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New Hampshire Socioeconomic Characteristics and Migration

The following socioeconomic portrait of Latinos in New Hampshire suggests the possible emergence of a Latino middle class in the state, even though Lati-

nos have a lower median household income than other ethnic groups. Latinos were drawn to New Hampshire because of its economic opportunities, especially during the economic prosperity of the late 1990s. Their entrepreneurial ability was instrumental in creating new Latino businesses, and Latinos were active in the labor force. This has resulted in Latino median household income being above the nation level of $33,676. In 1999 the Latino median household income in New Hampshire was $39,985, but they ranked below all other ethnic groups in the state.

Citizenship status is thought to confer many benefits that should put migrant populations on a trajectory to the middle class. However, segment assimilation theory has identified that these benefits are not equally distributed to all migrant populations. In the 1990s Latinos in New Hampshire had a wide variation in their rates of citizenship. Mexican residents had the highest rates of citizenship, and Colombians the lowest. Many of the Colombians who arrived in the 1990s were foreign born. The reason for the high rates of citizenship for Mexicans was not naturalization, but nativity. The majority of Mexicans (84.4 percent) were born in the United States, or their parents were U.S. citizens.

Latinos are worried that concerns about migration could interfere with their continued integration into the state’s economic and social life. Their growing presence in the state and the presence of unauthorized Latino migrants have become a concern to some New Hampshire residents. In 2005, after Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officials did not respond to their desire to detain unauthorized migrants, police chiefs in Hudson and New Ipswich attempted to charge Latino migrants with criminal trespassing in order to detain them. A Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court subsequently threw out the charge.

Even though this strategy to address unauthorized immigration failed, Latinos in the state believe that these incidents were a tipping point. New Hampshire’s Latinos fear unauthorized immigration will be an issue that harms all Latinos in the state, even those Latinos who are citizens. In 2007 State Representative Jordan Ulery sponsored legislation to explore the possibility of having local authorities enforce immigration laws. Many Latinos report feeling welcome in most parts of New Hampshire, but they are fearful that the attitudes behind the concern over unauthorized migration will spread to all migrants and any Latino, regardless of nativity.

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