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While both Portland and Danbury present themselves as communities that celebrate diversity, in actuality, Portland welcomes immigrants in a wider range of ways with a longer history than does Danbury. This is, in large part, related to numbers. Further, in Danbury, an estimated twelve to fifteen thousand residents are in the country illegally, while many of the foreign-born in Portland came as refugees. But this is not the entire story. In the course of our work, we have noticed important variations in how cities create and deploy their cultural armature, including differences in urban self-presentation, the prevailing ethos toward immigrants, and how culture is harnessed in service of urban renewal projects.

We have also noted how history and political economy influence the available cultural apparatus in each site and the ways the city tells its story of welcome to immigrants. Although demographics explain much of the variation in our two contexts of reception in this tale of two cities, we believe that culture and scale are important subtexts in this narrative and explore their specific roles in this article. While both cities market themselves as successful diverse communities, Portland both talks the talk and walks the walk while Danbury talks the talk but is not unconditionally welcoming to newcomers due to simmering anti-immigrant sentiment.

These cities are similar in that both experienced major economic declines due to de-industrialization. Each reinvented itself using cultural endowments shaped by scale, history, and geography and then went on to harness them in different ways.


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City scale and culture not only influenced how each city represents itself but also its ethos toward immigrants and the extent to which immigrants become an integral piece of the city-building project. In Portland, city leaders deploy a cultural armature that builds on the benefits of multiculturalism.

In contrast, while Danbury professes its commitment to multiculturalism, it has had, particularly recently, amore difficult time putting that into practice. Multiculturalism in Danbury is negotiated by local actors, not alongside international and local tourists who come specifically to sit under its cosmopolitan canopy. But it is precisely how these three factors cluster differently in different localities wherein the analytical purchase lies.

This is a conversation with a fairly long history that has been revitalized as immigrants head toward new destinations. Portes and Rumbaut emphasized the role of the receiving government, the characteristics of the host-country labor market and the characteristics of ethnic communities in shaping contexts of reception. Jeffrey Reitz described four contextual factors, including: a pre-existing ethnic and race relations within the host population; b differences in labor markets and related institutions; c the impact of government policies and programs, including immigration policy, policies for immigrant integration, and policies for the regulation of social institutions; and d the changing nature of international boundaries, part of the process of globalization.

He argues that the characteristics of host societies can influence immigrant integration as much as, if not more than individual immigrant characteristics. They see successful immigrant integration as a function of the opportunities and barriers immigrants encounter in the receiving community. In addition to contextual factors like ethnic networks, social capital and labor market conditions, this work stresses how programs, institutional cultures, and national and local policies affect immigrant integration Fix and Zimmerman: ; Waldinger Integration is a fluid process based on both individual and community level factors and thus, happens differently depending on the neighborhood, city, or state Bloemraad: ; Guarnizo, Sanchez and Roach: ; Itzigsohn and Saucedo: High turnover rates, dangerous work environments, lack of unions, and low pay in meatpacking employment all contribute to a negative context of reception Fennelly and Leitner: ; Gouveia and Stull: ; Grey and Woodrick: ; Smith and Furseth: Finally, in her research on the dairy industry in Wisconsin, Valentine found that despite their initial hostility, employers became more welcoming when they realized how dependent they were on their immigrant workers.

They are interrogating the conditions under which immigrants revitalize the regional economy or harm it Grey and Woodrick: ; Mohl: Comprehensive, comparative metropolitan studies are in short supply, as Singer Singer, Hardwick and Brettell: , p. Our study, therefore, fills an important gap by not only including non-Latino groups, but by looking at small cities in New England.

Context of reception is conceived as national, although immigrant incorporation, as well as the promulgation of policies and community responses to immigrants, varies considerably across physical and political spaces within nations.

Sociology/LALS 253

As new immigrants move increasingly into communities that have not dealt with large number of foreign-born residents, these new destinations variously accommodate, celebrate, and resist their new residents before. Their local experiences reverberate and contribute to national debates and policies. Furthermore, the current national security context imbues residents with worries and fears and brings them into direct contact with the power of the state through arrests, detentions and deportation.

