The Mexican Drug War and the Consequent Population Exodus: Transnational Movement at the U.S.-Mexican Border
1.2. Mexican Drug War and Violence
1.3. U.S. Political Refugee and Asylum Policies
2. The México-U.S. Border Context, Neoliberalism, and Violence
3. Data and Methods
4.1. A Picture of the Migrants in the Juárez Exodus
Rosa described the strategies to cope with the violence such as not going out at night and migrating. Below we describe the typology of some individuals represented in the Juárez exodus.We live in a lot of fear that something will happen to our family. Thank God nothing has happened to our daughters… We don’t go out at night. We are completely insecure. There is no security here as long as there is so much violence in Juárez that affects everyone. Many jobs have been lost because of the violence. A lot of people, most people, I believe almost everyone is already leaving for other places.
4.1.1. Business Elites
4.1.2. The Return of U.S. Citizens and U.S. Legal Permanent Residents (LPR)
4.1.3. Refugees without Status
|YEAR||RECIEVED||GRANTED||DENIED||ABANDON, WITHDRAWN, & OTHER||PERCENT GRANTED|
It is common knowledge that while the violence initially involved those who had some sort of connection to the drug trade, it now affects everyone. For instance, Paula stated that even her elderly mother has been threatened. Furthermore, having social ties to someone in the U.S. can literary save the lives of the victims by enabling their migration across the border. This finding can contribute to the unresolved discussion on the role of social networks among Mexican migrants that originate from urban centers—some stating that urban-origin migration is structured by social networks  while others disagree . At this border, it is not uncommon for people in El Paso to rescue their family members in Júarez as Paula does.I don’t understand why they would think my mother has any money, she is a humble woman. She was scared, she is a 72 year-old woman and my brother is 32 years-old. They were threatened two consecutive times and that’s the reason that I had to rescue my mother and bring her to live with me [in El Paso].
4.2. A “Stepsister” Relationship? Initial Settlement Attempts of the Mexican Exodus
Daniel describes the border culture and the connection between Juárez and El Paso alluding to their status as “sister cities.” As such, Daniel questions, how can El Paso close its door to Juárez?I had to move. The violence was one of the motivating reasons. Ten years ago I would have never thought of moving here [El Paso]. I was living well, I’d come shopping here [El Paso] and buy what I wanted. These are the social and economic dynamics at borders with a political division, even though geographically there is no division between us, it is one community. We need to see things from this point of view, as communities that interact with each other [Juárez-El Paso] it is difficult to close its doors and to say, you cannot cross anymore. It is like a family who closes the door to one of its members and tells them you cannot come in.
With a student visa, Susie would commute from Juárez to El Paso. Due to the violence, she decided to move to El Paso and now only returns to Juárez to visit family. While Susie has not migrated back to Juárez, others have mentioned missing family as a primary reason for returning. For some, this is complicated by legal constraints that impede some family members from crossing the border. Nancy, an LPR of the U.S., explains:Very strong, actually I lived there (Juárez) just a few months ago. I keep going… right now more often… because I miss them, and I get a sad feeling that they are there alone. But well, that is why I decided to rent a place in El Paso, because for example today, I got out of school late, I would be scared to go back to Juárez alone, I am very afraid.
For Nancy migrating to El Paso means leaving behind family members who lack the financial resources necessary to be granted a BCC to cross the port of entry into the U.S. into a much less violent environment. Indeed, El Paso ranks as the safest city in the U.S. among cities with a population of over 500,000.Families and friends are left behind [in Juárez]. They can’t leave because they don’t have the ability to. No money, housing, or the mobility and so families are separated.
Fernando is a U.S. citizen who lived in Júarez most of his life. When he migrated with his family because of the violence, his family lived in El Paso but both he and his wife continued to cross the border to Júarez to work. Even though Fernando and his wife are both U.S. citizens their source of employment is in Juárez and their educational credentials are from México so they felt that they were trapped by that economic arrangement.…my kids, for example, don’t go to Juárez for nothing. Now I have to go because I have no other choice, my business is over there, my source of income is there… but my wife is going to retire shortly and when that moment comes that’s the time we will come over here [El Paso].
