December 10, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Speaker Addresses Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer

by Matt McCullough ‘17

Dr. Jaime Longazel came to Ohio University to speak to students and faculty about his new book, Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania at a Sociology & Anthropology Colloquium.

Dr. Jamie G. Longazel

Dr. Jamie G. Longazel

Longazel is a professor of sociology and research fellow for the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton. His story focuses around Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a place, according to Longazel, describes  itself as an “all-American city.”

Longazel outlines Hazleton’s history, from the Lattimer Massacre, through the “CAN-DO” movement, and after Keystone Opportunity Zones.

Longazel Undocumented FearsHazleton, a city with an extensive migrant population, has been in a struggle that caught Longazel’s attention, as Hazleton is his own hometown.The number of economic changes that have swept through Hazleton have had some unfortunate effects on the job market, leaving very few places to work, such as the menial labor at a meat-packing plant and other warehouses.

Longazel ties this all together to show Hazelton’s attitudes toward migrant workers, and why it is a problem.

One of the main issues is the influence of a set of laws that deters immigrants from working, known as the Illegal Immigration Relief Act.

According to Longazel, this case is important because “after Hazleton passed the IIRA in 2006, states and locales across the U.S. began passing legislation of their own.”

“Also, the ruling on the unconstitutionality of the IIRA has set an important precedent regarding federalism and immigration law.”

Specifically, Longazel says “the IIRA was largely symbolic. It didn’t target any actual conditions in the city, it was more so meant to send a message. Plus, it was never actually enforced.”

“The language said employers who hire undocumented immigrants would face punishment. But there was never much discussion on what that would look like.”

According to Longazel, all of these factors together have “created jobs that can’t be filled, and Hazleton’s aging population who can’t do them.”

Longazel hopes that his book will help bring awareness to this problem, saying “If we can understand this better. . . we can fight back in solidarity.”

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