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Fronteras: Latino U.S. Immigration Bolstered Economies And Revived Street Life — A Conversation With The Author Of 'Barrio America'

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Chicago's Little Village, one of the neighborhoods at the center of "Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City." | Credit: A.K. Sandoval-Strausz
A.K. Sandoval-Strausz
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Chicago's Little Village, one of the neighborhoods at the center of "Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City."
A.K. Sandoval-Strausz — director of the Latino/a studies program and associate professor of history at Penn State University — is the author of “Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City.” | Credit: Michael T. Davis Photography
Michael T. Davis Photography
A.K. Sandoval-Strausz — director of the Latino/a studies program and associate professor of history at Penn State University — is the author of “Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City.”

President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act into law in 1986, providing a path to citizenship for around 3 million immigrants living undocumented in the U.S.

Cities across the U.S. were already being transformed by Latin American immigrants. They brought cities back from the brink of urban decline that began in the 1950s, according to historian A.K. Sandoval-Strausz.

In his book, “Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City,” Sandoval-Strausz explored how immigration and housing policies altered urban migration and how millions of Latin American immigrants actively invested in their communities.

“Immigration is incredibly important to the American economy,” Sandoval-Strausz explained. “But unfortunately, there are people who tell themselves and others false stories about immigration.”

Stereotypes about immigrant communities — increased crime rates, economic malaise, drug trafficking, — are challenged in “Barrio America,” and offers new context into the long lasting benefits of immigrant communities in American cities.

This is part two of a two-part conversation. Part one can be listened to here.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren