'I Hope I'm Dead Before They Come Down This Way': Political Xenophobia in Small Town USA

René Flores : Interdisciplinary Studies Field Program

Mentor: Professor Irene Bloemraad, Sociology

Increasingly, Latino immigrants are steering away from large metropolitan areas, traditional immigration magnets, in favor of smaller, often rural communities. As Small Town USA is transformed by migration, the specter of xenophobia seems to lurk nearby. In recent months, dozens of towns have considered passing laws against undocumented immigrants ranging from criminalizing their labor (Escondido, CA) or penalizing their landlords (Hazleton, PA) to prohibiting their presence in public spaces (Springfield, TN). René will try to discover the factors that motivate the rise of xenophobic sentiments in small U.S. communities. He will spend the summer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a town that recently passed strict anti-immigrant legislation and even banned Santa Claus on the grounds that he is an “illegal worker.” In Hazleton, residents claim, there are “no holidays for illegal aliens.”