Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Immigration Influx Divides Small Oklahoma Town

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"HEAVENER, OK: Atop Poteau Mountain, cloaked by white oak, black locust and other towering trees, sits the mysterious runestone.  Ever since its discovery in 1874, experts have passionately debated whether the runic carvings on the stone were actually created by Viking explorers.  Today, a new dispute grips this southeastern Oklahoma community of 3,414 residents.  Only this debate strays far from the intellectual trenches of academia, and is laced with a mixture of warmth, frustration, compassion and anger.  At its center are an estimated 1,410 Hispanic residents who account for 41% of Heavener’s total population, according to the 2010 Census.  Based on an analysis by Oklahoma Watch, Heavener now has the third-highest concentration of Hispanic people in Oklahoma cities with 1,000 or more residents. ... In contrast to other Oklahoma communities where immigrants appear to be assimilating more smoothly, Heavener has been roiled by the rapid influx