Social, Economic and Symbolic Ties: An Analysis of Transnationalism In Mexican Communities By Stephen J.


A Thesis Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

Arizona State University December 2000


Mass migration flows result from structural causes such as international wage differentials, relative stability of employment in destination countries, relative deprivation in sending countries and historical linkages between sending and receiving nations. Migration is equally a social phenomenon that affects individuals, families and whole communities who build and maintain social webs or networks across great physical and political boundaries, and even generations. Regardless of the kind of migration flow, migrant communities in the destination country maintain real and symbolic connections to their home countries, while simultaneously developing ties that bind them to the receiving country. This study proposes a twofold approach for analyzing these ties. First, by means of secondary data analysis, this study looks at reported social and economic ties of Mexican migrants to both sending and receiving contexts. The analyses establish patterns of settlement, circulation and return in Mexican migration flows and identifies several of the key variables that influence decisions of migrants in following one of these migration strategies. After establishing these patterns and influences, and confirming the existence of a dynamic community with constant trans-border movement, the study turns to an analysis of transnational social fields observed in the Phoenix area. Through a series of interviews with Mexican migrants in the Phoenix area, there emerges an image of transnational kinship groups, transnational labor circuits, and formation of a transnational community in which migrants have similar social and economic ties, as well as shared symbolic ties to the homeland and host communities.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT............................................................................................................................................2 PART ONE – INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................6 THEORETICAL VIEWPOINT FOR THE STUDY ..................................................................................... 6 TRANSNATIONALISM AND TRANSNATIONAL SOCIAL FIELDS.............................................................. 7 RECENT STUDIES OF TRANSNATIONAL FIELDS ............................................................................... 10 IMPACT OF TRANSNATIONAL TIES ................................................................................................. 20 O VERVIEW OF THE CURRENT STUDY ............................................................................................. 22 RESEARCH H YPOTHESES............................................................................................................... 23 PART TWO – SETTLEMENT, CIRCULATION AND RETURN: AN ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC TIES .................................................................................................................... 25 INTRODUCTION AND APPROACH ................................................................................................... 25 D ATA AND METHODS ................................................................................................................26 . . . D ESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS – BACKGROUND CHARACTERISTICS ................................ ........................... 30 D ESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS – SOCIAL AND E CONOMIC TIES ................................................................. 34 REGRESSION ANALYSIS – D URATION OF STAY ................................ ................................ ................ 40 REGRESSION ANALYSIS – CIRCULATION......................................................................................... 46 REGRESSION ANALYSIS – ACQUISITION OF LONG-TERM LEGAL STATUS ................................ ........... 50 CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................................. 52 INTRODUCTION ................................ ............................... ............................... ..........................53 . . . SOURCE OF D ATA................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 55 THE RECEIVING CONTEXT ........................................................................................................57 . . . Hispanics in the United States.....................................................................................................................................57 Mexican Migrants in the Phoenix Area.......................................................................................................................59 THE MIGRATION E XPERIENCE...................................................................................................... 61 Motivation for Migration and Plans for Settlement, Circulation and Return .................................................................61 Experiences in the Receiving Context ...........................................................................................................................68 SOCIAL AND FAMILY TIES ............................................................................................................. 70 Ties to Mexico .............................................................................................................................................................70 Ties to the United States ..............................................................................................................................................73 E CONOMIC TIES........................................................................................................................... 79 SYMBOLIC TIES ............................................................................................................................ 80 TRANSNATIONAL SOCIAL FIELDS .................................................................................................. 86

Transnational Kinship Groups.....................................................................................................................................87 Transnational Circuits .................................................................................................................................................88 Transnational Communities .........................................................................................................................................89 Conclusions ..................................................................................................................................................................91 PART FOUR - SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS.......................................................................... 95 REFERENCES.................................................................................................................................... 98 APPENDIX A - TEXT OF FLYER .................................................................................................. 103 APPENDIX B - VERBAL CONSENT SCRIPT .............................................................................. 104 APPENDIX C - QUESTIONNAIRE ............................................................................................... 105 APPENDIX D - US AND MEXICO NETWORK TIES ...................................................................110


Theoretical Viewpoint for the Study Studies show that mass migration flows are set off as a result of structural causes such as international wage differentials, relative stability of employment in destination countries, relative deprivation in sending countries and historical linkages between sending and receiving nations (respectively Todaro and Maruszko 1987; Stark and Bloom 1985; Stark et al. 1986, 1988; Portes and Walton 1981, Petras 1981, Sassen 1988, and Morawska 1990, as cited in Massey et al. 1998). Yet, structural explanations are not sufficient alone to explain the continued and growing global population movements of today. Contemporary theories hold that migration is equally a social phenomenon that affects individuals, families and whole communities who build and maintain social webs or networks across great physical, political boundaries, and even generations (Massey 1987; Massey et al.1993). Moreover, migration is not a fixed and immutable phenomenon, but one that eventually goes through transformations resulting in entirely different forms and processes of population movement (Massey et al.1993; Robert et al.1999). For instance, individuals who initially begin as circular labor migrants, or even refugees, often settle in the host country and propel further migration through family reunification. Likewise, those who may have emigrated with settlement in mind may, upon discovering the receiving context is not as idyllic as originally supposed, return to the home country or relocate to a third country. Regardless of the kind of migration flow, migrant communities in the destination country maintain real and symbolic connections to their home countries, while simultaneously developing ties that bind them to the receiving country. The resulting social structure is what has been termed transnationalism and has come to the fore in recent years as one of the effects of globalization,

7 expansion of modern capitalistic markets into peripheral nations and continued migration to core nations such as the United States.

Transnationalism and Transnational Social Fields Much theoretical debate has occurred around the nature of transnationalism. While some choose to discuss transnationalism as a unique and new social space, distinct from both sending and receiving cultures, this study chooses to treat it as a midpoint between the culture of the homeland and complete acculturation to the majority social group. In this social space created between the two extremes we find both a mixing of cultural activities and the potential for a truly new social space. Whether or not the genesis of this new social field occurs may depend upon the level of continued migration, circulation between homeland and immigration countries, the nature of exit and reception, and the preservation of culture in the future generations. Thus, cultural outcomes in the context of reception have been treated as a continuum with transnationalism occurring somewhere between the extremes of cultural isolation1 and complete assimilation and acculturation. There has always been some level of circular movement between countries and even a few historic transnational communities, resulting from diasporas and expatriate enclaves, that combine elements from the home and host societies (Portes et al. 1999). Recent studies in transnationalism have therefore focused not on whether transnationalism and the emergence of transnational social fields are something new or unique, but rather, if they have become more “regular,” “routinized” and “institutionalized” (Portes et al. 1999). Portes et al. point out that:


This outcome would possibly be concentrated in ethnic enclaves if no opportunity for return migration exist.


8 For all their significance, early transnational economic and political enterprises were not normative or even common among the vast majority of immigrants, nor were they under girded by the thick web of regular instantaneous communication and easy personal travel that we encounter today (Portes et al.1999). The question then is - how has the migration process changed in recent years such that today’s migrants are no longer simply assimilated into the mainstream, or alternatively isolated from the majority in small enclaves, but rather have options such as “cultural pluralism” (Gordon 1964, as discussed in Alba and Nee 1997) and the development of hybrid transnational identities? This trend has been explained as a result of the growing effects of globalization, including improved accessibility to communication and transportation, as well as the increased scope and complexity of networks of legal and illegal migration. The concept of transnationalism combines historical concepts of cultural blends and hybrids and includes elements such as biculturalism, bilingualism, reinforcement of national identity in the exterior (i.e. trans-local solidarity), as well as social, political, and economic practices that are transacted by migrants across national boundaries (Bamyeh 1993; Glick-Schiller et al.1995). However, debate does exist within the community studying transnationalism as to its exact definition. While Alejando Portes has delimited the study of transnationalism to transnational entrepreneurial activities and other “occupations and activities that require regular and sustained social contacts over time across national borders” (Portes et al. 1999), Steven Vertovec has taken a somewhat broader perspective. Vertovec explains transnationalism as being: A condition in which, despite great distances and notwithstanding the presence of international borders (and all the laws, regulations and national narratives they represent), certain kinds of relationships have been globally intensified and now take place paradoxically in a planet-spanning yet common – however virtual – arena of activity (Vertovec 1999).


9 This definition implies the existence of a transnational field or milieu in which transnational identities are shaped. Consistent with this characterization of transnationalism, Bryan R. Roberts et al. operationalize the concept of border-spanning relationships in their study of Mexican migrants communities in Austin, Texas (Roberts et al. 1999). They choose to define transnational communities as “groupings of immigrants who participate on a routine basis in a field of relationships, practices, and norms that include both places of origin and places of destination” (Roberts et al. 1999). By defining a transnational community in terms of its activities, such as the economic activities Portes describes, and interpersonal connections, Roberts et al. are able to apply the concept of transnationalism to the study of migrant communities Thomas Faist further differentiates between forms of transnationalism in his article Transnationalization in international migration: implications for the study of citizenship and culture, by creating a typology of transnational social spaces (Faist 2000b). Faist identifies three categories of social spaces that transcend national boundaries: transnational kinship groups, transnational circuits and transnational communities. Transnational kingship groups, he explains, rely on reciprocity and familial responsibility to maintain ties to the home community. He includes among the activities for these kinship groups the common practice of remittances of earnings to family in the home country and the mutual support networks provided by family members to the newly arrived migrant in the United States. Transnational circuits also rely on social obligations, but often result in the exploitation of the newly arrived co-nationals by the more established and experienced migrants. Common language and cultural practices form the ties that link migrants in transnational circuits. Transnational circuits often include entrepreneurial activities such as formal and informal courier services, money transfers, check cashing, and the establishments that offer goods and services for the consumption of co-nationals (see “ethnic enclaves” Portes 1990; Massey et al. 1994). 9

10 Transnational communities, on the other hand, are characterized by a collective solidarity in which shared “ideas, beliefs, evaluations and symbols” are demonstrated in a common collective identity. In the US context, this solidarity may take the form of what has alternately been called ‘resilient ethnicity,’ ‘reactive formation’ and ‘reactive ethnicity’ (Portes and Rumbaut 1990; Popkin 1999) as well as a mobilization of resources and individuals around abstract symbolic ties to the home country such as nationalism, religion, and culture (Faist 2000b). Thus, transnationalism and transnational social fields are one of the possible outcomes of mass migration in which some form of social, economic or symbolic ties are maintained with the homeland and where some kind of international circulation is present (either by individuals themselves, stand-ins of some kind such as couriers, or “virtual” return through communication technologies). As indicated, these transnational activities and identities may take the form of either ‘hybrids’ of home and destination practices (Glick-Schiller et al.1995) or the creation of an entirely new practices and identities as a response to the receiving community (Popkin 1999; Nagengast and Kearney 1990; Guarnizo 1997). Furthermore, the form, degree, strength, and frequency of contact with the homeland may influence the manifestation of the individual migrant's transnational identity, as well as define the social milieu of the receiving context.

Recent Studies of Transnational Fields In the past two decades specifically, there has been a significant upsurge in the magnitude, complexity, and regularity of transnational communities (Portes 1999; Roberts et al.1999). Consequently, many migration researchers have studied evolving transnational communities such as: Columbian migrants in New York and Los Angeles and their transnational economic, social and 10

11 political involvement (Guarnizo and Diaz 1999), transnational economic enterprises of Salvadoran refugee groups in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. (Landolt et al. 1999), emergence of transnational “social spaces” among Turks living in Germany (Faist 2000), social networks among Salvadoran migrants in San Francisco (Menjivar 2000), Guatemalan Mayan church groups in Los Angeles and connection to home villages via clergy (Popkin 1999) and transnational Mexican labor migrants of rural and urban origin in Austin, Texas (Roberts et al. 1999). These studies endeavor to define the theoretical concepts of transnationalism and transnational social spaces, detail the current practices and activities of transnationals, and understand the macro-structural and micro-level characteristics of migration flows that determine the reality of transnational fields. In their study Transnational migration: a view from Colombia, Guarnizo and Diaz define transnationalism as "a web of patterned and sustained migration-driven relations and activities that transcend national borders and connect Colombians residing abroad with their localities of origin" (Guarnizo and Diaz 1999). Their study is a general accounting of economic, political and sociocultural ties that bind Colombians with their country of origin. Data for their study came from sixty structured and unstructured interviews with informants including: returned, visiting and prospective migrants; relatives, friends and neighbors of migrants in the United States; as well as, local community leaders and national government officials in Columbia. After a preliminary analysis of the data, they have determined that both the sending and receiving contexts, in addition to the initial social capital of the migrant, play a significant role in determining the transnational practices of migrants. These practices are diverse and distinct and are representative of intra-group ties that are divided by class, ethnicity, and origin: The migration experience results in the transnational identity that either facilitates or hinders migrants’ access to business and other opportunities in both countries. Transnational 11

12 migrants that we call ‘successful,’ experience a stronger cultural and legal sense of transnational identity and less successful migrants. In fact, during our fieldwork, we perceived that the former seemed more likely to be dual US-Colombian citizens and be less ' localized' than their less fortunate counterparts... Conversely, we perceived that those of humbler origins, the fluidity of their identity oscillated between the local (caleno, paisa), the national (Columbian), and transnational (dual US – Colombian citizen at most). Apparently, the better-off migrants tend to acquire, as it were, a ‘global,’ less localized sense of identity, whereas the majority seemed to have a more localized, ‘translocal’ sense of identity (Guarnizo and Diaz 1999). Guarnizo and Diaz also note that migrants’ transnational activities depend not only on social capital, but also on the context of reception. They observe differences in the degree and intensity of transnational activities in New York and Los Angeles. Guarnizo and Diaz detailed transnational practices that illustrate economic, political and socio-cultural ties. They listed among economic transnational practices the high level of monetary remittances from migrants in the United States, the lucrative network of the transnational drug trade, and the practices of transnational entrepreneurs. They note that the most successful transnational entrepreneurs were university educated, spoke English well, were lights skinned, and from upper-middle and middle-class families, illustrating the importance of social and human capital. Among the transnational political practices they listed were political rallies in the United States for Columbian candidates, recent changes in Columbian law giving migrants abroad the right to vote and even run in elections in Columbia, and even a push for a ‘special district’ in the United States with representatives to the Senate. In fact, in 1998 Guarnizo and Diaz point out that at least five candidates, who were residents in the United States, ran for seats within the Colombians Senate with one dual citizen winning a spot. Finally, they highlight socio-cultural ties such as the frequent visits by folklore dance groups, professional and amateur soccer teams, popular singers, orchestras, to the United States. They note that maintenance of cultural ties also occurs from the two-way flow of 12

13 visiting relatives and friends during Columbia holidays, the small local radio and TV stations in the United States owned by Columbia networks and the distribution of Colombian newspapers and magazines in the United States. In the article From Hermano Lejano to Hermano Mayor: the dialectics of Salvadoran transnationalism, Landolt, Autler and Baires maintain that the nature of exit and the unsympathetic reception in the United States of Salvadoran refugees helped to determine the “ propensity, complexity and stability” of Salvadoran transnationalism (Landolt et al. 1999). In the case of El Salvador, they explain, circular labor migration to neighboring countries has existed for more than a century. But, it is the circumstances of the departure of almost twenty percent of the population during the civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s that has given migrants "a deep sense of social obligation towards their places of origin" (Landolt et al. 1999, see also Menjivar 2000). These refugees came to the United States with the mentality of one day returning to their home country. Additionally, the xenophobic social climate of the United States and ensuing legal and political battle with the government created a sense of solidarity among Salvadoran migrants: The uncertainties of war and a negative reception in the US conspire to push migrants to maintain ties with their place of origin at a time when the dynamics of the world capitalist system make the maintenance of transnational relations feasible and thus transnational households surprisingly functional (Landolt et al. 1999). In their study, Landolt et al. detail the importance of remittances and other economic ties to the home country. They devise a typology of transnational economic enterprises for use in the analysis of Salvadoran transnationalism. This typology distinguishes between the formal and informal and micro, small and medium-sized transnational entrepreneurial practices. They categorize these practices as circuit enterprises, cultural enterprises, ethnic enterprises, returned 13

14 migrant micro-enterprises, and transnational expansion enterprises. Circuit enterprises are defined as both formal and informal couriers who circulate between the United States and El Salvador carrying letters, cash, goods, and information. The informal viajeros rely on social networks and informal agreements with their customers, while more formal organizations such as ‘Gigante Express’ are primarily known as remittance agencies and shipping services.3 Cultural enterprises on the other hand promote national identity among Salvadorans by providing content and information from the home country. "Cultural enterprises include both ventures the producer distributes Salvadoran mass media such as newspapers, radio and TV programming, and businesses that producer distributes Salvadoran beverages and comestibles" (Landolt et al. 1999). While providing cultural content, many of the mass media venues also provide a stage for political factions with interests in migrants abroad. Ethnic enterprises include primarily small businesses that act as middlemen in ethnic neighborhoods within the United States. This classification includes convenience stores, restaurants, small retail shops, mechanics and street vendors. These businesses rely on a supply of imports from El Salvador to remain economically viable. Returned migrant micro-enterprises on the other hand are businesses located in El Salvador that offer goods in services and are dependent on real economic and human capital acquired abroad. However, as Landolt et al. point out, of include given the incapacity to stimulate capital, the so-called returned migrant entrepreneurs migration cycle is really broken, challenging the conceptual distinction between permanent, returned and cyclical migration" (Landolt et al. 1999). The final category within the typology is that of transnational expansion enterprises. These include new and established Salvadoran companies with transnational marketing and production of goods. These companies are


Note that all of these enterprises would fall under the category of transnational circuits in Faist’s typology.


