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Against the Tide
Immigrants, Day Laborers, and Community in Jupiter, Florida


“Civic leaders and scholars interested in the overlapping issues of economic development, immigrant integration, and public planning will find in Against the Tide a treasure trove of insights and case studies.”
Paul Ortiz, University of Florida

Across the United States, the issue of immigration has generated rancorous debate and divided communities. Many states and municipalities have passed restrictive legislation that erodes any sense of community. Against the Tide tells the story of Jupiter, Florida, a coastal town of approximately 50,000 that has taken a different path.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Jupiter was in the throes of immigration debates. A decade earlier, this small town had experienced an influx of migrants from Mexico and Guatemala. Immigrants seeking work gathered daily on one of the city’s main streets, creating an ad-hoc, open-air labor market that generated complaints and health and human safety concerns. What began as a local debate rapidly escalated as Jupiter’s situation was thrust into the media spotlight and attracted the attention of state and national anti-immigrant groups.  But then something unexpected happened: immigrants, neighborhood residents, university faculty and students, and town representatives joined together to mediate community tensions and successfully moved the informal labor market to the new El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center.

Timothy J. Steigenga, who helped found the center, and Lazo de la Vega, who organized students in support of its mission, describe how El Sol engaged the residents of Jupiter in a two-way process of immigrant integration and helped build trust on both sides.. By examining one city’s search for a positive public policy solution, Against the Tide offers valuable practical lessons for other communities confronting similar challenges.


Supplementary Materials

For a chapter by chapter list of discussion questions, exercises, and resources for classroom or community group use please visit www.againstthetidejupiter.com.


Sandra Lazo de la Vega is a research associate in the Program for Immigration, Religion, and Social Change at the University of Florida.


Timothy J. Steigenga is professor of political science and chair of the social sciences and humanities at the Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University. He is coauthor of Living Illegal: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration.




“Timely and relevant, Against the Tide chronicles the convergence of global connections, national politics, and local issues in the struggle for a day labour centre in Jupiter Florida.”

“The authors convey the importance of recognizing immigrants as human beings and ‘citizens’ of the local society, even if not legal residents or citizens. Against the Tide could play an important and critical role in the ongoing policy struggles over immigrants.”
—Alex Stepick, coeditor of Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City


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Of Related Interest

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Madre and I
A Memoir of Our Immigrant Lives
Guillermo Reyes

Against the Tide

April 2013
LC: 2012018534 HV
200 pp.   6 x 9
20 b/w illustrations

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Paper $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29104-4
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