Mexico and the World
Vol. 14, No 1 (Winter 2009)
Transnational Lives of Immigrant Mexican Communities:
Victor Valley (California) and Aguacaliente Grande (Sinaloa)
By Ismael García Castro
This article focuses on the development of transnational life practices of a Mexican immigrant community residing in the Victor Valley region in San Bernardino County, California. This community is from Aguacaliente Grande, a small town on the mountains in the northern state of Sinaloa, Mexico. Through deep interviews and an attitude and values survey, we explored the way immigrants feel about their particular lifestyle.
The formation of transnational communities is not only a trend of the Mexico-US migration process. Transborder communities are now a global phenomenon with implications for receiving and origin countries (Stephen, 2007). In the case of Mexican immigrants in the United States, several circumstances have motivated the formation of immigration social networks since the 18th Century. Particularly, and more significantly, many of these networks began during the time of the “Bracero Program”, from 1942 to 1964. Ever since, the people from the state of Sinaloa established in southern California have integrated into communities that, through the years, have developed complex networks following patterns similar to the rest of the Mexican immigrants - but, also operating in independent ways with particular characteristics, depending on the community or region of origin. The maturation of these networks makes possible the making of transnational practices (Alarcón, 1995:50; Canales & Zlolniski, 2000).
When the immigration process continues and intensifies through the years, it configures a system of constant exchange and circulation of people, goods, information, and money, between self-identified ethnic groups that maintain ties simultaneously to the receiving country and place of origin, which constitutes a transnational community (Dresser & Wilson, 2006). In other words, a community which simultaneously exists within two different countries (Glick Schiler et al, 1992; Rouse, 1992). Even though the immigrants are in another country hundreds or thousands of miles away, the feeling of having a link to a certain origin and the recognition as members of the same community or gemeinschaft (Tonnies, 1979), keep them integrated to a larger whole (Gendreau & Giménez, 2002). The identity or membership to a community is a very important feeling to those who live in a strange and sort of hostile environment, since it gives them feelings of social, psychological, and economic security (Liègeois, 1994).
Using factors as frequency of money remittances, phone calls, and trips back to home, we analyzed the intensity of the relationship between the communities of origin and destination. We also used deep interviews with narratives of migrants and their families (Núñez-Madrazo, 2007), and an attitude and values survey and associative group analysis techniques (Diaz-Guerrero & Szalay, 1993) in order to measure attitudes of immigrants in the context of their life in the United States. The associative group analysis technique consists in free association of ideas when hearing “stimulated words”. This psycho-social analysis method is based on the principle that people who belong to the same culture develop similar perceptions and motivations.
For analytical and explanatory purposes, we divided our paper in transnational, cultural, economic, and political practices.
The attachment or identification with the community of origin
The attachment or sense of belonging to a community established in two different countries is, perhaps, the most outstanding practice or element for the construction of a transnational society, since it is about the membership to an imaginary community that coexists with the attachment to the political community of the nations participating in the transnational migrating process, in this case Mexico and the United States (Smith, 1993).
The individuals as social beings are born and live in objective and concrete communities with which they identify themselves and from which they acquire ways of life and culture that they interiorize through socialization. In case of extreme changes in the life of the individuals, such as the process of international migration, the identification to their community or the interpretation of the past living conditions is used for the adaptation to the new conditions (Garreta Bochaca, 2003).
Immigrants share the attachment or membership to two communities at the same time, that is why that identity takes place with a sense of strength through the bonds established between the members of the transnational social network and becomes an element of resistance to the national states and the political systems dictating the terms of their existence (Glick Schiller et al, 1992:11)--the culture of the community of origin, the place of birth, or at least the birth place of their parents. The terruño, a term denoting a piece of land or their nostalgic place of origin, is a sacred element in the minds of the immigrant community (Morán, 2003). Immigrants shape their identity as they share a feeling of membership to a community based on elements that identify them and make them different from “others”.