15 able to take advantage of immigrant settlements in the United States because of their strong cultural and social bonds El Salvador. The practice of what the authors call "targeted globalization" (Landolt et al. 1999). In the case of Salvadorans transnationalism, however, the authors discuss not only an erosion of social boundaries brought about by increase contact between two cultures, such as with other transnational fields, but also a dialectical process between displaced migrants and social elite. Landolt et al. examine how the economic enterprises lead to subsequent political undertakings of transnational entrepreneurs who challenge the established élites and create a discourse that further shapes the nature of a transnational Salvadoran identity: Salvadoran migrants' transnational practices quickly extended beyond the bounds of the household. As transnational economic enterprises and political projects blossomed, they elicited more focused and strategic responses from institutions and power holders in El Salvador. In effect, the case of Salvadoran transnationalism suggests that transnational engagements of grassroots and élites has cumulative transformatory effects because each exchange and interaction appears to sharpen the transnational acumen for dialogue, competition, collaboration, and co-optation of all the players (Landolt et al. 1999). In his article, Guatemalan Mayan migration to Los Angeles: constructing transnational linkages in the context of the settlement process, Eric Popkin explains how the relative ease and affordability of personal travel today is not a universal privilege for all migrant groups, especially as the United States attempts to limit the number of migrants entering the country. He recognizes the recent more prohibitive legal climate for migrants and rising cost of illegal migration and suggests that there is a need, "to explore further the relationship between settlement and transnationalism and determine how migrants maintain transnational connections in contexts in which their physical mobility is limited" (Popkin 1999).

See also Itzigsohn et al. Mapping Dominican transnationalism: narrow and broad transnational practices (1999)


16 In the case of Kanjobal Mayan migrants in Los Angeles, linkages are maintained through the Mayan Catholic Church4, traditional Guatemalan musical groups, an all-Mayan soccer league, as well as transnational governmental organizations such as the Guatemalan Unity Information Agency (Popkin 1999). Popkin's study implies that there is little need, once the migrant community has reached a critical mass, for physical movement of migrants between home community and host community. Consequently, the importance of continued physical movement of migrants between countries as well as the impact of circular migrants on the development of a transnational identity in future generations of the settled community need to be further explored. He explains: As the Kanjobal migrants increasingly settle in Los Angeles, they cope with extensive discrimination by linking with the growing Pan-Mayan movement and by maintaining connections with their familial households and among. This process generates a response by actors affiliated with the Guatemalan state and church and outcome consistent with Salvadoran case examined by Landolt and associates [1999]. Engaging in dialogue with the consult and AFG [Guatemalan Unity Information Agency] to an interesting extensively with the church in Santa Eulalia [Guatemala], though Kanjobal migrant organizations have more access to Guatemalan state and home country institutions in individual members enjoyed prior to migration. This finding suggests that limits to physical mobility of migrants due to the receiving state immigration policies do not necessarily preclude the establishment of migrant linkages with home country (Popkin 1999). This reaction to the general discrimination against recent migrants in Los Angeles and a distancing from other Latino groups is what has been previously mentioned as ‘reactive ethnicity.’ Popkin finds in his interviews and investigation of the Kanjobal population in L.A. a growing belief that social pressures threaten their identity and existence. As limited Spanish speakers, they are uncomfortable among other Latinos, but are often depicted by majority culture as being “plagued by crime, gang activity and persistent poverty” that affect other Hispanic groups in California (Popkin

for a discussion of formal and informal transnational entrepreneurial activities. 4 Only the priests return annually to the home communities in Guatemala and, with congregational support, organize various relief activities such as fund-raising for hospitals and clinics in the hometowns of the parishioners.


17 1999). In reaction to these pressures members of the community have organized to promote the culture, language, and social causes of Kanjobal Mayans and to strengthen ties to the home community. In another study, Transnational migrant communities and Mexican migration to the US, Roberts, Frank and Lozano-Ascencio explain that macro-structural changes in patterns of migration systems, as well as the individual characteristics of today's migrants, have created a new dynamic in transnational fields. After giving a historic account of Mexican - US migration sense the early 1900s, the authors determine that there are three general patterns of migration flows to the United States: a temporary migratory system, permanent settlement patterns, and a growing transnational system.5 They do, however, explain that these three systems are interconnected: The three systems and migration operate simultaneously to shape Mexico-US migration and are by no means mutually exclusive. They are likely to be associated with differences in migrant characteristics... The differences in human and social capital result in disparate rates of access to opportunities in the sending and receiving labor markets, which is reflected in different patterns of migration, such as those embodied in temporary, permanent, or transnational migration systems (Roberts et al. 1999). The temporary migration system, also known as circular labor migration, is based on the structural economic differences of labor markets in the two countries. Characteristic of earlier migration flows from specific sending regions of Central Western Mexico to seasonal agricultural jobs in the United States, the temporary migration system depends on wage differentials and lack of employment opportunity in the home community. As legislative changes during the 1980s and '90s (1986 Immigration Reform Act and 1996 Welfare Reform and Immigration Acts), legalized formerly undocumented, temporary labor migrants they lead to settlement and increased immigration as a result of family unification policies.


18 Permanent migration systems also rely on the lack of opportunities in the home country and are a cumulative result (see "cumulative causation" in Massey 1987) of previous migration flows. Roberts et al. explain, "scarcity of jobs and declines in real income for the rural population and for the poorest 40 percent of the urban population make it increasingly difficult to find a stable subsistence base in either countryside or city" (Roberts et al. 1999). Additionally, they make clear that recent increases in border enforcement have also resulted in less circulation, and more permanent settlement as undocumented migrants find the relative risks and costs associated with border crossing are too high to justify frequent return trips. Transnational migratory systems are explained as the result of the "return pull of sending communities and retaining power of receiving communities" (Roberts et al. 1999). The authors explain that this system is dependent on social and economic ties between individuals in the place of origin and destination. Differences exist in the form and degree of transnational activities based on characteristics of the individual migrants such as social and human capital, gender, and the nature of sending receiving communities. Yet, they attribute the growth of these activities to "the ease of communication between Mexico in the US, with a large and relatively permeable land border, good road, rail and air connections, and relatively inexpensive and extensive telecommunication links" (Roberts et al. 1999). After demonstrating the existence of these three systems, which operate simultaneously in today’s Mexico - US migration flows, they turn their attention to a comparison of urban migrants from Mexico City and rural migrants from San Gregorio to Austin, Texas. Here they emphasize the importance of Austin and other cities in the border area as a binational zone of increasing economic and social ties, which has amplified the significance of transnationalism. Paraphrasing other studies (Bustamante 1989; Villa 1994; Veléz-Ibánez 1996; Spencer and Roberts 1998), they explain that: Accounts make clear that the inhabitants on either side of the border are highly interconnected socially and economically, operate internationally, and retain a strong sense of nationality and a difference from the other side. For many inhabitants of these border


While temporary and permanent migration systems correspond, in part, to Faist’s transnational kinship groups and circuits, the transnational migration systems of Roberts et al. fits with Faist’s transnational communities.


19 communities, their activities and identities are based on a single community, that of the border (Roberts et al. 1999). Consistent with the other studies listed here, they find both small and large-scale transnational entrepreneurial activities, community-based transnational linkages (especially among rule migrants and centered on church activities), and growing transnational political involvement. They find among rural migrants a stronger sense of identity and community: San Gregorians travel back to Mexico frequently, particularly at the end of the year to participate in the Feria Anual. This persistent contact with their town of origin is based on factors such as family commitments, continuing interest in property there, and the possibility of eventual return. There economic and social marginality in Austin reinforces the group identity... The strong linkages among people in San Gregorio's community contrast with the week ties among Mexico City migrants. People from San Gregorio are a homogeneous group in terms of their levels education and types of jobs in Mexico and in the United States. In contrast, migration for Mexico City is heterogeneous in terms of social class, education and labor skills, and internal and international migration experience (Roberts et al. 1999). A further aspect of migration that must be understood in the discussion of transnationalism is the migrant's orientation toward the homeland and propensity for eventual return. In a 1997 report for the California Public Policy Institute, Belinda Reyes analyzed data provided by the Mexican Migration Project (MMP)6, which tracked legal and illegal immigrants from Western Mexico and found that almost 70 percent of all immigrants in the sample returned within 10 years (Reyes 1997). Though intention doesn’t always becomes a reality due to distance, political difficulties in the homeland and simply becoming “established” in the host community (Moltmann 1980; Massey 1987; Schniedewind 1993; Yang 1999), homeland orientation does give the researcher a clue as to the socio-psychological reasons for the development of an identity that is distinct from the receiving context and manifests outwardly many of the cultural and social practices of the homeland. Between


The same data set used for the following analysis with focus made on circulation and settlement.


20 departure and eventual (intended) return, immigrants to the United States are faced with the complex social negotiations of determining what it is to be the newcomer in an already multicultural and multiethnic country.7

Impact of Transnational Ties Transnational ties have a significant impact on the home community and the receiving locale. The economic ties to the homeland through remittances and savings of labor migrants in the United States have provided capital to bolster the economies of farming villages, allowed migrant families to invest in land or businesses, and afforded relatives the opportunity to join family members in the United States (Massey 1987; Massey et al. 1994; Guarnizo and Diaz 1999; Landolt et al. 1999; Portes 1999). The economic and political power of the transnational populations in the United States has had significant influence on the homeland at the state level as well (Guarnizo and Diaz 1999). In an effort to maintain the strength of ties to the homeland, on March 20, 1998 Mexico granted dual citizenship to its expatriate community, thus allowing them the rights of owning property, traveling back and forth between Mexico and the United States, and voting in national election while acquiring US citizenship (see Roberts et al. 1999 for further implications). Similarly, the Philippines have encouraged emigrants to maintain social and economic ties with the home country, and have come to depend on the earnings of its expatriate community (McCarthy 1994). In yet another case, Taiwan has actively courted well-trained engineers, doctors, scientists and other professionals to either return or to maintain transnational ties with the home country by means of


Return rates are actually quite low for most sending countries. As many studies have shown, other factors such as length of stay, economic opportunities in destination country and lack of opportunities in home country, marriage, children, age, home ownership, etc. tend to influence the decision to return or settle more.


21 international professional organizations (Swinbanks 1995). These examples illustrate the legitimated status of the expatriate in the homeland. Similarly, transnational communities have provided migrants and their children born in the United States a sense of identity, collective solidarity, and socio-economic mobility while promoting integration into the society of the United States (Landolt et al.1999; Portes 1999). As Roberts et al. explain: Minimally, a transnational field provides immigrants with opportunities and perspectives that are alternatives to committing themselves exclusively either to the new society or to the old. Even those relatively settled in United States retain active ties with their communities and margin to sending remittances back, returning for celebrations, and helping fellow-terms people to migrate (Roberts et al. 1999). As this review of recent studies of transnational fields makes clear, several issues must be considered in future studies of transnationalism. Various categories of transnational economic, social and political activities and practices have been established as well as the growing influences of transnational communities abroad on political and social institutions in the homeland. In the study by Landolt et al., as well as in the piece by Eric Popkin, the progression of a dialogue between grassroots associations and political and social elites has been observed in the dialectical process of the formation of transnational identities. In these articles, the nature of the migrant’s exit from the homeland is also seen as helping to determine his or her orientation toward and solidarity with those left in the homeland. Guarnizo and Diaz, among others, have demonstrated that the success of transnational migrants in the receiving context is determined, in part, by social and human capital as well as the economic and political climate of sending and receiving countries. The context of reception has also been important in shaping the identity of transnational migrants as seen in Popkin’s explanation of reactive ethnicity. Roberts et al. have shown that the urban/rural nature of 21

22 the sending community may be influential in determining the strength of ties among migrants and to their homeland. Roberts et al. also establish the distinctive nature of the border area as a geographic region of strong economic and social transborder ties. Finally, transnationalism has been shown to have implications and influences in both the emigration and immigration countries as it forces governments to deal with the concept of legal and de facto dual-citizenship, political and economic influence of transnationals and the two-way traffic of human talent and economic capital.

Overview of the Current Study Inherent in transnational social fields is a detachment from the spatially bound ties of nationalism and an increased importance of the maintenance of social, economic and symbolic ties across national boundaries. This study proposes a twofold approach for analyzing these ties. First, by means of secondary data analysis using conventional statistical regression techniques, this study looks at reported social and economic ties of Mexican migrants to both sending and receiving contexts. The analyses establish patterns of settlement, circulation and return in Mexican migration flows and identifies several of the key variables that influence decisions of migrants in following one of these migration strategies. After establishing these patterns and influences, and confirming the existence of a dynamic community with constant trans-border movement the study turns to an analysis of transnational social fields observed in the Phoenix area. Through a series of interviews with documented and undocumented Mexican migrants, there emerges an image of transnational kinship groups, transnational labor circuits, and formation of a transnational community in which migrants have similar social and economic ties, as well as shared symbolic ties to the homeland and host communities. These symbolic ties, which are manifested in cultural practices, language use and 22

23 the perception of a common identity, bind migrants to communities on both sides of the border and to each other as the form a hybrid culture with elements from the United States and Mexico.

Research Hypotheses Table 1 demonstrates the principal hypotheses that are used in forming the models explored in the analyses of settlement, circulation and return in part two. First, migrants with weak social and economic ties to Mexico and strong social and economic ties in the United States are expected to have longer duration of stay and highest probability of acquiring long-term legal status (H1). According to the second proposition, migrants with both strong or medium social and economic ties to Mexico and strong or medium social and economic ties to the United States will have greater rates of circulation between countries (H2). Finally, return is gauged as the inverse of hypothesis 1: Migrants with strong social and economic ties to Mexico and weak social and economic ties to the Table 1- Social And Economic Ties
Mexico Low High/Mid. High US High High/Mid. Low Outcome Settlement Circulation Return

United States will have shorter duration of stay and lowest probability of acquiring long-term legal status (H3). By comparing the relative strength of real social and economic ties to Mexico with the social and economic relations that bind the individual to the United States, it may be shown which migrants are most likely to assimilate to the dominate culture, seek isolated enclaves (or return migrate), or become members of transnational communities. Once the context of Mexican - US migrant flows has been explored, the study turns, in part three, to a qualitative analysis of transnational fields in the Phoenix area. These social fields are 23

24 observed in interviews with individual cases of migrants who demonstrate varying degrees of social, economic and, most importantly, symbolic ties with Mexico and the United States. Table 2 demonstrates the hypothesis that migrants with relatively weak symbolic ties to Mexico and strong symbolic ties in the United States will have higher propensity for acculturation and social integration (H4), while migrants with strong symbolic ties to Mexico and weak symbolic ties to the United States will have more formulated plans of return and least integration into majority culture (H5). Correspondingly, migrants with both strong/medium symbolic ties to Mexico and strong/

Table 2- Symbolic Ties in Context of Destination
Mexico Low High High/Mid. US High Low High/Mid. Outcome Acculturation Isolation Transnationalism

medium symbolic ties to the United States will have dual modes of social interaction (dependent on setting), higher rates of bilingualism, social integration into both dominant culture and enclave (or homeland) culture (H6).



Introduction and Approach Transnational ties have a significant impact on the home community and the receiving locale. Economic ties such as remittances and entrepreneurial activities influence the dialectical process between transnationals abroad and the emigration country. Moreover, as the economic and political power of the transnational populations in the United States has increased in recent years, a significant influence on the homeland and the on debate about the nature of citizenship, nationality and collective identity has resulted. Contemporary studies hold that migrants are individual actors embedded within social networks and the macro-structural context of international migration flows (Faist 2000a; Massey et al 1998; Portes 1997). Their decisions to permanently or semi-permanently migrate (settle), circulate between countries, and the potentiality for return migration are influenced by the strength of their social and economic ties to their homelands as well as to the receiving contexts in which they now live. In the article, entitled The study of transnationalism: pitfalls and promise of an emergent research field, Portes et al., define the proper unit of analysis for researchers studying transnationalism as, "the individual and his/her support networks." However, they also recognize the importance of larger institutions (communities, economic enterprises, political parties, etc) as having an impact on the construction of a transnational identity (Portes et al. 1999). Portes et al. determine that as a relatively new study, transnational inquiry should focus on the individual level and observe how the aggregate levels are constructed from the micro-level upward (Portes et al. 1999). 25

26 For these reason, this analysis has made use of recent data on Mexican migration that looks at individual migrants within the context of the family and social network. By observing the strength of real social and economic transnational ties that bind individual Mexican migrants to their homeland and to the United States, it may be determined which migrants have a higher propensity for settlement, circulation, or return. The varying degrees of social and economic commitment to Mexico and the definite pragmatic links to the United States, such as relatively higher paying jobs, better living conditions and the presence of family and friends, are found to be impacted by intervening variables such as English ability, educational attainment, and documentation status. Thus, these variables are considered also as this study attempts to better understand the factors that influence the transnational migrant networks and the choice to either settle, circulate or return. As one of the overall goals of this study is to establish the relative importance of various social ties as factors which influence the development of transnational social spaces as they occur somewhere between settlement and potential return, it is vital to establish their importance first in the broader migration flows between Mexico and the United States. By determining which ties are of most relative importance in determining the migration outcomes, analysis of subsequent qualitative data may focus on those ties which are shown to be most significant and, if found to be of importance in the qualitative study, reinforce the explanatory power of both approaches.

