The Crossing Experience: Unauthorized Migration along the Arizona-Sonora Border
AuthorMartinez, Daniel E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe present study utilizes survey data (n = 415) collected in the Migrant Border Crossing Study from repatriated Mexican migrants to examine three important questions regarding unauthorized migration attempts through southern Arizona. First, what factors explicate migrants' modes of crossing? Second, do coyote fees vary among people who rely on smuggling services to cross the border? If so, what accounts for this variation? Third, what factors shape encounters with bajadores while traversing the desert? The present analyses expand on previous studies examining the unauthorized crossing in multiple ways. For instance, I empirically test the role of a "culture of migration" in explaining modes of crossing, coyote fees, and bajador encounters. I also differentiate between two main types of coyotes: "border business" and "interior." I then examine whether crossing with a coyote mediates the risk of encountering bajadores during the journey. Overall, there are important differences in crossing modes and coyote fees. Women are more likely to travel with both coyote types, while the opposite is true for more experienced migrants. Older migrants and people who cross during summer months are less likely to travel with an "interior" coyote. The strongest predictor of higher smuggling fees is the region of a person's U.S. destination. Higher coyote fees are also associated with immigrants' higher educational attainment, being married, being the sole economic provider for one's household, and higher household income. More experienced migrants, and those crossing in larger groups or during the summer also pay higher fees, however fees do not vary by gender, age, or social capital. These findings are somewhat consistent with the extant literature on human capital and risk tolerance/aversion, but run counter to the vast migration literature emphasizing the importance of social capital in the migration process. Finally, the risk of encountering bajadores is not higher for males, young adults, the less educated, and the more impoverished, which contradicts extant findings in the victimology literature. With the exception of crossing corridor and time spent in the desert, no other factors increase the risk of encountering bandits more than traveling with a coyote. Implications and possible future research are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College