Immigrants from Aguacaliente Grande established in Victor Valley build relationships between them, perpetuating cultural and symbolic patterns from the community of origin; that is, recreating the elements that distinguish them as a community in another country. In part, this is due to the identification among them. Also, the precarious living conditions of the newcomers and the need to adapt to the circumstances of the community of destination force them to stay together and support each other (Chávez, 1994; Resse, 2001:463).
The unity and identification of an immigrant community is increased when it is made up of larger groups living in the same area (Garreta Bochaca, 2003). The immigrant community from Aguacaliente Grande in Victor Valley is calculated to be around 400 people, which is an important element in the reproduction of the lifestyle and customs of the community of origin. In the interviews with our informants, they manifested that physical proximity in the destination place of many of them favors their coexistence:
Here there are hundreds of people from Aguacaliente who see each other regularly. Nearby there are about ten families from the town and we frequent each other as if we were still there.
Because of the necessity to be near the work place or for the opportunity to acquire a home, other immigrants residing in distant places and surrounded by other ethnic groups makes them feel isolated from their neighbors and, when they can, they look for someone with similar customs and lifestyle, no matter if they are far away. In this case, the identity is constructed and reinforced in the definition of exclusion of me or us, and them or the others (Garreta Bochaca, 2003:301). “The otherness of the American helps define the Mexican” (Bustamante, 1988:23):
We don’t socialize with people who aren’t from Aguacaliente. Thank god, in Victor Valley there are lots of friends from there. When I’m here with friends from Aguacaliente Grande, I feel as I’m there in my hometown!
In the attitude and values poll, 78% of the interviewed said that they would prefer that their neighbors in Victor Valley were from Aguacaliente Grande. The same way, 45% of the interviewed expressed their preference for having only friends from the same community of origin. In the associative analysis exercise, 85% of the polled mentioned that when they heard the words “Aguacaliente Grande” the first thing that came to their minds was:
My family, my roots, my memories, my friends, my home, my land, my people.
The words “Victor Valley”, in the other hand, received answers like:
Work, obligation, overcoming, success, money, prosperity, get ahead, improving, opportunities, dreams, future and fantasy.
The characteristics of the territory where the community of origin settles constitute the space of inscription and objectivity of the transnational culture of the members of the immigrant community (Gendreau & Jiménez, 2002:159). The physical or symbolic membership to the territory of the community of origin allows the immigrants to keep united, since they feel identified as a social group that shares a common territory, in spite of this being imaginary, where their culture and everyday life are reproduced (Milroy, 1982). The elements that create identity are, in the first place, the territory and the landscape. And then, there’s history, race, language, customs, celebrations, values, beliefs and other institutional and political elements (Blanco, 1990).
In transnational communities, the maintenance of cultural patterns and traditions passed from parents to children has a deep significance in keeping an identity and membership to the community of origin (Vertovec, 2003). Alberto Soto, who arrived in Victor Valley at age nine, is an example of this situation. He has lived in Victorville twenty-seven of his thirty-five years. He told us, with profound homesickness, the memories of his childhood in his hometown:
I was very happy in Aguacaliente. I remember when the creek grew, the fields, the animals. It’s the best! I really miss the town, my roots, because I was born there and it’s always in my heart. I’m very attached to Aguacaliente despite of the many years I’ve spent here.
Even after spending most of his life in the United States, Alberto hasn’t applied for U.S. citizenship because, according to him, he shares the nostalgic dream of many immigrants to go back to his hometown someday. His aspiration is, somehow, proof of the permanent contact he keeps with the immigrant community from Aguacaliente Grande and with the very community of origin. His comments reflect the attachment to the land of his birth; this feeling being is interpreted by the immigrants mainly in the physical elements of the territory that surrounds their hometown.
The birth of children in the community of destination favors the consolidation of transnational families, for it ties the generations to both countries at the same time. That is the case of the Verdugo Torres family, formed by Maria Torres, Adrián Verdugo, and their four children—sixteen-year old Alex, fifteen-year old Cynthia, nine-year old Omar, and six-year old Adriana, all born in Victor Valley.
