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Coming to Work
Hispanic Immigrants are Changing Mid-Missouri's Economy

Hispanic immigrants are coming to Missouri, and they're coming to work.

Domingo Martinez studies the Hispanic influx at MU's Cambio Center.

"Most of these workers, newcomers have jobs,” he says. “So they are not coming just to see what happens, they are coming to work."

Male immigrants used to come work in the U.S. and then go back to their homelands, but lately workers bring families and are coming to stay.

"Latino's that are coming are coming to settle with their families and can contribute to the economy if they're given a chance,” says Corinne Valdiivia of MU’s Agricultrual Economic Department. “I think it's really important for economic growth in our communities, economic growth that is positive to our communities."

When they do stay in the U.S., most Latino immigrants are taking low skill jobs that don't require English, Valdiivia says. "Meat processing industry, the service sector, landscaping, construction…very labor intensive work that doesn't require a lot of education nor english ability."

Many of these Hispanics work in mid-Missouri's meat processing plants, plants which statewide bring in more than four hundred million dollars a year.

Carrie Tyler, head of Marshall’s Centro Latino, says local towns benefit from the money immigrants spend in the area.

“ They're spending it locally,” she says. “In fact a lot of the families are buying their own homes here. They buy their own homes here, they buy their cars here, it's being spent locally."

Despite the sometimes controversial nature of the influx, Valdiivia says that on balance, the new wave of immigrants is a positive for the mid-Missouri economy.

"It's important to understand that they are not here to take away from the economy but to contribute to the economy by the work that they do,” she says.


aa Published: June 3, 2005
2005 , KOMU-TV8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. Some information courtesy Associated Press
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