The Taco Mayor

Overcoming Anti-Immigrant Politics in Connecticut

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Photography by Sarah Kate Kramer

Published on May 7, 2012

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo never intended to enter the national debate about immigration. But that’s exactly what he did earlier this year when, in response to the arrest of four local police officers for allegedly executing a campaign of harassment toward Latinos, he said he would possibly “eat tacos” for dinner that night. The comment revealed a deep disregard for Maturo’s Latino constituents as well as ignorance of their culture: East Haven has a sizable Ecuadorian population, and tacos are not part of their traditional cuisine. Using this episode as a jumping-off point, journalist Sarah Kate Kramer explains what went wrong in East Haven, why it matters for the thousands of other U.S. communities undergoing similar changes, and how public policies are evolving to suit these towns and cities in flux. Kramer reports on why the National League of Cities recently recognized East Haven’s neighbor, New Haven, for a public safety program geared to immigrant populations, and explores other best practices for communities experiencing demographic shifts.