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Latin American Studies Migration to the United States
by
Timothy J. Henderson

Introduction

The literature on Latin American migration to the United States is vast, and a bibliography of this sort must necessarily be highly selective. The literature includes studies by sociologists, economists, anthropologists, political scientists, and surprisingly few historians. Immigration, of course, directly involves issues of public policy, and much of the literature on the topic was produced with a view toward influencing that policy. Such literature tends to be of an ephemeral character. A review of that literature might provide useful snapshots of particular policy issues at given points in history, but preference has been given here to works of real substance that contain a strong historical dimension. Immigration is, of course, a perennial “hot button” issue that has attracted, and continues to attract, its share of polemics that seek more to alarm than to enlighten. Readers who wish to learn about such works can consult studies of nativism that are listed here. Readers will no doubt notice the preponderance of works about Mexican migration to the United States. That is because Mexicans make up by far the largest percentage of Latin American migrants to the United States—an estimated 94 percent. The Border Patrol has long been in the habit of dividing immigrants into two categories: Mexicans and “Other than Mexicans” (OTMs). It should hardly be surprising, then, that the lion’s share of the literature on the topic of Latin American migration to the United States focuses on Mexican migration. Another, much smaller, body of literature deals with migration from Central American and/or the Caribbean. Migration from South America to the United States has been too insignificant to attract much scholarly attention. The literature on migration from Central America and Cuba presents special challenges because there is an important distinction to be made between those who migrate for economic reasons and those who migrate for political reasons.

General Overviews of US Immigration

Migration from Latin America is only one part of the general panorama of migration to the United States, and it cannot readily be understood without reference to the general sweep of US migration history. Latin Americans have affected and been affected by periodic reforms of US immigration policy. Included, therefore, are some of the outstanding works on US immigration that deal with Latin American immigration as part of a larger context. Useful surveys of US immigration policy include Tichenor 2002 and Zolberg 2006, while other works examine particular aspects of immigration. Ngai 2004 focuses in particular on the phenomenon of illegal migration, noting the changes in US immigration law that shaped this phenomenon, while Reimers 2005 looks principally at “newer” migrants who came in the wake of the 1965 law that ended racist “national origins” quotas. Spickard 2007 both reviews the history of immigration to the United States and challenges the notion of an American “melting pot.”

  • Daniels, Roger. Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life. 2d ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

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    Broad overview of immigration to the United States from colonial times to the present.

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  • Ngai, Mae M. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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    Award-winning book that traces the concept of “illegal aliens” from the earliest restrictionist legislation in the 1920s to the immigration reform of 1965. Considers migration from Mexico as well as from the Philippines, Japan, and China. Argues that immigration restriction has colored Americans’ racial attitudes and their preoccupation with policing the borders.

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  • Reimers, David. Other Immigrants: The Global Origins of the American People. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

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    Focuses on immigration to the United States in the wake of the 1965 immigration reform that abolished the “national origins” system of 1924 and paved the way for more diverse, multiethnic immigration of Africans, Asians, and Hispanics.

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  • Spickard, Paul. Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity. New York: Routledge, 2007.

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    Massive (744-page) volume that considers immigration and ethnicity from about 1600 to the present. Argues against the “assimilationist” model of immigration, contending that Asian, Hispanic, and African immigrants are seldom accepted by many Anglo-Americans as “real” Americans.

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  • Tichenor, Daniel J. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    Sweeping history of US immigration policy from late colonial times to the present. Focused largely on political conflicts spawned by immigration.

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  • Zolberg, Aristide. A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006.

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    Sweeping history of US immigration policy from late colonial times to the present, considering political and social context of various immigration reforms.

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Mexico

General overviews of Mexican migration to the United States are surprisingly scarce, and most of those that do exist make strong arguments. A standard view holds that migration is driven by “push-pull” factors: the “push” of poverty and unemployment in Mexico and the “pull” of relatively high-paying and abundant jobs in the United States. This formulation has been challenged by writers on the political left (Cockcroft 1986, González 2006), who charge that US economic imperialism created and perpetuates a situation where Mexicans are forced to migrate as virtual “indentured” laborers. The majority of writers on Mexican immigration (Cross and Sandos 1981, Henderson 2011, Kiser and Kiser 1979) have tended to sympathize with migrants while remaining ambivalent about their impact on US society and its economy. Gutiérrez 1995 argues against oversimplification, noting that the constant influx of migrants from Mexico has created a very diverse population that defies easy categorization. González Navarro 1993 is a large tome that considers Mexican overseas migration as well as migrant communities in Mexico and their influence. Also emphasizing the Mexican point of view is Delano 2011, which provides a survey of Mexico’s policies toward the emigration of its citizens since the mid-19th century, considering those policies within the context of changing US-Mexican relations. Finally, Overmeyer-Velázquez 2011 is an important collection of essays by some of the leading scholars in the field of US-Mexican immigration, considering the phenomenon from both sides of the border.

  • Cockcroft, James D. Outlaws in the Promised Land: Mexican Immigrant Workers and America’s Future. New York: Grove, 1986.

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    Leftist perspective from an author with vast knowledge of Mexico. Binational in scope. Provides a sweeping survey of the history of Mexican immigration from its beginnings to 1986 as well as pointed criticism of US capitalism and immigration policy.

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  • Cross, Harry E., and James A. Sandos. Across the Border: Rural Development in Mexico and Recent Migration to the United States. Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, 1981.

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    Another rare binational approach to the history of Mexican immigration. Concentrates in particular on Mexico’s failed agricultural policies as a spur to emigration. Concludes with an even-handed consideration of whether unauthorized immigrants are harmful to US society.

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  • Delano, Alexandra. Mexico and Its Diaspora in the United States: Policies of Emigration since 1848. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511894848Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Recent book looking at Mexico’s policies toward the emigration of its citizens to the United States since the end of the US-Mexican War, placing those policies in the context of shifts in US-Mexican relations. Concludes with a consideration of how the two countries might manage ongoing migration in the era of the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

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  • González, Gilbert G. Guest Workers or Colonized Labor? Mexican Labor Migration to the United States. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2006.

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    Argues that US exploitation and not Mexican poverty is not the chief cause of Mexican migration to the United States. Draws parallels between Mexican migration to the United States and Algerian and Indian migration within the French and British empires, respectively.

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  • González Navarro, Moisés. Los extranjeros en México y los Mexicanos en el extranjero, 1821–1970. Mexico City: El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Históricos, 1993.

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    One of Mexico’s most eminent historians contributes a broad overview of the immigration of foreigners into Mexico as well as the emigration of Mexicans to other countries.

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  • Gutiérrez, David G. Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

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    Examines the historical impact of mass migration from Mexico on the US Southwest and the ways that migration has shaped the culture of Mexican Americans. Argues that the Mexican population of the United States is extremely diverse and not easily categorized.

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  • Henderson, Timothy J. Beyond Borders: A History of Mexican Migration to the United States. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444394962Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A concise yet comprehensive survey of the history of Mexican migration to the United States from its beginnings to the present. Examines political and economic developments within Mexico as well as shifting policies in the United States. Intended for general readers and classroom use.

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  • Kiser, George C., and Martha Woody Kiser, eds. Mexican Workers in the United States: Historical and Political Perspectives. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979.

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    Somewhat quirky collection of primary and secondary sources recounting the history of Mexican labor migration to the United States from World War I to the 1970s. By far the longest segment of the book deals with illegal migration, which was becoming an increasing preoccupation in the United States in the 1970s.

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  • Overmeyer-Velázquez, Mark, ed. Beyond La Frontera: The History of Mexico–U.S. Migration. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Important collection of essays on the history of Mexican migration to the United States since 1848. Includes chronological essays dealing with the major periods as well as thematic essays covering such themes as race and migration to the US South, indigenous migrants, legal aspects of Mexican migration, gender, and cultural representation of Mexican immigration. Transnational in its focus. Contributors are among the leading scholars in the field.

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Review Essays

Some of the review essays here are quite dated, but they are included because they give a vivid idea of how the field has evolved. Corwin 1973 bemoans the scholarly neglect of Mexican migration, while more recent observers (Spalding 1983, Chavez 1989, Conway 2007, Stephen 2009) report an increasing plethora of new studies.

Origins, to 1930

Mexican migration to the United States became significant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through a remarkable confluence of factors. In the United States, railroads and refrigerated cars made it possible to ship agricultural commodities from the West to midwestern and eastern markets. At the same time, massive irrigation projects increased the fertility of southwestern soils, paving the way for a major agricultural boom. In the midst of that boom, the US Congress was increasingly restricting immigration from Asia and eastern and southern Europe, which had theretofore provided a large portion of farm labor in the West. Growers increasingly turned to Mexico to supply their need for cheap, mobile labor. The completion of railroads in Mexico facilitated travel to the US-Mexican border. Meanwhile, the extreme violence and hardship of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) and smaller upheavals of the 1920s such as the Cristero War (a religious civil war fought from 1926 to 1929) drove many Mexicans into exile in the United States. The 1920s marked the real advent of mass migration from Mexico to the United States, and that decade also witnessed the first efforts to regulate that migration. A 1917 law obligated immigrants to pay a fee and pass a literacy test to gain entry into the United States, and those who entered the country by other means became the first generation of “illegal” Mexican immigrants. The 1924 immigration reform was a triumph for restrictionists, instituting a “national origins” system that discriminated against non-Caucasian immigrants, though pressure from southwestern growers kept Western Hemisphere immigrants exempt from the quotas. The literature on this period includes some outstanding studies by contemporaries (Taylor 1970, Gamio 1971, Bogardus 1970). Cardoso 1980 and Reisler 1976 complement each other nicely, with the former emphasizing the Mexican point of view and the latter the American point of view. Levenstein 1968 recounts a vital chapter in the history of Mexican migration to the United States, for Mexican immigrants faced opposition not only from nativists but also from organized labor, while Acuña 2007 takes an extraordinarily expansive view of economic development of the US Southwest and Mexicans’ role in that development. Alanís Enciso 1999 chronicles the contract labor program that was developed during World War I, and which, to some extent, served as a model for the later Bracero Program of 1942–1964.

  • Acuña, Rodolfo F. Corridors of Migration: The Odyssey of Mexican Laborers, 1600–1933. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.

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    One of the founders of Chicano history takes a long view of Mexican labor migration and labor activism in the US Southwest, from 17th-century Chihuahua to 1930s California. Examines mining in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States and culminates in the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Strike of 1933.

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  • Alanís Enciso, Fernando Saúl. El primer program bracero y el govierno de México, 1917–1918. San Luis Potosí, Mexico: El Colegio de San Luís Potosí, 1999.

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    Study of the Mexican guest worker program implemented during World War I, focusing on the experience of the workers. Critical of US immigration policy, which, the author charges, favors the interests of employers over those of workers.

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  • Bogardus, Emory. The Mexican in the United States. New York: Arno, 1970.

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    Brief book by a pioneering researcher in the field. Discusses the problems of Mexicans in becoming acculturated in the United States. Contains one of the first bibliographies on Mexican migration. Important mostly as a precedent to other studies. Originally published in 1934 (Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press).

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  • Cardoso, Lawrence A. Mexican Emigration to the United States, 1897–1931: Socio-economic Patterns. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1980.

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    Based on substantial research in both Mexican and US archives, tells the history largely from the Mexican side, but details developments on both sides of the border that encouraged increased immigration from Mexico. Best source for the 1837–1931 period.

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  • Gamio, Manuel. Mexican Immigration to the United States: A Study of Human Migration and Adjustment. New York: Dover, 1971.

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    Gamio was the most distinguished Mexican anthropologist of the early 20th century. Commissioned in the 1920s by the Social Science Research Council to study Mexican migrants. Gamio became a leading advocate for emigration, arguing that Mexicans in the United States learned modern ways that could benefit Mexico’s own development.

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  • Levenstein, Harvey A. “The AFL and Mexican Immigration in the 1920s: An Experiment in Labor Diplomacy.” Hispanic American Historical Review 48.2 (1968): 206–219.

    DOI: 10.2307/2510743Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Only study devoted to a key aspect of the Mexican immigration story in the 1920s. Organized labor in the United States bitterly opposed Mexican immigration. The American Federation of Labor tried to work collaboratively with its Mexican counterpart, the CROM, to resolve the problem, without success.

