Subfield Exam: Immigration and Stratification Theory

(Part of 7 Transnational Migraion)

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(Part of 7 Transnational Migraion)

Date: 09.25.2011

Title: U.S. Deportation Policy, Family Separation, and Circular Migration

Author: Hagan, Jacqueline, Karl Eschbach & Nestor Rodriguez

Source: IMR 200 V42 N1

Category and Keyword: Immigration, Deportation Policy, United States, Circular Migration


  • we examine how family relations, ties, remittance behavior, and settlement experiences are disrupted by deportation, and how these ties influence future migration intentions.


  • a significant number of deportees were long-term settlers in the United States.

  • Many had established work histories and had formed families of their own.

  • These strong social ties in turn influence the likelihood of repeat migration to the United States.


  • Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and the Anti- Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) into law.

AND USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law by George W. Bush.

= these exclusionary laws represent a dramatic departure from post-WWII immigration policies, which had granted increasing rights to immigrants and their families.

  • Some things with IIRAIRA: expedited removal, aggravated felony expanded, drugs (5 grams of marijuana) etc. judicial review: “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” versus the past “hardship” of family member for LPR

  • AEDPA further bolstered the enforcement arm of immigration authority by virtually doing away with judicial review for all categories of immigrants eligible for deportation.

= In effect, IIRIRA and AEDPA removed the legal barriers that protected immigrants from deportation by curtailing judicial review, restricting due process, and eliminating relief for immigrants with family ties in the United States, regardless of the severity of the crime. (and the Patriot Act said you can detain and deport immigrants who are perceived to have threats to national security)
EFFECT: 1990-95 40,000 yr; 1996-2005 180,000 yr; 2005 – 208,000; 85% deported in 2005 were Mexican & Central American (HON/GUATE/EL SAL)

  • Studies on Mass deportations and effect, not many studies;

    • 1st time border crosses versus long time residents being deported

    • Questions: First, how are family relations and ties, remittance behavior, and settlement experiences disrupted by deportation? Second, how do these family ties and disruptions influence the future migration intentions of deportees?


  • To address these research questions, we draw on findings from retrospective face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 300 Salvadoran deportees in their home communities.

  • The arrival and reintegration of deportees in El Salvador is largely organized by a program established in 1999 and in operation through 2004 called Bienvenido a Casa (BAC) or “Welcome Home.”

  • The interviewers were instructed to approach every third attendee who arrived at the job placement meetings and request an interview.

  • The interviews, which were conducted in Spanish, averaged about an hour in length. (Trust created because not recorded AND all interviewers were former deportees who worked with BAC)

Table 1: Deportee Sample Compared To BAC Census Of Deportees And Census 2000 Characteristics Of Resident Noncitizen Immigrants From El Salvador In The United States

  • Differences: Compared to the settled population of Salvadorans, the deportees in both the BAC and study samples were overwhelmingly male and young.

    • These age and gender differences are not surprising when we consider that migration is selective; most authorized and unauthorized recent arrivals are young

    • Indeed, in FY 2003, the median age of all persons deported from the United States was 28, with women (primarily Mexican) constituting just 15% of all removals (USDHS, 2004:151).

  • more than half of those in our study sample and in the BAC census reported speaking English well or very well, percentages that closely match those reported in the 2000 census.

  • deportees were much less likely than their settled counterparts to have com- pleted 12 or more years of schooling,

  • A number of deportees, however, had spent a large part of their lives in the United States; roughly a fourth of the persons in both our study sample and in the BAC census reported residing in the United States for more than 10 years.

    • As we shall see, these residential and work histories have major implications for the future settlement intentions of many Salvadoran deportees.

Families in the U.S.

  • In recent decades, the structure of immigrant households in the United States has become increasingly complex, often comprised of extended horizontal and vertical kin linkages … Glick, Bean, and Van Hook, 1997)

  • Several studies, for example, find that Mexicans and Central Americans tend to move from larger and more extended household structures to smaller nuclear families over time (Browning and Rodriguez, 1985; Rodriguez, 1987).

Table 2: Household composition

1) In the first type, the deportee reported living with a parent, aunt, or uncle.

2) The second type included households in which the deportee lived with siblings and cousins, but without either a parent, aunt, or uncle, or spouse or own child.

3) In the third type, the deportee lived with a spouse or child, with or without other kin, but without a parent or other relative from the parent’ generation.

Another 4 percent of deportees reported that they lived in a household in the United States with nonkin, combinations of relatives not enumerated above, or both.

  • As Table 3 shows, persons deported within a year of their arrival in the United States were most likely to live in a sibling/cousin household type, or to report living without relatives in the United States. This type of living arrangement is consistent with young, unattached labor migrants from Central America and Mexico (Chavez, 1990).

  • With 15 years of settlement history in the United states, only 2 percent of the deportees were living in nonfamily house- holds and close to half had formed either nuclear household families or were living in mutigenerational households with parents and aunts, some of which included children and thus spanned three generations.

