Divided by Borders

Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and Their Children

JOANNA DREBY
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppmts
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  • Book Info
    Divided by Borders
    Book Description:

    Since 2000, approximately 440,000 Mexicans have migrated to the United States every year. Tens of thousands have left children behind in Mexico to do so. For these parents, migration is a sacrifice. What do parents expect to accomplish by dividing their families across borders? How do families manage when they are living apart? More importantly, do parents' relocations yield the intended results? Probing the experiences of migrant parents, children in Mexico, and their caregivers, Joanna Dreby offers an up-close and personal account of the lives of families divided by borders. What she finds is that the difficulties endured by transnational families make it nearly impossible for parents' sacrifices to result in the benefits they expect. Yet, paradoxically, these hardships reinforce family members' commitments to each other. A story both of adversity and the intensity of family ties,Divided by Bordersis an engaging and insightful investigation of the ways Mexican families struggle and ultimately persevere in a global economy.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94583-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: ORDINARY FAMILIES, EXTRAORDINARY FAMILIES
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Acknowledgments/Agradecimientos
    (pp. xix-xxi)
  5. ONE Sacrifice
    (pp. 1-33)

    Paula is lucky.¹ Paula has worked seventy hours each week since 2001, when she arrived in New Jersey. Each morning at 9 a.m. she leaves the apartment she rents near the train tracks in a small suburban town for her first shift at a fast-food restaurant. In mid-afternoon she crosses the street to her second job, at another fast-food chain, returning home around 11 p.m. most nights. Unlike the other five Mexicans who share her apartment, Paula can walk to both jobs and has not been out of work since she arrived. Paula’s housemates have schedules as busy as her...

  6. TWO Ofelia and Germán Cruz: MIGRANT TIME VERSUS CHILD TIME
    (pp. 35-55)

    November 2007. I finally caught up with Ofelia. It had been six months since I had last seen her, before I moved to Ohio from New Jersey. When we had spoken that past spring, Ofelia had once again changed her plans to send for her thirteen-year-old son, Germán. In April, she had made arrangements to bring Germán to the United States over the summer, after he had graduated from the sixth grade. Ofelia had hoped that by the time school started in the fall, he would be living with her and her husband, Ricardo, and their six-year-old daughter, Stacy, born...

  7. THREE Gender and Parenting from Afar
    (pp. 57-87)

    It was mid-February 2005, and the atmosphere in San Ángel and the region was lively. Since the New Year, there had been at least two private parties per week. A number of couples had planned their weddings for this time of the year, which were open events that anyone could attend, since most of San Ángel’s twenty-five hundred residents knew one another. Live bands played in the central plaza; these nightsrancheramusic rang throughout the town until the early morning hours. Many from nearby towns attended these events, and residents of San Ángel joined in the celebrations of neighboring...

  8. FOUR Armando López on Fatherhood
    (pp. 89-109)

    When mothers and fathers live apart from their children, the meanings they ascribe to parent-child interactions across borders recreate rather conventional definitions of parenthood. Yet, as Armando’s comment suggests, there are some situations in which fathers’ emotional roles in their children’s lives expand. For Armando, this occurred after his wife joined him in the United States and then left him for another man. After her migration and the divorce, Armando’s ex-wife violated the standard of care expected of mothers. Armando felt that his relationship with his children in Mexico actually improved. This was a source of pride for Armando, which...

  9. FIVE Children and Power during Separation
    (pp. 111-143)

    Nico was unmistakable in San Ángel for his bleached, spiked hair and for being the youngest hanging around a crowd of older boys. I guessed he was about eleven but learned when I visited his fifth-grade class that he was actually thirteen. On that day, Nico blurted out that his parents lived in the United States, seemingly pleased that I was interested in the experiences of children like himself.

    During the week of the townferia, Nico was out every night at the rides until late. On the eve of the week’s culminating events, Nico was at the rodeo. He...

  10. SIX Middlewomen
    (pp. 145-177)

    This grandmother’s statement illustrates the vastly important role caregivers in Mexico have in mediating relationships between migrant parents and their children. Children often feel attached to their caregivers. Caregivers, in turn, are emotionally attached to the children in their care. When children resist migration, they may find support from their caregivers, who will feel deeply saddened if the children leave. Caregivers may advocate on behalf of the children in their care who do not wish to migrate, further prolonging periods of family separation.

    At the same time, caregivers, like the grandmother quoted above, do not question migrants’ rights to the...

  11. SEVEN Cindy Rodríguez between Two Worlds
    (pp. 179-199)

    January 2005. It was my second visit to the Mexican home of migrant Paula Rodríguez’s cousin, Pedro, his wife, Blanca, and their daughters, Lola and Jessy. Paula’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Cindy, lived with the family, as Cindy’s older brother, Mateo, had done previously. The family lived just four blocks up the hill from the center of the city (a sign of status in small cities in Mexico) in a house perched on the side of the hill. The street-level entrance was through the storefront—a turquoise painted and tiled room filled with vegetables and fruit. Through the store was the living...

  12. EIGHT Divided by Borders
    (pp. 201-230)

    Paulo’s comment expresses a common sentiment about the impact of migration on Mexican families. I came across this sentiment repeatedly in interviews with teachers, in my casual conversations with Mexican immigrants and residents of San Ángel, and even in local newspapers in both New Jersey and Mexico. According to one school social worker I interviewed, “The fathers just leave, the mothers leave, and it is very worrisome that we have students who live with their grandparents. It is a severe problem.” Another told me, “In some ways it is good that we have migration. Economically speaking, it is good. But...

  13. APPENDIX A: Research Design
    (pp. 231-241)
  14. APPENDIX B: Family Descriptions
    (pp. 242-246)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 247-274)
  16. References
    (pp. 275-302)
  17. Index
    (pp. 303-311)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 312-312)