New Evidence on Destination Decisions of Unauthorized Mexican Migrants: Does Social Capital Still Matter?

Ricardo D. Martínez-Schuldt, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Daniel Martinez, George Washington University
Jeremy Slack, University of Arizona

Research on the U.S. destinations of Mexican migrants has flourished in the in the last decade as a result of the changing geography of Mexican migration to the United States. Scholarly explanations for this dispersal focus primarily on changing immigration policy, the restructuring of the U.S. economy, and social network theory. Drawing on a new data set on unauthorized Mexican migration (The Migrant Border Crossing Study), we reassess the role of human capital, social capital, and industrial context in migrant destination decisions. Results suggest regions of Mexico, affected by Mexican economic liberalization, appear connected to new destinations. Social ties to the United States also continue to be significant determinants for unauthorized migrant destinations. Further, social network composition, as it relates to the presence or absence of family members with U.S. citizenship or the presence or absence of family members without U.S. citizenship in one’s social network, varies across migrants.

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Presented in Session 60: Undocumented Immigration: Contributions from Theory and Research