TURNING POINTS AND TRANSITIONS: THE ROLE OF FAMILY IN WOMEN’S IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCES

Colleen K Vesely, Rachael D Goodman, Shannon Scurlock

Abstract


Given the significant number of immigrants in the United States, especially immigrant families with young children, there is a need to better understand the experiences of immigrant women, and especially immigrant mothers. In particular, the factors impacting women’s decisions to migrate, migration journeys, and post-migration adjustment should be examined. Framed in family life course theory and using ethnographic, in-depth interviews, we explored these three immigration phases for 40 first-generation Latina and African immigrant women who experienced motherhood in the U.S. Results of the study expand the literature focused on immigration experiences by considering turning points and transitions in women’s migration processes, as they are shaped by both micro- (family) and macro- (socio-historical) level factors. The findings illustrate the spontaneous nature of some decisions to migrate, as well as how immigration journeys are influenced by the financial and physical supports of families and the status of their documentation. In addition, study findings point to motherhood as an important turning point for first-generation immigrant women in their adjustment to life in the U.S., and particularly in their planning with respect to staying long term. Implications for programs, policy, and future research are discussed.


Keywords


immigrant women, life course theory, immigration, qualitative research

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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