When they received us in their home to chat about his life in the United States, the first thing that drew our attention in his living room was an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, surrounded by candles. There was pottery hanging from the kitchen walls. The curtains on the windows and the tablecloth had floral patterns, similar to the decoration common in the rural homes of Sinaloa. Even if Adrian and Maria came as undocumented workers, they now reside legally in the United States, which allowed them to enjoy benefits such economic support from the government.
Now they see the family situation in this country as positive, since their income allows them to live well. Maria thinks that, when her children leave their parent’s home, she and her husband will go back to Mexico. Nevertheless, at the same time she seems fond of the place where her children were born.
The attachment to the community of origin is not exclusive of the immigrants themselves, it extends to their children born in the communities of destination, or to the second generation immigrants (Rumbaut & Portes, 2001). The bond with the community of origin of these people is not an abstract feeling, but a product of being part of the community and mainly of the commitment to family, especially to the parents (Reese, 2001; Garreta Bochaca, 2003). That’s the case of Florentino Soto, Jr, the third of four children from the marriage of Florentino Soto and Maria Castro. Now at age twenty-one, Junior, as his parents call him, was born in Victor Valley. Even in his category as American citizen and his perfect English, he is very attached to his parent’s home town because since he was little he has gone with his parents to visit the community of origin at least once a year:
When I go to Aguacaliente I feel happy, pure Mexican, as at home. Sometimes I think it would’ve been better to be born there.
We measured the attitude of the children of immigrants from Aguacaliente Grande living in Victor Valley and when it comes to attachment and identification to the community of origin of their parents, 83% of those polled said they felt very proud of their parents being from Aguacaliente Grande and an equal percentage considered very important to keep the customs of their ancestors. And, 33% even identified themselves as people from Aguacaliente, while the rest consider them Mexican, Hispanic or Chicanos, but never American. The similarities observed in the answers of the immigrants from the first, as well as the second generation, reinforces the idea of a feeling of membership to the same community established in different countries.
The reproduction of the customs from the community of origin
To the immigrants, the memories of their community of origin stay in their minds, despite the physical or chronological distance from it. These memories mean the incorporation of cultural assets, which are expressed through language, food, music, fashion, festivities, religious ceremonies, peculiar forms of socialization and social orientation, consumption forms, and political participation (Bordieu, 1985). These elements include the identity that constantly strengthens the feeling of membership to a community (Linck & Barragán, 1988:152).
Due to their cultural assets it’s possible to keep a distant membership to the community, since leaving the original community territory doesn’t imply leaving behind their customs, but their recreation in the new living arrangements of the members of the community. Even if cultural reproduction practices suffer in the adaptation to the new conditions, they allow the transnational community to survive socially and culturally.
The festivities are one of the main elements of custom recreation, since it favors the contact and communication between its members. Music and dancing at parties constitute an important identity-reinforcing factor. The interviewed said that, at the parties of any of the families in the community, all immigrants, friends and family from the community of origin were invited.
Another component that reproduces and represents the attachment to the customs of the community of origin is the food, as a culture’s food is recognized as an outstanding element of identity. Sinaloan food, as in most regions in Mexico, is rich and original, and the most representative dishes are: chilorio, machaca, deshebrada, mochomos, cazuela, asado, mariscos, empanadas de piloncillo (sweet bread)and coricos (cookies made of corn flour and sugar). Many other dishes like pozole, menudo, birria, mole or barbacoa, and their peculiar recipes make them Sinaloans as well. Eighty-five percent of the interviewed, including the ones born in the United States, manifested their preference for the same type of food consumed in Aguacaliente Grande. In the particular case of the second generation, 66.7% expressed their preference for the traditional food from the community of origin. When it comes to the association of ideas in our poll, after hearing the word food, the interviewed mentioned mainly: frijoles, tacos, cazuela, requesón, tamales, and chiles. Only 4% mentioned their preference for burritos, pizza, or hamburgers:
The same things I used to eat there are the things we eat here. Cocido, cazuela, albóndigas, frijoles, nopales, tostadas, tacos and gorditas. It’s the same flavor.
