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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Columbus, Ohio has witnessed rapid growth in its Latino population as immigrants settle in the city to access jobs and a generally low cost of living. In this paper, we note how discrimination plays out in social and economic isolation; a lack of programs to support the incorporation of Latinos in the city; and state laws that target immigrants. We present of ongoing ethnographic work with the Latino community in Columbus.
Latino immigrants in Columbus, Ohio describe their experiences in generally positive terms and say that they are optimistic about their futures in the city. Nevertheless, these very same immigrants face discrimination in the city. They lack programs to support their incorporation into the city and state laws that challenge their legal status. The discrimination that marks the lives of Latino immigrants in Columbus reminds them that many Ohioans believe they are illegally in the US and a threat regardless of their country of origin, legal status and work history. In this paper, we use data collected as part of ethnographic work with Latinos in Columbus to investigate the contradictions that immigrants encounter as they settle in the central Ohio.
We begin with a review of immigration to Columbus and note the diversity of the community as well as the discrimination that defines the lives of contemporary Latino movers in the city. Second, we examine the social and economic isolation that recent Latino immigrants face and the discrimination that immigrants encounter around work, schooling and healthcare.
A discussion of state laws follows and we note the barriers that laws create for Latinos who hope to integrate with the city. We argue that cotemporary Latino immigrants live separate lives in Columbus, regardless of their status and many are US citizens. We conclude with a focus on the ways in which the Latino community responds to these challenges. Between and the Latino community grew by The restructuring of agriculture and the growth of the meatpacking and poultry-processing industries as well as the expansion of service jobs encouraged Latinos to relocate and in the midwest low-wage service worked pulled in Latino immigrants Johnson-Webb ; Kandel and Parrado ; Millard and Chapa ; Smith and Furuseth While many migrants came to Columbus believing it was an affordable place to live and a safe place to raise a family, poverty and poor schools remained a serious problem.
Typical of Latinos in central Ohio was Elena Martinez who settled in Columbus in the Hilltop neighborhood with her husband and children after leaving California and her extended family early in Eight years! My husband and I are here with our kids. Where else would we go? While the family earns enough to move them above the poverty line in terms of their income, they struggle to cover their expenses as the economy has slowed. They worry about losing their jobs and home. They cannot save for the future and they worry about their children who have faced discrimination at school.
The diversity of the Latino community in Columbus does not translate to heterogeneity in most neighborhoods. Length of residency and income does influence some integration and wealthier Latinos who have made their homes in central Ohio for years and who own businesses in the city live throughout Columbus with some concentration in Worthington a town that is just north of the Columbus-see map.
However, newer immigrants tend to live with co-nationals and apart for Anglo and African-Americans. Hispanic populations in Columbus by census track, US Census, and noting the location of three important locales for Spanish speaking immigrants. Valley View and Hilltop are located in the lower left of the map; Whitehall is to the center and right, while the Worthington community is in the northern center of the map adapted from ACS Hilltop -Valley View are home to documented and undocumented lower income and lower-working class Latino immigrants who are generally from Mexico.
Hilltop —Valley View was home to 20 of our informants. On the east side and in Whitehall in a series of apartment complexes and trailer courts found around the Port Columbus Airport is another group of low wage, unskilled and semi-skilled generally undocumented immigrants from Central America. We found nine of our informants in Whitehall. To the north and where Columbus and Worthington merge we identified five informants.
Worthington is an area of growth and investment and it was where we found mostly settled, naturalized immigrants, including families from Brazil and Argentina, and many entrepreneurs and business owners who were established in the city and filled blue and white collar jobs.
There is a growing of Latino owned businesses in these neighborhoods, including restaurants, groceries, clothing stores and bakeries. The city is also served by a Spanish language radio station, several Spanish language publications as well as churches. Nevertheless, these businesses do little to integrate Latinos with the greater Anglo-American and African-American communities in Columbus. In nearly all the examples we heard, discrimination was an outcome of interactions with Anglo Americans. Acts of discrimination occurred at the work place, with teachers, local and state officials and with health care providers.
The experience of discrimination in area schools was centered on language use. Teachers and students who did not speak Spanish assumed that native Spanish speakers did not know English, were not smart and were illegally in the US taking resources. Cristina Cruz, a Guatemalan immigrant living in Whitehall recalled an incident involving her young daughter when she failed to use English a reoccurring problem identified by Ms.
Cruz ,. When she was little, she stopped going to school for this reason. While few informants experienced physical harm, the misrepresentation and misperception of Latinos by Anglo-Americans created a situation that promoted discrimination and led to isolation. She blamed their actions on her physical appearance and surname.
But I was born in the US! Juan Mendoza a naturalized 40 year old man from Tamaulipas, Mexico who lives in Valley View described a similar experience during our interview. But I have money to pay I can cover my expenses! Many informants attributed health care problems to their poor treatment by others and their restricted access to health services. Studies have demonstrated that Spanish speaking immigrants do not have equal access to medical care and struggle to find care as they face discrimination by doctors, who falsely believe they cannot speak English, cannot afford care and cannot understand instructions and see Farley and Alba Senor Roman Garcia an immigrant who had moved from Texas to Columbus for the opportunities he thought he might find in the city described access to health care for us:.
