Pioneer and Settler Migration in the New Mexican Migrant States

Mark Leach, University of California, Irvine
Frank D. Bean, University of California, Irvine
Susan K. Wierzbicki, University of California, Irvine

During the 1990s, the foreign-born Mexican origin population in the United States accelerated its transformation from a largely regionally concentrated ethnic group to one more widely distributed around the country. In 1990, for example, only 10 percent of foreign-born Mexicans resided outside California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, or Illinois, whereas by 2000, almost 1 in 4 did. This paper uses micro-data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses to understand what states experienced the most growth and why. Preliminary results suggest that rapid growth in the 1990s occurred in states where migration channels developed in predictable waves over the previous two decades as explained by social causation theories of migration. This study highlights the importance of secondary migration within the U.S., previously thought to be insignificant among Mexican origin migrants, in "blazing the trail" for those that followed in the 1990s. The policy and theoretical implications of the results are discussed.

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Presented in Session 30: Changing Characteristics of Immigrants in the 1990's