In the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Strike of 1933, frenzied cotton farmers murdered three strikers, intentionally starved at least nine infants, wounded dozens of people, and arrested more. While the story of this incident has been recounted from the perspective of both the farmers and, more recently, the Mexican workers, this is the first book to trace the origins of the Mexican workers’ activism through their common experience of migrating to the United States.
Rodolfo F. Acuña documents the history of Mexican workers and their families from seventeenth-century Chihuahua to twentieth-century California, following their patterns of migration and describing the establishment of communities in mining and agricultural regions. He shows the combined influences of racism, transborder dynamics, and events such as the industrialization of the Southwest, the Mexican Revolution, and World War I in shaping the collective experience of these people as they helped to form the economic, political, and social landscapes of the American Southwest in their interactions with agribusiness and absentee copper barons.
Acuña follows the steps of one of the murdered strikers, Pedro Subia, reconstructing the times and places in which his wave of migrants lived. By balancing the social and geographic trends in the Mexican population with the story of individual protest participants, Acuña shows how the strikes were in fact driven by choices beyond the Mexican workers’ control. Their struggle to form communities graphically retells how these workers were continuously uprooted and their organizations destroyed by capital. Corridors of Migration thus documents twentieth-century Mexican American labor activism from its earliest roots through the mines of Arizona and the Great San Joaquin Valley cotton strike.
From a founding scholar of Chicano studies and the author of fifteen books comes the culmination of three decades of dedicated research into the causes and effects of migration and labor activism. The narrative documents how Mexican workers formed communities against all odds.
Discussion of Mexican migration to the United States is often infused with ideological rhetoric, untested theories, and few facts. In Crossing the Border, editors Jorge Durand and Douglas Massey bring the clarity of scientific analysis to this hotly contested but under-researched topic. Leading immigration scholars use data from the Mexican Migration Project—the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available—to answer such important questions as: Who are the people that migrate to the United States from Mexico? Why do they come? How effective is U.S. migration policy in meeting its objectives? Crossing the Border dispels two primary myths about Mexican migration: First, that those who come to the United States are predominantly impoverished and intend to settle here permanently, and second, that the only way to keep them out is with stricter border enforcement. Nadia Flores, Rubén Hernández-León, and Douglas Massey show that Mexican migrants are generally not destitute but in fact cross the border because the higher comparative wages in the United States help them to finance homes back in Mexico, where limited credit opportunities makes it difficult for them to purchase housing. William Kandel's chapter on immigrant agricultural workers debunks the myth that these laborers are part of a shadowy, underground population that sponges off of social services. In contrast, he finds that most Mexican agricultural workers in the United States are paid by check and not under the table. These workers pay their fair share in U.S. taxes and—despite high rates of eligibility—they rarely utilize welfare programs. Research from the project also indicates that heightened border surveillance is an ineffective strategy to reduce the immigrant population. Pia Orrenius demonstrates that strict barriers at popular border crossings have not kept migrants from entering the United States, but rather have prompted them to seek out other crossing points. Belinda Reyes uses statistical models and qualitative interviews to show that the militarization of the Mexican border has actually kept immigrants who want to return to Mexico from doing so by making them fear that if they leave they will not be able to get back into the United States. By replacing anecdotal and speculative evidence with concrete data, Crossing the Border paints a picture of Mexican immigration to the United States that defies the common knowledge. It portrays a group of committed workers, doing what they can to realize the dream of home ownership in the absence of financing opportunities, and a broken immigration system that tries to keep migrants out of this country, but instead has kept them from leaving.
In his topical new book, Ethical Borders, Bill Ong Hing asks, why do undocumented immigrants from Mexico continue to enter the United States and, what would discourage this surreptitious traffic? An expert on immigration law and policy, Hing examines the relationship between NAFTA, globalization, and undocumented migration, and he considers the policy options for controlling immigration. He develops an ethical rationale for opening up the U.S./Mexican border, as well as improving conditions in Mexico so that its citizens would have little incentive to migrate.
In Ethical Borders Hing insists that reforming NAFTA is vital to ameliorating much of the poverty that drives undocumented immigration and he points to the European Union's immigration and economic development policies as a model for North America. Hing considers the world-wide economic crisis and the social problems that attend labor migration into homogenous countries, arguing for a spectrum of changes, including stricter border enforcement and more effective barriers; a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants; or a guest worker program.
