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New Destinations

New Destinations: Mexican Immigration in the United States

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    New Destinations
    Book Description:

    Mexican immigration to the United States—the oldest and largest immigration movement to this country—is in the midst of a fundamental transformation. For decades, Mexican immigration was primarily a border phenomenon, confined to Southwestern states. But legal changes in the mid-1980s paved the way for Mexican migrants to settle in parts of America that had no previous exposure to people of Mexican heritage. In New Destinations, editors Víctor Zúñiga and Rubén Hernández-León bring together an inter-disciplinary team of scholars to examine demographic, social, cultural, and political changes in areas where the incorporation of Mexican migrants has deeply changed the preexisting ethnic landscape. New Destinations looks at several of the communities where Mexican migrants are beginning to settle, and documents how the latest arrivals are reshaping—and being reshaped by—these new areas of settlement. Contributors Jorge Durand, Douglas Massey, and Chiara Capoferro use census data to diagram the historical evolution of Mexican immigration to the United States, noting the demographic, economic, and legal factors that led recent immigrants to move to areas where few of their predecessors had settled. Looking at two towns in Southern Louisiana, contributors Katharine Donato, Melissa Stainback, and Carl Bankston III reach a surprising conclusion: that documented immigrant workers did a poorer job of integrating into the local culture than their undocumented peers. They attribute this counterintuitive finding to documentation policies, which helped intensify employer control over migrants and undercut the formation of a stable migrant community among documented workers. Brian Rich and Marta Miranda detail an ambivalent mixture of paternalism and xenophobia by local residents toward migrants in Lexington, Kentucky. The new arrivals were welcomed for their strong work ethic so long as they stayed in “invisible” spheres such as fieldwork, but were resented once they began to take part in more public activities like schools or town meetings. New Destinations also provides some hopeful examples of progress in community relations. Several chapters, including Mark Grey and Anne Woodrick’s examination of a small Iowa town, point to the importance of dialogue and mediation in establishing amicable relations between ethnic groups in newly multi-cultural settings. New Destinations is the first scholarly assessment of Mexican migrants’ experience in the Midwest, Northeast, and deep South—the latest settlement points for America’s largest immigrant group. Enriched by perspectives from demographers, anthropologists, sociologists, folklorists, and political scientists, this volume is an essential starting point for scholarship on the new Mexican migration.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-570-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxx)
    Víctor Zúñiga and Rubén Hernández-león

    Mexican immigration to the United States—the oldest and largest uninterrupted migratory flow to this country—is in the midst of a fundamental transformation. This book is concerned with a central dimension of this change: the rise of new destinations of settled Mexican immigration. During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, Mexicans established new settlements in nontraditional destinations of the Midwest and eastern seaboard regions. Throughout this period, Mexicans began to arrive rapidly and massively in specific localities and counties of states such as Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Idaho, Utah, Arkansas, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Although...

  5. Chapter 1 The New Geography of Mexican Immigration
    (pp. 1-20)
    Jorge Durand, Douglas S. Massey and Chiara Capoferro

    Mexican immigration has never been spread evenly across the United States. Historically, a few key states, mostly in the southwest, attracted the large majority of immigrants from Mexico. This pattern of regional concentration was partly a matter of geography, of course. The four states that border Mexico—California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—naturally assumed greater importance than others, in part because until 1848 they were part of Mexico. Even among border states, however, geography wasn’t everything. Some states consistently outdrew others. One nonborder state, for example, Illinois, has for many years been an important destination. Economic and political factors...


    • Chapter 2 The Great Plains Migration: Mexicanos and Latinos in Nebraska
      (pp. 23-49)
      Lourdes Gouveia, Miguel A. Carranza and Jasney Cogua

      At first glance, Nebraska meets the definition of a new destination for Mexican migration. A combination of forces converging toward the end of the 1980s culminated in an unprecedented growth of the state’s Latino population. However, as we take stock of what is “new,” it is important not to lose sight of what is old. Mexicans began arriving in Nebraska at the beginning of the twentieth century, although relatively few settled permanently in the state when compared to this latest wave. Given this historical precedent, Nebraska may be best characterized as a re-emerging destination for Mexican immigrants and a new...

    • Chapter 3 Rural Industry and Mexican Immigration and Settlement in North Carolina
      (pp. 50-75)
      David C. Griffith

      Sometime during the early 1990s, while I was conducting studies of workers and work in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states, a labor contractor who moved work crews among southern states for agricultural harvests told me that he refused to take crews north of the North Carolina–Virginia line. When I asked him why, he said, quite frankly, that when you crossed that state line you entered a region with more stringent labor law enforcement. He was talking mainly about the enforcement of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act (MSAWPA), a federal law that should protect farmworkers in North...

