Date of Completion


Embargo Period



migration, Mexico, farmworkers, immigration law

Major Advisor

Dr. Merrill Singer

Associate Advisor

Dr. Samuel Martinez

Associate Advisor

Dr. Mark Overmyer-Velazquez

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation traces the circular migration of a unique population of rural Mexican farmworkers between Guanajuato, Mexico and central Connecticut over a six-year period. Capitalizing on the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, many of these men were able to obtain U.S. legal permanent resident status, and thus became able to legalize not only their own immigration status, but also that of family members. This allows a unique opportunity to examine the impact of legal status on the migration patterns of Mexican farmworkers.

Three themes emerge in this study. First, a robust transnational network has developed which facilitates continued labor migration. By mitigating the dangers and uncertainty of illegal migration, the network allows flexibility in choosing when and where to migrate for work. The network is bolstered by close, personal relationships between workers and employers, guided by a moral economy which promotes trust and reciprocity, and results in substantial economic and socio-emotional benefits for the workers and their families.

In addition, as legal immigrants, the farmworkers in this study are able to apply for legalization for their family members. The dissertation examines the family dynamics involved in deciding whether or not to legalize children, uncovering complex and unexpected rationales driven by local cultural logics about gender, migration and work.

Finally, the dissertation examines the impact of remittances from legal migration on status hierarchies and class subjectivities in the transnational space linked through the network.

The addition of migrant wealth disturbs the traditional status structure in the sending community, creating tensions within and between families.

I conclude by arguing that Rio Secans’ networking, legalization, and migrations strategies produce incremental but important gains that may ultimately produce intergenerational improvements to the wellbeing of Rio Secans and their families.