Publication written by 2011 DPDF Bridging, Bonding and Bordering: Migrant Strategies and State Policies Fellow René D. Flores:
As Hispanic immigrants have moved beyond traditional immigrant gateways in recent years, local restrictive immigrant ordinances have proliferated. Although scholars have studied the determinants of these policies, we still know little about their social consequences. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data with 103 white, black, and Hispanic residents, collected in 2007 and 2011 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which passed an anti-immigrant ordinance in 2006, the author found that the law motivated anti-immigrant activism, hardened native views of Hispanics (regardless of documentation status), and increased native whites’ fears of lawlessness and crime. By 2011, however, locals reported significantly lower ethnic animosity, and the Latino population, led by Dominicans, continued to grow. This research reveals the unintended consequences of symbolic exclusionary laws and also highlights their limitations. It also demonstrates the capacity that microlevel political factors have to affect immigrant incorporation and intergroup relations and shows that the recent spread of local and state immigrant restrictionist policies may negatively affect immigrants’ ability to incorporate in new destinations of settlement at least in the short term.