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Experiencing Ethnic Economies: Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees

Alan P. Marcusa
Department of Geography and Environmental Planning, Towson University, Towson, Maryland,
Online publication date: 24 February 2011

To cite this Article Marcus, Alan P.(2011) 'Experiencing Ethnic Economies: Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees', Journal

of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 9: 1, 57 — 81
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/15562948.2011.547826

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Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 9:57–81, 2011
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1556-2948 print / 1556-2956 online
DOI: 10.1080/15562948.2011.547826

Experiencing Ethnic Economies:
Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees

Downloaded By: [Marcus, Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011

Department of Geography and Environmental Planning,
Towson University, Towson, Maryland, USA

Brazilian immigrants in the United States experience socioeconomic changes and engage in various professional occupations.
Migrant livelihoods and experiences are affected in two receiving
communities in the United States (Framingham, Massachusetts,
and Marietta, Georgia), and in two sending communities in Brazil
(Governador Valadares and Piracanjuba). What are the most common professional occupations among Brazilians immigrants, and
what were their professional occupations prior to migrating? How
are immigrants’ livelihoods and experiences being shaped by current economic exchanges spurred by immigration? I evaluate these
important questions by looking at changes at the micro-level, within
migrants’ occupations, experiences, and economic transactions. By
weaving though survey results and excerpts from a total of 273 interviews in two receiving communities and returnees in two sending
communities, I illustrate how migration processes have significantly
affected ethnic economies and livelihoods at the micro-level in both
receiving and sending communities. Most returnees had worked
in service sector occupations, such as construction work among
men, and housecleaning among women; and, among those who
remained in the United States, became business owners, teachers,
or continued to work within service sectors.
KEYWORDS Brazilian immigration, ethnic economies, ethnic geography, return migration, transnationalism

Address correspondence to Alan P. Marcus, PhD, Department of Geography and Environmental Planning, Towson University, 8000 York Rd., Towson, MD 21252-0001. E-mail:

yet the U. Latin American immigration to the United States increased notably (Sierra.S. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 INTRODUCTION The influx of recent immigrants1 to the United States in the past four decades has transformed U. Frazier & Tettey-Fio. representing about 1% of the Brazilian gross domestic product (GDP). Brazilian immigrants are second among the three largest U. 2002). 2006).S. 2007). Census 2000 counted only 212.428 Brazilians (U. 2000a. Kaplan & Li. Carrillo. 2006.S. 2007). Department of Commerce. 2000.2 million Brazilians live in the United States (Figure 1. Map by Paporn Thebpanya. 2000b). Brazilian immigrants sent US$6 billion in remittances back to Brazil in 2004. unauthorized population percent increases from 2000 to 2006. Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Miyares & Airriess. Today.58 A. Marcus Downloaded By: [Marcus.S. 2006. Since the implementation of the U. Census Bureau. ethnic landscapes and economies in various significant ways (Berry & Henderson. & Jones-Correa. Department of Homeland Security.S.621. DeSipio. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. 2003. p. . and the American Community Survey in 2007 counted only 301. An estimated 1. FIGURE 1 Map of the United States (Framingham and Marietta) Note.S.159 (U. which removed national quotas favoring European immigration. 536).S. with an average annual population change of 110% (U.

2006). especially since the use of the terms Latino and Hispanic have in a sense. hijacked most academic and public debates. Falconi & Mazzoti. references to the terms Hispanic and Latino are problematic. Disproportionate emphasis placed on Spanish-speaking America within U. experiences. 1994.S.2 I provide glimpses at the micro-level of such economic activities by highlighting Brazilian immigrant livelihoods.S. 1967). 2011). public discourses. as they were not originally intended to statistically represent Brazilian immigrant populations at the macro-level—particularly since the great majority (estimated at over 75%) of the Brazilian immigrant population in the United States is undocumented (Margolis. metropolitan areas (Figure 3). Sales. unstudied until now (Figures 1 and 2). public.S. Georgia. 2009b. I evaluate a new ethnic geography of Brazilian immigration largely “from without” the Hispanic or Latino realm (see Oboler. Massachusetts.4 million in remittances for the same year (Martes & Soares. 2008. 2006). 2007). Charmaz. Moreover. Sales. Brazil deserves a much-needed (re)insertion within U. and public policy makers. academia and disseminated within U. the Brazilian Central Bank (Banco Central) officially registered only US$2. (including primary and secondary data analysis.Downloaded By: [Marcus. well-established in the literature (Almeida. Margolis. 2006. I address these important questions of particular interest to ethnic geographers. have contributed to minimizing the presence of Brazilian immigrants in the United States. in the United States. and have contributed to a misappropriation of Latin America as a monolithic. Brazilians remain largely unknown to the general U. and.S.-Latin American dialogues. 1998. 1998. before and after migration occurs. 1998). Spanish-speaking cultural realm (Marcus. 1995. The U. because most of these remittances were sent informally. Despite the magnitude of Brazilian immigration to major U. because they do not speak Spanish (Office of Management and Budget. ethno-racial.S. The objective of this study was to evaluate an older migration corridor between Governador Valadares and Framingham. 1994. what were the most common occupations prior to migrating in two sending communities of Governador Valadares and Piracanjuba in Brazil? How are economic exchanges and immigrant livelihoods being shaped by migration processes? How are immigrants and returnees experiencing economic changes? Using multiple methods. Census does not consider Brazilians to be Hispanic (since 1990) or Latino (since 2000). about one in every three Latin Americans speaks Portuguese—not Spanish. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 59 however. 2006). Rather than engage in exhaustive theoretical or comprehensive economic analyses of Brazilian immigrant economies. social scientists. What are the most common Brazilian immigrant occupations in two receiving communities of Framingham. and Marietta. and a more recent migration corridor between Piracanjuba and Marietta. These results are nongeneralizable. . 2003. Glaser & Strauss. Siqueira.S. and occupations. Therefore.

