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The Impact of Maquiladoras on Commuter Flows in the Texas-Mexican Border

Steven L. Cobb, David J. Molina, Kariann Sokulsky


In recent decades Mexican border towns have witnessed an increasing number of migrants. Two pull-factors may be significant: opportunities to work and perhaps live in the U.S. and the growing maquiladora industry (George and Tollen 1985). U.S.-Mexican border towns have long functioned as "twin cities" economically as well as culturally (Stoddard 1987). As the labor force of Mexican border towns grows, and the pattern of labor use within the Mexican towns changes, the pattern of labor use on the U.S. side can also be expected to change.

This paper examines the nature of commuter activity along the Texas-Mexican border. While the impacts of Mexican immigrants and illegal aliens upon the U.S. work force have received explicit study, Mexican commuters have received very little attention. The Mexican commuter's functioning within the border economy becomes difficult to assess due to the dichotomy between his immigrant status and the fact that he resides outside the U.S.

A better understanding of the factors which influence commuter flows along the border is of interest from at least three perspectives. First, it is an important first step for those studying commuter behavior or involved in setting policy. The second area of interest involves developing a greater understanding of how the growth of the maquiladora industry in northern Mexico will impact commuter flows. The third area of interest concerns the impact of commuter flows on the wages and income distribution of U.S. border counties. This paper addresses the first two and provides background material for the third point.

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