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  • Reisler, Mark. By the Sweat of Their Brow: Mexican Immigrant Labor in the United States, 1900–1940. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1976.

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    Based on US sources, tells the US side of the migration story during the period from 1900 to 1940. Includes a chapter on the “Anglo Perception of the Mexican Worker.” Recounts Mexican labor activism during the 1930s.

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  • Taylor, Paul S. Mexican Labor in the United States. New York: Arno, 1970.

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    Important series by University of California economist who conducted more than a thousand interviews with Mexican farm laborers in California, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Taylor was among the first to recognize the importance of Mexican migration to the United States and to make it a topic of academic inquiry. First published in 1928–1934 (2 vols. in 3, Berkeley: University of California Press).

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Repatriation and Labor Activism in the 1930s

With the onset of the Great Depression, the US employment market dried up. Mexican workers, who had flooded into the United States during the 1920s, suddenly found themselves in desperate straits, for not only was work hard to come by but they also faced a vicious nativist backlash. The US government launched a campaign designed to frighten Mexican workers into returning to Mexico, while several municipalities, concerned about unemployed Mexicans on the dole, carried out ambitious deportation campaigns. The Mexican government launched some initiatives designed to create work for the repatriates, but none were notably successful. These matters are recounted in a pair of excellent works, Hoffman 1974 and Balderrama and Rodríguez 2006. Some Mexican farm workers in the United States joined Mexican-American and domestic farm workers in mounting several major strikes, though these were all crushed and farm labor organizing continued to face daunting obstacles. González 1999 takes a long view of Mexican labor activism, focusing especially on the 1930s and singling out Mexican consuls for particular criticism, charging that they were complicit with US growers and their political allies in obstructing labor organizing and crushing strikes. Guerin-Gonzales 1994 comes to similar conclusions, arguing that the American Dream explicitly excluded Mexican migrant workers. Walsh 2000 provides a detailed look at efforts by the Mexican government to counter the imperative to emigrate by creating colonies to provide a livelihood for those who had been repatriated to Mexico. Walsh 2004 examines the important influence of anthropologist Manuel Gamio on Mexican immigration policy. Walsh 2008 takes a particularly imaginative approach to transnational history, showing how the development of irrigated cotton farming on both sides of the border became an important factor in conditioning patterns of migration.

  • Balderrama, Francisco E., and Raymond Rodríguez. Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s. Rev. ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

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    Recounts the expulsion of perhaps a million Mexicans during the Great Depression, especially highlighting the rampant prejudice against Mexicans at the time. Gives attention to Mexican government’s unsuccessful efforts to put the repatriates to work even while it was carrying out its own expulsion of Chinese immigrants.

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  • González, Gilbert G. Mexican Consuls and Labor Organizing: Imperial Politics in the American Southwest. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.

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    Study of how Mexican consuls affected labor organizing among Mexican immigrants in the US Southwest. Argues that consuls colluded with agribusiness and the US government to defeat labor organizing in the region during the 1930s.

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  • Guerin-Gonzales, Camille. Mexican Workers and American Dreams: Immigration, Repatriation, and California Farm Labor, 1900–1939. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

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    Studies Mexican migration to California in the early 20th century, arguing that Mexicans were deliberately excluded from access to the American Dream. Mexicans were expected to work for brief stints and return home, ensuring that they would remain in a perennially disadvantaged position. Also looks at repatriation during the 1930s.

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  • Hoffman, Abraham. Unwanted Mexicans in the Great Depression: Repatriation Pressures, 1929–1939. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1974.

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    Excellent pioneering study of the topic. Recounts US prejudices and policies and details programs launched by the Mexican government to accommodate returning migrants. Highly readable.

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  • Walsh, Casey. Demobilizing the Revolution: Migration, Repatriation and Colonization in Mexico, 1911–1940. Working Paper 26. San Diego, CA: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, 2000.

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    Detailed study of Mexico’s efforts to create repatriate colonies as an antidote to emigration from 1910 to 1940. Argues that while most studies of repatriation focus on the 1930s, such efforts were ongoing.

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  • Walsh, Casey. “Eugenic Acculturation: Manuel Gamio, Migration Studies, and the Anthropology of Development in Mexico, 1910–1940.” Latin American Perspectives 31.5 (September 2004): 118–145.

    DOI: 10.1177/0094582X04268405Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Studies the ideology of Manuel Gamio, Mexico’s most renowned anthropologist of the early 20th century. Gamio believed that Mexican emigration to Mexico would be beneficial to Mexico’s development owing to the skills and attitudes emigrants would presumably acquire there.

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  • Walsh, Casey. Building the Borderlands: A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton along the Mexico-Texas Border. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008.

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    Book-length study of the development of major irrigated cotton plantations in northern Mexico and Texas.

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The Bracero Era, 1942–1964

The Bracero Program began in response to the urgings of US farming interests who were concerned that military conscription and movement of workers to wartime industries would deplete their labor force and lead to dangerous food shortages. The US and Mexican governments negotiated an agreement that included fairly stringent protections for Mexican contract workers in the United States. After the war, growers insisted that their labor crisis was ongoing and lobbied for extensions of the program. After 1948, Mexico progressively lost influence over the terms of the agreement, and by most accounts conditions for braceros deteriorated. By the early 1960s, the program had become increasingly controversial. Liberal politicians with ties to organized labor strongly opposed the program, and it was discontinued in 1964. The period during which the program was in effect witnessed a sharp rise in undocumented immigration from Mexico, a development that had much to do with the program and its abuses. Studies of the Bracero Program inevitably must take undocumented migration into account. The year 1954 witnessed a dramatic deportation campaign known as “Operation Wetback.” The bracero era is among the most intensely studied periods in the history of Mexican migration to the United States. This list includes studies that have become classic accounts (Craig 1972, Calavita 1992, Kirstein 1977, Galarza 1978), each of which takes a different focus. Calavita criticizes Craig’s pioneering study for taking an overly sympathetic view of growers. Calavita’s own assessment of the Bracero Program is extremely critical, especially in noting the hypocrisy of politicians who found ways to tolerate and even encourage illegal immigration at the growers’ behest. Galarza’s work is hardly objective, since the author spent many years attempting to organize farm workers. He identified the Bracero Program as a major obstacle to that effort and is frank in his denunciation. Most of the existing work on the Bracero Program has tended to lean on US archives and privilege the US point of view. Snodgrass 2011 provides an important corrective by emphasizing the Mexican view, while Durand 2007 is a binational anthology of important sources on the program. Herrera-Sobek 1979 and Cohen 2011 shed considerable light on the bracero experience, both concurring that braceros, while often victimized, did not see themselves as victims. García 1980 provides the only book-length study of “Operation Wetback.” Mize and Swords 2011 develops a forceful argument regarding the function of Mexican immigrants in the US economy as cheap and disposable labor.