Data and Methods Data analyzed in this portion of the study came from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP). The MMP, created in 1982, is an ongoing bi-national research project jointly directed by Jorge Durand of the University of Guadalajara, Mexico and Douglas S. Massey of the University of Pennsylvania. To date, data has been collected from 52 representative sending communities in 26

27 western Mexico [Figure 1] and key receiving locations in United States. During its 18-year history, the MMP has randomly surveyed over 7,000 households in Mexico and an additional 500 households in the United States in non-random "snowball" samples of 10 to 20 out-migrants from each sending community. Surveys in Mexico are conducted in the December and January to capitalize on migrants returning for the holidays. US surveys are completed the following summer in the months of July and August (Mexican Migration Project 1999). Semi-structured interviews are carried out to gather demographic information on family members in a given household and to record migration experiences for each of the family members. Aggregate data on household characteristics including properties, businesses, livestock, and land owned by the families are collected in a database of household information (HOUSFILE). Life histories for all household heads are collected during these interviews. Information on border crossing, social ties in US, and other characteristics of the individual' s migration experience are used to compile a data file of individuals with


28 Figure 1- Sending Communities in Western Mexico

migration experience (MIGFILE). Interviews with local informants are used as a means of validating information provided in surveys and additional files on community, regional and national characteristics for use in community level analyses are assembled in supplemental files (Mexican Migration Project 1999). Several problems with this dataset must be acknowledged. First, although it contains a representative sample of select sending communities in western Mexico, the data from the MMP is not representative of all Mexican migrants. Additionally, the principal data file used in this analysis (MIGFILE) relies on information from household heads and therefore over-represents older undocumented male (95.3%) labor migrants [Figure 2]. Moreover, the subset of US interviews is a non-representative sample of migrants from western Mexico who are on average slightly younger (mean age of 38.6 years) than those sampled in Mexico (mean age of 48.1 years). Additionally, this snowball sample is biased toward those who have maintained contact with the sending community. 28

29 As Belinda Reyes points out in her secondary analysis using this dataset, "the snowball sampling techniques used to gather information about immigrants in the United States may systematically under sample people with little connection to the origin location or people living in nontraditional locations in the United States" (Reyes 1997). Initially, bivariate and descriptive statistics were generated to analyze the nature of the sample and examine the correlations between independent and dependent variables. Subsequent analysis, using multivariate linear and logistic regression techniques to control for the effects of age, education, and documentation status, were performed on variables that define the economic commitment of the migrants to family in Mexico as well as economic and social ties to the receiving context. Dependent variables used as indicators of possible outcomes included number of trips as a means of determining circulation and acquisition of legal status and duration of stay to determine settlement. As previously detailed in part one [Table 1] the principal hypotheses used in forming the regression models for this analysis were:

H 1: Weak social and economic ties to Mexico and strong social and economic ties in the United States will result in longer duration of stay and highest probability of acquiring longterm legal status.

H 2: Migrants with both strong or medium social and economic ties to Mexico and strong or medium social and economic ties to the United States will have greater rates of circulation between countries.


30 H 3: Migrants with strong social and economic ties to Mexico and weak social and economic ties to the United States will have shorter duration of stay and lowest probability of acquiring long-term legal status.

Descriptive Analysis – Background Characteristics Variables for this analysis were selected after careful consideration of the various theories of international migration and a descriptive analysis of variables available in the MMP data files. Central to the selection were the Network Theory of Migration (Massey et al 1987, 1993, 1994, 1998) and The New Economics of Migration (Stark and Bloom 1985; Stark 1988, 1989). Both of these theories recognize the micro and macro influences on the individual migrant’s decision to move and situate the individual within a broader web of family, community and even national ties. Both theories also recognize (to varying degrees) the agency of the individual in the decision making process, but emphasize the influence of meso-level factors that direct the individual actor to migrate permanently, circulate, return or even not to migrate. Characteristics of individual migrants that have been identified as having influence on propensity to migrate, circulate, or return are: sex, age, education, position


31 Figure 3 - Age at Time of First Trip to the U.S.

within the family, relative socio-economic status and access to social and real capital that facilitate the move. As previously mentioned, this dataset is comprised mostly of male head of households. For this reason, the sex of the migrant and role in the household were omitted as control variables. Age of the migrant also becomes problematic as many migrants have returned to settle in Mexico and are no longer involved in the migration cycle. Consequently, controls for age at time of interview [Figure 2] and age at time of first migration experience [Figure 3], an influential variable for determining acculturation, English ability and the development of diverse social ties are included in this study. Education, originally coded as a continuous variable, also posed somewhat of a problem in analysis. Distinct levels of educational attainment were found to have conflicting effects on the dependent variables. Thus, to view these effects more clearly, the variable for number of years of education (EDYEARS) was recoded into five discrete levels of: no education; elementary education 31

32 (one through six years); junior high (seven through nine years); high school (ten through twelve years); and some college (any above thirteen years of education). The majority (62.2%) of respondents in this data file had between one and six years of education (overall mean = 4.6 years). Education was also seen to be negatively correlated with age (Pearson's R of -.406 p<.001). Those migrants who, at the time of the interview, were under thirty-five years old had a mean education of 7.2 years, while those over thirty-five had 3.7 years of education on average. The following cross tabulation [Table 3] explores this relationship in more detail. Another important control variable included in the analysis was English ability, used as a marker for acculturation (in the manner of Gordon 1964 as discussed in Clark 1998 and Alba and Nee 1997). English ability (ENGLISH) was coded as: none (51.9%), understands some English (16.%), understands English well (4.7%), speaks some English (17.7%), and speaks English well (9.0%). Economic success in the host community, acquisition of legal status, and the degree to which the migrant becomes involved in the broader community are all positively related to length of stay, and are all influenced by the level of linguistic proficiency the migrant acquires. However, causal order for English ability and duration of stay in the United States cannot be clearly established as the

Table 3 - Crosstabulation of Educational Attainment by Age
Education None 1-6 years 6-9 years 9-12 years 13+ years % of Total 0-18 -.1% .2% --.1% 18-25 .9% 4.3% 17.9% 18.3% 3.0% 5.9% 25-35 4.5% 20.5% 40.5% 44.5% 50.2% 22.8% Age 35-45 11.2% 26.1% 24.3% 22.5% 31.8% 23.6% 45-55 21.0% 21.3% 10.2% 9.6% 9.5% 18.8% 55-65 27.6% 15.8% 4.4% 4.1% 2.5% 15.2% 65+ 34.9% 11.9% 2.4% .9% 3.0% 13.6% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%


33 dynamic process of learning a language occurs over time spent in the destination country. For this reason, English ability is included in the full model, but omitted in a parallel regression (Model 2 in the multivariate analyses to follow) so that the effects of this variable may be observed. Additionally, English was found to be highly correlated with years of education (Pearson’s R of .416 p<.001), a variable that clearly precedes in temporal order. 8 Thus, the argument may be made that those with a higher educational attainment are better equipped with the human capital to master the task of learning a new language and negotiate the complex social/legal landscape of the destination country. Documentation status on last or current trip (DOCUSL) is the final control variable. Documentation clearly influences the length of stay in the United States. In the case of permanent residence or citizenship, documentation could lengthen the time it is possible to spend in the United States, while visas granted by the earlier Bracero program, limited the amount of time and even number of trips that the migrant may make to the United States. Documentation status was thus defined as: undocumented (56.5%), Bracero (10.7%), SAW (6.5%), tourist visa (6.1%), amnesty (5.0%), permanent resident (14.3%), and citizen (0.9%). Differences in documentation status by place of interview must also be noted. While interviewees in Mexico and the United States were most likely to be undocumented (60.1% and 38.7% respectively), there are higher rates of long-term documentation among migrants interviewed in the US sample [Table 4]. Additionally, there is a problem of null cells in the US sample as those migrants who were last documented under the Bracero program, which lasted from 1942 until 1964, have all returned to Mexico or are presently in the United States under another status. Thought was given to collapsing this group with the SAW program category, as both are short-term labor visas.


34 However, as SAW granted legal status to previously undocumented workers in 1986, the relationship between these legal categories and the outcome variables are found to be quite distinct. In fact, whereas Bracero is negatively correlated with the duration of stay (Pearson’s R of -.199 p<.001), SAW program documentation is

Table 4 - Crosstabulation: Documentation by Place of Interview
Documentation Status Place of Interview Mexico US % of Total Undoc. 60.1% 38.7% 56.5% Bracero 12.8% -10.7% Tourist 6.7% 2.7% 6.1% US Citizen Amnest y .5% 3.1% 2.7% 14.8% .9% 5.0% SAW 6.2% 8.3% 6.5% Perm. Resident 10.6% 32.9% 14.3% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% Total

positively correlated (Pearson’s R of .041p<.001). Therefore these categories were left as independent, discrete designations.

Descriptive Analysis – Social and Economic Ties The research hypothesis for this portion of the analysis is that the greater the real economic and social ties to the host country, the higher the propensity to settle as shown in longer total durations of stay and by acquisition of legal status. Conversely, strong real ties to the home community may result in higher rates of circulation as revealed by the number of trips the migrant has made between countries. Therefore, the variables selected that demonstrate these bonds to both home and host countries are: sum of all family owned land, lots, buildings in Mexico; sum of family owned vehicles in Mexico; sum of family owned businesses in Mexico; monthly remittance to

Interaction variables computed for English and Education and were found to be significant. However, high


35 Mexico; migrant had US bank account; US monthly wage; monthly Rent in US; spouse of migrant on trip to US; kids on trip; total of all relatives in US; number of friends from Mexico in US; migrant membership in formal social groups; diversity of non-familial social ties in US. Strong family ties in Mexico may indicate forces that pull the migrant home and also press the migrant to go abroad so as to “maximize excepted [family] income, but also to minimize risks and to loosen constraints associated with various kinds of market failures” (Stark 1991, as paraphrased by Massey et al. 1998). Measurement of the strength of these family ties becomes difficult with the dataset at hand.9 Thus, family owned property, vehicles and businesses along with remittances from the United States must act as proxies for these attachments. The rationale is that migrants with economic and social obligations in Mexico will remit more money and be more likely to return migrate or circulate if they, or their family, own real property in the home community.10 At the same time, the maintenance of this property, as well as the acquisition of new properties “relative to other households,” may increase the total duration of stay in the country of destination (Stark 1991, in Massey et al. 1998). Descriptive statistics for each of these variables are provided in Table 5. In addition, the following bar chart [Figure 4] also provides some understanding of the degree of monetary commitment the migrant makes to the homeland. With 72.1% of the sample sending remittances (19% of whom remit more than half their monthly earnings), it can be seen as a common aspect of the migration experience.

Variance Inflation Factors (VIF>2.0) indicated model instability. 9 For this reason a companion qualitative study on Mexican immigrants’ symbolic ties to homeland is currently being conducted.

This is the same rationale used by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in granting tourist visas.


36 Table 5 - Descriptive Statistics for Control Variables
Variable Sum of all family owned land, lots, buildings in Mexico Sum of family owned vehicles in Mexico Sum of family owned businesses in Mexico Monthly Remittance to Mexico in dollars Migrant had US bank account Average monthly income in US in dollars Monthly Rent in US in dollars Spouse of migrant on trip to US Kids on trip Number of all family members in US Number of friends (from Mex.) in US Migrant membership in formal social groups in US Diversity of (non-familial) social ties in US Mean 1.13 .69 .45 169 .15 995 146 .18 .27 3.78 6.74 .16 1.55 Std. Deviation .99 .95 .75 275 .35 985 254 .39 .41 4.23 13.77 .42 1.45

Economic ties to the host community were measured by the establishment of a bank account in the United States, average monthly wage in the United States, and the monthly rent while living in the United States. Only 15.3% of the sample reported having established a US based bank account. However, as the above crosstabulation [Table 6] shows, long-term legal migrants had higher frequencies of establishing a bank account than short-term and undocumented migrants. Monthly wages (computed from reported hourly wage on last/current trip times reported number of hours worked per week times 4.33 weeks), and to a lesser extent monthly rent, have great variability. While the mean monthly earnings were around $995, the range extended from $0 to $8184. This broad range and large standard deviation ($985) were due in part to the possible imprecision in the wages provided by the retrospective data as respondents, whose last trip to the United States may have been decades in the past, provided figures that may have been inflated or inaccurate.11


Belinda Reyes points out, “ Retrospective data, unlike longitudinal data, may be more accurate at representing recent events than past events. For example, people may be very precise at estimating their current wages, but may inflate or deflate the wages they earned 20 years ago. This will lead to a downward bias in the estimates” (Reyes 1997).


37 Figure 4 - Remittance as a Percentage of Income

40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
No Remit Less than 25% 25 to 50% 50 to 75% More than 75%

36 28

17 12 7

Finally, US based social ties and the diversity of those ties were measured using variables from the migrant’s last trip to the United States including: spouse (if married) accompanied the migrant, children accompanied the migrant, the sum of all family in the United States 12, the number of friends from Mexico in the United States, membership in formal social groups in the United States, and association with various other ethnic groups as a measure of diversity of ties. Most of these variables were fairly straightforward in their coding and do not need further explanation. Some descriptive statistics of interest in US social ties include:


38 20.4% of migrants were accompanied by their spouses 27.5% had one or more children in the United States 24.4% had no family members while 65.6% had one to ten family members in the United States 51.5% did not have friends from Mexico, 42.2% had one to twenty friends. 11.3% belonged to formal social groups, clubs, or organizations. 13.8% had Chicano, Black, Anglo and other (non-Mexican) Latino friends.

Table 6 - Crosstabulation of U.S. Bank Account by Documentation
US Account Yes No % of Total Perm. Resident 41.2% 58.8% 14.2% Undoc. 8.6% 91.4% 56.8% Bracero .2% 99.8% 10.8% Tourist 13.6% 86.4% 5.5% US Citizen 50.0% 50.0% .9% Amnesty 40.0% 60.0% 5.1% SAW 19.2% 80.8% 6.7% Total 15.3% 84.7% 100.0%


To avoid giving too much weight to large extended families and more importance to closer family ties, sum of family ties was computed using the mean of all uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws in the US, then added them to the number of siblings, parents, and grandparents in the US.


39 Table 7 - OLS Regression Predicting Duration of Stay
Model 1
Constant Background Measures: †Interview takes place in US (N= 677) Age at time of interview centered on the mean Age of first trip to US centered on the mean Understand some English Understand English Well Speaks some English Speaks English Well Elementary education Junior High education High School education Above high school education Tourist Contract/Bracero SAW Agricultural workers program Amnesty Permanent resident Citizen Mexico Ties: Sum of all family owned land, lots, buildings in Mexico Sum of family owned vehicles in Mexico Sum of family owned businesses in Mexico Monthly remit reported in $100 27.632 61.447 2.548 -2.365 29.679 44.935 45.568 87.733 10.068 -1.815 -11.762 -19.702 -1.597 -61.906 25.653 52.113 74.181 109.210 *** *** *** *** *** * ** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** **

Model 2
11.613 35.911 2.432 -2.430 --------10.922 3.140 -6.519 -14.629 -1.641 -52.164 22.286 48.967 64.093 112.142 *** *** *** *** *** * ** *** *** *** ***

Model 3
11.155 29.042 2.499 -2.270 22.615 32.207 29.247 49.131 8.042 -4.133 -16.117 -23.450 -4.673 -50.175 18.208 43.218 58.799 104.544 *** *** *** *** *** ** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *


2.216 -.171 -2.974 1.364 * ***

1.938 -.806 -3.389 1.043 ** **

US Ties: Migrant had US bank account US Monthly wage reported in $100 Monthly Rent in US reported in $100 Spouse of migrant on trip to US Kids on trip Sum of all family in US Number of friends (from Mex.) in US Migrant membership in formal social groups US Diversity of (non-familial) social ties in US R2 .596


30.426 .923 5.026 12.858 11.931 1.507 -.243 6.472 5.973 .635

*** *** *** ** *** *** ** * *** ***

25.899 .804 4.583 11.379 11.296 1.388 -.203 3.625 3.540 .650

*** *** *** ** *** *** **

*** ***

* p .05; ** p .01; *** p .001 Unstandardized regression coefficients † This variable is highly correlated with English ability (Pearson’s R = .386, p<.001).



40 Regression Analysis – Duration of Stay Table 7 shows ordinary least squares regression explaining the variance in the population for the variable - duration of stay (USEXP), the total number of months of all trips combined. Age at time of interview and age of first trip have been centered on the mean to allow for a more interpretable constant. As previously indicated categorical variables have been recoded into dummy variables to clarify the effects of each level of English ability, education, and documentation status as well as having bank account, spouse on trip, or children on trip. The reference group, is undocumented migrants, with no education, and no English ability, had no bank account in the United States, who were interviewed in Mexico and either have no spouse or children or whose spouse and children stayed in Mexico. In other words, those with the fewest ties to the United States and the lowest socio-economic indicators. Model 1 establishes a baseline by including only the control variables for place of interview, age at time of interview, age at first trip to the United States, English ability, educational attainment, and documentation status. This model alone is quite strong in explaining the variance in the population (R2=.596 p<.001) and, with the exception of only a few discrete categories (junior high education and tourist status on last trip), all variables are highly significant. Those who were interviewed in the United States are a distinct group who has spent much longer in the receiving context. As demonstrated earlier in the descriptive statistics, these migrants are generally younger, better educated, and yet, by nature of the sampling procedure, more likely to have maintained contact with the sending community. While migrants older than the mean age (46.5 years) at time of interview, are more likely to have stayed longer in the United States, this may be the result of simply having had the opportunity to spend more years abroad. For this reason the variable defining age at first trip to US was introduced to offset the effects of age on duration of stay. 40

41 Migrants who came later than 25.5 years (mean age of first trip), stayed for shorter total durations, thus canceling the effect of an elevated age at time of interview. English ability has a significant and powerful effect (second only to documentation status) on the total number of months the migrant stays in the United States. As the literature suggests, one of the first steps to economic assimilation and successful transnational entrepreneurial activity is the ability to speak English. However, as previously mentioned causal order is difficult to establish in this relationship. Thus, for purposes of comparison, English ability has been omitted in Model 2. Documentation status is the most important variable in determining length of stay. Tightening restrictions on employers and hostile social environment toward undocumented workers, including some legal migrants toward their undocumented co-nationals, has provided greater rewards for those with legal status and thus longer stays in the United States. It must be noted that those migrants who, on their last trip to the United States were on the Bracero program were found to stay far less total time in United States. Though documented, the legal restriction of their visa limited the amount of time spent here. Also of importance is the fact that many Bracero workers later returned to the United States under other documentation status or as undocumented migrants so those respondents who indicated Bracero status on their last trip are then most likely to be older men no longer participating in the migration system. Finally, there is a progression from special agricultural worker status (SAW) to amnesty, to permanent resident and finally to citizenship in terms of length of stay and apparent settlement. However, as this dataset is built from a longitudinal study, rather than a cross-sectional sample at a given time, the documentation status of individual migrants who were interviewed in later years may not be exactly comparable to migrants from earlier waves. The effect of documentation status appears to be fairly constant in all three models and are, with the exception of tourist status, highly significant in determining length of stay. 41