particularly in Piracanjuba in the 1970s and 1980s. 1946). Map by Paporn Thebpanya. had proselytized in those regions. Marcus FIGURE 2 Map of Brazil (Governador Valadares and Piracanjuba). BACKGROUND AND THEORETICAL UNDERPINNINGS Extensive mica and quartz extraction during World War II (Abreu. and to subsequent first migrations. Journal of Cultural Geography (26)2: 173–198.S. Later. widely covered by local media during that time period (Siqueira. Oklahoma State University. after the . (Re)creating Places and Spaces in Two Countries: Brazilian Transnational Migration Processes. Marcus.Downloaded By: [Marcus. Protestant missionaries (mostly Pentecostals). particularly in Governador Valadares and region (Vale do Rio Doce). Figures 1 and 2 reprinted with permission from JCG Press. led to the development of ongoing contacts between local residents and visiting American engineers and geologists at that time. 2006). Alan Patrick 2009. U. Additionally. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 60 A. particularly local upper-class youth in the 1960s. Note.

000 to 50.e.S. These examples illustrate the broader impact of transnational interactions affecting local economies across formal borders. 25 cities in the region of Governador Valadares felt the economic impact and experienced a significant halt in the real estate sectors and in local investments (Moreira.Downloaded By: [Marcus. it is likely that the Miami consulate numbers are overinflated. Metropolitan Areas: 2002 (Total 1.000 back to their sending communities (Siqueira. p. Source: Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2002).S. Brazilian immigrants send monthly financial remittances ranging from US$500 to US$1.000 Brazilian immigrants living in the Metro Atlanta region. economic ripple effects are felt throughout those sending communities generating financial stagnation and resulting in a generalized local crisis (Moreira. dollar remittances to Governador Valadares). and pedreiro or construction worker). 2003).S. dollar recently reached a peak low in August 2007. 2006.S. generating and sustaining successive and exponential migration flows to the United States... unlike most Mexicans and Central Americans (Portes & Hoffman. conducted only by the lowest socioeconomic populations in Brazil. When the U.$1. then it would be ranked in 4th or 5th in this list.2 million Brazilians). Georgia. and carrying a strong negative social stigma in that country (e. If Atlanta were to be included here. missionaries left Brazil. Since there was no consular office in Georgia until July 2008.94 to the U. U. Most Brazilian immigrants in the United States work in service sector jobs.g. 2007). 25). empregada or housecleaner. locals in those regions who stayed in contact with those missionaries also gained access to religious and labor market networks (i.S. construction work or housecleaning) forged by these ties. dollar exchange-rate decreases. Entire communities have become dependent on these remittances—locals call it Vala-dollar (U. 2007). Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 61 FIGURE 3 Estimates of Brazilians Residing in the Top 8 U. When the exchange-rate of the Brazilian real to the U. However. at a rate of RS$1. Brazilian immigrants. and with an estimated 20. particularly in Atlanta. Note. nor are they escaping rural dire poverty . are not fleeing a civil war.S.

teacher. and after migrating to the United States generate over US$8. for long-time Brazilian immigrant residents in the United States. I have not included it in my discussions on Brazilian immigration because of its inherent limitations reflected by these important questions and caveats. 2007. only then I became Brazilianized!” Therefore. Tsuda. since it reflects income revenues as well as respective cultural. policeman. for example. if not North American culture” (2001. and financial processes (e. 2003. 25). Sales. now occupy very different socioeconomic spaces after migrating to the United States. I will show how Brazilian immigrants who once occupied archetypal middle-class social spaces in Brazil (e. who after migrating (sometimes. 1999). are no longer restricted to one single geographic location or culture. many have reverted to archetypal middle-class occupations. 1994. I use a transnational approach to focus on the significance of ongoing immigrants’ ties and loyalties to country of origin through various spatial. . 2001. and as Peggy Levitt informed us: “the spread of global media has brought the ‘core’ to all the world’s ‘peripheries. . instead of examining merely “permanent” or “temporary” migration. “I was Americanized when I lived Brazil. Basch. including renting a villa in Northern Italy with her husband. bank teller. listening to pop music. and now she cleans houses for a living in Framingham (she owns her housecleaning business). Marcus (Margolis. It was when I started to live in America that I started to learn about my own country . or physicians in Brazil. and social capital levels imbued in those professions. social class may remain an important and dynamic socioeconomic indicator.g. 2004. She is college-educated and once afforded a full-time servant at her home in Brazil.g. how does one categorize those Brazilian immigrants who were considered “lower-middle class” or “lower class” in Brazil. and. clerk. ranging from retrieving information from the World Wide Web and sending e-mails to drinking Coca-Cola. engineers.’ Many of today’s migrants arrive partially socialized into aspects of Western.000 in monthly revenues as housecleaning business owners? Or those Brazilian immigrants who were once lawyers. p. After migrating to the United States. Which social class category fits this individual? In general. Levitt. However. Social activities and consumer behavior. now work as housecleaners. etc. and eating at McDonald’s. Social class is commonly characterized in the social sciences by “differential access to power-conferring resources and related life chances” (Portes & Hoffman.. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 62 A. However in this case. 1998).. sociocultural. political. However. 1995.) and had housecleaners of their own. social class categories for Brazilian immigrants become blurred and confusing for a number of reasons. a Brazilian immigrant man in Marietta told me during an interview. transnational approaches provide alternate views . as undocumented immigrants) to the United States. wearing jeans. Schiller & Blanc. . or pizza-delivery drivers? A good example of this caveat comes from one interviewee in Framingham. p. This same individual had gone on vacation on three separate occasions in 2007. First. 43). I use three theoretical approaches. construction workers. For example.Downloaded By: [Marcus.