In the s, a small group of scholars noted how size, position, and the political landscape affected how migrants settled in and became politically incorporated in particular cities. Like their American counterparts, most of this work did not address how global economic restructuring repositions particular places and directs migrants to settle where they do. Global cities scholarship was a step in this direction Eade: ; Sassen: ; Yeoh and Chang: These scholars called attention to the disjuncture between geographical and social spaces that resulted from the uneven effects of globalization.

Particular cities wrested themselves from the traditional local-global hierarchy to function almost independently of national context. Most of this work, however, did not connect these processes to immigrant incorporation. Global economic restructuring repositions localities in hierarchies of economic and political power.

But it is not just capital that moves. Where migrants move to, their modes of incorporation are strongly linked to this broader re-ordering of interstate, regional, national, and global fields of power Glick Schiller and Caglar: ; Glick Schiller, Caglar and Guldbrandsen: Moreover, it is not just the changing position of particular localities in the context of globalization but the changing relationship between localities and states.

State intervention and activities are institutionally and geographically differentiated. When states pursue economic development strategies, refugee resettlement policies, direct resources to particular zones like becoming the state capital , or build highways in particular locations, they influence immigrant incorporation. Scale, then, involves not just a recalibration of the relationship between the global and the local but between the municipal, regional, and national as well.

It is also a partial corrective to the emphasis on the economic characteristics of place at the expense of how place-based cultural resources shape immigrant incorporation. Migration scholarship requires a serious cultural turn that goes beyond a superficial nod Levitt: ; Levitt and Jaworsky: That means bringing culture centrally into discussions of context of reception and acknowledging how scale affects the urban cultural apparatus. Cities have particular cultural resources based on their geopolitical position and they deploy these in particular ways.

Brettell b , for example, stresses the importance of a dominant set of values or an urban ethos in shaping immigrant incorporation.

Twenty-First Century Gateways: Immigrants in Suburban America

Glick Schiller and Caglar highlight public discourse as key in making migrant incorporation a part of scale theory. Cultural diversity, they argue, is an important factor in the competitive struggle between cities. Immigrants can be marketable assets in the places where they settle, even enabling some cities to reposition themselves within the geopolitical hierarchy.

It is this cultural armature, and how it is shaped by questions of scale, that is our focus in this article. Organizations included municipal groups, social service organizations, civic groups and religious and faith-based organizations that we identified using snowball samples developed through existing contacts and listings in local directories. Interviews lasted between fifty minutes and two hours and were digitally recorded and professionally transcribed.

In Danbury, a researcher conducted field observations at social events, political rallies and fundraisers throughout the city and volunteered at a Portuguese-language newspaper. We worked collaboratively using Atlas-TI software to develop and refine a set of codes, working together with intra- and inter-city cross checks to ensure that our analytic categories were consistently applied across interviews as well as cities. The U. Census Bureau estimated its population at 63, in Immigrants have been arriving in Portland since the early nineteenth century.

Sawmill factories were another early, natural development given the high percent of forested land in the state Rose: Following World War II, however, the population and commercial activity declined precipitously. By the s, the maritime industry in Portland had reached a low point.

The population decreased by nearly 10 percent between and , dropping to levels from 50 years before. The state of Maine as a whole experienced a net out-migration of 68, this decade 1.

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These trends began to reverse themselves in the s, when after nearly years of out-migration, Maine began to attract in-migrants. While the pace slowed after the s, in-migration to Maine has continued since then Benson and Sherwood: Portland is currently home to 4, foreign-born residents U. Fifty-three different languages are represented among the 1, students in the Portland public school system, which has the largest number of ESL English as a Second Language students in the state.

Over the last several years, Portland has also become a destination for refugees relocating from their original settlement sites.


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  6. While there are no official figures on these secondary migrants, unofficial estimates suggest they may be as many as 10,, divided between Portland and the nearby city of Lewiston Allen: Many find work in meat or fish packing plants, other factories, or in service-based or medical professions. Non-profit organizations and faith-based initiatives also do a significant amount of the work. Groups like the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project and the Action for Self Reliance Association, an organization founded by and serving the Sudanese community, also play a critical role in providing for the immigrant community.

