Wanting In: Latin American Immigrant Women and the Turn to Electoral Politics
In their attempts to resolve the dilemma of having to choose between two irreconcilable polities, mainstream immigrant organizations, dominated by men, appeal to their countries of origin to allow dual citizenship. Women and others on the margins of immigrant organizational structures choose instead to appeal directly to arbiters in their present political environment. The choice of strategy, I argue, is gendered.
Not only are women in general more likely than men to shift their cultural orientation toward the United States, but female activists are more inclined to participate in American politics. This chapter explores both phenomena. In particular, Latina immigrant activists' identity as women, together with their political socialization here and in their country of origin, leads them to become more involved than men in American politics, and inclines them to be more likely to look here, rather than to their countries of origin, for solutions to ease the costs of participation within the American political system.
In the last fifteen years there has been some change in the study and evaluation of immigration patterns. Previously it was assumed that men migrated first, and women and children followed; men were assumed to have made most of the decisions about immigration -- when and where it would take place. In the 1970s there was a new recognition in the academic literature that decisions took place within households, and that therefore one had to