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The Mexican Drug War and the Consequent Population Exodus: Transnational Movement at the U.S.-Mexican Border

Author(s): Maria Cristina Morales | Oscar Morales | Angelica C. Menchaca | Adam Sebastian

Journal: Societies
ISSN 2075-4698

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 80;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: border | drug war | migration | settlement | transnational movement | violence

At the frontline of México’s “war on drugs” is the Mexican-U.S. border city of Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, which has become internationally known as the “murder capital of the world.” In Juárez, which neighbors El Paso, Texas, United States, estimates of the murders in Juárez are as high as 7,643 between 2006 and 2011, leaving approximately 10,000 orphans. Juárez has also experienced an exodus of approximately 124,000 people seeking safety, some migrating to the Mexican interior and others to the U.S., particularly along the U.S.-México border. Based on 63 in-depth interviews with Juárez-El Paso border residents, along with ethnographic observations, we examine the implications of the “war on drugs” on transnational movements and on the initial settlement of those escaping the violence. In particular, we construct a typology of international migrants who are represented in the Juárez exodus: the Mexican business elite, the “Refugees without Status,” and those who resided in México but who are U.S. born or have legal permanent residency in the U.S. This article highlights the role of transnational capital in the form of assets and income, social networks in the U.S., and documentation to cross the port of entry into the U.S. legally, in easing migration and initial settlement experiences in the U.S.

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