Keep in mind that the average weekly cost to feed a family of four in Júarez is approximately $50 USD  and Alejandro recreationally spent twice that much in shopping in El Paso in a day. While Alejandro reminiscences about his life as a middle-upper class Mexican, he considers the change in class after his migration to El Paso as the price he has to pay for safety.Well before I came as a tourist and before you only spent your 100 dollars and you returned back happy (laughs), and now if you can’t afford it you don’t buy it…This is the cost, the price you have to pay to be at peace. Because over there in México you are not even safe in your own house, they still come and bust down the door... like in war times... without worrying about the police. You have to go to sleep with the rifle in the hand and on the couch…We had a hard time when we came over here [El Paso], that was when the U.S. made its flips with its economy and it ruined everyone. I have seen a lot of businesses go bankrupt.
Martha feared the criminalization in El Paso, signifying that Juárez may be more like a “stepsister-city”  or not exactly having the same connection that is allured to with the common metaphor used for this region as sister cities. When the violence started escalating in Juárez, however, her reference point changed and she started to feel more secure in El Paso than in Juárez.…before everything started happening in Ciudad Juárez (violence), I was afraid here in El Paso. I’ve fear being stopped by the police, in case that I did not put my blinker on, if I changed lanes incorrectly, if I did not have insurance for the car, but now with what is happening in Ciudad Juárez (violence) far from being afraid, well I feel a peace of mind. When I cross here to El Paso, I feel a huge difference, very peaceful to be here in El Paso.
As such, Lilia believes that the violence associated with the war on drugs will give Mexicans a bad reputation, which will consequently lead to political motive to further exclude Mexicans from entering the U.S.I believe so because the United States is trying to be careful about who enters their country, and at some point, all Mexicans will be suspected of being criminals perhaps. So I think that in the future they won’t want to give visas in order that not a single Mexican is in their country.
Laura eventually did migrate to Arizona, U.S. with her children to live with family members after her and her co-workers were threatened at work. Specifically, she migrated after a co-worker had been kidnapped for ransom and additional threats were made against her. Yet, despite being U.S. citizens, Laura and her children had difficulties accommodating to life in the U.S. so they returned to Juárez.My parents live in constant fear and they want to bring my sister and me to the U.S. My mother has called me many times very scared because they see all the news about what happens in Juárez. I have seen her very frightened and at times frustrated because we don’t want to leave. So yes, it’s like there’s a block because there’s what we want and how we see things and how they see things.
- 1. We used the term “legal permanent resident” (LPR) to use the correct legal terminology, not to refer to those who do not have the LPR status as “illegal.”
|Case||Pseudo Names||Gender||U.S, México or Transnational||Citizenship/U.S. Legal status||Interview Language||Migrated y/n||Type of migrant|
|5||Veronica||Female||México||U.S. Citizen||English||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|7||Laura||Female||Transnational||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||No||N/A|
|18||Cecilia||Female||México||U.S. Citizen||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|19||Mike||Male||Transnational||Mexican (U.S. Student Visa)||English||Yes||RWS|
|20||Monica||Female||U.S.||U.S. Citizen||English||No||U.S. Citizen|
|22||Lisa||Female||U.S.||Mexican-born Naturalized U.S. Citizen||English||No||U.S. Citizen|
|23||Leo||Male||Transnational||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||English||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|24||Fernando||Male||Transnational||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|25||John||Male||Transnational||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|26||Nancy||Female||Transnational||Mexican-born with Legal Permanent Residency in U.S.||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|28||Elizabeth||Female||Transnational||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|29||Susie||Female||Transnational||Mexican with U.S. Student Visa||Spanish||Yes||RWS|
|30||Alejandro||Male||Transnational||Mexican with U.S. Investor Visa||Spanish||Yes||Bus. Elite|
|31||Josh||Male||U.S.||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|32||Daniel||Male||U.S.||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||Yes||U.S. Citizen|
|33||Stacy||Female||U.S.||Mexican with Legal Permanent Residency in U.S||Spanish||Yes||LPR|