Transnational Family Life:

  • Side One: On the one hand, if deportees have a spouse and/or child in the United States – who may or may not be legal – then they could find themselves in a situation in which they are separated temporarily or permanently from loved ones who, more often than not, depended on the deported family member’s earnings for survival.

  • Side Two: if deportees left a spouse and/or child in their home country, then ironically deportation may lead to family reunification. This reunification may not be necessarily welcomed, since the deportee may no longer be able to remit earnings

  • Table 4:

    • Among these, 58 percent reported that their spouses lived in the United States, while 39 percent reported that their spouses lived in El Salvador.

    • Leaving children behind in care of relatives is a strategy employed by many labor migrants, including those from Latin America.

  • Motherhood: In more recent years, as labor migrant streams have become increasingly feminized, mothers too are leaving their children in the care of others, a concept that Hondangneu-Sotelo and Avila (1997) refer to as transnational motherhood.

    • Transnational parent- hood, however, is only part of the story. Several of the male deportees formed families (wife and children) in both the United States and El Salvador,

Remittance Disruption:

  • Ranking high among remitter groups in the United States are Central Americans, who, controlling for other factors, are more likely to remit than Mexicans.

  • remittances to El Salvador surpassed national exports as a source of foreign exchange, comprising between 6 and 17 percent of household income (de la Garza et al., 1997).

  • increased by 33 percent since 2001 to reach an all-time high of $2.5 billion – approximately 16.1 percent of the GDP.

  • Most of the scholarship on international migration and remittances in Latin America concentrates on the social and economic impact of remittances on communities of origin, with an eye toward assessing their potential for investment and economic development (Lozan, 1993; Massey and Parrado, 1994; Lowell and de la Garza, 2000; Parrado, 2004).1

    • In terms of who remits, older and more educated immigrants are less likely to remit, while those with higher earnings are more likely to remit.

    • as the period of settlement in the United States increases, the likelihood of remitting declines.

    • Immigrants with immediate family members in the United States – including spouses and children – were dramatically less likely to remit than those who have the same immediate family members living abroad.

    • being a member of social networks that maintain ties to communities of origin increases the likelihood of remitting (De Sipio, 2000).

    • Table 5: As Table 5 shows, more than half (51 percent) of all deportees sent money home. However, this figure includes persons who were deported from the border or a port of entry and persons without employment, who may have had no opportunity to make remittances.

    • After 6 months, a large majority (78 percent) of the more settled immigrants in the sample sent remittances home.

    • As Table 5 highlights, 71 percent of the sample who reported sending remittances had wives and children in the United States. Perhaps this finding is not so very surprising when we consider that by far the most common recipients of remittances were the parents of the deportee.

    • Most remittances go to sustain recipients: In general, only a small fraction of remittances sent to Latin America are devoted to savings and investment (Durand et al., 1996).

Future Return:

  • Although 38 percent reported that they would migrate back to the United States, another 34 percent stated that they did not plan to return to the United States, and 25 percent stated they did not know if they would migrate again to the United States

  • many deportees are leaving spouses and children behind in the United States, especially those who have been in the United States for long periods of time. This factor alone subsequently generates a return migration of thousands of deportees.

  • The issue that this creates is not simply that it is inaccurate to characterize Latin American immigration as mainly an economic phenomenon, but that policy efforts that seek to restrict unauthorized immigration through economic controls

  • Apply the 208,000 figure to the figure of those in El Salvador who said they will go back and divide by 2: you get 39,500;

    • One reason is that Mexican migrants are the largest national category of deportees (70 percent), and they have a much easier time in migrating again because of accumulated social capital and years of experience in migrating, along with their close proximity to the United States.

    • While a deportee may initially be undecided about migrating again or even have decided against it, over time family needs either in the country of origin or in the United States may create pressures for a return trip.


  • These enforcement policies – which target broad classes of immigrants – undermine long-standing family reunification principles of U.S. immigration policy and pose dire social, economic, and psychological costs for deportees and their family members both in the United States and their communities of origin.

  • for the family members left behind, many of whom suffered emotional, financial, and psychological trauma as a result of losing loved ones who may have also been the primary breadwinners of the U.S. household (Rodriguez and Hagan, 2004; Jokinen, 2005; Lopez, Connell, and Kraul, 2005).

  • This paper represents a first research attempt to systematically address the extent to which family ties, remittance behavior, and settlement experiences are disrupted by deportation.

  • Thus an unintended consequence or latent function of U.S. deportation policy may very well be the creation of circular migratory patterns within the larger migration streams.

    • i.e. the policy does not end the migration of unauthorized or criminal migrants; it simply raises the human costs for migrants and their families.

