COLBY, Kan. - Latinos now make up about 14 percent of the nation's workforce. Rural Midwestern and Great Plains states have experienced rapid increases in immigrant populations in recent years, as workers from Latin America have moved to small towns to work in the meatpacking and construction trades. This shift has heightened discussion in these states about the impacts of immigration on both local cultures, economies, service industries and crime.
Industries located in rural Kansas, such as meat-packing, create job opportunities that bring significant numbers of Latino workers and their families to our small- and medium-sized towns.
This influx of Latino migrants is often met with resistance from other Kansas residents, who fear increases in crime and poverty rates will accompany the population growth.
But a new study from North Carolina State University debunks some of those fears.