Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Second Department

Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor

Byron Nicholas




immigration, mexican, migrant, states, united


This thesis explores overlooked realities informing the phenomenon of Mexican immigration to the United States and their implications for immigration debate and policy prescriptions. To begin, the extant economic relationship between Mexico and the United States is examined along with the migrant workers’ role in the U.S. economy, their effect on American social service programs, and their decision to migrate. Historical notions of birthright citizenship in the United States are then explored, along with a discussion of comparative civic engagement between the new Mexican migrant and the contemporary American citizen. An account of the systemic exploitation experienced by Mexican participants in the bracero program ensues. Finally, an argument describing the migrant’s lack of citizenship as a means for exploitation during the bracero program and beyond is offered. The danger of temporary worker programs that would codify the exclusion of the migrant from civic protections and the possible connection between this phenomenon and human disposability seen in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico is examined. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of this connection to contemporary debate on immigration policy.