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The Social and Economic Determinants of Recent Unauthorized Mexican Border-Crossers Open Access

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Research pinpoints to important differences for first-time and repeat migration among men and women, which this study concentrates on individual-level factors in having migrated for economic or social reasons. Data come from the second wave of the Migrant Border Crossing Study (MBCS), which surveyed recently deported Mexican migrants in five border cities and Mexico City between 2009 and 2012. The subsample of unauthorized Mexican immigrants attempted an authorized border crossing after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. The key findings reveal that migration continues to be a highly gendered social process among recent border-crossers: men are still more likely to have migrated for economic reasons rather than social reasons when compared to married women. However, several findings depart from this commonly observed pattern among unmarried women or those employed prior to their most recent border-crossing attempt for economic reasons relative to women without prior labor market experiences, but it did not affect men’s reasons to migration. The present study also finds that men and women alike are beginning to migrate for social reasons (e.g., for the purposes of family reunification) relative to economic reasons, which departs from prior work regarding the role of having family members in the United States and having U.S. citizen family members in the social process of migration. When compared to the existing studies on unauthorized Mexican migration, this study suggests that men and women’s reasons for undertaking an unauthorized trip have not remained static in the contemporary era of increased border enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, post-recession economic recovery in the United States, and expanded global economic neoliberalism.

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