The consumption of cultural products in a transnational way is something that influences not only the lives of the immigrant communities and the places where they came from, but it also has macroeconomic effects on the international commerce of this type of products (Guarnizo, 2003).
The consumption of the food from the place of origin is not an obstacle for the immigrants, since practically all the ingredients of this type of food can be found in stores at the community of destination. The food from Sinaloa that isn’t available at stores or restaurants in Victor Valley is provided daily through short trips back home. The comments of the interviewed are very illustrative:
Each week, cheese, machaca, and chicharrones are sent to me from the rancho. When I go back, I like bringing back chiltepin chiles and jamoncillo, and when my mom comes she brings me yurimuni beans, which are the best.
The simultaneous use of English and Spanish languages is another characteristic of the immigrants from Agua Caliente in Victor Valley. Mainly those who have spent many years with their family, and whose children have gone to local schools. Bilingualism is a daily reality for these immigrants. This has been good for families to defend themselves better in a social environment where English is still dominant. In immigrant homes, the dominant presence of Spanish still constitutes an important element of identity as members of the same “language community” (Milroy, 1982).
In the poll, 100% of the interviewed agreed in considering a priority to conserve Spanish. Among the children of immigrants, all of those who we had the chance to interview spoke adequate Spanish. This is significant in order to understand the conservation of this language among them, because of the influence of English through school and friends. On the other hand, the growing purchase capacity of the Hispanic population in southern California, particularly in the Victor Valley region, has caused the proliferation of establishments advertising in Spanish and where most of the employees speak this language.
In the local media as well, there’s a great offer of options in Spanish; four open television channels and ten in cable or satellite. There are numerous radio stations in Spanish, many of them from Los Angeles. There are also three newspapers in Spanish; “La opinión”, “La Prensa del Mojave” and “Rumores”.
The enduring communication between the communities of origin and destination
People who migrate to another country with a different culture need to keep a permanent reference to their community of origin in order to keep their own identity. The migrants, despite the distance and being in another country, strengthen their bonds with their community of origin through constant communication. Permanent communication is a tangible possibility nowadays, thanks to the telecommunication systems. Due to the growth in satellite telecommunications and cell phones, communication between immigrants and their families and friends in the community of origin is direct, instant, and permanent. The testimonies of immigrants are eloquent:
I call Aguacaliente every day. We know what goes on in the rancho all the time.
In our survey we also found that 70% of the interviewed communicate with their relatives in the community of origin once a week, and 89% does it at least once a month. Among the second generation immigrants, we found that 67% also communicate by phone with their parents’ community of origin at least once every month. Only 3% said that they rarely called the community of origin. Among those included in this small percentage some commented that they didn’t communicate with Aguacaliente because practically all their family members and friends already lived in the community of destination. Some of the interviewed explained that they didn’t call their family daily because for international calls they preferred pre-paid cards, which are cheaper when used to call once for hours at a time, avoiding constant payment.
The habit of having long phone conversations in order to save money also strengthens the communication between immigrants and their families, because they maintain long conversations with many of their loved ones, getting and giving details about family, the latest news in town, or the crops and livestock conditions.
Frequency and permanence of trips back home
The development of means of transportation extend the frequency and intensity of communication and personal contact since many immigrants have the possibility to travel frequently back and forth in the transnational migrating circuit, and so constantly reinforcing the bonds between communities of origin and destination (Rouse, 1992; Portes, 1995).
The frequency and multiplicity of the transit, in both senses, reaches certain intensity or “critical mass”, which transcends the places of origin and destination and become transnational spaces consolidated as multi-local social spaces. The immigrant lives at the same time in different towns in Mexico as well as in the US, and thus becoming a transmigrant (Pries, 2000).
