Readers’ Guide for The World of Mexican Migrants: The Rock and the Hard Place
This is a study that is full of surprises. Some of the reasons why Mexicans decide to migrate, where they decide to settle and where and how they find housing and jobs seem intuitively obvious. But my work on this book revealed to me many forces at play that I would never have imagined before carrying out the interviews with the people who appear in this book. Here are a series of questions that explore some of these surprises or what we could call “counterintuitive findings.” 1> What are the motivations for migration that we could not have guessed without a careful look at the towns and villages that migrants leave behind? 2> Many hundreds of wouldbe migrants have perished in the course of their efforts to cross the border into the United States. But over the same period, millions have successfully crossed. What are the factors that explain who makes it across? 3> How has enforcement at the border changed over time? Will the border fence presently under construction halt or reduce the flow of migrants into the United States? 4> What are the biggest surprises that emerge in this study regarding the ethnic and race relations between Mexicans and the people they encounter when they reach the “other side”? 5> Do undocumented migrants have any rights at all? Are they protected by labor law? Housing codes? By the general principle of “rule of law”? 6> What are the factors that determine whether or how quickly Mexican migrants will learn English once they reach the United States? 7> We read in the news that immigration authorities have raided homes and workplaces and detained and deported the undocumented people that they have found there. Why is it that so many of the people interviewed for this book reported that they do not spend much time worrying about being picked up by the “migra”? 8> What are the “comparative advantages” that the Mexicans have over others in the job market, the housing market, and in the Catholic Church? 9> How is it possible that undocumented people can be “hidden in plain sight” in restaurants, on constructions sites, on street corners as they wait for work, or riding along on bicycles delivering food? 10> What are the advantages and disadvantages of life in the United States vs. “back home” in Mexico for women? For men? For children? 11> What is the “Mexican Dream” and how does it differ from the “American Dream”?
Why would Mexicans prefer the former to the latter?