  • Calavita, Kitty. Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration and the I.N.S. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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    Critical study of US policy with respect to the Bracero Program. Argues that state bureaucrats worked in collusion with big growers to make the worker protections that were supposed to be mandated by the international agreement ineffective. Makes an important contribution to the theory of the state in capitalist society.

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  • Cohen, Deborah. Braceros: Migrant Citizens and Transnational Subjects in the Postwar United States and Mexico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

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    Focuses on the bracero experience as framed by gender, class, race, and nationality. Based in part on oral histories carried out in the state of Durango in the mid-1990s. Contains useful chapters on braceros and labor organizing and on two border incidents in 1948 and 1954.

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  • Craig, Richard B. The Bracero Program: Interest Groups and Foreign Policy. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972.

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    Pioneering study of the Bracero Program as it was manipulated by various interest groups in the United States. Some authors fault the book for being overly sympathetic to growers.

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  • Durand, Jorge, ed. Braceros: Las miradas Mexicana y estaunidense, Antología (1945–1964). Mexico City: Miguel Ángel Porrúa, UAZ, Senado de la República LX Legislatura, 2007.

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    Anthology that reproduces many hard-to-find documents from both Mexico and the United States concerning the Bracero Program.

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  • Galarza, Ernesto. Merchants of Labor: The Mexican Bracero Story. 3d ed. Santa Barbara, CA: McNally and Loftin, 1978.

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    History of the Bracero Program by labor activist and leader of the National Farm Labor Union. Galarza was highly critical of the Bracero Program, charging that it was used deliberately to undermine farm labor organizing in the United States and that it was rife with corruption and abuse.

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  • García, Juan Ramon. Operation Wetback: The Mass Deportation of Mexican Undocumented Workers in 1954. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1980.

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    A fine study of the 1954 operation. Devotes much attention to the antecedents of the operation. Argues that Operation Wetback was a political fix that did nothing to address the root causes of the immigration problem.

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  • Herrera-Sobek, María. The Bracero Experience: Elitelore versus Folklore. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publication, 1979.

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    Examines the bracero experience as portrayed by novelists and intellectuals, contrasting that portrayal with braceros’ images of themselves. Finds that “elite” images are extremely negative, while braceros interviewed recall many happy moments. These findings coincide with those reported by Cohen 2011.

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  • Kirstein, Peter N. Anglo over Bracero: A History of the Mexican Worker in the United States from Roosevelt to Nixon. San Francisco: R and E Research Associates, 1977.

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    A reprint of the author’s dissertation. Good detail on the changing legal status of the Bracero Program. Very critical of US government policies.

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  • Mize, Ronald L., and Alicia C. S. Swords. Consuming Mexican Labor: From the Bracero Program to NAFTA. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.

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    Surveys the period from 1942 to 1994, arguing that Mexican immigrants have been deliberately constructed as a kind of disposable commodity, encouraged to immigrate during boom times and deported during lean times.

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  • Snodgrass, Michael. “Patronage and Progress: The Bracero Program from the Perspective of Mexico.” In Workers across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History. Edited by Leon Fink, 245–266. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Looks at the Bracero Program from the Mexican perspective.

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Since 1965

Liberal politicians terminated the Bracero Program in 1964, and the following year passed an immigration reform law that ended the discriminatory “national origins” quota system of 1924. In place of quotas that discriminated against certain races and nationalities, the new law imposed a per-country limit of 20,000 visas (later increased to 26,120). That, of course, did not come close to meeting the demand for immigrant visas from Mexico, and it became an important factor in a drastic increase in undocumented immigration. The US public became increasingly concerned about undocumented immigration throughout the 1970s and 1980s, leading eventually to the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. Under this reform, some 3 million undocumented immigrants had their status legalized and sanctions were imposed on employers of illegal immigrants for the first time in US history. Critics of IRCA maintain that it led to a further increase in undocumented immigration. The literature on the modern period is written mostly by sociologists, economists, political scientists, anthropologists, and journalists, who deal with current realities rather than the broad sweep of history. Scholars have sought to quantify the undocumented immigrant community, trace its support networks, assess the reasons for migrating, study the impact of remittances on the Mexican economy, and gauge the impact of undocumented immigrants on US social services The literature is vast indeed, so these entries are intended only to be representative. Scholars vary in their assessment of the impact of immigration—particularly undocumented immigration—on the US economy and society. While much ink has been devoted to this debate, the two basic perspectives are here represented by Borjas 2007 (anti-immigration) and Hing 2010 (pro-immigration). Massey, et al. 2002 is especially critical of the North American Free-Trade Agreement of 1994 (NAFTA), noting the irony of increased calls for immigration restriction coinciding with a massive increase in cross-border trade. The Mexican perspective on immigration matters is seldom represented in US debates, although several excellent studies are available, including Castañeda 2007, in which Castañeda recounts his own experience in trying to effect immigration reform as Mexico’s foreign secretary; Fitzgerald 2008, which studies Mexican migration policy; and Rico 1992, which gives a Mexican perspective on the crucial years from 1966 to 1986. Maciel and Herrera-Sobek 1998 considers the Mexican immigrant as a cultural figure, while Zúñiga and Hernández-León 2006 studies the important trend toward greater geographic dispersal of Mexican immigrants.

  • Borjas, George, ed. Mexican Immigration to the United States. National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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    Essays collected by economist Borjas, a leading critic of Mexican immigration. Authors investigate issues such as the impact of undocumented Mexican immigration on wages of low-wage domestic workers, assimilation and advancement of immigrants, and attainment of citizenship by Mexican immigrants.

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  • Castañeda, Jorge. Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants. New York: The New Press, 2007.