The continuous temporary trips back are not exclusive of those who have documents to cross the border, for the majority of them, both the legal and undocumented residents; the need to keep in contact with their place of origin is larger, leading them on a trip back there at least once a year (Espinosa, 1998). The reasons given to go in those trips were many, from the need to visit their families, to spend the holidays, assist in celebrations, religious ceremonies or funerals, visiting their family’s grave on the “Day of the Dead”, or the temporality of their jobs.
Whatever the reasons to go back, the temporary trips back play an important role in keeping the bond with the community of origin, and in the attachment of the members of the first and second generation, because constant contact between the children born in the US and their relatives in the community of origin gives them a feeling that identifies them (Gendreau and Jiménez, 2002:165; Vertovec, 2003). Among the second generation immigrants, traveling back to the community of origin in a frequent manner is something common, since 48% of the interviewed said they did it at least once every year.
Another element of exchange between the communities of origin and destination, which are constantly brought by friends or family, are family photos and videos (Espinosa, 1998). These exchanges reinforce the sense of membership to a social group in members of both communities, since these objects are elements of communication of thoughts and feelings (Diaz Gomez, 2002). Videos and photographs constitute an extension to the community of origin of the experiences of the immigrants. Through these means, those who haven’t traveled get the idea of how their relatives, friends, and neighbors in the north live, strengthening especially in the young ones, the expectations of migrating to live those experiences (Diaz Gomez, 2002):
Everyone gathers at my mother’s house to watch the photos and videos we bring. It’s a habit to take out the camera every time my children do something funny to send the pictures to my parents.
Economic transnational practices
One of the main transnational practices is the money sent that allow the actor of the migrating process to contribute to support their relatives in Mexico. The monetary remittances are a positive response to the expelling process of the communities of origin, since it allows a part of the family, this being the wife and children or the parents, to stay in the community of origin.
Remittances constitute one of the most important economic effects of the transnational migrating process; nevertheless, this effect is determined by cultural aspects, such as family commitment and feelings, as well as the attachment and sense of membership (Arizpe, 2004). In the poll applied in Victor Valley, 93% of the interviewed said they sent money and goods regularly to their relatives. Even among the children of the immigrants born in the United States too, whose average age is only 18 years old, 67% also send money to their grandparents or uncles and aunts in the community of origin. Among the members of the receiving families, mothers are the main depositaries of the money received, and many of the interviewed immigrants pointed out their mothers as the ones who they sent the money to specifically. Also, they have commitments, not only with their parents, children and wives, but to their spouse’s family as well.
The effects of the remittances extend way beyond the immigrants’ families and their importance to the regional development. In countries with high levels of remittances, as is Mexico, it has become an intense academic and political debate as has the transnational practices of the communities of immigrants. In the case of this community, there are examples of the use of the money sent for productive investment. Miguel Gastelum, a 55 year-old immigrant, has a family consisting of a wife and five children in the community of origin. The money he sends to his family in Aguacaliente Grande has been used to invest in a pharmacy store, attended by his wife and his older children. Miguel tells us he is very proud and fulfilled because his work as an immigrant helped his family improve.
Another example is Felipe Fing, 21 years of age. He is one of the members of this community more fortunate in the schooling sense, since he was able to finish high school and started college back home, which he had to drop out of in order to test his luck as an immigrant in the US, because his father’s store in his home town was about to close down due to the difficult financial situation of his family:
My plans are to keep my parents’ store open from here and, when I have to go back, at least we will have the income from the store.
Another way to help their relatives in the community of origin is the goods sent. The goods sending take place during the trips back of relatives, friends or acquaintances. Because of the massive growth of this process, there already is a special service provided by the so-called encargueros, immigrants who make constant trips (usually once every week) between Aguacaliente Grande and Victor Valley.
When they arrive from the community of origin, the encargueros go to the immigrants’ homes in Victor Valley, to deliver and pick up the goods or “encargos”, as well as to sell goods brought all the way from Mexico such as: fish, seafood, cheese, machaca meat, chicharrones, spices, sweets and empanadas. Also belts, huaraches or hats, and newspapers from Sinaloa like “El Debate” or “El Noroeste”. Immigrants send through the encargueros to the community of origin everything from messages, photos and videos to clothes, shoes, toys, utensils and domestic appliances, as well as tools, school supplies, electronics and even cars and motorcycles.
