A local professor investigates the political and social impacts of immigration in the South in a new book, “Irresistible Forces.”
Greg Weeks, associate professor of political science and director of Latin American Studies at UNC Charlotte, teamed up with his father, John R. Weeks, a geography professor at San Diego State University, for the five year investigation. The result: a 185-page examination of Latin American migration into Southeast, which has the fastest growing immigrant population. And how it may impact the political future of the South.
Weeks, who also authors the Latin American politics blog Two Weeks Notice, combed through hoards of government data, including from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Mecklenburg County Health Department.
The main point of the book, Weeks says, is that to craft any immigration policy that will actually achieve its goals, leaders must take into account demographic dynamics both here and in Latin America.
“We should not view immigration as something we can turn on or off with new laws,” Weeks says. “There are much broader forces at work.”
“Irresistible Forces” starts off by stepping back to look at the current economic recession and how, since 2008, some economist have predicted that unemployed migrants would eventually return to their home countries in Latin America.
“Developers were no longer building at the same rate and thus not hiring every day, wealthier Americans began cutting back on services they used to pay others to do, and no one seemed to know how far away the light at the end of the tunnel might be. In fact, the problem of undocumented immigration might almost take care of itself. The phrase “self-deportation” came vogue as reporters began scouring the country to find people who might be leaving, and as headlines grew more and more lurid. It all makes perfect sense except for one problem: the argument is wrong. Most migrants are, in fact, choosing to stay….”
The father and son team go on to explain many factors affect immigration -- and a bad economy is only one of them. They discuss the historical background of Latin American migration, policy and demographic changes that incurred, the role of Latin American governments, and the changes in the South and the political ramification that will accompany them.
“As a new immigrant gateway region, the future of the South will hinge at least partly on how it incorporates and successfully integrates the existing and latent political, economic, and cultural strengths of the Latino population.”
“Irresistible Forces” came out in January. It can be purchased in most outlets online, including Amazon.