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    Castañeda was briefly foreign secretary in the administration of Vicente Fox, which tried to interest the United States in immigration reform. Briefly recounts the history of Mexican immigration and provides a fascinating personal account of author’s frustrated efforts to promote immigration reform. Offers intriguing suggestions for future reforms.

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  • Fitzgerald, David. A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

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    Argues that the Mexican government has failed to control the emigration of its citizens, forcing it to negotiate a “new social contract” with Mexicans living in the United States based on the model of the Roman Catholic Church.

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  • Hing, Bill Ong. Ethical Borders: NAFTA, Globalization, and Mexican Migration. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010.

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    Specialist in migration law and policy argues in favor of open borders and policies to improve the Mexican economy in order to reduce incentives to migrate. Includes a brief history of Mexico.

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  • Maciel, David R., and María Herrera-Sobek, eds. Culture across Borders: Mexican Immigration and Popular Culture. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998.

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    Collection of essays on Mexican cultural contributions to the United States. Includes chapters on such topics as the Mexican immigrant in Hollywood films, jokes about Mexicans, and the immigrant as portrayed in Mexican corridos.

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  • Massey, Douglas S., Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone, eds. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002.

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    Massey and Durand are co-directors of the Mexican Migration Project, which has been gathering data on Mexican migration since its founding in 1982. Contains a brief history of Mexican migration, a scathing critique of IRCA, analysis of the impact of NAFTA on migration, and well-reasoned suggestions for immigration reform. Indispensable.

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  • Rico, Carlos. “Migration and U.S.–Mexican Relations, 1966–1986.” In Western Hemisphere Immigration and United States Foreign Policy. Edited by Christopher Mitchell and Jorge I. Domínguez, 221–284. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992.

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    Excellent article on how Mexican migration to the United States was viewed in Mexico from the end of the Bracero Program to the implementation of the IRCA. Author was a longtime diplomat and professor of international studies.

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  • Zúñiga, Víctor, and Rubén Hernández-León, eds. New Destinations: Mexican Immigration in the United States. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006.

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    Edited collection examines the increasing geographic dispersal of Mexican immigrant communities away from traditional immigrant destinations of California, Texas, and Chicago. Based on data from the Mexican Migration Project (see Massey, et al. 2002).

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Contemporary Ethnographic Studies

Building on the pioneering work of such scholars as Manuel Gamio, Paul Taylor, and Emory Bogardus (see Origins, to 1930), sociologists and anthropologists continue to carry out numerous studies of migration from Mexico. Recent works have been concerned with such issues as the impact of race and gender on migration; the formation and workings of transnational communities; and motherhood, marriage, and sexuality among immigrants. Included here are studies of particular immigrant communities (De Genova 2005, Hirsch 2003, Smith 2006, Stephen 2007) as well as works that tackle large questions of assimilation (Jiménez 2009), gender roles (Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994), inter-class relations (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2007), and race (Rodríguez 2007).

  • De Genova, Nicholas. Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and “Illegality” in Mexican Chicago. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

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    Study of the Mexican population of Chicago, the second largest Mexican community in the United States. Emphasizes class struggle, transnationalism, race, and nativism. Argues that US labor and citizenship policies tend to subordinate migrants and suppress activism.

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  • Hirsch, Jennifer. A Courtship after Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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    Study of migrant communities in rural Mexican and Atlanta, Georgia, focusing on sex, fertility, marriage, and family separation across generations and borders.

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  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. Gendered Transitions: Mexican Experiences of Immigration. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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    Study of families of undocumented Mexican immigrants. Argues that the experience of migration leads to a shift in gender roles, allowing women to assume greater autonomy and independence.

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  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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    Study of undocumented, low-paid Mexican and Central American women who do domestic work in the Los Angeles area and their relations with wealthy employers. Winner of five awards from different sociological organizations.

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  • Jiménez, Tomás R. Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

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    Study of how one hundred years of practically uninterrupted immigration from Mexico has shaped the process of assimilation into US society for the descendants of Mexican immigrants.

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  • Rodríguez, Gregory. Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America. New York: Pantheon, 2007.

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    Study of how Mexican immigration has affected attitudes toward race in the United States. Argues that race mixture—mestizaje—among Mexican Americans has altered how Americans think about race as Mexican Americans have become increasingly integrated into mainstream American society.

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  • Smith, Robert. Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    Study of migrants from the Mexican state of Puebla who move back and forth to New York. Focuses on gender roles, race, family life, and politics as experienced by transnational families.

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  • Stephen, Lynn. Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

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    Follows indigenous migrants from two towns in the Mexican state of Oaxaca who periodically leave for labor stints in California and Oregon. Considers the experience of low-wage labor in two countries and its effects on childcare and gender relations. Argues that migrants are redefining politics by maintaining their cultures and languages across borders.

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Nativism

One important trend of recent decades has been a sharp rise in nativism and increasing popular hostility toward immigrants, particularly of the undocumented variety. This trend has captured the attention of a number of scholars, who seek both to explain the phenomenon and to counter its mythology. Several such studies (Calavita 1996, Jacobson 2008, Ono and Sloop 2002) have focused on California’s Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative to deny public services to undocumented immigrants. Proposition 187 passed by a comfortable margin with voters but was soon struck down as unconstitutional. Calavita locates the rise of popular xenophobia in macro-economic changes within the US economy. Doty 2009 investigates the rise of vigilante organizations like the Minutemen, while Chavez 2008 and Perea 1997 seek to counter what they contend are the misconceptions underlying popular xenophobia. Schrag 2010 provides a sweeping history of nativist movements in the United States, helping readers place the recent surge in nativism in broad context.

  • Calavita, Kitty. “The New Politics of Immigration: ‘Balanced-Budget Conservatism’ and the Symbolism of Proposition 187.” Social Problems 43.3 (August 1996): 284–305.

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    Argues that the shift in the US economy from manufacturing to finance, and the conservative push to cut taxes and spending, have occasioned much anxiety, partly accounting for the sharp rise in anti-immigrant sentiment.

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  • Chavez, Leo R. The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.

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    Challenges a number of myths, including the notion that Latin American immigrants refuse to learn English, are incapable of assimilating to American society, have exceedingly high birth rates, and represent a threat to the American way of life.