|34||Stephanie||Female||U.S.||Mexican with Legal Permanent Residency in U.S||Spanish||No||N/A|
|35||April||Female||U.S.||Mexican with U.S. Student Visa||Spanish||No||N/A|
|37||Carmen||Female||México||Mexican/U.S. Dual Citizen||Spanish||No||N/A|
|38||Nidia||Female||México||Mexican with U.S. Student Visa||Spanish||No||N/A|
|39||Rosa||Female||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|40||Armando||Male||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|41||Gabriela||Female||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|43||Monse||Female||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|44||Pamela||Female||U.S.||Mexican with Legal Permanent Residency in U.S.||Spanish||No||N/A|
|46||Daniel||Male||Transnational||Mexican with Legal Permanent Residency in U.S.||Spanish||No||N/A|
|47||Mayra||Female||Transnational||Mexican with Legal Permanent Residency in U.S.||Spanish||Yes||LPR|
|49||Lourdes||Female||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|51||Paula||Female||U.S.||Mexican with U.S. Student Visa||Spanish||/||RWS|
|55||Mario||Male||México||Mexican with U.S. Student Visa||Spanish||No||N/A|
|61||Ivone||Female||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|62||Josefina||Female||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
|63||Eduardo||Male||México||Mexican with BBC||Spanish||No||N/A|
- Bejarano, C. Senseless deaths and holding the line. Criminol. Publ. Pol. 2007, 6, 267–274. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Bejarano, C.; Morales, M.C. Analyzing Conquest through a Border Lens: Vulnerable Communities at the México-U.S. and Moroccan-Spanish Border Regions. In El Río Bravo Mediterráneo: Las Regiones Fronterizas en la Época de la Globalización; Ribas-Mateos, N., Ed.; Edicions Bellaterra: Barcelona, Spain, 2011; pp. 117–129. [Google Scholar]
- Dunn, T.J. The Militarization of the U.S.-México Border 1978–1992: Low-Intensity Conflict Doctrine Comes Home; Center for Mexican American Studies Books: Austin, TX, USA, 1996. [Google Scholar]
- Massey, D.S.; Durand, J.; Malone, N.J. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration; Sage Foundation: New York, NY, USA, 2002. [Google Scholar]
- Mendoza, E. El Sexenio de las 71 mil ejecuciones. Reporteidigo.com. 2012. Available online: http://www.reporteindigo.com/reporte/mexico/el-sexenio-de-las-71-mil-ejecuciones (accessed on 30 October 2012).
- Otero, S. Alertan de peligro en 65% del país. El Universal. 6 November 2011. Available online: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/806646.html (accessed on 27 February 2012).
- Alvarado, R.; Martinez, J.; Chavez, N. Mexodus—Unrelenting Violence and Lawlessness Forces Thousands of Middle-class Mexicans to Relocate Seeking Safety in the U.S. and in More Peaceful Regions in México. Mexodus. 31 June 2011. Available online: http://mexodus.borderzine.com/business/mexodus-a-world-of-shadows-in-the-complexity-of-the-border-main-story/ (accessed on 15 January 2012).
- Garza, C. The New Refugees: Mexican Businesses Moving to Laredo; Southwest Social Science Association: Las Vegas, NV, USA, 2008. [Google Scholar]
- Turati, M. Desplazados por la guerra antinarco, desafío para el gobierno: Expertos. El Proceso. 29 November 2011. Available online: http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=289660 (accessed on 27 February 2012).
- Annunciation House. Petition for Protection and Legal Relief for Mexican Nationals Affected by and Fleeing Violence in México. iPetitions. 2012. Available online: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/protectionformexicannationals/ (accessed on 6 March 2012).
- Alvarado, S.; Massey, D. Search of Peace: Structural Adjustment, Violence, and International Migration. Ann. Am. Acad. Polit. Soc. Sci. 2010, 630, 137–161. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Rabben, L. Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present and the Future of Sanctuary; Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek, CA, USA, 2011. [Google Scholar]
- Berger, S.A. Production and Reproduction of Gender and Sexuality in Legal Discourses of Asylum in the United States. J. Women Cult. Soc. 2009, 34, 659–685. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Franz, B. Bosnian Refugees and Socio-economic Realities: Changes in Refugee and Settlement Policies in Austria and the United States. J. Ethnic Migrat. Stud. 2003, 29, 5–25. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Holmes, J.S.; Keith, L.C. Does the Fear of Terrorists Trump the Fear of Persecution in Asylum Outcomes in the Post-September 11 Era? Polit. Sci. Polit. 2010, 43, 431–436. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Keith, L.C.; Holmes, J.S. A Rare Examination of Typically Unobservable Factors in U.S. Asylum Decisions. J. Refug. Stud. 2009, 22, 224–241. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- James, E.C. Neomodern Insecurity in Haiti and the Politics of Asylum. Cult. Med. Psychiatr. 2009, 33, 153–159. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Okigbo, C.; Reierson, J.; Stowman, S. Leveraging Acculturation through Action Research: A Case Study of Refugee and Immigrant Women in the United States. Action Res. 2009, 7, 127–142. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Frelick, B. Iraqis Denied Right to Asylum. Forced Migr. Rev. 2007, 11, 24–26. [Google Scholar]
