Metropolitan Migrants: The Migration of Urban Mexicans to the United States

Metropolitan Migrants: The Migration of Urban Mexicans to the United States

Metropolitan Migrants: The Migration of Urban Mexicans to the United States

Metropolitan Migrants: The Migration of Urban Mexicans to the United States

Synopsis

Challenging many common perceptions, this is the first book fully dedicated to understanding a major new phenomenon--the large numbers of skilled urban workers who are now coming across the border from Mexico's cities. Based on a ten-year, on-the-ground study of one working-class neighborhood in Monterrey, Mexico's industrial powerhouse and third-largest city, Metropolitan Migrants explores the ways in which Mexico's economic restructuring and the industrial modernization of the past three decades have pushed a new flow of migrants toward cities such as Houston, Texas, the global capital of the oil industry. Weaving together rich details of everyday life with a lucid analysis of Mexico's political economy, Rubén Hernández-León deftly traces the effects of restructuring on the lives of the working class, from the national level to the kitchen table.

Excerpt

This is the neighborhood of La Fama, an industrial working-class district in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico’s version of Pittsburgh, Detroit, or Chicago (depending on your preference) because of its history of heavy manufacturing. It is the Sunday after New Year’s Day, and several families are getting ready to return to the United States after spending the holidays in Monterrey. These families are also celebrating the birthday of a boy in the driveway of one of the homes. As such celebrations often are in Mexico, the party is open to everybody in the neighborhood. After a clown’s performance, the children break the piñata and get ready to sit down and eat their tamales. At the same time, on the sidewalk, the adults are exchanging information about la pasada, the crossing into the United States, specifically about conditions on the highway leading to the border and the traffic congestion on the bridges in the Laredo area. The children are being served dinner and are now eating their tamales. As I listen to their conversation, I am able to grasp this snapshot of immigrant life: Just like their parents, some children are also discussing their trip back to the United States. The crux of their exchange is the question of how many tamales they need to take in order to make it to Houston and Chicago without going hungry. It is clear to them that those traveling to Chicago should bring more tamales because of the additional distance to be covered after Houston. Thus, these kids are already aware of the geographical distance separating three different points of the migratory circuit they inhabit. By measuring distance in . . .

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