Yes, it is difficult [getting any public medical services]. It is difficult because you always need health insurance. I pay when I go to the dentist or when I go to the doctor for a check-up. I have usually always paid. I have never used any kind of service that the government offers. New laws regarding language use, citizen rights and licensing have appeared in Ohio. Among the bills proposed in the state are House Bill a proposed amendment to sections 9. If passed, Senate Bill grants county commissioners the authority to provide local sheriffs the right to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Other laws in Ohio will require proof of U. These laws are stressful for all Latinos regardless of their legal status. Citizens as well as legal immigrants and naturalized immigrants cannot travel without papers and fear what may happen if they are stopped. I think it is just profiling! For undocumented immigrants, they are just nervous.
Why should they risk being deported just to get a ? These amendments create language barriers that limit the integration of immigrants and restrict their access to services and ability to engage in the political life of their community and state see Fitrakis Taken together, these laws whether they are approved or not create an environment of insecurity for immigrants regardless of their legal status and see Plasencia In fact, Latino immigrants talk about the vigilance and care they must take to respond to bigotry. They must carry identification, and sometimes find that even when they travel with identification they may be held, questioned and harassed.
In response to inequalities, growing animosities and work place discrimination a of Latino advocacy organizations have emerged over the last several decades. While these advocacy groups document the positive contributions of Latinos in Ohio; their efforts are typically organized around teaching immigrants how to be good citizens and do not push the state or business leaders to reform their practices or reach out to hire Latinos.
The groups that support Latino immigrants are tied to state and local government and their efforts are often limited to assimilation rather than advocacy and their support by Latinos is lacking Taylor and Lopez Furthermore, businesses that have opened to serve the Latino community or a specific national or regional portion of the community have not built bridges to reach the Anglo or African American communities in Columbus.
Immigrants who settle in Columbus are challenged to balance their ethnicity, nationality, expectations and traditions with the expectations that characterize the Anglo-American population of Columbus. While Columbus has grown more diverse in recent years, immigrants who settle in the city face hidden as well as open hostility from local, native-born residents.
The growing conflicts are fueled by increasing separation of the Anglo-American and Latino communities, a lack of support programs and new laws Haverluk The response of Latino immigrants to their reception in Columbus varies in relation to origins, settlement and the attitudes of the surrounding community. The majority of low wage, low skilled Latino immigrants settled in the Valley View and Hilltop neighborhoods have experienced Columbus differently than the skilled, entrepreneurs from across Latin America who settled in and around Worthington.
There is growing tensions among poorer Latinos and African-Americans who often see Latino immigrants as a threat see Morin Informants from these neighborhoods talked about bigotry and mistreatment on the job and by professionals in the city and see report by. The parents of school aged children talked about the pressures their children were under and noted that many school teachers assumed that Spanish speakers were not as smart as a native English speaker.
They also responded to questions about the coming changes to the legal code by telling us they would largely ignore them. Wealthier and settled Latino immigrants and particularly those living in the north of Columbus did not share the experiences of bigotry identified by new immigrants to the area.
These individuals tended to the larger Anglo-American community and adopted middle class goals. And while discrimination and fears of a backlash concerns the community as a whole; there is little agreement across the Latino community concerning how best to handle the issue of undocumented migration to the US. In fact, tensions are also rising between settled Latinos and new immigrants as settled Latinos blame increasing discrimination on new immigrants who are poorly integrated into the community.
Furthermore, settled immigrants fear that the rapid increase in Latino immigration may undermine their integration and the futures of their US born children and see Lopez, et al. Columbus, Ohio is a new and important destination for Latino immigrants. For immigrants who are moving from more traditional gateways the diversity of the Latino community in the city is welcoming and reflects the opportunities that Columbus may hold. Our research reveals that while new immigrant neighborhoods are emerging, they are generally isolated from the larger Columbus community.
Discrimination, a lack of programs and a largely anti-immigrant climate isolates Latinos formally and informally. Formally, Latinos are isolated because there are few opportunities to enter the workforce in new and dynamic ways. Their children are often discriminated against because English may be a second language. There is a lack of programs to support the engagement and involvement of Latinos in the life of the city and finally, several bills challenge the rights of Latinos to own cars, drive to work and speak Spanish.
Informally Latinos face discrimination from a larger community that assumes any Latino is a new immigrant and the presence of immigrants undermine U. In Columbus, Latino immigrants increasingly negotiate their lives in a contradictory environment balancing a labor market built upon service work that holds few opportunities for growth and a society that actively discriminates against them and limits their freedoms Durand, et al.
We have used this paper to argue that discrimination is not necessarily public or pronounced. Rather, Latino immigrants continue to struggle against social and economic isolation, the lack of support programs to encourage their progress and laws that seek to limit freedoms based on race, language and mobility.
Our thanks and appreciation also go to Dr. Hartshorn who ed us for fieldwork from Kalamazoo College, and Camille Patterson who spent part of her senior year of high school assisting in research and fieldwork. Finally, we send our deepest appreciation to the people who took the time to answer our questions and allow us to complete this work. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Int Migr.
Author manuscript; available in PMC Aug 3. Cohen and N. Copyright and information Disclaimer. Copyright notice. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Columbus, Ohio has witnessed rapid growth in its Latino population as immigrants settle in the city to access jobs and a generally low cost of living.Ohio looking 4 a latino
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