- Rottman, A.J.; Fariss, C.J.; Poe, S.C. The Path to Asylum in the U.S. and the Determinants for Who Gets In and Why. Int. Migrat. Rev. 2009, 43, 3–34. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Eby, J.; Iverson, E.; Smyers, J.; Kekic, E. The Faith Community’s Role in Refugee Resettlement in the United States. J. Refug. Stud. 2011, 24, 586–605. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Welch, M.; Schuster, L. Detention of Asylum Seekers in the U.S., U.K., France, and Italy: A Critical View of the Globalizing Culture of Control. Crim. Justice 2005, 5, 331–355. [Google Scholar]
- Teitelbaum, M.S. Right versus Right: Immigration and Refugee Policy in the United States. Foreign Aff. 2006, 59, 639–663. [Google Scholar]
- Coutin, S.B. Falling Outside: Excavating the History of Central American Asylum Seekers. Law Soc. Inq. 2011, 36, 569–596. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Cheng, G. Gang Persecution as Grounds for Asylum in the U.S. Forced Migr. Rev. 2011, 37, 50–51. [Google Scholar]
- Hernández-León, R. Metropolitan Migrants: The Migration of Urban Mexicans to the United States; University of California Press: Los Angeles, CA, USA, 2008. [Google Scholar]
- Campbell, H. Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez; University of Texas Press: Austin, TX, USA, 2009; pp. 266–267. [Google Scholar]
- Pacheco, F. Narcofearance: How has Narcoterrorism Settled in México? Stud. Conflict Terrorism 2009, 32, 1021–1048. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Lee, E. Immigrants and Immigration Law: A State of the Field Assessment. J. Am. Ethnic Hist. 1999, 18, 85–114. [Google Scholar]
- Saenz, R.; Morales, M.C.; Ayala, M.I. United States: Immigration to the Melting Pots of the Americas. In Migration and Immigration: A Global View; Toro, M.I., Alicea, M., Eds.; Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, USA, 2007; pp. 211–232. [Google Scholar]
- Briggs, V.M., Jr. Immigration Policy and the U.S. Economy: An Institutional Perspective. J. Econ. Issues 1996, 30, 371–389. [Google Scholar]
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 2012. Available online: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis (accessed on 1 February 2012).
- Asylum and Withholding of Removal Relief Convention against Torture Protection. U.S. Department of Justice, 2009. Available online: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/press/09/AsylumWithholdingCATProtections.pdf (accessed on 1 February 2012).
- Levy, T. A complicated process: Seeking political asylum in the U.S. presentation. 2012, unpublished. [Google Scholar]
- Zolberg, A.; Suhrkea, A.; Aguayo, S. Escape From Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World; Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA, 1989. [Google Scholar]
- Penchaszadeh, A. The Pervertibility of Refugee Status. Forced Migr. Rev. 2010, 36, 64–65. [Google Scholar]
- Saenz, R.; Murga, L.; Morales, M.C. Wage Determinants of Mexican Immigrant Women along the U.S.-Mexican Border. In Labor Market Issues along the U.S.-México Border: Demographic and Economic Analyses; Mora, M.T., Dávila, A., Eds.; University of Arizona Press: Tucson, AZ, USA, 2009. [Google Scholar]
- Morales, M.C.; Bejarano, C. Transnational Sexual and Gendered Violence at the Borderlands: An Application of Border Sexual Conquest. Glob. Netw. 2009, 9, 420–439. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Salzinger, L. Re-forming the “traditional Mexican woman”: Making subjects in a border Factory’. In Ethnography at the Border; Vila, P., Ed.; University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis/St. Paul: MN, USA, 2003. [Google Scholar]
- Wright, M. A manifesto against femicide. Antipode 2001, 33, 550–566. [Google Scholar]
- Bowman, K.S. The Border as Locator and Innovator of Vice. J. Borderlands Stud. 1994, 9, 51–67. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Vila, P. Crossing Borders Reinforcing Borders: Social Categories, Metaphors, and Narrative Identities on the U.S.-México Frontier; University of Texas Press: Austin, TX, USA, 2000. [Google Scholar]
- Federación Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (FIDH). México: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): Effects on Human Rights. Violations of Labor Rights; Report: International Fact-Finding Mission, no. 448/2; International Federation for Human Rights: Paris, France, April 2006. Available online: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/Mexique448-ang2006.pdf (accessed on 2 January 2009).