42 Model 2 is also very robust (R =.635 p<.001) and adds the effects of economic ties to Mexico, economic ties to the United States and finally social ties to the United States, but removes the effects of English ability. Variables describing the economic commitment of the migrant to Mexico demonstrate the fact that, with the exception of family owned businesses, strong economic ties compel the migrant to stay for longer periods in the United States. This finding seems to fit the theory that the family unit will offset market risks by sending members abroad to take advantage of wage differentials and greater availability of employment. Most significant is the association between monthly remittances and duration of stay: for every hundred dollars the migrant sends home, his stay is lengthened by more than a month, perhaps to offset this cost. Business ownership, on the other hand, has a negative relationship to length of stay in the United States. This may be due in part to the need for family laborers to stay in Mexico to work and also to a lesser demand for remittances from abroad to sustain the family. Real property, such as vehicles, land, houses, etc. seem to have the least effect and were found not to be of statistical significance. US economic ties are added in the following block. Most prominent is the relative importance of having a bank account in the United States. This variable demonstrates the symbolic commitment toward settlement that the migrant has made by negotiating the legal and social barriers to getting the account (i.e. genuine or counterfeit photo identification, social security number, etc.). As a result of this economic commitment, the total length of stay is predicted to increase by more than two years. Though not as powerful as having a bank account, the monthly rent the migrant pays also symbolizes a commitment to the destination. A migrant whose only goal is to work for a few months, save money, and return will spend less on the physical comforts of having a nicer place to live. This variable, however, may be influenced heavily by the city in the United States where the migrant is residing and if his children and spouse have come to the United States as well. Of relative 42

43 importance too is the effect of monthly wage on the duration of stay. All else being equal, it is predicted that the migrant stay an additional month for every one hundred dollars earned monthly. While Mexican economic ties were found to have only a marginal overall effect in Model 2 (R2 change for block =.014, p<.001), the effects of US economic ties were especially influential (R2 change for block =.057, p<.001). Though more important than Mexican economic ties in explaining the variance in the population, US social ties are not as powerful a predictor as US economic ties (Model 2 R2 change for block =.019, p<.001). Of most importance are the conditions in which the spouse and children accompany the migrant to the United States. Having spouse and children along lengthen the predicted stay by an estimated 2 years. Together spouse and children by far outweigh the effects of other social ties of extended family, friends, formal social ties and diversity of ties. Notably though is that for every family member in the United States the migrant is predicted to stay an additional month and a half. This may have a significant cumulative effect if the migrant has many relatives here and demonstrates the importance of family ties in determining settlement. Interestingly, the effect of having friends from the homeland is slightly negatively related to the length of stay. This may be evidence of the existence of transnational circuits, which are further explored in part three. Lastly, model 3 reintroduces the effects of English ability (R2=.650 p<.001). This model explains some of the overlap of place of interview, educational attainment and social ties with English ability. In model 2, when economic and social ties were considered, the effects of the place of interview were observed to be far weaker than in model 1. Controlling for language ability in model 3 further reduces these effects. Educational attainment, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. When controlling for English ability, the benefit of having a high degree of education decreases the duration of stay especially when unaccompanied by high English ability. Yet, 43

44 regardless of language ability the reward for educational attainment is not present in the United States for the Mexican migrant, as human capital is not easily transferred. The influence of US economic and social ties were also somewhat mitigated by the addition of English ability. Of particular interest is the slight shift (-4.5 months) in the effect that having a US bank account has on duration of stay, indicating that English ability accounts for some of the power of this variable. Similarly, diversity of non-familial ties, as measured by associations with other nonMexican ethnic groups, is diminished by inclusion of English ability. Thus, strength of social and economic ties become slightly less important, though still significant, in determining length of stay as English ability “explains” some of the variation in length of stay. The results show that while economic ties to the homeland lengthen the period of time abroad, these effects are overshadowed by economic and social ties to the receiving context. Most important is the symbolic commitment toward settlement by having opened a bank account and having been accompanied by spouse or children to the United States. These results tend to support the hypothesis that strong ties to the United States lengthen the time spent abroad and, perhaps, indicate a propensity to settle. On the other hand, variables that demonstrate social ties to Mexico were not available in this dataset. As a result, hypothesis three, which estimates shorter duration in the United States, is not clearly proven or disproved. Better measures of symbolic ties to home and host communities, would be helpful in gauging this commitment toward settlement or eventual return as the variables analyzed herein can only hint at the emotional and psychological bonds of the migrant.


45 Table 8 - OLS Regression Predicting Number of Trips
Model 1 Constant Background Measures: Interview takes place in US Age at time of interview centered on the mean Age of first trip to US centered on the mean Understand some English Understand English Well Speaks some English Speaks English Well Elementary education Junior High education High School education Above high school education Tourist Contract/Bracero SAW Agricultural workers program Amnesty Permanent resident Citizen Mexico Ties: Sum of all family owned land, lots, buildings in Mexico Sum of family owned vehicles in Mexico Sum of family owned businesses in Mexico Monthly remit reported in $100 US Ties: Migrant had US bank account US Monthly wage reported in $100 Monthly Rent in US reported in $100 Spouse of migrant on trip to US Kids on trip Sum of all family in US Number of friends (from Mex.) in US Migrant membership in formal social groups US Diversity of (non-familial) social ties in US 3.241 -2.812 .119 -.153 1.319 1.394 1.637 .274 .462 -.432 -1.180 -1.451 .697 -2.569 5.697 5.312 5.444 1.289 --------*** *** *** *** * ** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** Model 2 2.608 -2.884 .113 -.153 --------.467 -.246 -1.136 -1.221 .478 -2.310 5.475 5.132 4.989 .927 .181 .197 -.105 .143 *** *** *** *** *** * ** *** *** *** *** Model 3 2.415 -3.111 .118 -.149 1.195 1.178 1.453 .116 .341 -.458 -1.170 -1.334 .366 -2.174 5.203 4.912 4.844 1.066 .195 .179 -.096 .125 *** * *** *** *** *** ** ** *** *** *** *** *** ** ***


-.856 .029 -.088 .041 1.339 .084 .020 -.243 .005

** **

-.803 .029 -.064 -.044

** **

*** *** **

1.322 .081 .020 -.186 -.090

*** *** **



.336 Unstandardized regression coefficients




.359 N=3005


* p .05; ** p .01; *** p .001


46 Regression Analysis – Circulation Analysis of circulation between Mexico and US [Table 8] utilizes the same ordinary least squares regression models described above. The full model, though explaining 35.9% of the variance in the population (p<.001), is not as strong as that of duration of stay (R2=.650 p<.001). Nonetheless, patterns do emerge that tend to support the hypothesis that strong social and economic ties to the homeland and to the host country produce more circulation between countries. In all three models, there is a reduction in total number of circulations if the respondent was interviewed in the United States (bringing estimated total circulations to zero, indicating that this is most likely the first and only trip). Since these subjects are more recent arrivals, this may be a reflection of the effects of strengthened border enforcement, which have increased the relative risks of circulation. The current context may create longer stays and fewer circulations as the cost of border crossing (emotional and psychological as well as financial) has increased disproportionately to the ties that induce and deter circulation. As this dataset only includes interviews up to 1997, and is comprised of a majority of undocumented migrants who have returned to Mexico, it is difficult to attribute all of the effect of this variable to increased border enforcement. Future analysis of data for 1997 to present may confirm the causal relationship between decreased circulation, lengthened stay, and border enforcement. Age, although statistically significant, has only a minor role in determining the number of circulations. At ten years above the mean (or about 56.5 years), the migrant is only estimated to have circulated once more than those at the mean age, when controlling for all other variables. Conversely, as age of first trip increases, the number of circulations decreases at a rate similar to that of age at time of interview. For example, if the age at first trip is ten years above the mean (35.5 years), the migrant is expected to have experienced 1.4 fewer trips, all else being equal. 46

47 Interestingly, English ability (models 1 and 3) has a relatively constant effect on the number of circulations except for those who are highly proficient in English. This indicates that those with average English ability, relative to other migrants in the dataset, are more likely to circulate than those with no English ability. Likewise, those with higher relative proficiencies are better able to find permanent employment and are more likely to be citizens in the United States. However, it can only be surmised that it is a very small group or that the number of circulations is so close to that of the omitted group so as not to be significantly different. There is a negative relationship between education and total number of trips. In all three models, increased education results in fewer trips. Those with more than a high school education are estimated to circulate once less than those with no education, all else being the equal. An explanation may be the same as that with duration of stay: migrants with a higher than average education will stay for shorter periods and then return migrate to Mexico where their education will have a greater relative recompense than in the United States. Documentation status, again, is the strongest variable in the regression. Unlike duration of stay, those with special agricultural worker status, amnesty and permanent residence as having the highest rates of circulation while those with citizen-ship are only marginally above undocumented. This may be due, in part, to the fact that until the mid 1980s when SAW and Amnesty were granted, many migrants found it easiest to maintain a home in Mexico and simply return during holidays or (in the case of seasonal agricultural workers) during the winters, thus increasing their total number of circulations. Permanent residents also may have been undocumented workers in the labor circulation at one time or they might be those with stronger ties to Mexico who were included in the sample when they returned to visit family during the holidays.


48 It appears that, in the current environment and with this particular dataset, social and economic ties to Mexico and the United States have far less of an influence on circulation than the control variables (overall R2 change from model 1 to model 3 = .023, p<.001). This may be due, to some extent, to the variables used as measures of these ties, as well as the greater sway of the macrostructural impediments to circulation mentioned before (border enforcement, relative cost and risk). However, there is evidence that having family in the United States, especially children (Model 3 b = 1.322, p<.001), will influence circulation. Likewise, having made a stronger financial commitment to the receiving context checks circulation (Model 3 US wage b = -.803, p<.001), whereas having a greater family financial responsibility in Mexico encourages circulation (Model 3 monthly remit b = .125, p<.01). Although legal status, education, and place of interview have the greatest influence, social and economic ties do play a role in determining number of circulations between countries. Data reflecting more recent migration and including more migrants currently in the United States may yield stronger evidence to support Hypothesis Two (strong ties to both home and receiving countries produces greater circulation) or demonstrate the change in migration flows as a result of intensified border enforcement.


49 Table 9 - Logistic Regression of Acquisition of Long-term Legal Status
Model 1 Constant Background Measures: Interview takes place in US Age at time of interview centered on the mean Age of first trip to US centered on the mean Understand some English Understand English Well Speaks some English Speaks English Well Elementary education Junior High education High School education Above high school education Mexico Ties: Sum of all family owned land, lots, buildings in Mexico Sum of family owned vehicles in Mexico Sum of family owned businesses in Mexico Monthly remit reported in $100 US Ties: Migrant had US bank account US Monthly wage reported in $100 Monthly Rent in US reported in $100 Spouse of migrant on trip to US Kids on trip Sum of all family in US Number of friends (from Mex.) in US Migrant membership in formal social groups US Diversity of (non-familial) social ties in US Nagelkerke R2 Cox & Snell R

Model 2 *** *** *** *** -3.030 .259 .019 -.041 .901 .711 1.372 1.319 * .268 -.224 .190 -.044 .089 ** ** *** .153 -.223 .073 * *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

-2.906 .498 .014 -.046 --------.392 .009 .403 .234 .097 .180 -.210 .084

.478 .056 -.033 -.111 .868 .063 .006 .088 .033 .327 .230 2866.650 787.771 20 Unstandardized regression coefficients

*** ***

.349 .049 -.035 -.173

* ***

*** ***

.847 .059 .007 .052 -.063 .362 .254 2771.008 883.413 24

*** *** *

-2 Log likelihood Model Chi-square df * p .05; ** p .01; *** p .001



50 Regression Analysis – Acquisition of Long-term Legal Status Acquisition of long-term legal status (LLS) signifies an intention to settle permanently or semi-permanently in the United States and supports hypothesis one (high US ties result in circulation or settlement) as well as hypothesis three (high Mexican ties result in circulation or return). This outcome variable was produced by collapsing citizen, permanent resident, amnesty and special agricultural worker status (another designation of amnesty) into long-term legal status. At the same time, undocumented, Bracero and tourist were consolidated into non long-term legal status. Analysis was then made using binary logistic regression to estimate the probabilities of acquiring long-term legal status [Table 9]. Model 1 shows the effects of age, education, Mexican economic ties, US economic ties and US social ties on the probability of acquiring LLS. This model predicts 78.7% of cases, representing an improvement of 5.3% over the dependent variable marginal (an overall increase of 20% of the maximum possible improvement). Model 2 adds the control of English ability, affecting the power and influence of economic and social ties to the United States and Mexico. Model 2 is able to predict 79.4% of cases and represents a gain of 6.0% over the dependent variable marginal, or an additional 3% of the maximum possible. Thus, English ability adds to the predictive power of the overall model. Place of interview was significant in determining length of stay and circulation between the United States and Mexico. In model 1, place of interview is highly significant (p<.001) and US based interviews increase the odds that the respondent will have LLS by 1.65. This may also be expressed as a 65% increase in the probability that the migrant interviewed in the United States is more likely to have long-term legal status.13 However, when controls for English ability are introduced, this

Transformation of the log it coefficient to percentage change in odds calculated using: 100* (eb –1).


51 variable is found to be statistically insignificant (model 2). As these variables are highly correlated, establishing causal order is problematic. Age follows the same pattern established in the previous ordinary least squares regressions. Respondents who were older at the time of interview were more likely to have acquired LLS: an increase of 1.9% for each year above the mean. Similarly, being older on the first trip decreases the odds of attaining long-term legal status. For every year above the mean age at first migration, the respondent is estimated to have a decrease in the probability of having established LLS by 4.1%. English ability has the greatest correspondence to predicting the attainment of long-term legal documentation. Simply understanding some English increases odds of LLS acquisition by almost 146%. Likewise, being highly proficient in English increases those odds by 274% demonstrating the importance of English ability in being able to negotiate the legal and social barriers to gaining legal status. Of the measures indicating social and economic ties, the most significant are having family owned business in Mexico, having a US bank account, and being accompanied by children in the United States A family owned business has the consequence of drawing the migrant back to the homeland. Those migrants with family owned businesses are 20% less likely to acquire LLS. In contrast, US economic ties symbolized by having a US bank account are seen to increase odds of establishing long-term legal status: an increase in probability of 41.7%. Finally, having children in the receiving context improves the outcome of having LLS by 133.4%, thus indicating the importance of family ties in the United States.14


52 Conclusions The results of descriptive, ordinary least squares and logistic regression analyses of this dataset have supported the primary hypotheses that strong social and economic ties to the United States will result in longer duration of stay and increased circulation. Findings are ambiguous as to the effect of ties to the homeland as only proxies for economic ties were represented in the dataset. Most significant were the variables that could be interpreted as representing the greatest symbolic ties to home or destination: having established a US bank account (strong economic commitment to the destination) and bringing children to the United States (strong social/familial commitment), versus having a family owned business in Mexico (strong social/economic tie to homeland). Identification of these variables and the concepts that they represent help to define the context in which Mexican transnational communities exist. They also help to establish that there are multiple trajectories that a migrant may take in the migration process. These trajectories are neither exclusive nor entirely linear as they provide migrants different opportunities throughout their migration life history. Further exploration of the strength of these ties and, more importantly, an analysis of symbolic ties to the homeland among permanent and semi-permanent settlers will allow for an explanation of the causal mechanism in the creation of transnational fields. Thus, this analysis has provided a perspective on the nature of recent migration flows, establishing patterns of settlement, circulation and return as they relate to homeland ties. This study is useful in establishing a viewpoint for the following analysis and may yield an explanatory model for processes such as complete assimilation, blending (i.e. transnationalism), and formation of separate enclaves within a framework of cultural pluralism.


Note too that an additional family member in the US increases odds by 6.1%, and friends from Mexico increases odds by 1.0%. Though individually small, these variables have a substantial cumulative effects.



Introduction While the results of the Mexican Migration Project analyses suggest some support for the importance of economic and social ties on Mexican migration patterns, in depth interviews conducted for this study establish the direct role of these ties to Mexico on the development of a transnational identity that encompasses cultural elements of both home country and the receiving context. This study, then, focuses on the symbolic ties of documented and undocumented Mexican migrants to the home community in Mexico and on the influence of these ties in the membership and participation in transnational fields in the Phoenix area. This analysis utilizes the typology of transnational social spaces of Thomas Faist as it investigates the respondents’ membership in transnational kinship groups, transnational circuits, and transnational communities (Faist 2000b). The individuals interviewed in this study act as members of several of these categories at once and often to divide their loyalties between pragmatic economic concerns in the United States and a symbolic orientation toward the homeland. This study builds on the previous analysis by examining social and economic relations with sending and receiving countries, the importance of human and social capital, and the intentions of migrants to settle, circulate and return migrate. Symbolic ties, defined as the more elusive emotive bonds to a nation that may be observed in the daily cultural practices, use of cultural icons, language preference, and self-reported observations of the respondents’ connections to the home country, were added to the previous theoretical models and analyzed using qualitative analysis techniques such as network analysis and coding of narrative data (Coffey and Atkinson 1996). 53

54 As with the analysis in part two, real social and economic ties were explored. The survey instrument covered questions on earnings and expenses, savings, and both familial and social ties to Mexico. In addition to the strength of ties to the home community, as indicated by frequency of contact (telephone calls, letters, visits) and remittances, this study observed symbolic cultural ties such as:

Language use at home, work, and with peers. Preference in music, food, and entertainment. Usage of cultural icons such as the Guadalupana telephone card. Membership in formal and informal social groups. Ethnic diversity of social ties as a measure of social distance between groups. Family ties in the United States; intended plans for settlement or return. The definition of abstract concepts such as national identity, patriotism, emotional connection to the homeland. Exploration of the feelings of being the “other” in the host community.

