15 May 2010

Nuevo South - Airs May 17

It's sinking in among Americans that the nation's largest wave of immigration did not happen a century ago. It's happening now. About 35-million of us were born in other countries. That's one in eight residents of the United States. Immigrants come from all over the globe, but Latino immigration is remaking the country. And not just on the coasts and in the Southwest.

Siler City, North Carolina used to be the kind of town where almost everyone, black and white, had roots going back a century or two. Characters on the Andy Griffith Show mentioned Siler City, and the actor who played Aunt Bee retired there because it reminded her of Mayberry. It was just about the last place a Spanish-speaking immigrant was likely to land. That started to change in the 1990s. Today, thanks to chicken processing jobs that no one else wants, Siler City is about half Latino.

John Biewen and Tennessee Watson of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University produced this portrait of a town in transition ... in the Nuevo South.

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