Almeida. 2004. Allen & Turner. Kaplan & Li. Georgia. geographers have conducted very little research specifically on Brazilians.g.Downloaded By: [Marcus. 2007. connections. 2002. 9). 2007. 2006. I evaluate ethnic economies and geographies observable through surveys (i.. 2003. Goza. Frazier & Tettey-Fio. 2002. Transnational migration processes affect multiple social. I explore the Brazilian immigrant component in the same vein as ethnic geographers who have evaluated the shaping of new U. Margolis. 1995. Constantinou. METHODS I conducted fieldwork research (September 2006–September 2007) in Framingham. This body of work is quite broad.e. 8).. and recent. Teixeira. and. political. and Marietta. 2003.. Beserra. Piracanjuba. and economic activities where ties. primary qualitative data). 2003. 1999. Tsuda. I wish to fill this gap and contribute to this broad body of literature. 2006. 2009. 2003). 2006). and loyalties engaged between country of origin and country of destination occur beyond formal borders (Basch et al. Li. In this article I explore both evident and subtle meanings of these ethnic economies. 1999). 2006. In this article. p. “Ethnic groups have the ability to imprint landscapes with their own meaning in ways both evident and subtle” (2006. rich.g.S. 1994. p. 2006. Martes.e. Allen & Turner. primary and secondary quantitative data) as well as I take a deeper look into how immigrants experience place by exploring the subtle meanings of these economic changes incurred through migration processes (i. 2000. I evaluate how economic transactions and ethnic economies within migration corridors provide important examples of transnational exchange flows. I concur with David Kaplan and Wei Li’s statement. 1998. 2007. Brazil (Figure 2). 2006.. in the state of Goi´as. 1995). Governador Valadares. Ethnic geographers contribute to the important study of migration and ethnicity. . Smith. Massachusetts. with some exceptions (e. Berry & Henderson. Peggy Levitt and Mary Waters summarized these processes by “how ordinary individuals live their everyday lives across borders and the consequences of their activities for sending-and receiving-country life” (2002.. That is. 2007. Although there are many publications available on Brazilian migration (e.. Sales. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 63 on migration processes than span beyond strictly contained boundaries or borders. ethnic landscapes (e.g. Miyares & Airriess. 2006. Jackiewicz & Sun. Siqueira. in the state of Minas Gerais. Marrow. Finally. United States (Figure 1). and play a significant role in conveying the spatial processes that occur within the multilayered dimensions of ethnicity and place. Hardwick. 1998. Boswell & Jones. In addition to a transnational approach.

while returnees’ average stay in the United States was 5 years. The average age of all interviewees was 42 years old (ranging from 18–74 years of age). than men (49%).000 forms since 1997) from 1999 to 2006 at a Catholic Center run by Brazilians in Framingham providing services to the Brazilian immigrant community. The average length of stay in the United States for all Brazilian migrants interviewed was 7 years. To circumvent . along with a total of 800 application forms filled out in 2005 and 2006 (200 women and 200 men for each year). to protect their anonymity. S˜ao Paulo (Paulistas. All returnees were born and residents in their respective sending communities. 12%) and Rio de Janeiro (Cariocas. Goianos also made up the majority in Framingham (34%). vignettes) from a total of 273 formal and informal interviews in all four research locations (Table 1). 4%). Marcus TABLE 1 Total Number of Individuals Interviewed. highlighting the importance of transnational social and religious networks facilitating the migration process. United States and Brazil. and (b) formal structured interviews using a survey instrument. discussed earlier.200 application forms filled out by Brazilian immigrants (estimated total of 20.64 A. territory) and 29% were undocumented. To supplement primary research data I analyzed 1. 29%). and Santa Catarina (Catarinenses. Immigrants from Goi´as (Goianos) made up a majority of the respondent sample in Marietta (36%). followed by immigrants from Minas Gerais (Mineiros. Overall. “legally” entered U. ∗∗ Informal interviews consisted of unstructured informal interviews.e. I interviewed slightly more women (51%).. initially represented a statistical challenge for random sampling. Overall. Immigrants who remained in the United States had been in the country an average of 10 years.Valadares Piracanjuba TOTAL 25 48 73 25 59 84 25 38 63 25 28 53 100 173 273 ∗ In-depth Downloaded By: [Marcus. I used a survey instrument (20 questions) in 100 interviews conducted in all four research locations (25 in each place) and selected qualitative narrative extracts (i. followed by immigrants from Paran´a (Paranaenses.e. Minas Gerais (25%). I also used secondary data to supplement primary data results. 71% of my interviewees were documented (i. 20%). I only use first names of interviewees (pseudonyms) here. 2006–2007 United States Interview Types In-depth∗ Informal∗∗ Total Brazil Framingham Marietta Gov. From these forms I selected at random a total of 400 application forms from 1999 to 2004 (40 women and 40 men for each year between 1999 and 2004). Almost all interviewees had at least one family member living in the United States prior to their departure from Brazil..S. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 interviews consisted of two parts: (a) formal semi-structured interviews. 8%). The glaring undercount of Brazilian immigrants.