As explained in Part One, the research hypothesis guiding this qualitative analysis involve an exploration of assimilation and acculturation, enclaves and isolated social groups, and finally transnational social spaces. Migrants with relatively weak symbolic ties to Mexico and strong symbolic ties in the United States will have higher propensity for acculturation and social integration (H4). On the other hand, migrants with strong symbolic ties to Mexico and weak symbolic ties to the United States will have more formulated plans of return and least integration into majority 54

55 culture (H5). Finally, migrants with both strong/medium symbolic ties to Mexico and strong/medium symbolic ties to the United States will exhibit evidence of occupying transnational social spaces by having dual modes of social interaction (dependent on setting), higher rates of bilingualism, and social integration into both dominant culture and enclave (or homeland) cultures (H6).

Source of Data Comprehensive, semi-structured interviews with documented and undocumented migrants from Mexico now living in the Greater Phoenix area were conducted during the summer of 2000. The twenty-eight respondents for this analysis were found using non-random, “snowball” sampling techniques (Biernacki and Waldorf 1981; Granovetter 1976; Massey 1987). Initially, approximately 20 flyers were posted in various community gathering places in an area of high concentrations of Mexican migrants [Appendix A]. Shopping centers, laundry facilities, restaurants and apartment complexes known to be used frequently by migrants were targeted for postings. From these flyers, a core group of contacts or informants emerged. Following the interviews, respondents were asked to provide two more contacts (first name and phone numbers), or as an alternative to pass along contact information for the interviewer. Even though the majority of respondents were in a delicate legal position (23 of the 28 respondents were undocumented), the reference of someone known personally to them provided entrée in most cases.15 An additional group of five respondents came from an informant who is a member of a neighborhood Catholic Church with a high Mexican membership.


Only two direct referrals declined to be interviewed.


56 Each interview, conducted entirely in Spanish, lasted for about one hour and explored social, economic, and cultural ties to the home country. In addition, these interviews detailed the migrants’ individual migration experiences from their home communities to the United States, documented information regarding their human and social capital and observed the role of support networks in the immigration process. A laptop computer utilizing SurveyGold software was used to record responses to preliminary structured interview questions and to record notes during more open-ended, subjective responses. Additionally, interviews were taped so that responses to probing question on the nature of symbolic ties could later be transcribed and analyzed. To protect the identity of the migrants, respondents were instructed to select a pseudonym to be used on the tapes, databases, and in reports.16 Following the research proposal agreement with the Institutional Review Board of Arizona State University [Appendix B], all notes with real names and any other materials that could be used to identify the subjects were destroyed following interviews. It must be noted that although snowball sampling techniques are quite useful for providing respondents in highly sensitive social research, the results cannot be said to be representative, in this case, of the population of all Mexican migrants. Furthermore, as the initial informants were a selfselecting group, bias may be introduced from the outset toward individuals who are more socially integrated, have higher levels of social and human capital, and are less fearful of negative legal consequences of responding to advertising that solicited recent migrants regardless of legal status. This sample does, however, provide an image of an interconnected network on both family and community levels and may be used to illustrate findings of the quantitative research presented in part two.


As two migrants selected the same name (Hector), one was arbitrarily reassigned the name Jorge.


57 The Receiving Context Hispanics in the United States The most recent figures of the Current Population Survey (CPS) indicate that Hispanics of Mexican origin (both native and foreign-born combined) account for 65.2% of the 31.7 million Hispanics in the United States (Ramirez 2000). This figure represents almost 12% of the entire US population and, as the Population Projections Program at the US Census Bureau estimates, the Hispanic population is projected to grow to more than 43.6 million by 2010 assuming midlevels of immigration (Population Projections Program 2000). According to the same 1999 CPS data, 56.1% of Hispanics have a high school education or more (as compared to 87.7% of non-Hispanic Whites and 84.7% of Asians)17, they are three times more likely to live below the poverty level than Whites, and Hispanics participate in the labor force in equal proportions as non-Hispanic Whites.18 These figures are indicative of the social context within the United States where economic and educational assimilation is not occurring as rapidly for Hispanics as perhaps for other immigrant groups (Alba and Nee 1997; Clark 1998). In fact, in the CPS report Educational Attainment in the United States, the authors point out that: The educational attainment of young Hispanics (ages 25 to 29) was substantially lower, however, than for other groups. Moreover, during the past decade, the young adult Hispanic population showed no significant change at the high school level and no significant change at the bachelor’s or more level (Newburger and Curry 2000). Spatial assimilation of Hispanics also seems to be limited in the US context. As William Frey points out, there is a demographic divide between cities in the United States that are magnets for

Only 49.7% of Hispanics of Mexican origin have completed high school or more.


58 immigrants on the one hand and the destinations of domestic migrants on the other (Frey 1999). Figures produced from the 1999 CPS show that the foreign-born are twice as likely to live in urban areas, and are concentrated in the West (39.3% of all foreign-born) and South (26.5%). The top two intended destinations for legal migrants in 1996, as reported by the immigration and Naturalization Service, were: California, with 201,529 legal migrants of whom more than 25% settled in Los Angeles; and New York, with 154,095 legal migrant, almost all of whom were within New York City (INS 1997). More telling perhaps is that 40% of the estimated 5 million undocumented migrants in the United States are concentrated in California (INS 1999) Frey has called the urban-rural, regional, and racial/ethnic divisions the demographic “Balkanization of America” fueled by immigration from Latin-American and Asia. Arizona historically has been a state with high numbers of Hispanics. While Arizona is only the seventeenth most common destination of all legal migrants, it is the seventh most frequent destination among undocumented migrants (INS 1997 and 1999). Approximately 22.1% of the estimated 4,778,332 Arizona residents are Hispanic, compared to 11.2% nationally (US Census Bureau 2000) and 1998 estimates place the Hispanic population of Maricopa County at approximately 20%. In the Phoenix area, the spatial divide that Frey spoke of in is clearly evident in a map of census tracts with percentage Hispanics [Figure 5]. Hispanics can be seen as concentrated in pockets within the southern and western portions of the city.


Though this averaged figure does not reflect clearly the gendered aspect of labor force participation: Hispanic men participate at a rate 4.1% higher than non-Hispanic white men, while Hispanic women work outside of the home at a rate 4.5% lower than non-Hispanic white women


59 Figure 5 – Percent Hispanic in the Phoenix Area

Mexican Migrants in the Phoenix Area The sampling technique yielded a group of 16 males and 12 females from 15 sending communities throughout Mexico. Best represented were migrants from Mexico City (35.7%) and Oaxaca (14.3%). The ages of migrants ranged from 17 to 61 with a mean of 31 years. Educational attainment also was quite broad with respondents having from none to 18 years of education. Mean education was 10.4 years and illustrates the selection bias introduced in the snowball sample, as well as the youthfulness of this sample (85% were under 35 years old). This was the first trip to the United States for 50% of the sample, while one respondent had made more than 40 trips (though 59

60 this respondent was born in Ciudad Juarez). The mean was 4.1 trips, however when the one border resident was omitted the mean number of circulations dropped to 2.4 trips. 82.1% (23 respondents) were undocumented, 14.3% (4) had permanent residence and only one had acquired US citizenship. Respondents were identified as being members of the core network, the church group network, or non-network individuals for purposes of analysis of social ties in the United States. Although similar in some demographic respects to the migrants interviewed by the Mexican Migration Project, this survey interviewed both males and females in almost equal proportions. This was due in part to the sampling technique (rather than using head-of-households, all Mexican migrants were included) and to the desire to understand the nature of symbolic ties as they differed by gender. This works, however, to the exclusion of single male labor migrants as they are less likely to be integrated into the networks captured in the sample, more likely to circulate and less likely to permanently settle in the United States.


61 The Migration Experience Motivation for Migration and Plans for Settlement, Circulation and Return The respondents expressed various reasons for coming to the United States, yet the predominate trends fit into two general classifications: labor migration and family unity. These categories are not mutually exclusive as many respondents expressed economic and familial motivations for migrating. These classifications are, though, reflective of the gender of the respondents. A majority of male migrants stressed economic factors when discussing reasons for migrating, while most of the females came either as the spouse of the male labor migrant or in attempt to improve the living conditions of their children. Miguel, for example, has only been in the United States for eleven months. He is single, twenty-two and from a small town in Guerrero State in Southern Mexico. Miguel has a high school education and a certificate from a vocational school in heating and air-conditioning repair. Miguel has perhaps among the clearest plans, which fit into Landolt’s classification of a return migrant micro-enterprise (Landolt et al. 1999). He is saving approximately $400 a month, of his $950 income at a junkyard where he works with his cousin disassembling automobiles, to complete his plans: I have some friends who are working there [Virginia]. They have been my friends since I was very little. They are living there… I think they are working in construction… They invited me to come and I said okay. But, when I got here [Phoenix], my aunt said “No. It is too far.” So, I stayed here with them and, well, here I am… I am saving to buy equipment to send to Mexico. Since I’m a professional [heating and air conditioning repair] I want to build my own shop. So, after a time I will return to work there in my own shop… I have the plan of another three years. It is possible that it would be a little more or a little less depending… In addition to his aunt and cousins living in Phoenix, his father and two uncles live in California near Los Angeles. He says his father and his father’s brothers all came to the United States over six years


62 ago to find work. His mother, four brothers and sisters, as well as the rest of his extended family, still live in various cities in Mexico. Hector, on the other hand, is a thirty-one year old father of two who brought his wife and children with him to the United States. He is from Mexico City, has a high school education, and has been in Phoenix working at a car wash for the past two years. He came here following his brother who migrated to the area in 1994. As he explains, he had to sever many symbolic and social ties in making his primarily economic decision to move: I come from Mexico. Right? I had to leave my homeland, my city, and my parents. Right? I had to leave them, because my economic situation there in Mexico was a little difficult and I had to leave that place so that I could come here...Right. To leave all these things, in my case to better my living condition and to be here with my wife and children. Raquel is a good example of a migrant who came only to be with her family. She is a fiftytwo year old homemaker who has never worked in the United States. Though she now has permanent residence status, she initially came without documentation. As she explains, the decision to come here had only to do with reuniting with her oldest son and husband who were working in the United States: For a mother, the first thing is her son. And for me, I wasn’t interested in anything. Nothing, nothing, interested me [about coming here] because of the process that I had to go through. And even as I was bringing a daughter, three daughters, because I was bringing the youngest. But I wasn’t interested [didn’t care], because he [Son in US] came with papers, and he had left us. But, I said, I think every day ...God, do you know, do you know, what pain I carry now in my heart. And you will get us past [the border] God, because I want for you to help us pass. And asking God and asking God, and it was something completely unknown to me. Nothing, even if I had wanted to, could I have imagined. I never imagined anything. I can tell you I never imagined things that were really beautiful… what I imagined was the worst. Because he [son in US] had told me ‘you won’t be able to even go out in the street. And where would you go’ because he didn’t want for me to carry money. [Recounting conversation with son] ‘That’s how it will be. That’s how it will be.’ ‘Me with my son and 62

63 that’s it.’ ‘Through the window is all you will see out. Do you still want to go?’ ‘Even so, I still want to go. I want to go to you.’ Only the simple thing of seeing my son. Only this. Guille, on the other hand, is a thirty-two year old housecleaner who completed college in Mexico by periodically working in the United States to save funds. She also exemplifies this love of a mother for her child. However, her motivation was to make it easier for her daughter to work in the United States in some distant future and to provide some capital for a more comfortable life in Mexico. Guille had no plan to stay in the United States, though she has now been here for almost three years, and still plans to return to Mexico within the next year. Well, I’ve always wanted the best for my family and in this case I said to myself if one doesn’t have too many problems here [US]…if there is enough desire, one can rise very quickly. Earning what one wants. I noticed [in her previous trip], that without papers it is very difficult. Very difficult, but equally as possible. So, I said to my self, I want for my children to be born here, so that they won’t have the same problems that I had, because if one day they want to come here… I want for them to be raised in Mexico, educated in Mexico , because I think the education there is a little better. So I said to myself, well, I want my child to be born here, and I said to my husband, ‘you know here [Mexico], we don’t have a house’ we have to live with his parents and family members, ‘I want my house, my own car, everything. And, I want for my baby to be born there [US].’ And he said, ‘well, go and as soon as she is born we’ll come back.’ But, no, I came much before him. He came almost when the baby was born. These four cases exemplify the trend within this local sample in differences of motivation for migration based on gender. Both Hector and Miguel demonstrate the more predominately male motivation to take advantage of the wage differential between the United States and Mexico. Raquel and Guille express the more female rationale of family unification and need to provide for their children. This is not to say that family unity was not important for males and economic motivations were not influential for females. Hector, though he initially expresses his motives in economic terms, does articulate the need to preserve family cohesiveness. Likewise, Guille, though her intent was to 63

64 provide her child with the legal privileges of American citizenship, is motivated by the wage differential to work in the United States for a time before returning to Mexico. Plans for return varied greatly throughout the sample. Reflecting the findings of the previous analysis of the Mexican Migration Project, respondents were found to be a different points along their migration trajectories of settlement, continual circulation, or eventual return migration and permanent re-settlement in Mexico. Their individual plans varied by gender, age, documentation status and motivation and were found to be as unspecified as Andres, a 17 years old hotel custodian, who said, “I would like to return in three or four years to my country...” or as specific as Maribel, a 34 dishwasher, who explains, “I have always planned to return… I will go home in December [six months hence]… I’ll go back by land, using the same system. We can’t go any other way….” Juan is single, twenty-five, and has been working as an inspector in a factory that fabricates parts for aircraft for one and a half years. He came to the United States five years ago from Acapulco, Mexico. Before coming to the United States he had completed his first year of law school, owned a car, and had a job in his father’s company. While in school one of his friend invited him to come to the United States. He contacted his older brother, who was then living in Texas, and decided he would give it a try. He explains, though, that he is torn between settlement and return:

Juan: My plan right now is to save, save, for tomorrow so that I may buy a house. It’s that I don’t know… Interviewer: Here in the US? Juan: Here in the United States. Frankly, I am thinking, I’m in a situation in my life where I don’t know where to stay. My father needs for me to go there to…, you know he’s a little tired and needs someone to help out. My brother is there, but my brother doesn’t like this business… and he [father] says I would like for you to come and advance this business, take it forwards. For this reason I am undecided to stay here or go there. Do you understand? But, I don’t know, I don’t know really what kind of life I would have here. I don’t know, because 64

65 what I have seen and what I have been assimilating and thinking about in my future, I think I would be doing the same thing [work]. Do you understand? How long is it going to be before I have papers. Am I going to keep on being illegal for ten more years? It’s going to be the same. Still at the same factory. And there I could be the boss because my father is the owner of the business. I can be the boss, I could order, I could pay, it would be different… Interviewer: And without papers here? Juan: And without papers, exactly. [There] I would be speaking my own language. Do you understand? I’d have a better life there because my mother is there and my brothers [siblings]. But, I also have to consider that here I can have my own life. Do you understand? But, I don’t know. The truth is that I think it will be ok here. I think it will be ok because the situation in Mexico now is very difficult. The economic crisis is very difficult. The truth is there are a lot of very poor people. Many people here in the North, on the border don’t have enough to even buy a gallon of milk. You know it. There are children who don’t have enough even to bathe, they don’t have clothes. It makes you think, to reflect, how can you return to that country? Here I’ve had opportunity. Juan is perhaps unlike most migrants. He comes from a relatively upper middle-class family, has had some college education, speaks English well and has found his way into a well-paying job. This economic success can be seen as the effect of his high degree of social and human capital, as well as his ambition. As he makes clear, “ I am a very secure person. I see something I want and I get because I believe I can.” Yet, like others, he feels the pull of familial obligation and the push of an uncertain future without legal status in the United States. Hector also is undecided, but very pragmatic about settlement. Unlike Juan, he has a wife and children here. He sees these family ties to the United States as well as his economic ties (income and expenses) as fortifying his US ties: I don’t know. I don’t have plans right now. I don’t think I will be able to return...I feel a little firmer here now. More firm [stable] in being here. Because, it is like, there are two things here. When a person doesn’t have family here. When all their family is in Mexico, this person has the probability of returning because there he has his family, his children, he has to be sending money there so his family can survive there. And I don’t. I don’t because I have my family here. I have my wife, my children. I am here incurring expenses like paying for rent, and light, and the telephone, and things that one needs to buy. I have to buy gasoline. They 65

66 are thing that everyone has to buy. But they are expenses that I have here in the US. And it would be better if I could have the same quality in Mexico. I miss the family [relatives] and I care for them a lot because they are my family. But I am a big person and here I have my wife and I have to look out for my children. I have to watch out for them now…. Hector’s brother, Raul, is a married thirty-four year old with some vocational training. He too is here with his wife and children. In his narrative, he discusses the nature of the transnational labor circuit and how he and his family have made the symbolic transformation of orientation from a mentality of return to one of settlement: Raul: A Mexican who comes here to US many, many times, many times he comes here, of course, to work. To save up money, and that’s it. Right? But, I think there is something more, there is something more. Because, simply if we take notice that many times if a Mexican comes here to work, he works, he saves money and returns to our country until the money runs out then anew he returns here to earn more money and return again. It is like something in our thinking is not right… we have to decide if we want to stay here or there, right? For me it is like saying were going to go there, and then make a change and continue on. And for me, when I came here for the first time and became familiar with this place, I said this is good for my family and me and we can try to open a store. Interviewer: So you do not plan to return? Raul: No, no I don’t think of returning. I plan to stay here. In contrast, Alan (Guille’s husband), who like Juan has some college education in Mexico but came to assist his wife while she was having her child, finds that his time here has altered his plans. His original intent to simply have the child (so that she would have legal status in the United States) and then return was not as easy to complete as expected. He has found that as he has expanded his experience of the world to a more international level (he now reads Japanese comics in Spanish on the internet), he wants more than to simply return to a life in Mexico: … I do want to return to finish school because here [school is] very expensive, very expensive, very difficult... In my life here, I'm trying to give the best effort I can to together 66

67 enough money to return someday. But, I would also like to travel and have another child, she (points to wife) would like another child, but I would like to go in see other places. England maybe. I know it's really far away. So I want to be here, but also want to return. Paulina, a twenty-eight year old mother of three who works evenings cleaning offices, originally came to the Phoenix area to be with her consensual union partner. However, when they separated several years ago (after he physically abused her) she remained. She expresses her desire to return, but is economically unable: I would like to return there, but in what form would I be able to maintain my children? There is no work. And if there is work it only pays 35 pesos [about $3 US] a day. With this, one can’t eat. A kilo of beans is ten pesos, and tortillas are six pesos. Do you believe there would be enough to feed my children? With three children? It is difficult… My plans for the future are to help my children as much as possible so that they may have a career here, so that they are not like us [Mexican migrants]. More than anything I want, not that they earn more or anything, but that they will be respected. It is not important that they will be Chicanos, but that they will be respected. And that they will feel this because they will be able to say I am this and I have a career. Not like me being a janitor… Her concern for her children outweighs her own personal desires to return. In this case, the obligation of providing for children in the United States is the driving motivation for settlement. The most she hopes for is a general amnesty that will allow her to find work more easily. She says, “for myself, I want no more than to look for more work so I can keep up, so that they [children] don’t go without the indispensable things…If God allows, I will try to get a visa.” Thus, while the initial motivation to migrate to the United States may have been for purposes of personal economic improvement or family unification, these plans are often altered by new opportunities and experiences in the receiving context. In all, there were eighteen respondents who expressed some plan to return eventually, while nine said they would never go back to Mexico (one was completely undecided). Plans did range from an intangible “someday” or “ when I retire” 67

68 to “in two months.” Yet, as Belinda Reyes indicates in her report on return migration to Mexico, factors such as labor market participation, documentation status, transferable human and social capital, and characteristics of the receiving location have great influence in determining the probability of return (Reyes 1997). These structural influences are perhaps stronger ultimately than the migrant’s intent to settle or return. Nonetheless, these plans for settlement or return do indicate a general orientation of symbolic ties and a personal commitment to the United States, Mexico, or both countries.

