Migration to the United States from Indigenous Communities in Mexico


Asad, Asad L., and Jackelyn Hwang. 2019. “Migration to the United States from Indigenous Communities in Mexico ”. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 684 (1):120-145.


Research on Mexican migration to the United States has long noted how characteristics of individuals’ sending communities structure their opportunities for international movement. This literature has seldom considered how these characteristics overlap with the concentration of indigenous residents—those with origins in pre-Hispanic populations—in a community. Drawing on large-scale survey data from 143 communities surveyed by the Mexican Migration Project, supplemented with data from the Mexican Census, this article uses multilevel models to describe how the share of indigenous residents in a migrant-sending community relates to different aspects of the migratory process, focusing on (1) the decision to migrate to the United States and (2) the documentation used on migrants’ first U.S. trip. We do not find that indigenous shares are associated with the decision to migrate to the United States. However, relative to respondents living in communities in low-indigenous municipalities, those in communities in high- indigenous municipalities are more likely to migrate as undocumented rather than documented migrants. We conclude that indigenous places are more likely to be sites of economic and social disadvantage and therefore limit the possibilities their residents have for international movement.

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