HAZLETON, Pa. — For the past decade, this struggling city has been the epicenter for an explosive national debate over immigration. On Tuesday, the issue naturally was front and center.
Once a bustling and tight-knit community where folks kept their doors unlocked and their mouths shut, Hazleton is a changed town. Since the early 1990s, much has happened: An influx of Latinos, here both legally and illegally, has altered the landscape permanently.
You've heard of Hazleton lately in a positive sense — it's the hometown of world champion Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who never misses an opportunity to name-check his birthplace in national interviews.
Hazleton is now a swing city in what has suddenly become a swing state, with 20 electoral votes. Pennsylvania, which hadn't gone Republican in a presidential race since 1988, provided the decisive victory that put Donald Trump over the top.
Luzerne County is traditionally Democratic, but Trump has drawn massive crowds here, and his signs dot lawns throughout the area.
Crime in the eastern Pennsylvania city now is now a daily fact of life. Neighbors no longer know each others' names. A sense of resentment, fear and anger pervades.
Amid it all is the election. Hazleton has been profiled by numerous national media organizations (including CNBC.com) during the campaign.
Voters here flocked to the polls on Tuesday, each looking to make their own little statement about how they see the future of their town, and their country. The lines at the polls stretched around blocks, the different races and ethnic groups standing in single file waiting to exercise their right.