jobs to move outside the city. Meanwhile, Detroit’s automotive companies increased their production in Mexico, where a courtship had developed with the United States in the s with the building of low-wage assembly plants for cars and other products, known as maquiladoras, just south of the border . Materials for the manufacture of all kinds of products were shipped down in pieces and came back assembled. During the s, Detroit automakers continued to attempt to increase profit margins and become more competitive with Japanese industry by moving even further south. By  some , Mexicans worked for U.S. auto companies in scores of border plants with increasingly sophisticated operations, while Mexico produced more than one million vehicles and its exports surged  percent. The following year, General Motors closed several U.S. plants in favor of those in Mexico, where workers earned about one-eighth the salary of those in the Willow Run, Michigan, facility that was closed. Similarly, in the small town of Owosso, between the Lansing and Flint industrial centers, many parts makers shut down, costing hundreds of jobs, most of which were transplanted to Mexico. New factories south of the border allowed the Big Three companies to specialize in smaller cars designed for the Mexican market.60 Despite the seemingly inevitable decline of industry throughout the Rust Belt, in the mid-s the return of general prosperity boosted investment, employment levels, and property values. Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and business leaders committed billions of dollars to rebuilding Chrysler Corporation and worked to expand and improve several plants. New factories and industrial parks in the city’s desigDavid A. Badillo 50 nated empowerment zone drastically lowered construction costs. In southwest Detroit, meanwhile, dozens of new businesses opened and even more expanded. Skilled immigrant labor rehabilitated run-down residences, and a surge of Mexican immigrants and some young artists moved in, upgrading entire blocks once ridden with gang violence and drug dealing. Local Roman Catholic parishes, for their part, added extra weekend Spanish Masses to accommodate the newest arrivals from Mexico, while parochial school registration increased.61 Within a few short years the barrio came to be hailed as a Mexican boomtown and a dynamic neighborhood, as the area’s population nearly doubled (to over ninety thousand people), the total number of businesses rose markedly, and the real estate market jumped. Taquerías, Latin groceries, and other shops now line the VernorJunction commercial area, the barrio’s hub. Residences are mostly singlefamily homes and two-flats built before . Southwest Detroit offers...


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