Deciding to be Legal: A Maya Community in Houston (Paperback)
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Short Description for Deciding to be Legal To study the settlement process of undocumented migrants, this work examines one of Houston's Maya communities, the approximately 900 Maya from a township in the Department of Totonicapan, Guatemala. It traces this Maya community from its genesis in 1978 to the complex effects of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
- Published: 30 December 1994
- Format: Paperback 256 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781566392570 ISBN 10: 1566392578
Full description for Deciding to be Legal
To study the settlement process of undocumented migrants, Jacqueline Hagan examines one of Houston's Maya communities, the approximately 900 Maya from a township in the Department of Totonicapan, Guatemala. She traces this Maya community from its genesis in 1978, when a few men left the township in search of economic opportunity, to the complex effects of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Based on several years of living and participating in the Totonicapan Maya community in Houston and a visit to the Guatemalan home community, Hagan's research combines interviews, community participation, and observation to evaluate immigration policy. Hagan shows that these immigrants do not passively accept U.S. immigration policy, but instead interpret it and base their actions on their own agenda within the context of their local community. The results, often quite unexpected by national policy makers, question popular myths about the settlement of immigrant communities. The author discusses the different settlement experiences of men and women and the effects of IRCA on family and community structure. Analyzing how legal status influences settlement behavior and international networks, she finds that strong community-based networks and social ties with a home community lead to successful adaptation. Jacqueline Maria Hagan is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston.