Undocumented Mexican Migrants in a Deep South City

Waldstein, Anna (2010) Undocumented Mexican Migrants in a Deep South City. In: Anderson, Oliver, ed. Illegal Immigration: Causes, Methods and Effects. Global Political Studies . Nova Science, New York, pp. 1-30. ISBN 9781616680334. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Since 1986, Georgia has become an important destination for Mexican migrants making an initial move to the United States. Georgia cities have a high demand for labor in poultry processing and other factories, while the rural areas of the state are magnets for agricultural workers. These physically challenging, low-paying jobs attract large numbers of Latin Americans, the majority of which are undocumented migrants from Mexico. The Southeast is a relatively new destination undocumented immigrants and little is known about why and how they move to there, what happens to them once they get there and what effects their presence has on the region. This chapter is based on a review of socio-cultural, historical and political-economic literature on Mexican migration to the United States, as well as an ethnographic case study of an undocumented Mexican migrant neighborhood in Athens, GA that I conducted from April 2002 to June 2003. It describes why Mexican migrants choose Athens, how they make the journey from Mexico to Georgia without passports and get jobs without work permits, what their lives are like in Athens and how they interact with local populations. Fieldwork took place in “Los Duplex,” a subdivision located 6 miles from the center of Athens and focused on popular medical knowledge, beliefs and practices of Mexican migrant women. At the time of the study nearly three quarters of the 131 residences in Los Duplex were occupied by Mexican tenants and the neighborhood was well-known for having a primarily undocumented population. Research methods included a neighborhood census, a structured survey of women in 28 households, participant observation and informal interviews. Research participants and their partners talked openly about obtaining forged legal documents and working under other people’s names and a few shared their border crossing stories. Research participants and their families patronized public and private health care facilities in Athens and some applied for public assistance (though usually unsuccessfully). Some single men and unsupervised teenagers who lived in the neighborhood were involved in criminal activities ranging from vandalism to public intoxication to manslaughter. However, undocumented Mexican families were remarkably self-sufficient, respectable and supportive of one another. Encouraging the migration of women and children may help minimize both criminal activity and use of public resources in some cases.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Social and Cultural Anthropology
Depositing User: Anna Waldstein
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2011 12:35 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2011 14:30 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/28332 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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