100 Years of Mexican Incorporation: Time of Migration, Cohort Effects and Place of Destination

Maria Rendon, University of California, Irvine

Scholars debate the extent to which the Mexican-origin group has successfully integrated into the United States. Some suggest they have experienced “generations of racial exclusion” while others suggest “delayed assimilation.” Despite the presence of Mexicans in the United States during the first half of the 20th century they were overlooked by American sociologists constructing theories of assimilation. By focusing on European immigrants who experienced a halt in immigration, sociologists focused on changes across generations . Such approach is limited for understanding how Mexicans have been incorporated into the United States. The Mexican immigration flow is the longest lasting in the world, encompassing various cohorts over time, and has experienced voluntary and non-voluntary return migration at various points; their integration is much more complex than any other migrant group in the United States. My aim is to advance knowledge on the incorporation process of Mexican immigrants by accounting for how distinct historical eras absorbed cohorts of Mexican migrants and their children into the United States. I do so taking a new approach to the study of immigration. I have identified one village in San Luis Potosi, Mexico that has experienced migration for over 100 years to southern California. The first wave of these migrants arrived in the early 1900s – some, but not all, returning during the repatriation of Mexican and Mexican Americans in the 1930s - and I am able to trace some of their descendants in the United States and Mexico. Later cohorts include those engaged in circular migration who participated in the Bracero Program (1942-1962) and those who settled after the 1970s, many undocumented. Through this case study, I draw on archives and oral histories to capture the spatial and social-cultural integration of these cohorts and their descendants across generations into the region.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 261. Networks of Migrant Integration, Support, and Activism