I used a “snowball sampling” technique (See Margolis.626 individuals. and interviews with returnees provided crucial information. particularly in Fall River. mostly from the states of Minas Gerais or Goi´as.S.Downloaded By: [Marcus. I selected Governador Valadares and Framingham because of their status as traditional sending and receiving communities respectively. Territory The period of 2000 to 2007 (Figure 4) represents the peak years for Brazilians who became legal permanent residents (LPR.S. p. Ludlow. history. Sales. 1998. This peak is by far the largest in U. The second largest number of Brazilians (50. and later. or had family members residing in the United States. and Cape Verdean communities. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 65 this methodological challenge. citizens. several Brazilian immigrants in Framingham. and found out that most interviewees were either returnees themselves. and because they are well-established in the literature as migration corridors (Almeida. with the subsequent development of localized social and labor networks.3 Establishing contacts and conducting research in the community of origin was extremely helpful when I later conducted interviews in the United States. An Overview of Brazilian Entries into U. site selection was based on these migration corridors. Margolis. 1998. These ongoing contacts allowed for a continual flow of other successive contacts. Therefore.S. 1994.S. Fieldwork and participant observation in sending communities were instrumental in providing a complete scope of the Brazilian migration process. 2006). confirming the work of Wayne Cornelius (1982). this fact may also help explain why so many Brazilians initially gravitated to this state. Hence my snowball sample in Marietta and Piracanjuba opened up valuable research opportunities. exerting overt pressure on all non-U. and particularly unauthorized immigrants. I also conducted exploratory research in Piracanjuba.S. 1994. 2003. Since Massachusetts has been a long-standing destination for Portuguese-speaking populations such as the Portuguese. U.744) who became LPRs occurred during the period 1990 to1999. and possibly a direct outcome of the so-called . New Bedford. and Somerville (Adler. Contacts generated in Marietta and Framingham provided important social and religious networks that were useful in Piracanjuba and Governador Valadares later on in my research. likely to be a direct result of the U. 75. xxi). as the language-factor may have also facilitated the migration process and later. During exploratory interviews. Azorean. Department of Homeland Security. Siqueira. informed me of their relatives who had recently relocated to Marietta (many were from Piracanjuba). political environment after the 9/11 attacks. and in conjunction with other factors. 1972). I also selected both as research sites (unstudied until now). mainly in Marietta or the Greater Atlanta area. 2006).

p.238) was reported during the period of 1960 to 1969 (coinciding with the height of the Brazilian military dictatorship in Brazil lasting from 1964 to 1985). Brazilians are the fourth largest national group of all individuals apprehended along the southern border (representing 2. and one returnee (in Piracanjuba). p. 2005.1%).6% of all apprehensions).e..66 A. and one in Framingham). Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 FIGURE 4 Total Brazilians Obtaining Legal Permanent U. Resident Status: Fiscal Years 1820–2006. Marcus Downloaded By: [Marcus. 2006. Brazilians were second among the three largest unauthorized population percent increases from 2000 to 2006 (with an average annual population change of 110%).3%).000 apprehensions in fiscal 2005 to an estimated 1.500 Brazilian apprehensions in 2006 (Reel. .. I discuss survey results which focus on Brazilian occupations before and after migrating to the United States. U.e. among others. Department of Homeland Security.S. 2). The third largest number (29. A22). after India (125%) and before Honduras (75%. Source: U. reducing the number of apprehensions from more than 31. Mexico began requiring tourist visas for Brazilians in October 2005. “lost decade” in Brazil (i. Moving beyond the entry into U. after Mexicans (86. In the last section. Hondurans (4. territory.4%).S.S. Insights from these vignettes and qualitative narratives provide an important context to survey results discussed late-1980s). excerpts from semistructured interviews) to illustrate how socioeconomic spaces are experienced and negotiated by three Brazilian immigrants (two in Marietta. and El Salvadorians (3. Experiencing Change In this section I provide brief vignettes (i. Department of Homeland Security (2006).S. in the following three sections I discuss selected interviews which explore transnational economic interactions. the Brazilian economic downfall in the mid.

without considering the high cost of living in the United States. On the other hand. and then afterwards they would bring others from over there. reais. because they convert to Brazilian currency. Chico’s case demonstrates the network connections forged.m. I would make all the references of those friends and family who I knew in Piracanjuba and recommended them. he returned the Brazilian workers back to Framingham by 3:30 p. originally from Goiˆania and now a realtor in Marietta. territory. Furthermore. works with painting..S. age 47. I worked for 5 years in construction with installation pipes. Nonetheless. Leandro.Downloaded By: [Marcus..m. landscaping. earning about US$700 (cash) weekly. age 47. “what I am doing here?” His boss at the construction site requested that he gather other Brazilian immigrant workers and he was responsible for driving them to the construction site. 6 days a week. newly formed networks forged between Brazilian Pentecostal pastors and Brazilian immigrants in sending and receiving communities fulfill an important role in new migration networks. 3. and cannot return to Brazil now since he is still paying off his financial debts incurred from expenses used to enter into U. waking up at 4 a. as she explained: I went to close a sale for an apartment in Goiˆania here in Marietta with this Brazilian woman for US$65.S. sales in her real estate company are going well. He returned to his home by 5:30 p. age 47. She bought the most expensive one and paid her down payment with US$40. he regrets his decision to migrate 10 years ago as he is now very unhappy. 2. daily. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 67 1. for example. while working an average of 10 to 12 hours daily for 65 to 70 hours weekly. he told me how he would wake up in his bed and stare at the ceiling before leaving to work. As Chico from Piracanjuba. Expanding on these transnational connections. Juc¸ara. and repeated this schedule.000. and so one started to bring another from Brazil. He is a Mineiro. Leandro worked for 4 years in construction. between U. then her nephew came. now one of the largest installation companies for Home Depot. and how these ties result in the expansion .m. and after working all day in construction. However. wondering. I worked with the son of an American missionary that I had known in Goi´as. and construction. explained how some Brazilians overestimate their predicted earnings in the United States.000 in cash! Turned out she didn’t even have a bank account. missionaries from Georgia and Brazilian immigrants from Piracanjuba.m. Like most Brazilian immigrant men in Framingham. I was the first employee of his company. then my sister and her friend. They would arrive at the construction site at 7 a. a former pastor who lives in Marietta explained: I called my cousin.