Experiences in the Receiving Context The respondents have had varied experiences in the receiving context from little or no difference in the quality of their lives to many hardships including lack of hospitality by the majority culture, lack of financial or social support, and outright racism. Leticia, for example, sees little change in the quality of her life. As a homemaker, she is not directly confronted with cultural differences. She says, “If I am here, I am here. If I go there, I am there. There is no difference except to be on the other side [of the border].” However, more often were indications of a diminished satisfaction with their personal lives in trade for better economic prospects. Andres (who has been here for only a few months), Alan (here for more than a year), and Rosa (with more than thirty-five years as a US resident, but only recently moved to Phoenix) all found the local context lacking in sociability and have experienced racial discrimination: Andres - I am from Mexico and in the land of 'gringos,' I still feel Mexican and don't let go of my customs even though I am in another country.... Well, I think it is difficult because for Mexicans... sometimes we spend a lot of energy in our work because it is very difficult here and there isn't a lot of support for us. Sometimes there is a lot of racism, racism toward us Mexicans…. 68

69 Alan - Well, it is very difficult [being Mexican in the US] because you must break with all of your social group. You really feel different. One can't feel as if you are truly North American because you just aren't. And, he really can't feel Mexican either because you are not within your circle. It's very difficult for me. I try to act like what I see. Do you understand ? But, it takes a lot of effort.... For me, well, here people don't like to chat a lot, people don't like to live together. For this reason, I try not to bother them too much when it isn't necessary. In Mexico you can go up to any house and they will receive you, and talk with you, and embrace you... here no. Rosa - It is hard. Very hard. For a Mexican, there is discrimination… In El Paso there wasn’t as much as here. I have traveled a little in the US, and the discrimination that I saw was most in Nashville and Dallas and here. It is very strong here…It has caused me a lot of trouble here at work. Even after a few months here… It is difficult, very difficult. Gregorio adds that some of the lack of hospitality is the result of legislation and a political environment on both sides of the border that has to date lacked support for peasants and workingclass Mexicans: For me personally it is a little sad because, it's to say, that the people here, la migra [INS], they don't want the Mexicans and don't even give the opportunity for amnesty, for example in the case of the amnesty before [1986]... I don't know why, maybe because of how we are, our demeanor… Possibly if the United States would help, and also if Mexicans would unite, it is possible that it would get better, that there would be more force for Fox [recently elected president of Mexico]. But he alone as president can't do it. But we don't know, we hope that he'll work... This perception of the receiving context as inhospitable may act to strengthen bonds between co-nationals as a survival strategy. Likewise, strengthened solidarity as the result of common adversity has the effect of helping to define a community as a unique group. This community, with its strengthened sense of common identity, will then engage in the production and preservation of the home culture (see ‘ethnic resiliency’ in Portes and Rambaut 1990). At this point, a transnational community emerges in the sense of a “collective representations” with symbolic ties of common language, cultural practices, religion, nationality, and ethnicity (Faist 2000b). 69


Social and Family Ties Ties to Mexico As previously expressed by several of the respondents, migration involves a departure from the home community and a separation from one’s social and family ties. All respondents had extended family in Mexico and three respondents, all involved in transnational labor circulation, have a spouse and children still in the home country [See Appendix C]. Moreover, only two respondents, of the twenty-eight, have no close social ties (as measured by immediate family or closest friends) in Mexico. When social ties were explored in the interviews, the theme of longing to be with the family and friends, coupled with an inability to return due to economic circumstances, emerged. Gregorio (33, married, prep-cook in a restaurant), Andres (17, single, hotel custodian), and Maribel (34, married, dishwasher) all expressed similar views: Gregorio - …in my case I am the oldest in the family and I never thought I would be so far from my family. And, in reality, when I think about it, I feel strange like, how can I say it, like I'd want to return. But, one can't do that. Perhaps because of pride, or because returning is expensive. [One must] try and save [the amount of money] you have focused on, focused on like your fixed goal. Andres - Well, the emotional connection is somewhat that of dissatisfaction because we are not together with our families and with our friends that are in another country and we can't see them…. Here, well, we make more money and all, but our friendships and family are in another country and there are times when one feels very sad being here and out of one's country. Maribel - It is difficult. It is difficult because we are so far from our loved ones. For this it is very difficult. It is beautiful because here one works here so one can send money there. It benefits them a lot. Horrible is our money [Mexico]. One sends money and they exchange it. On that side they are content because one is here working but it is also sad…. 70

71 Jorge, a single twenty year old working as a carpenter, adds that it is not only an economic issue, but also one of the increased difficulties in border crossing: “It is a little difficult, being here and the family there. Of course, one feels sad. And I am here for some time without seeing them, and can’t go there… you know the problem of not going there without the problem of coming back. With improvements and reduced costs in international communications technologies, many of the respondents continue to maintain ties while abroad, even if they cannot visit. Table 10 shows the frequency and method of contact with relatives and friends in Mexico. Twenty-three (82%) interviewees in the sample are in touch on a monthly basis, with relatives or friends, by either telephone or letters (note that only two respondents used the internet to contact friends in Mexico). Telephone was the preferred means of contact, and the growing availability of inexpensive prepaid telephone cards was evident as twenty-two respondents used them to pay for calls.


72 Table 10 –Frequency and Method of Social Ties with Homeland
Name Alan Andres David Diego Fatima Francisco Graciela Gregorio Guicho Guille Hector Javier Joel Jorge Juan Leticia Lucia Maria Maribel Martina Miguel Paulina Raquel Raul Refugio Rodolfo Rosa Roxana Gender Male Male Male Male Female Male Female Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Female Female Female Female Female Male Female Female Male Male Male Female Female Frequency Call Monthly 2-3 times week 2-4 times year Monthly Monthly Never Weekly 2-3 time month 2-3 time month 2-3 time month 2-4 times year < Once year Monthly Monthly Weekly Monthly Weekly 2-3 time month 2-3 times week > 3 times week Monthly 2-3 times week Monthly Monthly 2-3 time month Monthly Never 2-4 times year Whom Call Relatives Friends/ Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives N/A Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Relatives Spouse/ Relatives Relatives N/A Friends/ Relatives Frequency Write Monthly < Once year Never < Once year < Once year < Once year 8-10 time year < Once year < Once year 2-4 times year 5-7 times year Never Monthly 5-7 times year Never 2-3 time month 2-4 times year < Once year < Once year Monthly Never Never < Once year < Once year < Once year Never Never 2-3 time month Whom Write Friends Relatives N/A Friends/ Relatives Relatives Relatives Friends/ Relatives Relatives Relatives Friends/ Relatives Relatives N/A Friends/ Relatives Relatives N/A Relatives Friends Relatives Relatives Friends/ Relatives N/A N/A Relatives Relatives Relatives N/A N/A Friends/ Relatives


73 Ties to the United States All of the respondents showed strong family and social ties in the United States. This may be due to the nature of the sampling procedure, as most respondents were found by referrals of friends and family members. All of the respondents, therefore, had some close social or family tie in the United States (though not always in the Phoenix area). Thirteen of sixteen married migrants (81%) were accompanied by their spouse, a rate that is much higher than that of the findings of the Mexican Migration Project. This may be a result of the network sample or a change in migration pattern as migrants move toward settlement rather than circulation. Of the respondents only two had no immediate family ties in the United States: Gregorio, whose wife, children and other family members remain in Mexico while he works here sending 40% of his earnings home; and Refugio, who also has a wife, children and family in Mexico and sends more than 60% of his income to Mexico. Both men are examples of the traditional labor circuit, relying on social contacts in the United States (they each have close friends from their hometown here in Phoenix) to provide job referrals, shared housing, and other resources. Both have made multiple trips (Refugio has been here six times and Gregorio three), circulating between homeland and employment opportunities in the United States. Both have plans to return to Mexico. Alternatively, migrants who were most integrated and assimilated into US culture were found to be distinct from others. Francisco, for example, is a twenty three year old university student originally from a town in Chihuahua, Mexico. His family moved to New Mexico when he was a baby, but only stayed for two years. They returned, permanently, about sixteen or seventeen years ago. He was granted permanent residence status four years ago after the family applied for the general amnesty. His youngest two siblings (out of five) are citizens as they were born here. Francisco’s extended family on the paternal side live mostly in the United States (Arizona, New 73

74 Mexico and Texas), while most of his mother’s family lives in Mexico. He is only infrequently in contact with these relatives. He is, however, an active member of various social and recreational groups in the United States. These groups include a softball team, a racquetball club, a Hispanic rights group, and a local business association for students, etc. in addition to his church youth group and choir. Thus he demonstrates strong social and family ties to the United States and weak ties to his home country. Francisco characterizes his identity as being pan-Hispanic. He points out: “I don’t really label anyone Chicano or Mexican, I see myself as a person, I see every person of Hispanic background, of Latino background, as one people even though they’ve been here for a long time. It’s like an extended family….” He does say that he has a different relationship with his friends who are of Hispanic background than with his Anglo friends, but points out that it is more a matter of language and culture. Interestingly, though as a Mexican migrant who has lived here for most of his life, he says his identification as a Mexican or as a Chicano is dependent upon his social situation: “I believe I have no real identification... I am able to adapt, from Latino to Hispanic to Mexican-American, depending on the situation and who are the people I am talking to. Actually, I have been able to take on all of those identities.” This practice of shifting between identities has been noted in the literature (for example Glick Schiller and Fouron 1999) and is especially important in our understanding of transnational fields as one strategy for negotiating a culturally pluralistic environment. Francisco also associates frequently with Anglos and to a lesser degree Asian American. His position as a student worker puts him in contact with many people and he has formed friendships beyond the Hispanic community. He describes the frequency of his associations as approximately 50% with Hispanics, 30% with non-Hispanic Whites, and about 20% with Asians. All of his friends, 74

75 he says, live in the United States either in Phoenix or in California and Texas. He only has indirect contact, through family members, with extended family in Mexico. As he moved here at a very young age, he has no friends who reside in Mexico. Diversity of ethnic ties was used in the earlier analysis as a measure of acculturation. Following assimilation theory (Gordon 1964, as cited in Alba and Nee 1997; Clark 1998), social boundaries begin to break down following economic and spatial assimilation. While Francisco is exemplary of this assimilation pattern (he lives in a primarily Anglo neighborhood, attends university, and has a diversity of social ties), it was found that on the whole migrants in this sample had very little association with other Table 11 – Ethnic Diversity of Social Ties in US
Racial/ Ethnic Group Has friends/ Good relations 3 7 10 10 14 No friends/ Neutral 24 21 18 15 14 Poor relations

African-American Asian Latino (non-Mexican) Chicano Non-Hispanic White

1 0 0 3 0

ethnic groups, especially Asians and African-Americans [Table 11].19 There was only slightly more association with non-Mexican Latinos and Chicanos. Moreover, the most association beyond coethnics occurred with non-Hispanic Whites. However, as Hector indicates, whom one defines as a friend is a bit problematic: Well, in the car wash where I work there are two people [Chicanos] there, two people, with whom I get along well. Like co-workers, we get along well. No, I don’t have any problem with them…It is difficult to say really who a friend is though. You might introduce someone as ‘this is my friend.’ But, there are so many things that really defines one as a friend….


This may be reflective of the fact that only 2.4% of Maricopa County residents (which includes greater Phoenix metro area) are Asian and only 4.2% African-American (US Census Bureau 2000).


76 There were several reports of problems between ethnic groups, primarily with Chicanos. The perception (however erroneous) among several of the respondents was that many Chicanos are involved in criminal activities or have a sense of superiority over Mexican immigrants. Refugio explains why he does not associate with Chicanos: I haven’t had much to do with Chicanos. In reality they are a little bit problematic in some occasions. I’ve tried to distance myself a little from them so that I wouldn’t have any problems with them. So, now I practically have no problems with them…there are problems like they are associated with crimes, and if you are with them you might be associated with this type of person and have a problem. The strongest response was from Juan. With a disdainful expression and passionate tone, he explained his viewpoint slipping back and forth between English and Spanish: Interviewer: What kind of relationship do you have with Chicanos? Juan: None! None! The truth is they don’t sit well with me. The truth is they don’t sit well with me, because I have the idea that, I have the idea, well not all are the same, but I have a very different idea than they do. They know that their families are from Mexico. That they were illegal. But, they were born here and they feel very big, very big like they are more than you are even though the face is the same. It is completely a Mexican [face]. But they say ‘I’m born here. I’m from the United States. I’m an American Citizen.’ I know that you are born here but ‘look at your face bro’ you’re like me.’ So, you don’t have to be like that if you are Mexican. Look at your father. For this reason I don’t have any relations with… Interviewer: So, you don’t have any Chicano friends. Juan: The truth is, no… In conclusion, the migrants in this sample were found to have family and social ties in both Mexico and the United States. The ties, especially to family in the homeland, were maintained with varying but regular frequency. While ties to Mexican family and friends usually were equated with a sense of longing or sadness at having to be apart, the economic and legal structures of the migration 76

77 process limit the migrants in their ability to return or to circulate. Ties in the United States were strongest with family and co-ethnic friends from the homeland. With few exceptions, there was little diversity of ties other than necessary contact with co-workers and employers. Whereas most informal associations were with co-nationals, differences between US born and foreign-born coethnics were especially apparent.


78 Table 12 – Economic Ties Name Gender Monthly Remittance as % of Income Monthly US Income Monthly Owns Vehicle in US US Rent Alan Andres David Diego Fatima Francisco Graciela Gregorio Guicho Guille Hector Javier Joel Jorge Juan Leticia Lucia Maria Maribel Martina Miguel Paulina Raquel Raul Refugio Rodolfo Rosa Roxana Male Male Male Male Female Male Female Male Male Female Male Male Male Male Male Female Female Female Female Female Male Female Female Male Male Male Female Female 1% 25% 0% 50% 0% 0% 8% 40% 0% 5% 0% 9%* 0% 44% 0% 2%** 0% 0% 60% 5% 11% 0% 0% 0% 63% 0% 0% 0% $2500 $800 $2000 $1500 $200 $300 $1200 $1000 $1200 $1000 $900 $1600 $0 $900 $1500 $0 $0 $0 $920 $500 $950 $500 $0 $2200 $1600 $1800 $400 $1500 $150 $100 $0 $200 $600 $70 $300 $127 $600 $150 $600 $500 $0 $200 $400 $600 $0*** $0 $150 $0 $100 $184 $0 $605 $100 $570 $440 $300 Yes No No No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No No Yes No No No No Yes No No No No No US Bank Account

* Remittance was reported by wife Raquel, but income is made by Javier. ** Leticia is a homemaker, but sends approximately 2% of her husband’s earnings. He was not interviewed. *** Recently broke her arm and is unable to work. She is living with friends from hometown and hopes to return to work soon.


79 Economic Ties Economic ties to the United States were by far the strongest bonds preventing some who would return to Mexico from doing so while helping to cement others to the receiving context. In several cases, individuals with strong familial and social ties in Mexico remain in the United States only to earn money to remit to the homeland. In contrast, those with weak social and familial ties to Mexico also had weak economic ties to their country and very low levels of remittances [Table 12]. Levels of remittance varied from zero to more than 60% of monthly earnings. In the cases of very high levels of remittance (40% of income or more), there is a correspondence with strong family ties and plans for eventual permanent return settlement in Mexico. Likewise, in cases of no remittance, only weak to medium family ties in Mexico. And in those few cases of strong family ties in Mexico, but no remittance, there is a lack of need for money to be sent from abroad. For example, Juan’s entire family lives in Mexico but he sends no money: “No, I don’t send money, the truth is my parents don’t need money. My father has a business in Mexico…and my mother sells clothing. She has her own store selling clothing. So, they don’t need anything from me. All that I make is for me.” Economic ties to the United States took the form of both income and expenses. As saw previously shown, in Hector’s case, expenses in the United States act to keep the migrant here longer or even permanently. Guille and Alan originally intended to return after the birth of their daughter and they had saved enough to return and have a home of their own. However, they have had to extend their trip after her car broke down and then they were forced to find a new apartment. These economic obstacles have delayed return as they had to start saving for a second time. Generally, economic ties were indicative of the larger structural influences of the migration system. Wage differentials and employment opportunities draw migrants to the United States, while 79

80 relative costs of circulation (both real and perceived) hold them here. Migrants with weak or no social and family ties in the United States, and strong economic ties to the home country, all had definite plans for eventual return. Likewise, there is a propensity for migrants, with many close family members residing in the United States, to settle in the United States regardless of the strength or direction of their economic ties.20

Symbolic Ties Transnational symbolic ties have been defined in the literature as public and private activities, which include: language use; popular cultural practices (such as sports, music, dance, arts, foods, and social customs); maintenance of norms and values; attentiveness to national media; and usage of cultural or national icons (for example, flags, emblems, portraits of national heroes, etc.) (Faist 2000b). Itzigsohn et al. have

Table 13 – Orientation of Cultural Practices
Name Alan Andres David Diego Fatima Francisco Graciela Gregorio Guicho Guille Hector Javier

Music Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Both Both Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican ---

Radio US Mexican --Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican ---

TV US Both Mexican Both Mexican Both Both Mexican Mexican US Both Mexican

Movies US US Mexican US Mexican US US US US US US Mexican

Actors US US US US US --Mexican US US US Mexican Mexican

Food Mexican Mexican US Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican --Mexican --Mexican

Restaurant US --Mexican Mexican US Both Both Mexican International US Both ---

Calling Card Mexican Both --Mexican Both ----Both Both Mexican --Mexican

Of the four migrants with weak economic ties in the US, all had very strong family and social ties holding them here.