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  • Doty, Roxanne Lynn. The Law into Their Own Hands: Immigration and the Politics of Exceptionalism. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009.

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    Political scientist investigates the growing phenomenon of extreme nativism and especially the border vigilantism of groups like the Minutemen, which has greatly increased especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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  • Jacobson, Robin Dale. The New Nativism: Proposition 187 and the Debate over Immigration. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

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    Studies the rise of nativism in the United States since the early 1990s.

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  • Ono, Kent A., and John M. Sloop. Shifting Borders: Rhetoric, Immigration, and California’s Proposition 187. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.

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    Analyzes the political rhetoric surrounding the debate on California’s anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which sought to deny nearly all social services to undocumented immigrants.

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  • Perea, Juan, ed. Immigrants Out! The New Nativism and the Anti-immigrant Impulse in the United States. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

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    Collection of essays by immigration advocates who seek to dispel the notions that underlie the resurgence of nativism in the United States.

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  • Schrag, Peter. Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in North America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

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    History of nativist movements from the 19th century to the present. Not focused exclusively on Latin Americans, though Latin Americans are well-represented.

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Border Issues

Studies that focus on the border region and on border policy deserve a category of their own. Several studies (Ettinger 2009, Hernández 2010, Truett 2006) trace the long and tumultuous history of the US-Mexican border and efforts to secure it. Ironically, in the early 1990s, at the same time that the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was transforming the US-Mexican border into the world’s busiest, attention to border enforcement grew rather obsessive. Two excellent studies (Nevins 2002, Dunn 2009) look at Operations “Gatekeeper” and “Hold-the-Line,” which set the pattern for future border enforcement initiatives. Scholars who have studied the border tend to be harshly critical of US border enforcement policies. Andreas 2009 argues that border enforcement is largely a matter of political theater designed to placate public opinion without having much impact on illegal immigration or drug trafficking, while Nevins 2002, Dunn 2009, and Cornelius and Lewis 2007 describe some of the baneful consequences of stepped-up border enforcement. These include a dramatic rise in border crossing deaths, severe environmental impacts, exorbitant costs, and the transformation of what was once circular migration into migration of a more permanent sort. Payan 2006 laments how several distinct problems—illegal migration, illegal drug trafficking, and terrorism—have been conflated by policymakers, who seem to view border enforcement as a cure to all of those ills. Payan argues that the three problems have different causes and require different solutions.

  • Andreas, Peter. Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide. 2d ed. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.

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    Argues that border enforcement is largely a matter of political theater, designed not so much to intercept migrants and illegal drugs as to placate anxious political constituencies.

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  • Cornelius, Wayne, and Jessa M. Lewis, eds. Impacts of Border Enforcement: A View from the Sending Communities. La Jolla, CA: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, 2007.

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    Studies effect of stepped-up border enforcement on migration. Based on 603 interviews with returned migrants and prospective migrants. Argues that border enforcement has not deterred migration, though it has caused an increase in border-crossing deaths and it has tended to persuade migrants in the United States to stay longer.

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  • Dunn, Timothy. Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation That Remade Immigration Enforcement. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009.

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    Critical study of the 1993 operation carried out by Sylvestre Reyes, Border Patrol chief at El Paso, which influenced many subsequent border enforcement efforts.

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  • Ettinger, Patrick W. Imaginary Lines: Border Enforcement and the Origins of Undocumented Immigration, 1882–1930. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009.

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    Studies early border enforcement policies at both the northern and southern borders of the United States.

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  • Hernández, Kelly Lytle. Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

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    Recounts the history of the Border Patrol from its founding in 1924 to its emergence as a major policing force. Based on extensive archival research.

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  • Nevins, Joseph. Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Expansive study of the border enforcement operation in the San Diego sector, begun in the 1990s. Argues that border enforcement has done little to deter immigration, instead increasing the dangers for migrants and inflaming anti-immigrant passions.

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  • Payan, Tony. The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006.

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    Argues that the reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 conflated the “wars” over drugs, immigration, and terror, and maintains that these issues are each distinct and require distinct approaches.

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  • Truett, Samuel. Fugitive Landscapes: The Forgotten History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.

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    Not about migration per se, this book tells the transnational history of the US-Mexican border, especially the mining region of Sonora and Arizona and the failure of politicians and corporations to gain control over it. Has relevance to current debates over border enforcement and control.

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Personal Testimonies and Journalistic Accounts

Migration from Mexico has attracted a number of journalists and creative writers whose primary interest is in providing readers a vivid sense of the migrant experience. The pioneering work is Gamio 1971, which was originally published in 1931 and resulted from the author’s experience investigating Mexican migration for the Social Science Research Council. Some works, such as Davis 1990 and Stout 2008, seek to collect the voices of Mexican immigrants so as to humanize them for American readers. Others (Martínez 2001, Nevins 2008, Regan 2010, Urrea 2004) develop and expand on particular cases. Quinones 2007 offers engaging stories both about the experience of migration and the activities of migrants and their descendants in the United States.

  • Davis, Marilyn P. Mexican Voices/American Dreams: An Oral History of Mexican Immigration to the United States. New York: Henry Holt, 1990.

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    Author Davis, an anthropologist, spent many years teaching primary school in Mexico. Features oral histories from ninety Mexican immigrants.

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  • Gamio, Manuel. The Life Story of the Mexican Immigrant. New York: Dover, 1971.

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    Based on extensive interviews with Mexican migrants done when Gamio was on commission for the Social Science Research Council during the 1920s.

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  • Martínez, Rubén. Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail. New York: Henry Holt, 2001.

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    Follows the fate of the Chávez family from Michoacán, who lost three sons in a terrible border-crossing accident. Told in the first person, the book recounts migration-related changes in both Mexico and the United States.

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  • Nevins, Joseph. Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid. San Francisco: Open Media/City Lights, 2008.

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    Story of Gallegos family of Zacatecas and their efforts to migrate to California. Includes much of the history of the US-Mexico border and of Mexican migration to the United States, as well as critique of US immigration policies. Also features photographs by Mizue Aizeki.

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  • Quinones, Sam. Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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    Collection of nine stories by Los Angeles Times journalist. Includes harrowing accounts of border crossing as well as intriguing tales of Mexicans in the United States.

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  • Regan, Margaret. The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands. Boston: Beacon, 2010.

