Over the past five years an aggressive movement has emerged to return immigration enforcement powers to the local level in the US, and to some extent in Europe as well. Hazleton, PA, was home to the first local government in the US to pass an 'Illegal Immigration Relief Act' (IIRA), which subsequently became a model for other cities across the country seeking to implement their own immigration regulations. We argue that Hazleton's IIRA was as much productive of tensions over migration as it was the product of them. Neoliberal economic restructuring left Hazleton residents feeling a sense of 'class downgrading' but the ordinance itself was central in creating divisions between the nativeborn white population and recent Latino arrivals. As much as the ordinance served to exclude undocumented immigrants, it simultaneously served to unify native-born white residents by repositioning Hazleton as 'small-town USA', no longer marginal but, instead, central to the defense of American 'quality of life'. Control over housing became a key form of spatial and territorial control through the creation of a location in which outsiders could be defined as not-belonging and local citizenship could be imbued with new meaning. The paper illuminates the ways in which 'Americanness' and citizenship are locally constructed and highlights the significance of territorial control and collective identity in addition to economic restructuring in the resurgence of local immigration regulations.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Belonging, Citizenship, Immigration, Quality of life, Spatial control
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1068/d0109
Journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Citation
Steil, J. (Justin), & Ridgley, J. (2012). 'Small-town defenders': The production of citizenship and belonging in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(6), 1028–1045. doi:10.1068/d0109