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Episode 1: You're not welcome here
In the early 2000s, Arizona’s rapid population growth and investor speculation fueled a homebuilding binge in the state.
Contractors took advantage of a lax employment-verification system and hired undocumented workers at a cut rate, often from Mexico, in droves.
At its peak, Arizona proportionately had the second-largest undocumented population of any state in the country, behind only Nevada. About one in 12 residents was undocumented.
Consumers and businesses liked the low-cost labor. But not everyone liked the changing demographics of their neighborhoods.
State legislators tried to address the issue, but critics called the attempts piecemeal. Congress failed multiple times at passing immigration reform.
An economic recession, a dramatic citizen’s arrest and a tragic death exacerbated tensions.
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