Part 2 of the NY Times series, Remade in America continues looking at the plight of the newest immigrants. According to the NY Times:
The United States has experienced the greatest surge in immigration since the early 20th century, with one in five residents a recent immigrant or a close relative of one.
The series moves from Prince William County to Morristown, Tennessee where the source of income comes from the furniture industry and the poultry industry. The industrial city in eastern Tennessee has seen a huge increase in immigration the since around 2000. The population is now about 10% Latino, some legal and some illegal. It is estimated that about half of the Latino population is here illegally.
The recession has hit this area very hard. The resources available to citizens and legal residents do not exist for the undocumented immigrants who must fend for themselves. Most help comes from local churches. Remarkably, most do not want to leave. Most do not want to return to their country of origin (most in Morristown are from Mexico) because they feel their country holds nothing for them.
Instead, as the recession deepens, illegal immigrants who have settled into American towns are receding from community life. They are clinging to low-wage jobs, often working more hours for less money, and taking whatever work they can find, no matter the conditions.
Despite the mounting pressures, many of the illegal immigrants are resisting leaving the country. After years of working here, they say, they have homes and education for their children, while many no longer have a stake to return to in their home countries.
“Most of the things I got are right here,” Mr. López said in English, which he taught himself to speak. “I got my family, my wife, my kids. Everything is here.”
This area has a 2-tiered blue collar system.
Hispanic immigrants — many hired through temporary staffing agencies that offered no vacation pay or health coverage — were on the bottom, in jobs where they faced little competition from Americans.
The audio slide show summarizes the plight of several different immigrants. Strange how things change when we put a face on a situation.