Thinking Transnationally: The Reunification of Migrant Families

Thinking Transnationally: The Reunification of Migrant Families

Margarita María Sánchez (Wagner College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9953-3.ch012
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Abstract

Wagner College is participating in a ground-breaking project that brings migrant families together after years of separation. This project has been not only inspirational for both faculty members and students, but is also a great opportunity to learn about forced migration and alternatives to keep families together. The “Transnational Project: San Jerónimo Xayacatlán-Port Richmond” was created to connect communities in both the United States and Mexico and to preserve their cultural identities that have been threatened by forced migration. In this chapter, I would like to present the project focusing on three aspects: the history of the project, the individual stories of members who migrated and of those who stayed in their homeland, and the impact of this educational opportunity in the classroom. I will use a series of interviews with the members of Ñani Migrante (the group formed by the members of both the San Jerónimo and the Port Richmond communities), the presentations of both panels that took place at Wagner College, and the reflections of students who attended them.
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Thinking Transnational: The Reunification Of Migrant Families

It is a unique feature of life in the 21st century that we are compelled to rethink the concept of the space we inhabit, the one that we share more and more with peoples from distant places and vastly different cultures. We live in an era of rapid changeability and movement in which human beings driven by necessity and desperation are continually looking for places where they can make a better life for themselves and their families. Despite the fact that many undocumented immigrants are kidnapped, tortured, executed or arrested while trying to cross the border from Mexico to the United States, many of them continue to risk their lives to escape endemic poverty and violence. This chapter explores the dynamics of one transnational community united by the desire to retrieve and celebrate the cultural practices that have been endangered by forced migration. While globalization threatens the well being of isolated populations in Mexico, several communities are finding alternatives in local projects that serve as strategies to repair the social fabric. Women are the protagonists of many of these initiatives since they are the ones who remain “at home” when their men migrate to the north in search of work and a better life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Asamblea Popular de Familias Migrantes (APOFAM): A Coalition of organizations and individuals impacted by migration. This non-for profit organization provides legal and financial support to migrant families.

Transnational: Across nations

Community Service: Services provided to communities in need

Undocumented Families: Families who live in a foreign country without legal documents

Marco Castillo: Anthropologist and sociologist, he is the director of APOFAM.

Forced Migration: When a person is forced to leave his or her territory because of extreme circumstances

Immigration: When someone leaves his or her territory to look for different opportunities somewhere else

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