every day when he worked. and clothes.000 to cross into the U. because I always sent my money back to Brazil: US$2. Furthermore. who are often business owners themselves (Martes & Soares. His descriptions about cash exchange provide important glimpses into the magnitude of global money transfers: At one time I had US$6. and now they needed to maintain this standard of living. making an average of US$1. until ultimately wiring it back to Brazil. territory. I didn’t save that much. he bought a car and furniture for his house—as returnees commonly do by engaging in conspicuous consumption to avoid the local social stigma of been perceived as “failures” in their journey as immigrants. providing them with direct access and automatic entr´ee into Brazilian immigrant markets through church memberships. working a 6day week. . When he returned to Brazil. particularly Pentecostal churches (e. age 33.000 in my pocket .200 weekly. eventually prompting Bosco to return to Brazil in order to save his marriage.g. had paid US$12. especially those who are Pentecostals. Bosco. He told me that he never left cash in his apartment for fear that somebody might steal it. Levitt.. Returnees often face challenges upon their return to Brazil. religious institutions. and/or via business dissemination of church pastors. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 68 A. After Bosco returned to Piracanjuba. the tithe) and therefore will tend to proselytize aggressively with the promise of helping newcomers in their migrant trajectories. He worked on swimming pools in Marietta. “I was glad to have experienced America. 2006.000 in cash in the apartment.. 12 to 15 hours daily. a returnee in Piracanjuba. 2007). Assembl´eia de Deus. My friend once saved $100. For example. they require 10% to be collected from each member’s monthly salary. until they wire it back to Brazil.000 with a local remittance service. 4.000 in their pockets. but keeping my family was more important. Now he works for a local grain company and told me. he had no intentions of returning to the United States for a second time. but the standard of living had increased for him and his family as they had made so many purchases. cars.Downloaded By: [Marcus.” Brazilian Immigrant Taxes and Remittances The following two interviews with Brazilian business owners—a tax house owner in Framingham and a travel agency and remittance-wiring business . Assembly of God) stand to gain on various levels from acquiring new members (e.000 to US$3.g. buying new furniture. Marcus of construction work for men and housecleaning for women.000 wrapped in a plastic bag in his pocket. Religious networks facilitate the outreach of Brazilian business owners. so he would carry sums of up to US$3. . Other Brazilians typically carry $2. I would wrap it in a plastic bag so it would get ruined by my sweat. His second trip to the United States exacerbated marital conflicts.S.

Brazilians contribute an estimated $4 billion annually to the U. US$50. 5). the median annual household income for Brazilians living in the United States in 2000 was US$38. and his company has grown 20% every year in the past 10 years. Framingham. More importantly.000. Ivan.S. Source: A Brazilian-owned tax business.000 tax forms in Framingham. is the owner of a major income tax firm in Framingham.” The average yearly individual earnings among Ivan’s Brazilian immigrant clientele ranged between US$10. Ivan explained that the volume of tax declarations increased since the 9/11 attacks: “Brazilians then became more organized because they didn’t want any problems with immigration agencies or Internal Revenue Services. .000 processed by his other office branches throughout the state.000 to US$40.570. These national figures roughly overlap with those figures in Framingham provided by Ivan (Figure 5). p.000 to US$60.000. based on U. He started his company in 1995 as an accounting and income tax firm.000–$74. The other 10% are split between other Latin American immigrants and U. 2008. Just over 9% of households earn between US$74. Census 2000. 20% individually make over $60.000 (Figure 5).999 range. and the other 4. where 50% individually earn.999” (Lima & Siqueira.999 and US$99. p.S. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 FIGURE 5 Average Brazilian Immigrant Income. with “18% of all Brazilian households falling in the US$50. on average. and the remaining 30% individually earn US$10. a Mineiro.000 and US$60.-born citizens. Today Ivan processes a total of 5. such insider perspectives of Brazilian immigrant income earnings and financial remittances provide another context to understanding subsequent primary survey results.000.Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 69 Downloaded By: [Marcus. owner in the Greater Atlanta area—provide two more examples of how Brazilian ethnic economies are being shaped by transnational migration processes.S. These figures provide insights into how Brazilian immigrants are impacting global and local financial landscapes. Massachusetts. 5). where 90% of his clients are Brazilians. economy by spending on consumer goods and services (Lima & Siqueira 2008. According to a recent study.

S. and most were sent to Goi´as (representing 75% of all financial remittances). I use two examples next to highlight perspectives and insights on the expansion of these new immigrant markets. Census 2000. birth or medical certificates. or U. p. All that is required to register with the bank are two of the following options: passport. retail banking represents 30% of the Latin American immigrant market share in the United States. rather it allows undocumented immigrants to buy a car. These new ethnic economies support the existence of important migration corridors operating between these four states in two countries. as she puts it. and are shaping new transnational geographies. “is different from Colombian culture. followed by: Minas Gerais. Obtaining a tax identification number does not mean a replacement for a U. is a branch manager for another major U. S˜ao Paulo. Marcus Souto. in Marietta. a house. As a result. while financial remittances to Brazil represent a smaller component of his business (10%). The highest number of airfare sales was to the state of Goi´as.S. but up to now has not really understood the Brazilian immigrant “mindset. Brazilian immigrants represent 80% of this market. bank that markets its services to Latin Americans in the greater Atlanta area—the so-called Hispanic or Latino market.400 people. 5). In fact.” Her job entails the recruitment of Brazilian immigrants to sign up for tax identifications. Brazilian businesses in the United States account for US$1 billion in yearly revenues and employ more than 10. age 40. visa. drivers. is the owner of a successful Atlanta-based remittance and travel agency. On the other hand. and Pernambuco. She explained that undocumented Brazilians can register to pay their taxes and that they are eligible for tax returns.S. and that 80% of her clientele are mostly Goianos.S. Alejandro. bank in Marietta. Remittance amounts range from US$300 to US$3. consular matriculate. also Colombian-born.” because. condemns these “predatory bank practices upon unauthorized immigrants.” According to Alejandro. and so on.Downloaded By: [Marcus.S. Furthermore. 2008. She told me she is trying to learn Portuguese and more about Brazilian culture. New Immigrant Banking Perspectives Brazilian immigrants also help shape the banking sector. Most of his business focuses on airfare sales to Brazil (90%).S.000. Although she is Colombian-born and does not speak Portuguese. contributing with US$108 million in state and federal taxes (Lima & Siqueira. He continued: . the banking industry has attempted to tap into the Brazilian immigrant market. according to the U. Felicia works for a subsidiary of a major U. and. Social Security card. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 70 A. the previous evaluations show how Brazilian immigrants significantly contribute to the U. electoral card. economy. the bank assigned her to work within Marietta’s large Brazilian immigrant population locations.

