Researchers have explored economic and social aspects of migration. However, legal considerations in migrant decision making and sending communities have been largely ignored. This thesis focuses on perceptions of U.S. immigration laws in Santa Rosa, Michoacán—a small community in central Mexico. I show how migration from Santa Rosa to the United States has been historically constructed as necessary and ethical. I also reveal that people in Santa Rosa expect and are waiting for another amnesty for undocumented workers in the United States. I highlight the role of the Bracero Program (1942-1964) and the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act in the construction of these beliefs, as policies that encouraged and then rewarded illegal entry to the United States. I then suggest that U.S. immigration policy has established a social contract, complete with benefits and obligations, between the people of Santa Rosa and the U.S. state.


Kate Bass ‘11.5
ResearcherDavid Stoll
Professor of Anthropology & First ReaderMarcos Lopez
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Sociology & Second Reader

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