Joel Jorge Juan Leticia Lucia Maria Maribel Martina Miguel Paulina Raquel Raul Refugio Rodolfo Rosa Roxana Mexican Mexican US Both Mexican --Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Both Mexican Mexican Both Both Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican US Mexican Both Both US Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Both Both US --Mexican Mexican US Both US US US US US Mexican --Mexican US US US US US US Both US Mexican US US US US Mexican --Mexican US Mexican --Mexican US --Both Both US Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican US Mexican Mexican Mexican Mexican US US --US US US US ----Mexican --US Both --Mexican US Both Mexican Mexican Both Both --Mexican Both Mexican Mexican Mexican --Mexican Both --Mexican


82 further delineated symbolic ties to “narrow” and “broad” transnational cultural practices (1999). In their study of Dominicans in the United States, they define narrow practices as those in which migrants participate in the production and preservation of homeland cultural practices while abroad. In turn, broad practices are those in which an individual identifies with the homeland, while participating in the cultural practices of the United States (Itzigsohn et al. 1999). In this survey, questions were asked regarding the migrant’s cultural practices, language use, use of icons, and nationalistic self-identification [see Appendix B for survey questions]. Individual responses were coded and then collapsed into the categories Spanish, English, both or Mexican, American, both (in the case of food the category - international – was also used) [Table 13]. Summative figures indicate that orientation of symbolic ties of the majority of individuals in the sample were toward both Mexico and the United States, indicating perhaps the existence of a transnational social space [Table 14]. On the extremes, were five individuals whose primary cultural ties were to the United States and five whose ties were oriented toward Mexico. This range of orientation indicates a continuum of cultural ties that, when considered together with economic and social ties may indicate a level of acculturation, isolation or participation in transnational fields. As Faist points out: Immigrant culture cannot be seen as baggage or a template, not as something to be figuratively packed and unpacked, uprooted (assimilationists) and transplanted (cultural pluralists). Instead, an analytical approach looks for structures of

Table 14 – Relative Orientation and Strength of Social, Economic and Symbolic Ties Male Mean language Use Spanish Only 7 Female Total 7 14 82

83 Mostly Spanish Both - More Spanish Both – Equal Usage English Only Relative Orientation of Symbolic Ties Mexico Both USA Relative Family and Social Ties – Mexico Weak Medium Strong Relative Strength of Homeland Ties Weak Medium Strong Relative Family and Social Ties - USA Weak Medium Strong Relative Economic Ties - Mexico Weak Medium Strong Relative Economic Ties - USA Weak Medium Strong TOTALS 5 3 1 0 2 14 0 2 12 2 3 13 0 3 12 1 9 1 2 1 0 15 16 2 2 1 0 3 9 0 3 8 1 1 8 3 1 8 3 6 3 2 4 3 5 12 7 5 2 0 5 25 0 5 20 3 4 21 3 4 20 4 15 4 4 5 3 20 28


84 meaning engendered by and expressed in private and public behaviours, images, institutions, and languages (Faist 2000b). As follow-up to the questions regarding cultural practices, respondents were asked to define, in their own terms, their personal sense of patriotism and national identity. Some respondents were initially confused by these concepts, perhaps as there is no one “Mexican” identity but rather many regional identities with few commonalities other than language and religion. Mexico is yet a country with few universal symbols, recognized landmarks, and unifying cultural traditions. Each region has had a separate history of conquest, numerous ethnic differences, distinct cultural practices, and even regional linguistic differentiation. Maribel, for example, points out that national identity is for her the culture of her region:

Identity for me is, well, for example our traditions in Oaxaca. We have many traditions. One of them is the third Monday of the month of July, in which we have a very big celebration. It is called ‘Third Monday’ and is celebrated all over the state of Oaxaca. It is a big festival. Within the state, there are dances and many things to do. There are other celebrations we have like Dia de los Muertos. It is the first of November, where all Oaxacans hold a very beautiful celebration. We celebrate death and the spirits of ancestors. We decorate a big table with many fruits, all the fruits, apples, avocados, nuts, and vases with yellow flowers. Later people prepare mole and tamales and frijoles because it is the tradition to eat tamales with mole. There are many festivals that are very beautiful. For example, there is Christmas. Christmas there is very beautiful with all of the six posadas reenacting the birth of the child God. One identifies with these celebrations…. Well, it is very beautiful there. Very beautiful….the traditions, the culture that they have. The way of working to improve and move ahead. They work there in crafts, this is their way of living. I like everything. I like it there a lot… Similarly, Refugio refers to his hometown also when explaining what it is to be Mexican: I am from Guanajuato, Mexico, this is my identity…there are many differences from one state to the next. The way of speaking, the way of living… there are even problems of how one state associates with another. We have different festivals… Even if I had legal status here in the US, I would still be Mexican… My emotion for my land is that it is where I was born and raised. I grew up learning the ways of my homeland. I am called by my homeland…. We [Mexicans] are always thinking in our country. We know that our country exists, but what we are doing here is for one’s individual benefit, to get ourselves ahead a 84

85 little… but we know we are living in two parts. We are working here so we will have an easier life in Mexico… This idea of working hard to create a better future emerges again in several other narratives. Paulina, for instance, believes it is part of the national character of Mexicans to work hard, but feels that it is the lack of opportunity to work hard that brings them here: Sincerely I believe that Mexicans are the hardest workers and the most sincere… also I think it is Machismo… For us women, we are very hard workers. Even though we have very little education because we don’t have the money to study, for this reason I am here cleaning buildings and there are those people working in the fields here in the US. People who work construction, they are doing work that can pay well, but for us [Mexicans] they don’t pay as well because we don’t have much education. You know that we can’t argue for more pay either because they would say “get out I have other workers…” For as much of a Mexican that I am, for as much a Mexican citizen that I am, there is nothing for me. This [US] is the country that gives me my food, it gives me more opportunities for everything, including for my children. In yet another case, Alan describes Mexicans as being sacrificing and suffering, but not necessarily hard working: “Being Mexican, for me, means, uh, well, we are a race that possibly is very sacrificing, maybe very suffering also. And, well many are advancing but it is very costly…. Well, um, I feel good being Mexican, but I feel that Mexicans, well, some of us, well many of us, are very flojos [lazy].” This perception may be shaped, in part, by the receiving context. The dominant society, in the border area especially, defines ‘Mexicaness’ as something less than equal to majority culture. With the recent debate over bilingual education21, growing acrimony toward undocumented migration, and increased restrictions on legal migrants, combined with much media coverage of the so-called ‘social problems’ associated with migration, the Southwest has become a less than receptive environment for the maintenance of narrow cultural practices and symbolic transnational ties. Rosa,


Measures passed in both California and now Arizona to eliminate bilingual education in favor of English immersion programs.


86 in fact says she has purposively discarded many of her cultural practices in an attempt to integrate more easily: I am Mexican. Firstly, I was born in Mexico and have family and ancestors in Mexico. My blood is Mexican…my language, more than anything my language… I have tried to get rid of Mexican traditions a little. If I compare myself with my mother and my sisters I am completely different… because, unfortunately, in my life it is better in the US than in Mexico and if we talk about culture only, Mexico is good and all, but for my children it was better in the US. In summary, symbolic ties are found in both daily cultural practices and in broader identification with a particular national group. In this sample, cultural practices were found to be oriented in a continuum from home country to receiving context, with a preponderance displaying orientation toward the popular cultures of both countries. On the other hand, personal identity for the migrant appears to be strongest for the native region of Mexico and as a reaction to the receiving context possibly as a result of reactive ethnicity (Portes and Rambaut 1990; Popkin 1999). Further investigation into the direction of cultural practices, personal identification and, perhaps more importantly, changes in norms and attitudes would be useful in gauging the shift from local to translocal and even transnational identities.

Transnational Social Fields The core group that emerged from the sample was comprised of twenty-one individuals that were connected in a web of formal and informal social ties and direct family bonds. There were three principle informants who independently contacted me and then provided referrals to other members in the network. Occupying a central spot in the network was a couple from Mexico City 86

87 (Guille and Alan) who each provided three contacts and was acquainted with the other two informants. In the analysis of network ties, a strong picture of transnational kinship groups becomes apparent from this core group [see Appendix D]. And, from the sub-group of Oaxacan migrants, who were known to each other in Mexico and live in the same apartment building (Maribel, Lucia, Gregorio, Andres, and Hector), an image of transnational circuits can be seen. An additional network of more formal ties was found from the informant in the local Catholic Church group (Francisco). Though unknown to one another in the home country, these five individuals represent the power of formal social groups to build a sense of community that transcends social and political boundaries. Individuals in this group included several immigrants with long-term legal status, as well as members who had arrived as little as six months prior with no documentation. As all of the members of this network were participants in the youth choir, a somewhat different picture of a transnational social space emerges. It is a space that tends to combine or blend Mexican and American cultures.

Transnational Kinship Groups Faist identifies transnational kinship groups as a form of social space that relies on reciprocity and the maintenance of social norms of providing for relatives. Faist contends that remittances are the primary example of this type of transnational social space (2000b). Just under half of the migrants remit earnings to the home country. However, reciprocity is also an element in the decision of migrants to choose a particular destination for settlement or even temporary migration. For instance, many of the migrants in this sample chose Phoenix because of family ties in


88 this area. In this context they would have a support network to aid them in housing, job referrals, and emotional support.22 Guille, who came to have her child here and then return, had been to the United States twice before. In deciding the destination for this trip, she chose not to return to California where she had been before, but to come to Phoenix where her sister has lived with her husband for the past four years. Likewise, Fatima, Raquel, Martina, Roxana, and Maria all came to be with their husbands, siblings and children. The men, too, chose their destination by presence of family members. Diego, Juan, Raul, Hector, Rodolfo, Andres, and Jorge all have siblings or other relatives in the Phoenix area. This trend clearly illustrates the nature of migration for purposes of family reunification and mutual support. In the cases of the women, however, it appears that migration to follow one’s spouse is a significant occurrence. In contrast, men, with perhaps the exception of Alan who followed his wife here, often come first to establish a residence and job before sending for their wives and children (see also Massey 1986, 1987; Massey et al. 1987).

Transnational Circuits Transnational circuits are identified by the mechanism of mutual exchange between peers. The sub-group of social network associations between Gregorio, Jorge, Lucia, and Maribel is a superb example of a transnational circuit. Each of the respondents was known to the others in their hometown Oaxaca, Mexico. Although several have other family members (siblings and cousins) in the United States, they chose to come to Phoenix because of these social ties. They share an apartment, split utilities and other expenses, have helped one another with job leads, and presently


This notion may be disputed in some cases. See Menjivar (2000) for the case of how these social support networks based on reciprocity hinder, rather than help Salvadoran migrants.


89 are all sharing in supporting Lucia who recently fractured her arm and is unable to work. These mutual obligations are clearly shared and responsibility falls equally on all parties. Importantly they also provide support for each other in more symbolic ways. As Maribel explains, they have relied on one another for emotional support as well as financial support: Precisely today, we are all from the same town [people in room], and today we feel a little sad because today is the festival of our town. So, we are all made to think about the festival and what we are missing - the fireworks, the foods, and everything - because we are not there… but also, we say it is good since they [our families] have received our earnings that we sent them. We do all we can to send it to them and so they would have it [money] for this festival. It is difficult, but on the contrary it is also good… there are various ways to look at it.

Transnational Communities Faist explains transnational communities as collectives that act in the preservation of symbolic ties to the homeland and creation of new transnational identities (Faist 2000b). Although many of the members of the core network are involved in the continuation of traditions and customs of their homeland, the respondents from the Church group were most clearly the strongest proponents of creation of a unified identity. Moreover, the identity that emerges in this particular collective is an amalgamation of US and Mexican elements. It is important to note that the Church group meets at a charismatic Catholic mission. The evangelical movement has been spreading throughout Latin America (as well as Asia and Africa) in the past few decades. Fueled by missionaries from the United States and the changing orientation of developing countries away from tradition and toward Western culture (possibly as a by-product of modern global capitalism), evangelical and charismatic movements are acquiring new followers at a significant rate. This movement within the Catholic Church may be viewed as a blending of cultures: 89

90 traditional Catholic doctrine of Latin American countries and a more ‘American’ evangelism growing out of Protestantism. Thus, the Catholic Renewal Mission creates a transcultural space within which participants may experience two worlds. The members within this network were all under thirty, had more than a secondary education, and most had at least some extended relatives in the area (the exception was Juan who had followed his friend here). They were equally divided between documented and undocumented and all of those who were undocumented were on their first and only trip to the United States [see Appendix E]. From the extremes that are represented within the group (Francisco and Miguel) a similarity in dual orientation of symbolic ties can be observed. While Francisco has been here for almost twenty years and has the strongest family and social ties to the United States, he also had strong symbolic ties to both Mexico and the United States. He is a fluent bilingual and prefers Mexican cultural practices in most cases. Nevertheless, as mention before, he does not restrict himself categorically to labels such as Latino, Mexican, Chicano, or Mexican-American. Similarly, Miguel, who has only been here for one year and has only weak family ties to the United States, was found also to have symbolic ties to both the United States and Mexico. He attends a community college program to improve his English skills, prefers US most entertainment and has many fiends at the church. However, Miguel plans to one day return and establish a business in Mexico and is saving to do so. While individuals within the group have varying levels of ties to the United States and Mexico, observations of the group during their weekly meetings generated a depiction of community creation of culture of a hybrid culture. The group meets a neighborhood ministry located in a long flat industrial building connected to a paint supply company and a Protestant evangelical revival 90

91 church. Unlike other light industrial use buildings in the area, the exterior is freshly painted, the small parking area is free of debris, and the walk in front to the building is freshly washed. The façade of the building is dominated by the image of the Virgin de Guadalupe a cultural icon clearly indicating ties to the homeland. On any given Friday, there are about a half dozen males and females who use keyboards, microphones, electric guitars, mixing board, drums, and all of the equipment typically associated with an American rock and roll band. Dress is casual, although robes might be worn on special occasions. The majority of the members of the group are Mexican born. Consequently, the predominate language is Spanish although there was some mixing with English (especially technical vocabulary regarding musical equipment). The members of the youth choir compose songs during choir practices that are reflective of their personal lives here and their religious expression. The music is upbeat, almost rock and roll, with Spanish lyrics and themes. They also are involved in creating decorations for the mission (often blending cultural and religious icons from Mexico with an American style of presentation), visiting other parochial missions, attending revivals, and going on informal outings. These solidarity-building activities produce a strong sense of identity as a member of a community with strong symbolic ties to the homeland, practical linkages with the United States, and blending of cultural practices of the two.