and she is overloaded with work. stocks. while another Brazilian client only made US$15. construction. there is only one Brazilian employee who speaks Portuguese at this bank branch. and are mostly from Goi´as . that’s how you say it.e.e.. Survey Results: Occupations Before and After Migration In this section I focus on quantitative insights from 100 survey interviews (25 in each research site) using a survey instrument. or look into a car loan. Brazilians who work or worked in the United States) Marietta % Construction 20 Business owner 16 Housecleaning 12 Teacher 8 Clerk 4 Accountant 4 Marketing 4 Editor 4 Engineer 4 Hairdresser 4 Travel agent 4 Journalist 4 Mechanic 4 Net Administrator 4 Realtor 4 Totals 100 Source: Author’s survey. Most Brazilians that have accounts here work with tile.000. Brazilians in the United States. . These vignettes illustrate the broader side of transnational interactions stemming from migration processes. Currently. Table 2) and their occupation in Brazil prior to migrating (i. and occupations they held after they arrived in the United States. Brazilians in Brazil. Framingham % Piracanjuba % Gov.. providing important qualitative insights from research fieldwork.. citing an example of one customer of his who made over a million dollars in one year. Val. TABLE 2 Overall Percentage Breakdown by Occupation in the United States in Each Site (i. .e. Brazilians are considered high risk customers and highly profitable financially .S. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Most Brazilians will open a bank account. Table 3). their occupations in Brazil. right? Goi´as? He informed me how his Brazilian clients income levels vary.71 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees Downloaded By: [Marcus. just like junk bonds. % Teacher Housecleaning Bank teller Secretary Business owner Construction Student Groundsman Manager Missionary Pastor Realtor — — 16 12 12 12 12 8 8 4 4 4 4 4 — — Housecleaning Construction Pizza delivery Student Babysitter Landscaping None Painting Restaurant — — — — — 32 24 16 8 4 4 4 4 4 — — — — — Housecleaning Construction Roofer Babysitter Landscaping Restaurant Nurse Journalist McDonalds — — — — — 32 20 12 8 8 8 4 4 4 — — — — — — — 100 — — 100 — — 100 . All respondents were asked to indicate their occupation after migrating to the United States (i. We are one of the primary mortgage holders in the U. a business loan. . Next I discuss occupations Brazilians had before they left Brazil. .

after migrating. In the breakdown for each site (Table 2). etc. teacher (8%). teaching was the largest. predominating occupations prior to migrating (Table 3) reflect archetypal middle-class positions (e. Framingham is one of the oldest places of Brazilian immigrant destination in the United States. construction) were the largest. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Marietta % Sales 16 Student 16 Clerk 12 Architect 8 Business 8 owner Teacher 8 Accountant 4 Bank teller 4 Engineer 4 Hairdresser 4 Housewife 4 Systems 4 analyst Telephone 4 techinician Travel agent 4 — — — — — — — — — — Totals 100 Framingham % Piracanjuba % Gov.e. business owner (16%). In general.g.72 A. the highest figures for mostpreferred Brazilian immigrant occupations in Marietta were as follows: construction (20%).e. The high percentage for teachers in Framingham (16%). teacher.Val. Brazilians in the United States).g. Brazilians in Brazil and their occupations in Brazil) Downloaded By: [Marcus. (b) the most-preferred Brazilian immigrant occupations in the United States (i. the occupation of teacher was the highest (16%). sales. and secretary (12%). housecleaning. On the other hand. and student and construction (8%).e.e.... policeman. which also helps to explain this high demand. the work done as . Marcus TABLE 3 Overall Percentage Breakdown by Occupation in Brazil (prior to migrating) in Each Site (i. although in the case of Framingham. suggests the high demand for bilingual (PortugueseEnglish) teachers in that community.. journalist. These occupational shifts shed light on: (a) differences in socioeconomic spaces and livelihoods. Brazilians in Brazil).. bank teller. accountant.). bank teller. % Teacher Student Business owner Clerk Precious stones 28 16 12 12 8 Student Clerk Sales State employee Teacher 12 8 8 8 8 Sales Clerk Retired Journalist Teacher 16 16 12 8 8 Bank teller Beautician Dietician Military police Pedagogist Sales — 4 4 4 4 4 4 — Artist Business owner Classical musician Construction Economist Farmer owner Gas Attendant 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Welder Bank Teller Business owner Lawyer Military Police Nurse Seamstress 8 4 4 4 4 4 4 — — Lawyer 4 Student 4 — — — — — — — — — — — — 100 Military Policeman Moto-taxi Policeman Promoter Rural worker School Director 4 4 4 4 4 4 100 Unemployed — — — — — 4 — — — — — 100 Source: Author’s survey. occupations in the service sectors (e. In Framingham. and (c) the occupational backgrounds of those Brazilians who migrate (i. with a large second and third-generation Brazilian demographic. The occupation of housecleaning (i. housecleaning.. clerk. and. followed by business owner. housecleaning (12%).

