For Immediate Release
Re-Living Our Immigrant Past
From Hazleton to Arizona and Back Again
May 21, 2010
Washington, D.C. - Arizona's immigration law (SB 1070) has garnered the lion's share of media attention in recent weeks - from boycotts to demonstrations and legal challenges. While the spotlight has been on Arizona, however, copycat legislation has been brewing in at least 16 (at last count) other states. What supporters of similar state "attrition through enforcement" immigration legislation might not realize, however, is that we've been here more than once before.
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, provides an opportunity to put anti-immigrant sentiment in context. In the late 1800s, German, Irish, Italian and eastern European migrant workers faced discrimination and anti-immigrant rhetoric. In more recent years, the immigrants living in Hazleton, although from different parts of the world, experienced the same discrimination and rhetoric. For example, in 2006, the Hazleton City Council attempted to make English the official city language, impose fines on landlords for renting to illegal immigrants, and revoke business permits of employers who hired them. These patterns are found throughout the U.S. and over the entire course of U.S. history.
In IPC's latest Perspectives on Immigration, journalist and author Jeffrey Kaye finds that present-day patterns of economic opportunity, ensuing migration, and the reactions to the influx of newcomers are recycled versions of old stories. Kaye juxtaposes the heated rhetoric surrounding Hazleton's 2006 immigration laws with those following Hazleton's immigrant influx in the late 1800s. While migrant workers' countries of origins might differ, the anti-immigrant arguments are just the same.
For more information contact
Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or