    In the s and s, when hats went out of vogue, the industry steadily declined, and there were few hatters left by the late s. An aggressive redevelopment plan was put into place in to attract high technology firms, producing everything from helicopters to pencils and surgical sutures, but it was not until the construction of two major highways, I and Route , and the construction of the Danbury Fair Mall that industrial and commercial growth increased Devlin: This expansion included the growth of big-box stores and malls which sent the downtown area into sharp decline.

    There are, however, large numbers of undocumented residents whose economic position is precarious 3.

    The Association of Religious Communities ARC helped resettle Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees in the s and early s and now focuses on fighting xenophobia and fostering inter-ethnic and inter-faith dialogues. There are also more than a dozen Brazilian evangelical churches in Danbury that provide some direct services. Danbury is a great place because of our diversity.

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    The number one focus of my administration in the next two years will be the economy and how we can help small and medium size businesses achieve success in a difficult economic environment. All residents will benefit from job creation and expansion. Our diverse economy has insulated us from the worst of the recession, but we need to plan for the future. This is one way the city has used diversity and multiculturalism as a tool to promote urban revitalization, creating an environment that not only allows for but also thrives because of its diverse population.

    Its efforts to become a culturally vibrant, livable city have not gone unnoticed by the media.

    Twenty-first-century gateways : immigrant incorporation in suburban America - Indiana State Library

    Geography can be everything or nothing, and much in between. Economic relationships between the West Indies and Portland, for example began in the early colonial period and turned the city into a key international port Sanders and Helfgot Early on, Portland businesspeople saw the potential for trade, particularly in rum and molasses with the West Indies.

    By , as a result of these close relationships, Portland imported three times more sugar and molasses than Boston. These tight trade connections with the West Indies promoted immigration from Cuba and other areas in Latin America. In particular, the rise in tourism in the last fifty years means that Portland constantly hosts newcomers — as many as 6, visitors disembark from cruise ships on any given summer afternoon.

    International grocery stories and restaurants, from Eritrean to Salvadoran, are situated throughout the city and patronized not only by immigrants but also by a diverse group of native-born Mainers who attend citywide cultural events and programs throughout the year. Interviewees told stories about the richness that immigrant and refugees have brought to Portland. Because it was strategically located on the way to New York for colonial settlers making the arduous two-week trek from Boston, Danbury enjoyed a brisk trade in agricultural goods and hospitality services.

    When the first rail line opened in , it provided easy access to the raw materials and coal power that drove the explosive growth of the hat making industry. Instead, it created an attractive destination for immigrants — from the Irish fleeing the Potato Famine in the s, followed by Germans and Italians. And in the s, when the city experienced a small slump, the German community revitalized Main Street, opening various businesses — tailor shops, bakeries, taverns, and of course, wonderful breweries Devlin As the twentieth century dawned upon Danbury, the majority of its residents came from other countries.

    Although the city of Danbury was incorporated in , and a century later, saw a major interstate highway run through it, to this day it retains a small-town atmosphere. But today, Main Street is no longer the typical New England thoroughfare. Today, most of the downtown storefronts have signs in Portuguese or Spanish and businesses catering to immigrants, including restaurants, travel agencies, money transfer outlets and international groceries abound. They express ambivalence, if not outright disdain, for their newly rejuvenated commercial district, claiming it offers them little.

    While the outskirts of Danbury are thriving, revitalization, as they would like to see it, has skipped its downtown. A life-long resident and President of the U. At the same time, post immigrants proudly claim Main Street and many respondents in our sample, foreign- and native-born alike, emphasized how devastated Main Street was until immigrants moved to town.

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    In Portland, a long period of stagnation, suburbanization, city center disinvestment and job loss characterized the first half of the s. Revitalization began in the early s, when grassroots activists and business owners interested in historic preservation, affordable housing and improving the built environment, along with business owners looking to infuse the city with new life, joined forces. As more housing and historic buildings were restored, Portland attracted more people, especially members of the artistic and gay communities. Larger businesses also played a key role during these early years by relocating to the downtown area.

    For example, Winfield, Alabama—a city of less than 5, people —has a hospital that does not provide obstetrical services. As a result, women from Winfield must travel nearly 60 miles to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to access these services. The lack of adequate health care is common in rural communities. According to the data collected by North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, 87 rural hospitals have closed nationwide since January , and many more hospitals are at risk of closing.