Hing also situates NAFTA and its effects in the larger, and rapidly shifting, context of globalization—particularly the recent rise of China as the world's economic giant. Showing how NAFTA’s unforeseen consequences have been detrimental to Mexico, Hing passionately argues that the United States is ethically bound to address the problems in a way that puts prosperity within the grasp of all North Americans.
From debates on Capitol Hill to the popular media, Mexican immigrants are the subject of widespread controversy. By 2003, their growing numbers accounted for 28.3 percent of all foreign-born inhabitants of the United States. Mexican Immigration to the United States analyzes the astonishing economic impact of this historically unprecedented exodus. Why do Mexican immigrants gain citizenship and employment at a slower rate than non-Mexicans? Does their migration to the U.S. adversely affect the working conditions of lower-skilled workers already residing there? And how rapid is the intergenerational mobility among Mexican immigrant families?
This authoritative volume provides a historical context for Mexican immigration to the U.S. and reports new findings on an immigrant influx whose size and character will force us to rethink economic policy for decades to come. Mexican Immigration to the United States will be necessary reading for anyone concerned about social conditions and economic opportunities in both countries.
On any given day in Arizona, thousands of Mexican-descent workers labor to make living in urban and rural areas possible. The majority of such workers are largely invisible. Their work as caretakers of children and the elderly, dishwashers or cooks in restaurants, and hotel housekeeping staff, among other roles, remains in the shadows of an economy dependent on their labor.
Mexican Workers and the Making of Arizona centers on the production of an elastic supply of labor, revealing how this long-standing approach to the building of Arizona has obscured important power relations, including the state’s favorable treatment of corporations vis-à-vis workers. Building on recent scholarship about Chicanas/os and others, the volume insightfully describes how U.S. industries such as railroads, mining, and agriculture have fostered the recruitment of Mexican labor, thus ensuring the presence of a surplus labor pool that expands and contracts to accommodate production and profit goals.
The volume’s contributors delve into examples of migration and settlement in the Salt River Valley; the mobilization and immobilization of cotton workers in the 1920s; miners and their challenge to a dual-wage system in Miami, Arizona; Mexican American women workers in midcentury Phoenix; the 1980s Morenci copper miners’ strike and Chicana mobilization; Arizona’s industrial and agribusiness demands for Mexican contract labor; and the labor rights violations of construction workers today.
Mexican Workers and the Making of Arizona fills an important gap in our understanding of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Southwest by turning the scholarly gaze to Arizona, which has had a long-standing impact on national policy and politics.
Just looking at the Pacific Northwest’s many verdant forests and fields, it may be hard to imagine the intense work it took to transform the region into the agricultural powerhouse it is today. Much of this labor was provided by Mexican guest workers, Tejano migrants, and undocumented immigrants, who converged on the region beginning in the mid-1940s. Of Forests and Fields tells the story of these workers, who toiled in the fields, canneries, packing sheds, and forests, turning the Pacific Northwest into one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country.
Employing an innovative approach that traces the intersections between Chicana/o labor and environmental history, Mario Sifuentez shows how ethnic Mexican workers responded to white communities that only welcomed them when they were economically useful, then quickly shunned them. He vividly renders the feelings of isolation and desperation that led to the formation of ethnic Mexican labor organizations like the Pineros y Campesinos Unidos Noroeste (PCUN) farm workers union, which fought back against discrimination and exploitation. Of Forests and Fields not only extends the scope of Mexican labor history beyond the Southwest, it offers valuable historical precedents for understanding the struggles of immigrant and migrant laborers in our own era.
Sifuentez supplements his extensive archival research with a unique set of first-hand interviews, offering new perspectives on events covered in the printed historical record. A descendent of ethnic Mexican immigrant laborers in Oregon, Sifuentez also poignantly demonstrates the links between the personal and political, as his research leads him to amazing discoveries about his own family history...
In the 1970s Mexico sent men across the border to take low-level work and return money to their communities back home. But the 1980s U.S. immigration crackdown forced many to remain in the north permanently for fear of not being able to return to work—trapped in a “cage of gold.” Ana Raquel Minian explores this unique chapter in Mexican migration.