which also helps to explain why construction and housecleaning are among the highest occupations in that city. secretary.S.Downloaded By: [Marcus. and “bank teller were among the highest. working 4 to 6 years in receiving communities. These differences in the four research sites suggest that migrants’ who eventually returned to Brazil were not as driven to develop deeper interpersonal networks outside of their own ethnic community while they lived in the United States. and hence were confined within their own ethnic space. There were no business owners among returnees. the occupation of teacher was the highest (28%)—which also helps to explain why the occupation teacher was also the .. but the same as Marietta (20%). the service sector may not have saturated yet and Brazilians are still forging new interpersonal networks within the host community. arrival. the occupation of construction was three times higher than construction in Framingham (8%). long-time immigrant residents have forged new social and religious networks outside their own immigrant community. respectively.e. and eventually returning to Brazil. also confined to Brazilian immigrant market sectors and social networks. it is likely that housecleaning and construction occupations become increasingly saturated in Framingham. such as housecleaning and construction. since Marietta is still a relatively new place of destination. In addition. for work done in the United States) in Governador Valadares was about two and a half times (20%) higher than in Framingham (8%). Figures for the occupation of housecleaning for returnees in Governador Valadares and Piracanjuba (32% for both). However. prompting many older immigrant residents to seek out other occupations. were over two and a half times higher than figures for housecleaning in Framingham and Marietta (12% for both). those who returned to Brazil already had included in their original migration strategy plan (before leaving Brazil) considerations of working in “traditional” Brazilian immigrant occupations. Conversely. as the occupations of teacher. This is particularly noticeable. Occupations in Brazil (Brazilians in Brazil: prior to U. and in Governador Valadares (20%). Construction was the second highest in Piracanjuba (24%). in Framingham (the oldest place of destination). and clerk (12%) were the highest among Brazilians in Marietta. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 73 immigrants in the United States) was the highest among returnees in Piracanjuba (32%) and Governador Valadares (32%). for example. such as housecleaning and construction. and by extension. business owner. all migrants had prior knowledge of the demand for these service sectors in receiving communities before arriving in the United States. In Piracanjuba (24%). In general. in Framingham. Indeed. The occupation of construction (i. gaining access to other labor markets other than housecleaning and construction. leaving housecleaning to newcomers. Table 3) representing over 10% of responses in all four locations were as follows: sales and student (16%). with rampant new real estate developments and population growth.

7 0.5 3. The occupation of teacher was among the highest in all four locations.3 0.2 1. In Piracanjuba.8 0.7 0.2 1.200 Application Forms.8 9.7 1.2 0.3 0.2 0. .0 0. Framingham.3 0.7 1.3 3.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 1.2 1.2 100 Female Occupations Total % Housecleaning Babysitter Any Teacher Store attendant Cook Seamstress Nurse Student Manicure Hairdresser Clerk McDonalds Bank teller Restaurant Accounting Nutritionist Psychologist Dishwasher Lawyer Travel agent Library work Designer Forest engineer Physical therapist — — — — — — — — — — Total 423 35 26 22 20 10 7 7 7 7 6 5 4 4 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 — — — — — — — — — — 600 70. the occupations of sales and clerk (16%) were the highest in Governador Valadares.2 0.3 0.3 8.7 3.3 0. Finally.3 1.7 8.8 4.7 2.8 0.5 5. the occupation of student (high school and college-level) was the highest (12%).g.2 0.7 6.5 0. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 TABLE 4 Total of 1.0 0.. Downloaded By: [Marcus.8 9.3 0.3 0. pension funds. in regards to salary. 1999–2006 Male Occupations Total % Painting Construction Any Landscaping Housecleaning Driver Carpentry Waiter Store attendant Cook Mechanic Dishwasher Roofing Electrician Rural work Security guard Bank teller Engineer Sales Butcher Clerk Student Factory work Photographer Airplane pilot College professor Welder McDonalds Computers Film maker Accounting Economist Plumber Tourism Computer work Total 134 77 59 56 52 52 39 19 16 13 10 10 9 7 6 5 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 600 22.2 0.74 A.2 1.3 12.2 — — — — — — — — — — 100 Source: Author’s research results at Brazilian Center. Marcus highest in Framingham after migration occurs—followed by student (16%).2 1.2 0.7 1. Total Number and Percentage of Total: Occupations Most Sought out by Brazilian Immigrant Women and Men in Framingham.3 0.5 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.5 0. followed by retired (12%).5 0. business owner (12%) and clerk (12%).5 0.5 1.3 0.2 2.2 0. Qualitative interviews showed that the majority of teachers interviewed conveyed a profound dissatisfaction with the occupation of teaching in Brazil (e.3 0.

followed by management. and maintenance occupations Farming.html . were: service occupations (30. and acts as a liaison between potential employers and those seeking jobs.). Most Brazilian immigrants (documented or undocumented. Census datatbls. Geographic Area: United States Occupations % of Total Service occupations Management. Occupations such as: painting (22%).S. 2000b) also provide helpful and complementary sources to these reviews (Table 5). and related occupations Sales and office occupations Production. fishing. I also analyzed 1. Evaluations of U. Census 2000: Profile of Selected Economic Characteristics.3%). landscaping (9%). and driver (9%).S.3 27. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 75 retirement. To complement and triangulate the previously evaluated primary research data. which are archived at a Brazilian immigrant organization in Framingham (Table 4). Population Universe: People Born in Brazil. followed by babysitter (6%). Service sector occupations. The highest figures for Brazilian immigrant occupations according to U.Downloaded By: [Marcus.8 11 0. construction (13%). predominate among the most sought out jobs for Brazilian men.S.4 11. etc. http://www. Housecleaning was overwhelmingly the most sought-out occupation for women (71%). This center is well-known for providing assistance and help for Brazilian newcomers who seek residence and employment. and material moving occupations Construction. Profile of Selected Economic Characteristics: 2000. All occupations reflect archetypal middle to lower-middle socioeconomic backgrounds. Table FBP-2. have prior knowledge for their demand in receiving communities before their arrival in the United States. and related occupations (27. and who work informally within construction sectors) are largely undercounted by TABLE 5 U. Census 2000 figures (U.census. professional. any (10%).S. These results strongly suggest that most applicants. Census 2000b. who arrive at the center and select these desired sectors.S. professional. extraction. Census. All immigrants (but one) were employed prior to leaving Brazil (Table 3). such as painting for men and housecleaning for women. were the most popularly sought out jobs in all application forms (Table 4). housecleaning (9%).3 100 Source: U. and forestry occupations Total 30. Population Universe: People Born in Brazil. any (4%) and teacher (4%).4%).200 job application forms filled out between 1999 to 2006 by Brazilian immigrants.2 19. as represented in this sample. which helps to explain why so many left Brazil.2%) and sales and office occupations (19. transportation.

