Fusing Cultures: Part 2

Missouri's hispanic population is booming. And sooner or later it will impact all of us in our schools, stores and jobs. Milan, Missouri is a good example of the changes going on in the state. According to the 2000 census, Milan's hispanic population increased by more than "2,000%." This small town is only one example of what is going on across the state.

Milan is a small town with a lot of pull. Czerardo Topete immigrated from Southern California two years ago. Topete has been living in Milan for two years now. He originally moved to Milan to be closer to his siblings and because he felt he couldn't make it in California.
"What happened was, where I was before the jobs where getting harder and very scarce. And above all a lot of Latinos were arriving and it was harder to find a job day after day," said Topete.

Topete and other native Spanish speakers need help when they get to Milan. So, they turn to the Milan Centro

Valentina Mensa is the Director. She herself knows what it is like to come to the US not speaking English. She says that if it weren't for Centro Latino a lot of latinos would no longer reside in Milan.

Milan, Missouri has just under 2000 residents, and of those, according to the 2000 census, more than 20 percent are Hispanic.

Ed Maulsby is the mayor of Milan. He does not speak any Spanish.
However, he says the town runs fairly smoothly even in the process of "mixing" cultures. "I think the cultures are different, you know, and maybe things that they weren't used to doing now as far as parking and keeping the city as nice as we want it."

And a law enforcement official in town says without the immigrants the milan would not survive. "I think it is going fairly well, I mean you know that, if it had not been for the hispanic population we probably wouldn't have the processing plants we have now because we don't have enough people to operate them, so they pretty much had to import," said Chief Deputy Sheriff David Atkins.

Henry Hernan is one of those factory workers who only works to send money back to his family. Henry says that "making money here is easy and it's even easier to not spend it."

There are not a lot of activities in Milan; no malls or stores. So residents don't leave to spend money so they save, buy a house and stay here. Milan, missouri is a dot on the map and the slow pace and abundance of jobs has made at least 700 hispanics cross the border.

Reporter: Erica Byfield
Web Prodecer: Tiffany Nelson

aa Published: May 31, 2005
2005 , KOMU-TV8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. Some information courtesy Associated Press
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