    • Chapter 4 The Economic Incorporation of Mexican Immigrants in Southern Louisiana: A Tale of Two Cities
      (pp. 76-100)
      Katharine M. Donato, Melissa Stainback and Carl L. Bankston III

      By the end of the twentieth century, the United States had witnessed dramatic demographic changes. Among these were shifts in immigration. Since 1965, more than twenty million migrants have entered the United States, more than the largest wave entering between 1880 and 1914 (U.S. Department of Justice 1997). Not only have they arrived in greater numbers (Borjas 1999), immigrants began to work and settle in communities not traditionally associated with migration in the past. These include the nonmetropolitan towns of Dalton, northwest Georgia, an area well known for its carpet production (Hernández-León and Zúñiga 2000) and Garden City, Kansas, where...


    • Chapter 5 Bridging the Community: Nativism, Activism, and the Politics of Inclusion in A Mexican Settlement in Pennsylvania
      (pp. 103-132)
      Debra Lattanzi Shutika

      “Migration changes things” is at once a truism and yet a vast understatement. Current estimates suggest that approximately 2.3 percent of the world’s population consists of labor migrants (Andreas and Snyder 2000), a number so small that it is statistically insignificant, yet the influence these mobile laborers have on their sending and receiving communities is remarkable. Here we consider the ways changes in migration after the passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) have transformed the local social and political structure of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and the response of the dominant English-speaking community to these changes. The...

    • Chapter 6 “Latinos Have Revitalized Our Community”: Mexican Migration and Anglo Responses in Marshalltown, Iowa
      (pp. 133-154)
      Mark A. Grey and Anne C. Woodrick

      Marshalltown, Iowa, is a typical new destination community for Mexican migrants in the United States. This midwestern community of twenty-six thousand has been fundamentally transformed and revitalized by rapid growth in its Mexican population over the last ten years. In 1990, there were only 248 people of Hispanic origin in Marshalltown, or 0.9 percent of the total population. In 2000, there were 3,265 or 12.6 percent of total population. The 2000 census figure is probably low because of the reluctance of many undocumented immigrants to complete U.S. census forms. Many Latinos and Anglo community leaders believe the actual number of...

    • Chapter 7 Recent Mexican Migration in the Rural Delmarva Peninsula: Human Rights Versus Citizenship Rights in a Local Context
      (pp. 155-184)
      Timothy J. Dunn, Ana María Aragonés and George Shivers

      The isolated peninsula containing Delaware and the Eastern Shore (of the Chesapeake Bay) portions of Maryland and Virginia saw an explosive growth in Mexican and other Latino immigrant residents from 1990 to 2000. The Latino immigrant population grew several hundred percentage points in key counties and more than 1,000 percent in several towns, increasing from tiny absolute numbers to hundreds and thousands in those towns and counties, respectively (see tables 7.1 and 7.2). The largest portion of the broader Latino and Hispanic category regionally is Mexican, followed by Guatemalan. The expanding Mexican presence as settler-residents follows several decades of experience...


    • Chapter 8 The Sociopolitical Dynamics of Mexican Immigration in Lexington, Kentucky, 1997 to 2002: An Ambivalent Community Responds
      (pp. 187-219)
      Brian L. Rich and Marta Miranda

      Lexington, Kentucky, the metropolitan center of the Bluegrass Region—famous as “the Horse Capital of the World”—and a major tobacco-producing area of the United States, is currently in the process of receiving a major influx of Hispanic-Latino¹ immigrants, about 90 percent of them from Mexico. This flow began in the early 1990s in response to labor needs in the region. Despite the presence of over 10,000 Hispanic workers by 1997—most of them undocumented—the greater Lexington community was still virtually ignorant of their economic importance and social needs. This changed in 1998 when the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government...

    • Chapter 9 Racialization and Mexicans in New York City
      (pp. 220-243)
      Robert Courtney Smith

      Writing in the 1930s, W. E. B. DuBois (1935/1977, 700) observed that poor southern whites got a “public, psychological wage” by being white that enabled them to feel superior to blacks despite the many commonalities in their material living conditions. Historian David Roediger (1991, 12) and others use DuBois’s insight to analyze how the “Irish became white.” When Irish immigrants started coming to the United States in significant numbers in the 1830s, they had much in common with African Americans. They both did America’s dirty work, had both been victimized by systematic racism, and often lived side by side in...

    • Chapter 10 Appalachia Meets Aztlán: Mexican Immigration and Intergroup Relations in Dalton, Georgia
      (pp. 244-274)
      Rubén Hernández-León and Rubén Zúñiga

      During the late twentieth century, Mexican immigration exploded in regions and localities of the United States with no prior history of Latino settlement. In no other region was this phenomenon more conspicuous than the South, where between 1990 and 2000 the Latino population nearly tripled. The arrival of thousands of Mexican and other Latin American newcomers has transformed the linguistic, cultural, and ethnic landscape of the South and begun to redefine the dynamics of local public and private institutions—from workplaces to banks to public schools.

      This chapter explores the impact of Mexican immigration on the discourses, representations, and dynamics...

  9. Index
    (pp. 275-290)