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    Reporter’s investigation of conditions on the Arizona border. Regan interviews a broad spectrum of people, including Border Patrol agents, disgruntled ranchers, vigilantes, migrants, and pro-immigrant activists.

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  • Stout, Robert Joe. Why Immigrants Come to America: Braceros, Indocumentados, and the Migra. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008.

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    Stout, a journalist, interviewed hundreds of undocumented immigrants to uncover their motivations for making the arduous and dangerous journey. Includes historical background on changing legal status of migrant workers, and provides assessment of current policy proposals. Valuable contribution, especially in helping readers understand who the immigrants are.

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  • Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. New York: Little, Brown, 2004.

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    Recreates the experiences of a group of twenty-six Mexicans who crossed the Arizona border in 2001, only twelve of whom survived. Lyrically written by novelist/poet Urrea, contains scathing critique of US and Mexican border policies.

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Central America

After Mexico, the nations of Central America and the Caribbean send the largest numbers of migrants to the United States, though those numbers remain comparatively small. Central Americans did not begin migrating to the United States in significant numbers until the 1980s, when they were driven to migrate by political violence related to the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. In El Salvador and Guatemala, the military, security forces, and “death squads” assassinated leftists and in some cases carried out wholesale massacres, compelling many Central Americans to seek political asylum in the United States, though the realities of Cold War politics meant that asylum was seldom granted. After armed conflict wound down in the early 1990s, Central American migration to the United States continued and, in fact, increased rapidly, driven by family reunification and economic hardship. The closest thing to a general history of Central American migration is García 2006. Fink 2003) is a historian who places the labor struggles of Mayan poultry workers in North Carolina in the context of labor history, Baker-Cristales 2004 surveys the history of Salvadoran migration to the United States, and the essays collected in Loucky and Moors 2000 survey much of the history of Guatemalan migration to the United States. Many of the studies available on Central American migration are ethnographies based on close observation of particular communities (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001, Menjívar 2000), while others follow individual migrants or migrant families (Hart 1997, Nazario 2007).

  • Baker-Cristales, Beth. Salvadoran Migration to Southern California: Redefining El Hermano Lejano. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004.

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    Examines the history of Salvadoran migration to the United States, the organizations that assist such migrants, and issues of national identity.

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  • Fink, Leon. The Maya of Morganton: Work and Community in the Nuevo New South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.5149/uncp/9780807854471Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Story of indigenous Mayans from the highlands of Guatemala working at the Case Farms poultry processing plant in North Carolina during the 1990s. Chronicles the decade-long struggle to organize and improve working conditions at the plant. Looks at globalization and the challenges it presents to traditional cultures and human rights.

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  • García, María Cristina. Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    Study of Central American migration driven by the wars of the 1980s. Examines state policies in three countries as well as the role of nongovernmental organizations in aiding refugees.

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  • Hamilton, Nora, and Norma Stoltz Chinchilla. Seeking Community in a Global City: Guatemalans and Salvadorans in Los Angeles. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

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    Study of Central Americans who, driven by political instability and economic hardship, migrated to Los Angeles during the 1980s. Looks at the forces that impelled their migration, changes within Los Angeles over time, network creation, and labor. Based on years of field work, including many interviews with Central American migrants.

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  • Hart, Dianne Walta. Undocumented in L.A.: An Immigrant’s Story. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1997.

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    Oral history of undocumented immigrant family from Nicaragua living in Los Angeles during the 1990s.

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  • Loucky, James, and Marilyn M. Moors, eds. Maya Diaspora: Guatemalan Roots, New American Lives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

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    Collection of essays dealing with Maya Indians from Guatemala driven from their homes by the government-sponsored violence of the 1980s. Essays show how Mayans settled in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and other parts of Central America, where they struggled to adapt.

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  • Menjívar, Cecilia. Fragmented Ties: Salvadoran Immigrant Networks in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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    Ethnographic study of Salvadoran migrants living in San Francisco. Asks what motivated migrants to leave home, what their journey was like, and how they found work and housing. Based on extensive interviews.

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  • Nazario, Sonia. Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother. New York: Random House, 2007.

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    First published in the Los Angeles Times, where it won two Pulitzer Prizes, this book recounts the harrowing story of a seventeen-year Honduran migrant to the United States.

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The Caribbean

Migration to the United States from the Dominican Republic and Haiti has been substantial. Haitian and Dominican migration has been driven principally by poverty and the desire to reunite families. As with migration from Central America, the study of Caribbean migration has been largely the province of sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and economists; only a very few historians have contributed. Hoffnung-Garskof 2008 provides a survey of Dominican migration to New York City after 1950. Catanese 1999 is primarily an economic study of Haitian poverty and migration in the late 20th century. Stepick 1998 is a brief overview of the Haitian community in South Florida, aimed at classrooms and general readers. Schiller and Fouron 2001 provides a more personal account of Haitian migration. Pessar and Grasmuck 1991 is an anthropological study of Dominican migration while Pessar 1995 is a brief, easy-to-absorb survey of the same topic.

  • Catanese, Anthony. Haitians: Migration and Diaspora. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1999.

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    Study of Haitian migration to the United States in the late 20th century, examining the desperate conditions that compel impoverished Haitians to migrate and arguing for a comprehensive strategy of rural development to obviate the need to emigrate.

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  • Hoffnung-Garskof, Jesse. A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

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    Chronicles Dominican migration to New York City since 1950. Shows how Dominicans have influenced the city and how emigrants in New York helped to reshape the Dominican Republic. Reviews the history of US-Dominican relations.

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  • Pessar, Patricia. A Visa for a Dream: Dominicans in the United States. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1995.

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    Volume in the publisher’s “new immigrants” series. Brief overview, intended for classroom use.

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  • Pessar, Patricia, and Sherri Grasmuck. Between Two Islands: Dominican International Migration. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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    Study of migration from the Dominican Republic to the United States. Investigates migrants’ reasons for migration, state policies, family and social networks, class relations, and gender and generational hierarchies.

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  • Schiller, Nina Glick, and Georges Eugene Fouron. Georges Woke Up Laughing: Long-Distance Nationalism and the Search for Home. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

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    Part theoretical study and part personal account of migration from Haiti to the United States. Details a migrant’s search for identity.

