Book on Hazleton’s immigration issues takes home award
“Undocumented Fears,” a book that sociologist Jamie Longazel wrote about the Illegal Immigration Relief Act in his hometown of Hazleton, won an award from the North Central Sociological Association.
The association will present its 2017 Scholarly Achievement Award to Longazel, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Dayton, during its annual conference in Indianapolis on March 31 and April 1.
“Undocumented Fears” recounts the murder of Derek Kichline in May 2006 and other events that led then-Mayor Lou Barletta to promote — and Hazleton City Council to enact — the immigration act. The law prompted heated debate inside council chambers, ignited protests outside City Hall and brought national media to Hazleton.
A court challenge blocked the law and led Hazleton to pay $1.32 million for its opponents’ legal costs.
Longazel also puts Hazleton’s 40-year slide in manufacturing jobs and the portrayal of new, Latino and Latina residents as shadowy threats to peace.and prosperity in Hazleton into a national context.
The conclusion of “Undocumented Fears” recaps the 1897 Lattimer Massacre of striking coal miners by a posse armed by coal barons. Longazel compares how coal barons divided miners by ethnicity then with current politics that split workingclass whites from Latinos.
White and Latino workers, he said, have more in common with each other than they do with the owners of the factories and distribution centers where they work.
Groups like the Hazleton Integration Project, Longazel writes, seek to unify whites and Latinos and provide social services that they need without triggering a backlash for challenging the status quo from which corporations profit.
President Barack Obama made a similar point in his farewell speech Tuesday when he said: “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.”