Lygia Navarro

Lygia Navarro is a freelance reporter covering Latin America and Latino issues in the United States.

Recent Articles

The Melting Pot

How anti-immigrant sentiment can divide a community -- and what can be done to unite residents

Protesters in Colorado in January (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
When 19-year-old Tyler Waltz was a child, Fairfield, Ohio, was a typical Midwestern town. In the small suburb 20 miles north of Cincinnati, life centered on sports and Catholic festivals. Teenagers hung out at the town's strip malls, its three bowling alleys, and in the wooded areas between subdivisions. Area automobile-part factories had laid off thousands of workers since the 1980s. Like Waltz, 90 percent of Fairfield residents were white. It was just two years ago as a high school senior that Waltz first noticed the Latino influx to Fairfield. In 1990, the Latino population was an estimated 290. By 2009 estimates, it had increased fivefold to 1,570 -- out of a total city population of more than 42,000. With more immigrants arriving in Fairfield to work in manufacturing, food processing, and construction, Mexican restaurants began popping up on the town's main drag, Dixie Highway. Waltz hadn't previously taken much notice of his Latino classmates; racial groups staked out a spot on...