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North Carolina immigration politics, now and then

Under the leadership of Gov. Pat McCrory, North Carolina has hopped onto the bandwagon of GOP-led states trying to make life as difficult as possible for immigrants, particularly but not exclusively those without papers. I weighed in on this in an Op/Ed in the Raleigh News & Observer and as a guest on WUNC’s The State of Things. It’s so easy to get lost in this moment when it seems the entire GOP has a single and negative view of immigrants, including seemingly everywhere in the South. One of the most important things I tried to show in Corazón de Dixie is just how recently things were so different (eg. ten years ago) and how this current moment has no real precedent in the South in the past century. White conservative support of Mexican and Latino immigrants in the South always came with conditions (don’t organize, or demand too much). But Mexicanos were able to strategically use that support to achieve some of their own goals and at least fight back against overt harassment. I doubt the resurrection of pro-immigrant conservatism (see chapter 4) is coming anytime soon. Casting their lot squarely with the left will leave the South’s Latinos highly vulnerable in the short-term, but at this point really looks like the only viable strategy for the long-term. Unless, of course, I am missing something.

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