Village of Immigrants: Latinos in an Emerging America
Diana Gordon, author
The town of Greenport, N.Y., serves as a case study for immigration in America in this well-crafted study. “I do not pretend to be objective about the contributions that Latino immigrants have made to the revitalization of Greenport,” the author—and Greenport resident—cautions in the preface. In her opinion, for small, rural, and suburban towns declining across the United States, immigration may be the answer, not a problem. The book acknowledges that immigration brings challenges around schools, housing, health, employment, and the legal system; however, benefits abound, since immigrant communities boast lower crime rates and density that can revitalize neighborhoods. The schools depicted here welcome an influx of new students that may keep them from closing, and are committed to dealing with varying schooling experiences and language issues. Amid these broader trends, Gordon brings in the stories and voices of immigrants themselves, from a young Guatemalan who has found work as an unlicensed barber (he can’t be licensed because of his legal status) to middle-class Colombians who left professional careers in their economically stagnant home country and now work at menial jobs—while their children anticipate attending American colleges. In taking on one town’s immigration success story, Gordon has created a compelling framework for exploring a complex topic.