Conclusions In this study, social, economic, and most importantly symbolic ties are shown to be related to a continuum of outcomes from acculturation and isolation to membership in transnational social fields. Individual migrants are demonstrated as belonging to various social spaces depending upon such factors as: their motivation for migration; plans for return; presence of social and timely ties in 91

92 the local receiving context; involvement in preservation of cultural practices of the homeland; and activities which create new or hybrid culture. Migrants, whether as a reaction to racism, segregation, a lack of equal opportunities, or a longing for the mythical homeland, do maintain symbolic ties with Mexico, even when social and economic ties have been cut. Hypothesis Four stated that strong symbolic ties to the U.S. would result in greater acculturation. However, this premise is not been entirely supported by the Phoenix sample. While spatial, economic, educational and social integration with majority culture (assimilation) was observed in many cases, they did not preclude symbolic ties to the homeland. In fact, no migrants were observed to have an overall orientation of symbolic ties toward the United States. Even those who had spent considerable time in the receiving context (e.g. Rosa, Francisco, Refugio, Graciela) showed preference for cultural practices of the homeland or both sending and receiving contexts, but never for the United States alone. It is apparent that the age at which the migrant came to the United States and a number of years here are the greater determinants of assimilation as those most integrated into American life had been here for the longest time. As well, the receiving context may play an important role in the process of acculturation. In the Phoenix area, there are many resources for Mexican migrants that enable them to maintain symbolic as well as social ties to the homeland (Spanish language TV and radio, eateries, shopping centers, churches, etc). In another locale, which lacks any of these resources, migrants may be more inclined to adopt cultural practices of the majority. Hypothesis Five, in contrast, posited that strong symbolic ties to the homeland and weak ties to the United States would result in the least social integration into American society. This hypothesis is supported by the cases in the sample. Javier, Maria, Maribel, Martina and Rodolfo all have strong symbolic ties to Mexico. Although Javier (landscape gardener) and his wife Raquel 92

93 (homemaker) have settled in the United States and even raised their six children here, almost all of their cultural practices and preferences indicated unyielding symbolic ties to the homeland. Although Javier works outside the home, he remains isolated from American culture as he works entirely with other Mexicans and associates very little with individuals from other ethnic groups. Like Raquel, Maria and Martina are homemakers. Both followed their husbands and have no ties outside of the family. Thus, they are generally cut off from American cultural influences. Although both of their families live in racially integrated apartment complexes, they say, due to legal status and lack of English skills, that they stay to themselves. Martina in particular says she dislikes living here and wishes to return to her hometown in Sonora. She is held here by her husband’s job and the economic welfare of her two daughters. Maribel, who has four children who have been living with their grandmother in Oaxaca since their father disappeared, is here also for economic reasons. Her symbolic and social ties are all oriented toward Mexico and toward her hometown specifically. She has definite plans for return and no intention to settle here. These cases demonstrate that for a variety of reasons and under various conditions when symbolic ties are strongly in favor of the home country, the migrant will be socially and culturally isolated from the mainstream. Strongest perhaps is evidence in support of hypothesis six: strong symbolic ties to both the United States and Mexico will create a transnational social space where migrants may mix or blend cultural practices. The majority of migrants interviewed demonstrated dual symbolic ties: bilingualism, entertainment preferences from both countries, use of cultural icons from Mexico while residing in US, and other cultural practices that indicated a bifurcation of symbolic ties. More importantly, many of the respondents were actively involved in the maintenance of homeland culture and creation of hybrid transnational cultures. Beyond the example of those respondents from the church group sample, other hybrid cultural practices included: 93

94 Membership in a predominately Mexican Amway group (Raul and Hector). Active participation in Evangelical Christian Church groups (Fatima, Guille, Alan, Raquel). Membership in Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Francisco).23

These symbolic ties, especially when combined with social and familial bonds to Mexico, create transnational social fields in which migrants maintain connections to the homeland while living abroad. These transnational fields may take the forms of transnational kinship groups, transnational circuits or transnational communities and are maintained by the mechanisms of reciprocity, obligation, and solidarity. Moreover, these social fields are not unambiguous, discrete categories as individual migrants may belong to one or all of the categories. Equally, individual participation in transnational social fields are represented by a continuum of involvement as members have varied social and symbolic bonds to the United States and Mexico. Thus, the degree of embeddedness of the migrant in both cultures will determine their overall commitment to a transnational identity.


Aztlan Chicano Student Movement: A group that grew out of the Chicano rights movement of the late 1960s and is committed to the community, connection to culture and history of Mexican-Americans, and to aiding students in their educational progress.



This thesis has combined the results of a general secondary data analysis of a large dataset collected for over ten years with a more qualitative study of individual Mexican migrants in a particular receiving locale. The intent of this triangulation of methods was to show a more comprehensive depiction of Mexican migration as it relates to the creation of transnational social spaces than is possible by either method of analysis alone. The statistical analyses established patterns of migration flows as they relate to social and economic ties in both countries. The results indicated that strong economic and social ties to the United States, in the absence of strong ties to the homeland, increased the odds for long-term legal status and overall duration of stay, indicative of a propensity for settlement. Conclusions regarding the results of the strength of homeland ties were less certain as few variables were found to be representative of economic and social ties to Mexico. However, the results did indicate that obligation to individuals left in the homeland (as measured by remittance) combined with strong economic or familial ties in the United States did increase the rate of circulation between countries. Nevertheless, it was determined that these results may have been true for the period in which the data was collected, but may not hold true as today’s border enforcement has increased the potential for long-term stay as the risks associated with border crossing have increased the relative cost of circulation. Clearly though, social and economic ties were shown to be statistically significant in these migration patterns. The local interviews provided abundant material on the nature of the migration process for particular Mexican migrants and insight into the relative power of social, family, economic and symbolic ties as they relate to the migrant’s decision to settle, circulate, or eventually return migrate.

96 Migrants, though found to have differing social and economic ties to the United States and having come here for various reasons, were all found to have some connection to the receiving context. Similarly, even those migrants who had the strongest bonds to the United States were found to have symbolic ties to the homeland. As predicted, migrants having strong ties to both homeland and the host country were involved in various transnational fields including transnational kinship groups, transnational circuits and transnational communities. Of these social fields, transnational communities are most important for the production of new or blended culture and require strong symbolic ties to the homeland. It is in this space that a genuine sense of transnational identity emerges and is sustained as a common product of migrant solidarity and unity. These findings are, however, preliminary and tentative as the non-representative snowball sample is quite small and limited to one geographic area. As a result, the nature of those migrants who have few social ties is unknown, as they are not reflected in the sample design. Similarly, comparison between receiving contexts would be beneficial as this research only reflects migrants to the Phoenix area. By repeating this study, preferably with a greater sample size, in various urban and rural locations throughout the United States, the effects of receiving context on acculturation, isolation and development of a transnational identity may be gauged. Additional investigation into participation of migrants in more formal social groups may also produce more information on the processes of the creation of a transnational identity. Though in need of further testing, this study does indicate a strong relationship between the strength of ties and transnational fields. By establishing the role of transnational ties in the migration process, this thesis has demonstrated the importance of familial, social and economic bonds in determining the migration trajectory of an individual. More importantly findings have supported the premise that strong symbolic ties to both the United States and Mexico, especially when combined 96

97 with other strong ties, creates a social milieu in which a community may from a transnational identity.



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APPENDIX A - TEXT OF FLYER Busco Sujetos Para Entrevistas

Soy sociologo de la Universidad de la Universidad del Estado de Arizona (ASU). Hago estudios sobre la migracion Mecicano a los Estados Unidos. Busco sujetos para participar en algunas entrevistas para este estudio. Las entrevistas durarán alrededor de una hora y forman una parte de mi proyecto de tesis. Toda la informacion acerca los sujetos sera privada y no se utilizará para identificación. Si Ud. O alguien que le conconce es de Mexico y le gustaría participar en este estudio, porfavor llamame al numero telefonico abajo.



104 APPENDIX B - VERBAL CONSENT SCRIPT Proyecto de Tesis: Depto. De Sociologia Communidades Transnacionales Aviso Verbal de Permiso Soy un estudiante graduado bajo la dirección del Professor Agadjanian en el Departamento de Sociología a la Universidad del Estado de Arizona. Estoy haciendo un informe sobre communidades migratorias transnacionales. Esta entrevista, que durará aproximadamente entre una hora y una hora y media, sera grabada. Las cintas solo se usarán mientras dure el estudio y serán destruídas al terminarse investigación. Su paraticipación es estrictamente voluntaria. Si UD. Decide no participar, pued dejar la entrevista en cualquier momento sin consecuencia. Es possible que los resultados de la investigación sean publicados, pero no usaré su nombre. Para proteger su privacidad, Ud. Pueda seleccionar un seudónimo que yo usaré en mis notas y publicaciónes. No hare referencia al lugar, nombre del grupo u organización a que pertenece, y los nombres de contactos que me provee en las notas de la investigación, ni en los ensayos o publicaciones. Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre este investigación, pueda llamar a mi (Stephen Sills) al número: XXX-XXX-XXXX, o al Profesor Agadjanian al número: XXX-XXX-XXXX (oficina del Depto. De Sociologia al ASU).


105 APPENDIX C - QUESTIONNAIRE Questionnaire for Interviews in Phoenix Area


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

Nombre que quiere usar por el estudio? Cual es su sexo? Cual es su fecha de nacimiento? Ciudad donde nacio Estado de nacimiento Pais donde nacio Estado civil Education (años) Direccion permanente/direccion ahora - Ciudad Direccion permanente/direccion ahora - Estado Documentacion Cuando vino al EEUU la primera vez (año)? Cuantas veces ha viajado a los EEUU (total)? Destino principal - la primera vez? Como llego (modo de transportacion) la primera vez? Documentacion - la primera vez? Paso con coyote - la primera vez? Cuanto pago al coyote - la primera vez? Quien pago - la primera vez? Con quien mas cruzo - la primera vez? Por donde entro - la primera vez? Describe la experiencia (la primera vez): Como consiguio documento - la primera vez? En base a? Occupacion - la primera vez? Salario por hora - la primera vez? Duracion del viaje - la primera vez? Cruces intentados sin lograr pasar - la primera vez? Le deportartaron? Describe la experiencia: Destino principal - la segunda vez? Como llego (modo de transportacion) la segunda vez? Documentacion - la segunda vez? Con quien cruzo - la segunda vez? Paso con coyote - la segunda vez? Cuanto pago al coyote - la segunda vez? Quien pago - la segunda vez? Por donde entro - la segunda vez?

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77.

Describe la experiencia (la segunda vez): Como consiguio documento - la segunda vez? En base a? Occupacion - la segunda vez? Salario por hora - la segunda vez? Duracion del viaje - la segunda vez? Cruces intentados sin lograr pasar - la segunda vez? Le deportartaron? Describe la experiencia: Destino principal - la tercera vez? Como llego (modo de transportacion) la tercera vez? Documentacion - la tercera vez? Con quien cruzo - la tercera vez? Paso con coyote - la tercera vez? Cuanto pago al coyote - la tercera vez? Quien pago - la tercera vez? Por donde entro - la tercera vez? Describe la experiencia (la tercera vez): Como consiguio documento - la tercera vez? Occupacion - la tercera vez? Salario por hora - la tercera vez? Duracion del viaje - la tercera vez? Cruces intentados sin lograr pasar - la tercera vez? Le deportartaron? Describe la experiencia: Destino principal - la cuarta vez? Como llego (modo de transportacion) la cuarta vez? Documentacion - la cuarta vez? Con quien cruzo - la cuarta vez? Paso con coyote - la cuarta vez? Cuanto pago al coyote - la cuarta vez? Quien pago - la cuarta vez? Por donde entro - la cuarta vez? Occupacion - la cuarta vez? Salario por hora - la cuarta vez? Duracion del viaje - la cuarta vez? Cruces intentados sin lograr pasar - la cuarta vez? Le deportartaron? Destino principal - la quinta vez?

107 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113. 114. 115. 116. Como llego (modo de transportacion) la quinta vez? Documentacion - la quinta vez? Con quien cruzo - la quinta vez? Paso con coyote - la quinta vez? Cuanto pago al coyote - la quinta vez? Por donde entro - la quinta vez? Occupacion - la quinta vez? Salario por hora - la quinta vez? Duracion del viaje - la quinta vez? Cruces intentados sin lograr pasar - la quinta vez? Le deportartaron? Destino principal - la ultima vez? Como llego (modo de transportacion) la ultima vez? Documentacion - la ultima vez? Con quien cruzo - la ultima vez? Paso con coyote - la ultima vez? Cuanto pago al coyote - la ultima vez? Quien pago - la ultima vez? Quien pago - la ultima vez? Por donde entro - la ultima vez? Describe la experiencia (la ultima vez): Como consiguio documento - la ultima vez? En base a? Occupacion - la ultima vez? Salario por hora - la ultima vez? Duracion del viaje - la ultima vez? Cruces intentados sin lograr pasar - la ultima vez? Le deportartaron? Describe la experiencia: Cual es su occupacion principal? Tiene otro trabojo? Cual es su trabajo secundario? Como obtuvo su empleo? Cuanto le pagan por hora (trabajo principal)? Cuantas horas la semana trabaja (total)? Cuanto le gana mensual (total)? Cuantas meses al ano? Le pagan por cheque o con efectivo? Le descuentan seguridad social? 117. Le descuentan impuestos federales? 118. Cual es la raza o etnicidad del dueño del trabajo? 119. Cual es la raza o etnicidad de su supervisor? 120. Cuanto gasta al mes en renta? 121. Cuanto gasta al mes en alimentos? 122. Cuanto ahorra al mes? 123. En que piensa va a gastar ese dinero? 124. Tiene carro? 125. Cuanto le costo? 126. Cuanto le gasta seminal por petroleo y para mantenerlo? 127. Cuanto les manda al mes a los padres, parientes o familiares en Mexico? 128. Tiene Ud. cuenta bancaria en los EEUU? 129. Desde cuando? 130. Tiene Ud. tarjeta de credito de los EEUU? 131. Desde cuando? 132. Donde viven sus padres? 133. Donde viven sus abuelos? 134. Cuantos Hermanos tiene? 135. Donde vive hermano(a) #1? 136. Donde vive hermano(a) #2? 137. Donde vive hermano(a) #3? 138. Donde vive hermano(a) #4? 139. Donde vive hermano(a) #5? 140. Donde vive hermano(a) #6? 141. Donde vive hermano(a) #7? 142. Donde vive hermano(a) #8? 143. Donde vive hermano(a) #9? 144. Donde vive hermano(a) #10? 145. Donde vive la mayoria de los tios(as)? 146. Donde viven la mayoria de los primos(as)? 147. Viven algunas parientes en otras ciudades de los EEUU? 148. Quienes son y en cuales ciudades? 149. Con quien vive ahora? 150. Cuantas personas viven en su hogar? 151. De ellos quienes son relaciones suyos y de que relaccion? 107

108 152. Cuantos anos tiene el residente mas mayor en su hogar? 153. Cuantos anos tiene el residente mas menor en su hogar? 154. Tiene hijos? 155. Cuantos hijos tiene? 156. Cual es el edad de hijo #1? 157. Cual es el edad de hijo #2? 158. Cual es el edad de hijo #3? 159. Cual es el edad de hijo #4? 160. Cual es el edad de hijo #5? 161. Cual es el edad de hijo #6? 162. Cual es el edad de hijo #7? 163. Cual es el sexo de hijo #1? 164. Cual es el sexo de hijo #2? 165. Cual es el sexo de hijo #3? 166. Cual es el sexo de hijo #4? 167. Cual es el sexo de hijo #5? 168. Cual es el sexo de hijo #6? 169. Cual es el sexo de hijo #7? 170. Donde viven los hijos? 171. Con quien viven los hijos en Mexico? 172. Los hijos asisten la escuela en los EEUU? 173. Estan otros parientes (padres, tios, primos,etc.) quien vive en Phoenix? 174. Le acompañaron en su viaje? 175. Estan otros paisanos (del mismo pueblo/ciudad/etc) quien viven aqui en Phoenix? 176. Le acompanaron en el viaje? 177. De donde viene su #1 mejor amigo? 178. Donde vive el/ella ahora? 179. Con que frequencia reune con el #1 mejor amigo(a)? 180. De donde viene su #2 mejor amigo? 181. Donde vive el/ella ahora (#2)? 182. Con que frequencia reune con el #2 mejor amigo(a)? 183. De donde viene su #3 mejor amigo? 184. Donde vive el/ella ahora (#3)? 185. Con que frequencia reune con el #3 mejor amigo(a)? 186. Cuantas veces la semana habla por telefono con el/ella (#1)? 187. Cuantas veces la semana habla por telefono con el/ella (#2)? 188. Cuantas veces la semana habla por telefono con el/ella (#3)? 189. Si viven en Mexico o otro ciudad, cauantas veces al mes les escribe? 190. Tiene otros amigos (no incluye los 3 mejores amigos) que viven en otras ciudades de los EEUU? 191. Cuales ciudades? 192. Pertenece a algunas asociaciones sociales? 193. Cuantos grupos? 194. Cual es el nombre (#1)? 195. De donde son los miembros de este club o grupo (#1)? 196. Es un grupo formal o informal (#1)? 197. Que hace este grupo (#1)? 198. Juaga Ud. un deporte? 199. Cual deporte? 200. Juega por un equipo? 201. De donde son los miembros del equipo? 202. Contra quien juegan? 203. Que tipo de relacion tiene con Chicanos? 204. Describe los problemas que tiene: 205. Que tipo de relacion tiene con Mexicanos? 206. Que tipo de relacion tiene con otros Latinos? 207. Que tipo de relacion tiene con Anlgos (Gringos)? 208. Que tipo de relacion tiene con Negros? 209. Describe los problemas que tiene: 210. Que tipo de relacion tiene con Asiaticos? 211. Habla Ud. Ingles? 212. Cual idioma habla mas en casa? 213. Cual idioma habla mas al trabajo/escuela? 214. Cual Idioma habla con los vecinos? 215. Cual idioma habla con la mayoria de los amigos o familiars? 108

109 216. Cual idioma habla con esposa(o)/novia(o)? 217. Le gusta escuchar musica? 218. Cuales grupos/cantantes son sus preferidos? 219. Escucha la radio? 220. Cual canal? 221. Que tipo de programas le gusta escuchar? 222. Le gusta ver la television? 223. Cual es su canal preferida? 224. Cuales son sus programas preferidas? 225. Le gusta bailar? 226. Donde baila? 227. Que clase de baile? 228. Le gusta ver las peliculas? 229. Cuales son sus peliculas preferidas? 230. Cual es su actor/actriz favorito/a? 231. Cuales son su pasatiempos (no mencionadas antes)? 232. Le gusta cocinar? 233. Cual es su comida preferida? 234. Cuando salga para cenar a cuales restaurants vaya? 235. Por cuales occaciones reune con sus amigos y familiars 236. Con que frequencia llama al Mexico? 237. Cuando llama como paga? 238. A quien llama? 239. Con que frequencia escribe cartas o postales al Mexico? 240. A quien escribe? 241. Usa el Internet? 242. Usa para escribir cartas electronicas a amigos/familia en Mexico? 243. Como mas lo usa? 244. Que quiere decir el patriotismo para Ud? 245. Que es identidad nacional? 246. Como es para ser Mexicano mientras vivir en los EEUU? Describelo. 247. Describe su connecion emocional a su tierra nativa (pueblo, ciudad, estado, pais 248. Piensa Ud. que esta viviendo con las patas en dos mundos? 249. Describelo: 250. Piensa volver algun dia a su tierra nativa? 251. Cuando? Como? 252. Ya estamamos terminados con la entrevista, a algo que quire añadir o cambiar?



Table 16 - US and M exican Family/Social Ties Core Sample
12 23 18









19 4 13 22 8 11 US Marriage US Family Tie US Social Tie Mex Marriage 24 2 28 20 Mex Family Tie Mex Social Tie

Table 15 - US and Mexican Family/Social Ties - Church Sample






US Marriage US Family Tie US Social Tie Mex Marriage Mex Family Tie Mex Social Tie


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