Working in both countries as a transnational economic practice
Many immigrants use a work or labor system that allows them to work in the U.S. for a period that usually corresponds to spring and summer, going back in fall and winter, when work in the U.S. decreases, and they get jobs as crop pickers in the agricultural valleys in northern and central Sinaloa (which reach their prime in winter). Therefore, a work system that can be considered as a transnational work practice is established. The transnationalization of work, based on community social networks constitutes a response from “below” to the globalization of assets (Smith and Guarnizo, 1998; Canales and Zlolniski, 2000).
The globalization of assets is well looked upon and even seen as a natural process by the immigrant-receiving countries as the U.S., but not the globalization of work. This constitutes a clear contradiction in the process of globalization, or, as Stephen Castles (1997) called it, the contradiction between the globalization “from above” and the globalization “from below”, where the transnational work practices would be located. This is the case of Rosalio Corrales, who has been traveling to Victor Valley every year since 1984, to be employed in a wood structures factory in the town of Hesperia, California. He confided to us that he is sick of the continuous traveling, being away from his family several months every year to work in the U.S. but he says necessity drives him back to the U.S. because what he earns as a crop picker in Sinaloa is not enough to support his family. With a bit of bitterness he makes up his mind to maintain this cyclic traveling to the community of destination to work, for the necessity is bigger than the difficulties and fear of crossing the border:
When work decreases here, I go to Aguacaliente. I work a few months there and then I come back. Many times I’ve said I won’t be coming back, but I have economic problems and I just go. This year, during the first rains, the ceiling got a hole and I said to my wife, I have to go north in order to fix the house.
Transnational political practices
The gringos are stunned. Holy shit! They say. Where did all these Mexicans come from?
The national borders become a daily issue for international immigrants, who deal with the rules of their original country and the ones of their new home at the same time. Both parties question their values, their customs, their language, and mainly their loyalty and identity. This situation force them to adequate to the political conditions in the receiving country without losing their bonds and rights in the place of origin (Mummert, 1999). Transnational migration has made possible that the immigrants, far from being passive social subjects, become active participants in the political life of both communities (Martinez Gomez, 2000).
Transnational communities demand mainly respect for their identity, participation in the development of their communities of origin, and free exercise of their political rights in their country of origin (Delgado Wise & Mañan Garcia, 2004). Based on the constitutional reforms made by the Mexican Congress in 1996, which allow them to have double citizenship, the documents of both countries will become elements of transnational validity. This situation has encouraged Mexican immigrants to seek U.S. citizenship, something that was previously troublesome since they didn’t want to lose their Mexican citizenship. As such, 89% of the polled in Victor Valley said that, to them, it was as important to acquire an American citizenship as it was to keep their Mexican one. Even if the development of transnational political practices of the immigrant community from Aguacaliente Grande is still incipient, it is possible to identify various elements of binational political participation, as obtaining double citizenship, the simultaneous use of documents in both countries, or the receiving of benefits from the U.S. educational system. The simultaneous use of documents from both sides of the border, like school certificates from Mexico or from U.S. are examples of transnational political practices. In the moment they enroll their children in local schools, these documents are accepted as a reference to place the immigrant students in a certain grade or level, without asking about their migratory status.
Another case of transnational use of documents is carrying out double registrations of their children’s birth, since sometimes children born in the United States are registered in Mexico too during the constant temporary return trips and taking advantage of the tolerance of the authorities in the community of origin. In this situation, many children have both Mexican and American birth certificates. A specific case is the one of Maria. She told us:
My children have papers here and in Mexico too. When I went to the rancho for a year, I registered them since the local judge was a friend of mine.
