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Latin American Migrations to the U.S. HeartlandChanging Social Landscapes in Middle America$
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Linda Allegro and Andrew Grant Wood

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037665

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037665.001.0001

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Humanizing Latino Newcomers in the “No Coast” Region

Humanizing Latino Newcomers in the “No Coast” Region

(p.201) Chapter 8 Humanizing Latino Newcomers in the “No Coast” Region
Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland

Edmund T. Hamann

Jenelle Reeves

University of Illinois Press

In December 2006 and again in May 2008, the Midwest was the setting for large-scale Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in rural meatpacking towns that drew national attention. In the first raids, concurrent sweeps in six different communities that hosted Swift plants, children, and schools emerged as important and sympathy-generating themes as children were separated from detained parents and schools were left struggling to figure out what to do with those children. Both of these issues distracted from the intended law enforcement thrust of the raids, reducing their popularity and making them more controversial. In contrast, the May 2008 raid at a kosher meat-processing facility in Postville, Iowa, had the ICE enforcement agents querying their detainees about whether they had children and placing those who answered yes under house arrest. Although this, too, destroyed the former workers' chance at earning a livelihood, it did not separate mothers from children, nor did it require schools to become emergency sanctuaries for frightened and marooned children. Thus, two key sympathy-generating factors that could make the larger public dubious of ICE enforcement were bypassed. Invoking trope theory, this chapter looks at local and regional mainstream print media coverage of both raids to see how the imagining of children, school, transnationality, and workers in and by Middle America was changed between the two raid cycles, in turn changing the semiotics of how these raids were to be responded to.

Keywords:   rural meatpacking towns, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Midwest, ICE raids, media coverage, Middle America

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