Clandestine Crossings delivers an in-depth description
and analysis of the experiences of working-class Mexican migrants
at the beginning of the twenty-first century as they enter the
United States surreptitiously with the help of paid guides known as
coyotes. Drawing on ethnographic observations of crossing
conditions in the borderlands of South Texas, as well as interviews
with migrants, coyotes, and border officials, Spener details how
migrants and coyotes work together to evade apprehension by U.S.
law enforcement authorities as they cross the border. In so doing,
he seeks to dispel many of the myths that misinform public debate
about undocumented immigration to the United States.
The hiring of a coyote, Spener argues, is one of the principal
strategies that Mexican migrants have developed in response to
intensified U.S. border enforcement. Although this strategy is
typically portrayed in the press as a sinister organized-crime
phenomenon, Spener argues that it is better understood as the
resistance of working-class Mexicans to an economic model and set
of immigration policies in North America that increasingly resemble
an apartheid system. In the absence of adequate employment
opportunities in Mexico and legal mechanisms for them to work in
the United States, migrants and coyotes draw on their social
connections and cultural knowledge to stage successful border
crossings in spite of the ever greater dangers placed in their path
by government authorities.
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