• Story

    The strike that changed a town

    The Hormel meatpacking strike that tore apart Austin in the '80s, eventually transformed the demographics of the southeastern Minnesota town.

    Full feature»

  • Story

    Settling in Austin

    After the Hormel strike, immigrant workers moved to Austin for the meatpacking jobs. Austin is struggling with its own identity as a place that is now home to a growing Latino population.

    Full feature»

  • Story

    Fear and nostalgia in a changing city

    Immigrant workers continue to come to Austin seeking a better life. But the community is rife with tensions over cultural collisions and illegal immigrantion.

    Full feature»

  • Video

    Bridging the gap

    Jorge Pozos owns a popular taco truck in Austin. He’s watched communities and cultures collide in other Midwest cities, but says the process of mutual accommodation is not impossible.

    Watch video»

History of the Hormel strike

Hormel strike

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Hormel labor strike that tore apart the town of Austin. Read the story »

Audio: Austin residents share their perspectives on immigration

Mayor Tom Stiehm

Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm

"I never said I was going to have an effort to kick people out. I said I was going to do whatever is best for Austin."

When a husband faces deportation


"You live thinking about what could happen to you, or what could happen to someone in your family."

Dustin Heckman, Mower County Historical Society

Dustin Heckman

"You don't have as many migrant workers coming to this area. They're coming to permanently stay here. "

Where is Austin, Minnesota?

Sister Ruth Snyder

Sister Ruth Snyder

"The elderly population, I don't think they realize they need these younger families."

Officer Eric Blust

Officer Eric Blust

"Is it right that somebody is here illegally? I don't know. But is it right how we're enforcing it, too?"

Former P-9 union members


"They had a wing ding here for Cinco de Mayo and there wasn't one damn word published about Syttende Mai yesterday for the Norwegians."

About the project

Elizabeth Baier

MPR’s Elizabeth Baier reports on the changing demographics in southeastern Minnesota. She has focused on how small-town nostalgia plays out when big, global issues come to town. Her interest in rural immigration inspired “Austin at a Crossroads.”

Broadcast editor: Kate Smith
Web editor: Jennifer Ehrlich
Photographer: Jeffrey Thompson
Web producers: Nathaniel Minor, Elliot deBruyn, Than Tibbetts
Audio Archivists: Sylvia Mohn and Jenel Farrell