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The sudden influx of significant numbers of Latinos to the rural Midwest stems from the recruitment of workers by food processing plants and small factories springing up in rural areas. Mostly they work at back-breaking jobs that local residents are not willing to take because of the low wages and few benefits. The region has become the scene of dramatic change involving major issues facing our country—the intertwining of ethnic differences, prejudice, and poverty; the social impact of a low-wage workforce resulting from corporate transformations; and public policy questions dealing with economic development, taxation, and welfare payments.
In this thorough multidisciplinary study, the authors explore both sides of this ethnic divide and provide the first volume to focus comprehensively on Latinos in the region by linking demographic and qualitative analysis to describe what brings Latinos to the area and how they are being accommodated in their new communities. The fact is that many Midwestern communities would be losing population and facing a dearth of workers if not for Latino newcomers. This finding adds another layer of social and economic complexity to the region's changing place in the global economy. The authors look at how Latinos fit into an already fractured social landscape with tensions among townspeople, farmers, and others. The authors also reveal the optimism that lies in the opposition of many Anglos to ethnic prejudice and racism.