1. Theory (Various Sorts)

Date: 10.07.2011

Title: The Resilient Importance of Class: A Nominalist Interpretation

Author: Alejandro Portes

Source: Political Power and Social Theory Vol 14, pages 249-284 (book)

Category and Keyword: Immigration, Deportation Policy, United States, Circular Migration


  • Contrary to the arguments that have been formed (i.e. USSR collapse meant that capitalists societies did not have class inequalities OR they didn’t matter);

  • I seek to demonstrate that the concept, defined according to its original Marxian and Weberian roots, continues to occupy a central role for sociological theory even in the absence of everyday indicators of its existence – advances 3 interrelated points:

    • The validity of the concept of class for explanation and prediction does not depend on individual self-definitions.

    • A class framework is necessary to provide systematic guidance for many analyses of social processes. In the absence of such framework these accounts are often swayed by surface manifestations of phenomena.

    • The utility of class analysis does not depend on dogmatic adherence to 19th century typologies, buy on the use of such mappings as heuristic tools, modifiable according of evolving conditions.



  • It is possible for social classes to remain inert politically, their members never explicitly conscious of their particular position, and still play an essential role in the organization of society and in long-term social change.

  • Criticism of Grusky and Sorensen (1998): They re-defined class (academic construct) to occupation based. Problem: does not get at a lot of nuances in the actual population like grand capitalists, rentiers, and even the redundant workers.


  • National Research Council report on immigrant economic + and – s. “There is no hint in the NRC report of the major social cleavages splitting the nation on the question of immigration or of the possibility that some sectors may benefit mightily from the arrival of newcomers and others pay a hefty price for their presence.” [ME: Thus the grand capitalists’ desire for economists!]

  • – Classless analysis assumes implicitly that society is an aggregate of individuals, families, or communities with comparable levels of power and similar access to opportunities and rewards.

    • The classless fallacy consists of assuming that the incidence and effects of major processes occur evenly across society with variations being affected by individual, family or at best community characteristics.

  • REMEDY: Class analysis makes references to gradational hierarchies of prestige or income only secondarily because the latter are seen as consequences of more fundamental structural cleavages.


  • E.G. too rigid of definitions; Grusky and Sorensen are essentially right that occupation-based organizations are far more active and produce greater closure than those based on classic Marxist definitions of class. However, calling occupations “classes” leave no baby after the bath water.


    • Basic cleavages of political and economic power change over time, giving rise to different class configurations.

    • Classes are theoretical constructs devised for the structural interpretation of social phenomena

      • The number, composition, and patterns of interaction of social classes will vary over time.

      • Particular “maps” of the class structure used for the explanation of different social phenomena may vary without rendering such variations necessarily invalid.


  • The four points below represent the core of class analysis and can be accepted as valid a priori. A nominalist approach can be grounded on these foundations by considering different dimensions of power and the major social cleavages to which they give rise.

    • 1) Social phenomena are not explainable by their superficial manifestations. There is “deep structure” defined by durable inequalities among large social aggregates

    • 2) Classes are defined by their relationships to each other and not simply by a set of “gradational” positions along some hierarchy. In this sense, status rankings are a manifestation, not a defining feature of class.

    • 3) Classes are defined by differential access to power within a given social system.

    • 4) Class position is transmissible across generations.

XEROX 270 =

Table 2: A Typology of the Modern Class Structure (and Table 1, p 256 = Social Phenomena from Different Analytic Perspectives)

  • Some points:

    • The possession of wealth represents a fundamental divide in modern capitalist society with possessors and non-possessors expected to behave differently and line up systematically on opposite sides in many political issues.

    • Common to the three classes of wealth possessors is that individuals need not be born into them, but can access them through extraordinary skill and luck.

    • In other words, individual abilities are important as a class-conferring attribute to the extent that they are in demand by members of the dominant classes and the institutions that they control.

    • Regular salaried and waged workers are in a much better position to come together in defense of their interests than isolated home workers and those paid on apiece rate basis …. Mutual visibility and awareness of a common position among regular workers facilitate their association and the search for occupational closure. This is also the reason why corporate managers in the service of capital have energetically pursued employment “flexibility” in recent years – a codeword for breaking the power of employee associations through fragmentation (267) of the labor process and the use of manifold subcontracting arrangements …The success of this strategy has pushed a number of common workers into one of the two remaining classes…

    • Through a variety of strategic ploys, described at length in the specialized literature, the dominant classes succeeded in imposing the logic of globalization on their unionized work forces, converting a significant portion into redundant workers..)

    • REDUNDANT: It represents, in a sense, the living sequel to the defeat of past efforts by organized segments of the working-class to impose its terms on capital.

    • American capitalists confronted the challenge of global competition by discarding the social pact with organized labor and promoting flexibility and entrepreneurship.

    • Petty Entrepreneurship rebounded

Immigration and Class Structure: (XEROX Table 3)

  • Flexible specialization and the movement of capital abroad have been accompanied by the rise of labor migration into the advanced countries. (274)

  • Thus, unlike the situation at the beginning of the 20th century where immigrants entered mostly at the bottom of the American class structure, at present they add to all economically active classes – from elite workers to petty entrepreneurs. (275)

  • The only class negatively affected by immigration is that of common workers, but as seen previously, this class lacks the internal cohesiveness and power to effectively oppse the flow.

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