Characterizing contemporary U.S. immigration : three types of rural Mexican migrants
The U.S. prides itself as being a country of immigrants. Yet, each successive wave of newly arriving people has been accompanied by stresses and strains within American society. Likewise, each wave of immigrants has been motivated by different factors. Some have sought better economic opportunities or religious and political freedoms while others have escaped war, famine, or persecution. Since 1965, Mexico has been the leading country of origin for immigrants arriving in the U.S. As represented in the rhetoric surrounding the 2016 Presidential elections, the general public is largely uninformed about the distinctions among Mexican immigrants. Popular perception holds that Mexican immigrants are a homogeneous population possessing the same objectives when coming to the U.S. The purpose of this article is to highlight the three types of migrants leaving rural Mexico. Based on data gathered from ethnographic fieldwork, I show that goal-oriented migrants differ dramatically in demographic characteristics than migrants who come repeatedly or permanently settle in the U.S. This article articulates what motivates differing Mexican immigrants with the hope that the information will help officials better serve this large and diverse population.