unlike most Mexican and Central American immigrants. Hence. abstract space) confined them to housecleaning and construction occupations. 1995).76 A. Census 2000 figures (Table 5) provide one dimension of the Brazilian immigrant population—particularly the authorized contingent. and forestry occupations (0. along with primary and secondary data. evaluated earlier. Those who remain in the United States long to one day return to Brazil. The restricting socioeconomic space (i. Furthermore.S. as well as qualitative interviews. Nonetheless.3%).g.e. U. Downloaded By: [Marcus. now living in Marietta. Marcus U. However. construction.e. Census figures (Margolis. Brazilians call this melancholic-type of longing saudades. I was able to triangulate my results and better assess Brazilian ethnic economies. illuminate the subtleties of how both Brazilian immigrant men and women experience ethnic economies and the migration process differently. teacher. Re-adaptation for . Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 CONCLUSION This article has provided glimpses of new Brazilian immigrant ethnic economies and of Brazilian immigrant socioeconomic spaces.S. painting. those who remained in the United States developed stronger local networks outside their own immigrant community. Brazilians are the least represented in farming.” By weaving though interview vignettes. bank teller. Those who returned to Brazil had not been as driven to develop strong social networks outside of their own immigrant community space as those who remained in the United States. landscaping)—this statement is substantiated by combining evaluations of U.. livelihoods. interview excerpts from Leandro and Juc¸ara’s experiences.. and experiences. they also gained additional access to other socioeconomic spaces and occupational opportunities (e. Brazilians mostly work in service sector occupations such as construction and housecleaning— commonly viewed by the host communities as “typically Brazilian occupations.. These glimpses illustrate new ethnic geographies of nonSpanish-speaking Latin Americans in the United States. despite its discrepancies. and they are generated and sustained by interrelated transnational social and religious networks—as illustrated earlier with an interview excerpt from Chico. the former pastor from Piracanjuba. and by extension. primary survey results.S. or business owner). fishing. I have empirically evaluated ethnic economies in two countries and transnational Brazilian migration processes at the microlevel. The contexts and conditions of migration processes are multidimensional and complex. driving the point that most Brazilian immigrants do not work in rural or agricultural occupations. Women tend to dominate the housecleaning sector and men tend to work in the construction sectors (i. Census data.

. and who now reside in Brazil.).g. For example. . and “sending communities” refers to places of origin.. affecting human geographies at the microlevel (e. since other dimensions involve human costs. I use the term returnee to refer to those Brazilian immigrants who have returned from the United States. high divorce rates. I use it here loosely in the context of international migration. many returnees were friends or family members of my U. Brazilian immigrants do not make only economic decisions when they decide to migrate. it is important not to calcify Brazilian immigration one dimensionally. with the intent to save enough money to eventually return to Brazil and purchase a house. Traditionally the term migrant is commonly used for internal migration in the literature of migration studies. Some returnees who stay in Brazil reminisce about the U. Interviews with returnees in Brazil provided me with an entr´ee into certain social circles upon my return to receiving communities. economy in various ways. 3. domestic violence.Downloaded By: [Marcus. keeping his “family was more important. and wish to return again but fear the process of living as an unauthorized immigrant in the United States. it will always be in the context of Brazilian immigrants who returned from the United States to Brazil. and. remittances) in both sending and receiving communities. the term immigrant refers to those Brazilians who have arrived or who are already residing in the United States. Despite the significance of ethnic economies and financial exchanges. experiences. on the role of the geographical imagination in the migration process)..S. NOTES 1. through Bosco’s interview excerpt discussed earlier.S. economic livelihoods. values and cultural norms. returnees provided visible examples of their financial success or lack thereof. I use the term emigrant to refer to those Brazilians who are leaving Brazil. Whenever I use the term returnee. an apartment. 2009a. that are generated and sustained by social and religious networks (See Marcus. family fragmentation. not discussed here (e. returnees were at a greater ease in providing sensitive information about financial earnings and real estate or money transfers. Brazilian migration processes should not be measured (i. For the purposes of this article.g. 2. migrant’s economic exchanges contribute conspicuously in the shaping of new transnational economies. Third. and in the end. 2008). for another 4 or 6-year period. remittances). etc. as I also gained trust and rapport. devoid of any furniture. however. Nevertheless. Alan P] At: 02:28 24 February 2011 Brazilian Immigrants and Returnees 77 returnees in Brazil is generally difficult within family life. and I have not discussed those other dimensions here. or start a new business. Some returnees are quite happy with their decision to remain in Brazil. a car. or in the case of returnees who returned bankrupt. First. rather they make decisions based on multiple and interrelated reasons (noneconomic as well as economic). we learned how migration processes exacerbated his marital conflicts. this statement will suffice. “Receiving communities” refers to places of destination. interviewees (which facilitated further generation of contacts and interviews in receiving communities). generating an estimated US$4 billion in annual revenues (Lima & Siqueira. Some returnees go back to the United States again. and would offer me detailed insights.S. livelihoods. Fourth. and there is a general sense of uprootedness.” Brazilian immigrants contribute to the U.e. they were more comfortable during interviews to talk about sensitive areas of their immigrant experience (especially if undocumented) simply by virtue of being interviewed inside their home country without the imminent fear of being arrested and deported. into their tiny rented apartments or homes. aggregate benefits) merely in economic terms.S. Second. however. by inviting me into their large newly-built houses or businesses (with money they had saved from U.

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