msnbc   |  May 26, 2010

Immigrants accused of burdening U.S. towns

NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports on two American cities that are magnets for legal and illegal immigrants in the United States.

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>>> welcome back to msnbc's special coverage. here in arizona and around the country, immigrants, legal and illegal, have been accused of burdening local municipalities and straining resources. but others credit them for saving troubled towns. nbc's kevin tibbles has the tale of two cities . one in the nation's heartland and one just outside new york city .

>> smack in the middle of the heartland, tiny postville , iowa, has become a magnet for those seeking a new life in america.

>> they believe the american dream could be theirs.

>> reporter: for a little town that doesn't even have a stoplight, you think think postville is being a bit presumptuous calling it hometown to the world. but it fits. legally and illegal they made their way to work on the killing floors of the agri processors kosher meat plant. two years ago immigration and custom enforcement raided the plant, arresting some 389 documented workers and charging the owners. the plant closed.

>> a lot of taxes weren't paid. a lot of water bills weren't paid. and our general economy just went down.

>> reporter: 25-year-old laura castillo was arrested. she spent three months in jail. but today has a visa and works in a postville day care . she has a 5-year-old son in mexico she hasn't seen in three years.

>> my son has asthma. and i need money for medicine.

>> reporter: the plant has since reopened with new owners vowing only to use legal workers. immigration has had a powerful effect in palisades park , new jersey, too. where korean-americans have breathed new life into what a decade ago was a struggling community.

>> there were some empty stores. not many people in the street.

>> reporter: drawn by good schools, security and the proximity to manhattan, roughly 40% of the population is now korean-american. main street is now thriving.

>> korean-americans no longer want to start in the traditional enclave of korea town . they want to jump straight to suburbs like palisades park .

>> my children were born in this palisades park . this is the place they call home.

>> reporter: back in postville , iowa.

>> i feel very, very happy.

>> reporter: laura ka tees thinks about her son's future, too. he has a visa and will soon come to america.

>> you know, jose, la rossa