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  • Stepick, Alex. Pride against Prejudice: Haitians in the United States. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1998.

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    Focuses mostly on Haitian immigrant community in South Florida. Part of publisher’s series on “new Americans.” Intended for classrooms and general readers.

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Cuba

Cuba is a special case in the history of Latin American migration to the United States. During the 19th century, the United States tried several times to purchase Cuba from Spain. The Cuban struggles for independence were planned and carried out in part by Cuban immigrants in the United States. In 1898, the United States helped to secure Cuba’s independence from Spain and soon came to dominate the island politically and economically. Since the Castro revolution of 1959, more than a million Cubans—somewhere between 12 and 15 percent of the island’s population—have migrated to the United States, though these migrants are often categorized as “refugees” or “exiles” rather than immigrants. The post-revolutionary exodus has received by far the largest share of scholarly attention. Exceptions are Pérez 2008, a sweeping study of US-Cuban political and cultural relations up to 1959, and Poyo 1989, which gives an account of Cuban émigré activities in the era of independence. The Cuban American story is told in a pair of short, readable accounts aimed at nonspecialists (Gonzalez-Pando 1998, Grenier and Pérez 2003). Several studies (Arboleya 1996, Masud-Piloto 1996) are critical of immigration policies. Arboleya, a history professor at the University of Havana, provides a pro-revolutionary Cuban perspective, charging that the United States has long used immigration policy as a weapon in its long conflict with the Cuban government. Like many other studies (too many to list here), both Arboleya 1996 and Masud-Piloto 1996 pay particular attention to the 1994 immigration crisis, when tens of thousands of Cubans fled in small boats, rafts, or inner tubes, only to be interned at Guantánamo Naval Base. The episode marked a dramatic shift in US immigration policy toward Cuba, for previously Cuban migrants were automatically classified as political refugees and granted asylum. In 1995, the United States adopted a “wet foot, dry foot” policy, whereby migrants caught at sea were returned to Cuba while those who made it to land were allowed a chance to pursue US citizenship. The end of the Cold War and the ensuing economic crisis in Cuba tended to blur the lines between political and economic refugees. Several studies (Fagen, et al. 1968; Eckstein 2009; Pedraza 2007) are concerned with shifting political attitudes of migrants.

  • Arboleya, Jesús. Havana-Miami: The U.S.-Cuba Migration Conflict. Translated by Mary Todd. Melbourne, Australia: Ocean, 1996.

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    Brief, critical survey of US immigration policies toward Cuba, focused particularly on explaining the crisis of 1994. Arboleya, a professor of history at the University of Havana, claims that the United States has often used Cuban immigrants as tools of its anti-Castro policies.

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  • Eckstein, Susan Eva. The Immigrant Divide: How Cuban Americans Changed the US and Their Homeland. New York and London: Routledge, 2009.

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    Important study of Cuban immigration to the United States since 1959. Argues that more recent immigrants have had a greater impact on their homeland than earlier immigrants.

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  • Fagen, Richard R., Richard A. Brody, and Thomas J. O’Leary. Cubans in Exile: Disaffection and the Revolution. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1968.

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    Study of the first wave of post-revolution Cuban migration.

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  • Gonzalez-Pando, Miguel. The Cuban Americans. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998.

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    Textbook surveying the history of Cubans in the United States. Includes short biographies of twenty notable Cuban Americans, a timeline of Cuban American history, and a bibliography. Excellent introduction to the topic.

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  • Grenier, Guillermo J., and Lisandro Pérez. The Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2003.

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    Part of the publisher’s “new immigrants” series. Survey of Cuban migration to the United States since 1959. Intended for classroom use.

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  • Masud-Piloto, Felix. From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants: Cuban Migrants in the U.S., 1959–1995. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.

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    History of post-revolutionary Cuban migration to the United States, examining the ways in which migrants were manipulated and exploited by both the Cuban and US governments.

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  • Pedraza, Silvia. Political Disaffection in Cuba’s Revolution and Exodus. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Analyzes four distinct waves of migration from Cuba to the United States since 1959 and the changing political attitudes of the migrants. Includes personal reflections.

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  • Pérez, Louis A., Jr. On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

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    Sweeping survey of Cuban-US political, economic, and cultural relations. While not focused principally on migration, movement of people between Cuba and the United States is a key theme.

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  • Poyo, Gerald Eugene. With All, and for the Good of All: The Emergence of Popular Nationalism in the Cuban Communities of the United States, 1848–1898. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989.

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    Account of Cuban migrant communities in the United States and their activities leading up to the Cuban independence movements of 1878 and 1894. Particular focus on revolutionary patriot José Martí and his relationship with the émigré communities.

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South America

The literature on migration from South American countries to the United States is very sparse indeed. Migration from South America has been neither massive nor sustained enough to attract much scholarly attention. Most of the literature that does exist on the topic focuses on Brazilian immigrants, who during the 1980s came to constitute a small but significant immigrant community in the United States. Beserra 2003, Jouët-Pastré and Braga 2008, and Margolis 2009 look at issues of identity, contrasting Brazilians with other immigrant groups. Miles 2004 provides an ethnographic study of an Ecuadoran migrant family in New York City.

  • Beserra, Bernadete. Brazilian Immigrants in the United States: Cultural Imperialism and Social Class. New York: LFB Scholarly, 2003.

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    Argues that Brazilian immigration to the United States is a by-product of US imperial expansion. Studies Brazilian immigrant community in Los Angeles.

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  • Jouët-Pastré, Clémence de, and Leticia J. Braga, eds. Becoming Brazuca: Brazilian Immigration to the United States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, 2008.

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    Collection of twenty-four essays about Brazilian immigration to the United States, a fairly recent phenomenon.

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  • Margolis, Maxine L. An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009.

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    Study of Brazilian migration to New York City, which began in the 1980s. Many Brazilian immigrants are undocumented, but unlike other such immigrants they have tended to be middle class and intent on staying only a fairly short time in the United States.

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  • Miles, Ann. From Cuenca to Queens: An Anthropological Story of Transnational Migration. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.

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    Follows an Ecuadoran family called the Quitasacas as they migrate from their home in a squatter neighborhood in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to Queens in New York City.

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LAST MODIFIED: 02/26/2013

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199766581-0014

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