Brokered Boundaries

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-06-01
  • Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
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"A compelling and sobering account of the lives of immigrants in a time of economic downturn and harsh anti-immigrant policies. Based on interviews with first- and second-generation, mostly undocumented, Latinos in the urban northeast, Brokered Boundaries shows how they develop a new sense of themselves and American society in the face of exclusionary barriers. Anyone wanting to understand how immigrants are navigating life in the United States today should read this important, well-written, and thought-provoking book."---Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Hunter College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York

"Based on statistical and ethnographic accounts, Douglas Massey and Magaly Sanchez have written a book that offers an insightful portrait of new Latin American immigrants and also challenges the prevailing anti-immigrant hysteria. The lives of the new immigrants, told in their own words, are full of hard work and dreams for a small piece of the American dream. Some make it, but most struggle at multiple jobs with no benefits and with little chance of upward mobility. The overwhelming evidence shows that almost all new immigrants are hopeful, law abiding, family and community orientated, and working hard to secure a better life for themselves and their children. The harshness of American policies has not reduced immigration, but has legitimized discrimination that has marginalized immigrants and weakened the fabric of American society."---Charles Hirschman, Boeing International Professor, University of Washington

"Brokered Boundaries is a timely, unflinching, compelling, and rigorously reasoned analysis of the consequences of a hostile context of reception for immigrant destinies and identities. In an era of widening inequality, rising xenophobia, and unprecedented state persecution of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children, the authors trace the trajectories and stories of a sample of Latin Americans in the Urban northeast. In the process they tackle empirical puzzles, challenge conventional wisdom, debunk the sunny ethnocentrism embedded in formulaic discourses of `assimilation' in American life, and offer a sober reconsideration of policy courses for the American future."---Ruben G. Rumbaut, professor of sociology, University of California, Irvine

Anti-immigrant sentiment reached a fever pitch after 9/11, but its origins go back much further. Public rhetoric aimed at exposing a so-called invasion of Latino immigrants has been gaining ground for more than three decades-and fueling increasingly restrictive federal immigration policy. Accompanied in 2008 by a flagging U.S. economy-record-level joblessness, bankruptcy, and income inequality- as well as waning consumer confidence, these conditions signaled one of the most hostile environments for immigrants in recent memory. In Brokered Boundaries, Douglas S. Massey and Magaly Sanchez R. untangle the complex political, social, and economic conditions underlying the rise of xenophobia in U.S. society. The book draws on in-depth interviews with Latin American immigrants in metropolitan New York and Philadelphia and-in their own words and images-reveals what life is like for immigrants attempting to integrate in anti-immigrant times.

What do the social categories "Latino" and "American" actually mean to today's immigrants? Borkered Boundaries analyzes how first- and second-generation immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean navigate these categories and their associated meanings as they make their way through U.S. society. Massey and Sanchez argue that the mythos of immigration, in which newcomers gradually shed their respective languages, beliefs, and cultural practices in favor of a distinctly American way of life, is, in reality, a process of negotiation between new arrvials and native-born citizens. Natives control interactions with outsiders by creating institutional, social, psychological, and spatial mechanisms that delimit immigrants' access to material resources and even social status. Immigrants construct identities based on how they

perceive and respond to these social boundaries. Brokered Boundaries provides a unique view of the conditions under which these immigrants- the majority of whom are undocumented-adapt and how their identities are formed. Throughout the book, the immigrants' own words describe their perceptions and experiences: their motivations for immigrating, their life in the workplace, the ways their expectations are in conflict with the reality of American culture, and their memories of what they left behind in their home countries. The authors make clear, however, that today's Latino immigrants are brokering boundaries in the context of unprecedented economic uncertainty, repressive anti-immigrant legislation, and a heightening fear that upward mobility for immigrants translates into downward mobility for the native-born. Despite an absolute decline in Latino immigration, immigration-related statues have tripled in recent years, including many that further shred the safety net for legal permanent residents as well as for the undocumented.

Brokered Boundaries shows that, although Latin American immigrants come from many different countries, their common reception in a hostile social environment produces an emergent Latino identity soon after arrival. During antiimmigrant times, however, the longer immigrants stay in America, the more likely they are to experience discrimination and the less likely they are to identify as Americans.

Author Biography

He is Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.
He is senior researcher at the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.

Table of Contents

About the Authorsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Constructing Immigrant Identityp. 1
Roots and Motivationsp. 26
The Rise of Anti-Immigrant Timesp. 58
Worlds of Workp. 81
Dreams and Disappointmentsp. 119
Transnational Optionsp. 147
Verbalizing Identityp. 183
Visualizing Identityp. 213
Identity, Integration, and the Futurep. 240
Sampling, Interviewing, Coding, and Data Analysisp. 253
Information Sheet Presented to Potential Respondentsp. 265
Interview Guide: First Generationp. 267
Interview Guide: Second Generationp. 272
Referencesp. 277
Indexp. 293
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