Hazleton moves forward as Trump stands to take office

HAZLETON (WOLF) -- If you build it, they will come.

"I will build a great, great wall on our Southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall – mark my words."

That's a message Donald Trump used to gain momentum with voters – a message that took him from presidential candidate to President-elect.

This message rings particularly strong for many living in the city of Hazleton.

Social scientist Jamie Longazel says Hazleton has actually been experiencing Trump-like politics for the last decade.

"Lou Barletta, who is an avid Trump supporter, has done a lot of the things Trump has done, has operated in the same way Trump has operated - specifically by scapegoating immigrants.

Local representative Tarah Toohil disagrees - she sees a story different from Barletta's efforts.

"There is prejudice and people looking at it and saying we have high crime and it's the Hispanic people causing the crime but that's not the case and you can't always say that's the case."

Toohil says crime is actually down – thirty percent from last year. And they'd like to keep it that way. Police are using new tactics like more officers on the streets.

She says there's also a misconception about area jobs.

"This community I think it’s been tough because when we had newcomers coming in and they spoke a different language and they looked different, you could single them out and say 'well they're taking our jobs', when really, that wasn't the truth of it."

With President-elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office in just 17 days – Hazleton is looking ahead, not behind.

Max Garcia, director of Hazleton’s Spanish TV station, Telecaribe, wants everyone to work together, hand in hand.

"Hazleton is no more an example about the division and about the problem – now we go forward with the new president Donald Trump and your new team. We go forward."

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