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The Impact of IRCA on Settlement Patterns Among Mixtec Migrants in Tijuana, Mexico

Emily Young


For most of this century, Mexico has been the primary supplier of low-wage workers for agricultural labor in the southwestern U.S. Studies of Mexican migrants have focussed on routes (Jones 1982a, Jones 1982b and Jones 1984), source and destination areas (Dagodag 1975, Jones 1982a, Jones 1982b, Jones 1984, McHugh 1989 and Roberts 1984), and push-pull factors associated with migration (Dinerman 1978, Jenkins 1977 and Portes 1978). Most investigations have involved only mestizos (of "mixed" origin, both Indian and Spanish) from central Mexico.

Overlooked are U.S. immigrant-worker settlements on the Mexican side of the border and other non-mestizo ethnic groups who engage in seasonal labor migration to the U.S. A small but growing number of migrants to this country are Mixtec Indians from Oaxaca in southern Mexico. They have established a satellite community to their villages in Oaxaca in the Mexican border city of Tijuana. By comparison with mestizos from central Mexico, Mixtec migrants fit some, but not all, of the generalized patterns of Mexican migration to the U.S. One important difference is the settlement of Mixtec immigrants in the Tijuana satellite community to become international daily-commuters to work in the U.S. This is strictly a border-related phenomenon, which is explained by both the recent U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) passed in 1986, and historical Mixtec migration patterns.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229