Attending local schools in the U.S. is also an important space for transnational political practices, because having studied in two different countries allows them to have a broader understanding of the history and social characteristics of both societies. This situation is particularly relevant when it comes to undocumented residents like Daniel Orduño, a 16 year-old immigrant who after finishing junior high school went north to continue studying. With pride he comments that he came to the U.S. to study in order to help his family. His older brother, Jorge, has lived in the U.S. for several years and it was he who paid for his travel expenses. They both share a small apartment. Daniel is proud of his success as a student. Aside from the normal courses, he takes English lessons and attends High School:
They accepted all the documents I brought from Mexico… It was easy, just like anybody else, you come, you give them your papers and that’s it.
Obtaining an education for the children in the U.S. is also an important motivation for migrating; that is the case of the Soto Orduño family, made up by the parents, Juan Manuel Soto and Alba Orduño, and their children, 18 year-old Alberto, 14 year-old Viridiana and 10 year-old Juanito. They had born in Aguacaliente Grande. Juan Manuel, who only made it to third grade, would rather have his family stay in Aguacaliente, but his children asked to go with him to the U.S. in order to study there.
Now, the family is very satisfied at having taken the decision to migrate. Alba commented that Alberto’s junior high school teacher in Mexico encouraged them to go to the US so he could keep studying, for she said he was a very brilliant boy.
Alberto is now about to graduate from high school, Viridiana is already at that level, and Juanito started his elementary schooling in Victor Valley. They are happy with their new life and say teachers treat them very well in part due to their being immigrants, as many of teachers were immigrants too. Juan Manuel and his wife comment that they expect to go back to Mexico when their children grow up. On the contrary, through, Juanito, Viridiana and Alberto’s plans for the future don’t involve returning to Mexico.
With the described and analyzed elements of this study we can conclude that immigrants from Aguacaliente Grande living in the Victor Valley region share a feeling of membership to the same social group in both countries. They have developed a series of social, cultural and economic links, which make them feel part of a translocalized community. Due to the intensity and frequency that these bonds have reached they constitute a transnational community. This way of life allows the people from Aguacaliente Grande to provide a bigger social capital for the members of the migratory networks to rely on. This includes having better employment and income opportunities, as well as better schools for their children, and to face better the difficult living conditions in both sides of the border.
International migration means the permanence and reproduction of the community of origin, since the sister communities in the U.S., as in Victor Valley, constantly strengthen their bonds through constant communication, money and goods, and the temporary trips back. In sum, those who migrate to another country with a different culture need to have a permanent reference of their ‘maternal’ community in order to keep their own identity.
The integration of the people from Aguacaliente in the “north” and in the “south” is favored by the expansion and reproduction of their community in a transnational manner. The coming together of their migratory networks, ironically, reinforces the survival of the communities of origin. Besides, it becomes a response to the poor living conditions globalization has imposed (Glick Schiller et al, 1992; Canales and Zlolnisky, 2000). The migration to the U.S. is to them a strategy for the survival and reproduction of their community (Pries, 2000).
International migration, for the members of the community from Aguacaliente Grande, Sinaloa, becomes a process of constant mobility and physical and imaginary feedback, where the north extends into the south, and the south into the north. Therefore, Aguacaliente Grande is an expanding migration community, understanding by this concept that international migration affects each and every one of the members of this community who then become real or symbolic migrants. Those who have not migrated experience situations and feelings similar to those of the migrants, since they are always expecting information, remittances or the arrival of their relatives, friends, or neighbors. Also, there is always the possibility to go north, be it to find a job, or for family reunification; or at least to visit their relatives and friends across the border. This situation makes them immigrants too. And last, it is important to remark that, even if there is a great deal of attachment by the immigrants towards their community of origin, they are not dissatisfied with their current lives. Posed with a question about choosing again between staying in the community of origin and migrating to the U.S., 94% of the polled answered that they would choose going to the community of destination again.
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On January 23rd 1998, the Nationality Law was published, and it became active on March 20th that very same year, reforming the articles 30, 32 and 37 of the Political Constitution of Mexico, to establish that no Mexican by birth will be stripped of his or her nationality.
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