- Martínez, O.J. Border Boom Town: Ciudad Juárez since 1848; University of Texas Press: Austin, TX, USA, 1975. [Google Scholar]
- FML. Comando asesina a siete en Creel, Chihuahua. El Universal. 15 March 2010. Available online: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/666193.html (accessed 10 February 2012).
- Hernández, M. Desplazados por el narco en Durango buscan paz. El Universal. 31 August 2010. Available online: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/estados/77667.html (accessed on 1 February 2012).
- Ballinas, V. La sierra de Petatlán, Guerrero, asolada por los narcos, la violencia y la militarización. La Jornada. 4 October 2011. Available online: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/10/04/politica/006n1pol (accessed on 10 February 2012).
- Glaser, B.; Strauss, A.L. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research; Aldine Publishing Company: Chicago, CA, USA, 1967. [Google Scholar]
- Keralis, J. Drug cartels in México. Forced Migr. Rev. 2011, 37, 1. [Google Scholar]
- Grissom, B. Tragedy in Juárez Spurs Economy in El Paso. The Texas Tribune. 2010. Available online: http://www.texastribune.org/texas-México-border-news/texas-México-border/tragedy-in-jurez-spurs-economy-in-el-paso/ (accessed on 1 March 2011).
- Garcia, S. Asylum for Former Mexican Police Officers Persecuted by the Narcos. Boston Coll. Third World Law J. 2011, 31, pp. 245–267. Available online: http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/twlj/vol31/iss2/2 (accessed on 30 October 2012).
- Noticias en línea. Califica Alcalde de traidores a los que se fueron de la ciudad. Noticiasenlinea.com. 2012. Available online: http://noticiasenlinea.com/?p=35295 (accessed on 20 June 2012).
- Menjívar, C. Liminal Legality: Salvadoran and Guatemalan Immigrants’ Lives in the United States. Am. J. Sociol. 2006, 111, 999–1037. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Roberts, B.; Frank, R.; Lozano-Ascencio, F. Transnational Migrant Communities and Mexican Migration to the U.S. Ethn. Racial Stud. 1999, 22, 238–266. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Morales, M.C.; Saenz, R. Correlates of Mexican American Students Standardized Test Scores: An Integrated Model Approach. Hispanic. J. Behav. Sci. 2007, 29, 349–365. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Estala, R.L. A Typical Scene in México: Images of War, Race, and Gender in the Mexican Revolution. Provost Dissertations & Thesis. Master’s Thesis, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA, 2010. [Google Scholar]
- Saenz, R.; Douglas, K.; Morales, M.C. Latina/os and Human Rights. In Handbook of Sociology and Human Rights; Brunsma, D.L., Smith, K.E.L., Gran, B., Eds.; Paradigm: Boulder, CO, USA, 2012. [Google Scholar]
- Minjáres, Gabriela. Es Juárez la Más Violenta del Mundo por Tercer Año. El Diario. 5 January 2011. Available online: http://www.diario.com.mx/notas.php?f=2011/01/05&id=83f3bb1075db99b7990cb2bd245030c1 (accessed on 27 February 2012).
- Dunn, T.J. Border Militarization via Drug and Immigration Enforcement: Human Rights Implications. Soc. Justice 2001, 28, 7–30. [Google Scholar]
- Heyman, J.M. Immigration Law Enforcement and the Superexploitation of Undocumented Aliens: The México-United States Border Case. Critiq. Anthropol. 1998, 18, 157–180. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Nevins, J. Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the Illegal Alien and the Making of the U.S.-México Boundary; Taylor and Francis: New York, NY, USA, 2002. [Google Scholar]
© 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Morales, M.C.; Morales, O.; Menchaca, A.C.; Sebastian, A. The Mexican Drug War and the Consequent Population Exodus: Transnational Movement at the U.S.-Mexican Border. Societies 2013, 3, 80-103. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc3010080
Morales MC, Morales O, Menchaca AC, Sebastian A. The Mexican Drug War and the Consequent Population Exodus: Transnational Movement at the U.S.-Mexican Border. Societies. 2013; 3(1):80-103. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc3010080Chicago/Turabian Style
Morales, Maria Cristina, Oscar Morales, Angelica C. Menchaca, and Adam Sebastian. 2013. "The Mexican Drug War and the Consequent Population Exodus: Transnational Movement at the U.S.-Mexican Border" Societies 3, no. 1: 80-103. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc3010080