Part V: The Global North (North America and Europe)

Chapter 19: Fatherhood and Family Relations in Transnational Migration from Mezcala, Mexico

Elizabeth Pérez Márquez

In this chapter, the author explores the experiences of fatherhood among migrant men in the United States and Mexico and demonstrates how they disrupt common models of fatherhood. Through case studies, the author addresses the ways in which these men negotiate roles and create strategies to be present, have authority, and support their relationships with their spouses and children, even in their absence. The author concludes that their migration experiences profoundly shape their practices and identities as fathers.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze diverse practices and meanings of fatherhood.
  • Identify the key elements in the construction of fatherhood and conjugality among young Indigenous Mexican migrants.
  • Discuss how transnationalism affects Indigenous peoples’ lives and how their undocumented condition makes them vulnerable in the United States.


In some Latin American societies, especially Mexico, fatherhood marks a change of status as men become parents. Through access to economic and symbolic resources as fathers, men consolidate themselves as “complete men,” as long as they comply with family obligations such as providing financial support and using the authority that comes from being male and a parent in a patriarchal environment. However, the experience of fatherhood is not universal but rather informed by socially and culturally specific practices. For example, some scholars suggest that peasant parents from central Mexico are more involved in raising their children than urban parents in Mexico City because “there are a multiplicity of cultural practices and patterns in which paternity is based on the divergence of experiences” (Gutmann 1996, 57). Moreover, according to Luis Bonino, “fatherhood will be diverse as long as the social sector, class, age, and religion are different” (Bonino 2003, 172). Furthermore, fatherhood in the context of transnational migration creates, on the one hand, vulnerable conditions for men, but on the other may also provide financial benefits to support their families in Mexico.

My research disrupts universal models of fatherhood by demonstrating its complexity. I focus on the diverse meanings and practices of fatherhood among Indigenous Coca men from Mezcala, Jalisco, Mexico, who migrated to the United States. The meanings and practices of family for these men are based on Indigenous community experiences. They negotiate and create strategies to be present, have authority, and support their relationships with their spouses and children. In other words, they become parents, not only because they biologically produced children but because they are recognized by their community as upholding their parenting roles even in their physical absence. However, these parenting experiences are shaped by their various migration experiences, which, in turn, transforms their identity as fathers in various ways.

As you read in the introduction of this book, culture is constructed through a myriad of complex social processes. Similarly, gendered identities such as “father” are also social constructions, which for these men are shaped by history, community composition, and the migratory experience. To begin this chapter, I will examine the impact of transnational migration on the concepts of fatherhood and conjugality and their roles in migrant men’s lives.


In 2011 I began to study the fatherhood practices of young migrant men (aged eighteen to twenty-six) from the Indigenous Coca community of Mezcala, Jalisco, Mexico, and what these practices reveal about their relationships with their spouses and children. The Coca Indigenous community of Mezcala, Mexico, is located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Jalisco. It is a town of fishermen, peasants, merchants, and (recently) skilled tradesmen who work in housing construction and electronics assembly. The town is struggling with the Mexican state for recognition of its Indigenous autonomy and ancestral practices. Its Indigenous identity is based on community, religious, and family organization linked to the land and lake territories. For more information on this community see Castillero 2005, Bastos 2012, and Ochoa 2006.

The men I studied migrated to the United States looking for better living conditions. Some were deported to Mexico under President Obama’s Secure Communities program (2008–2017). My research examines how this policy affected the migrants and their family life. Other men in my study (with and without documents) returned voluntarily to Mexico to attend to family issues at home. In this chapter I explore the interconnected realities of “being a father” and “being a husband” in the context of this transnational migration. Through interviews and ethnographic observations in Mezcala, Mexico, and Los Angeles and Sanger in California, I identify the tensions and the strategies these men develop as they parent from a distance. I also suggest that fatherhood is constructed through conceptions and practices of gender, conjugality, and migratory experiences. These men had more education and specialized skills that allowed them to obtain employment in the United States in construction, assembling electronics, and food packaging, which eased their lives as migrants compared to their predecessors who were farmers, fishermen, or bracero migrants. In the three cases I present in this chapter, the young men use their skills to survive in California in a context where harassment and discrimination are ever increasing. All three men lacked the proper documents to work in the United States, which greatly complicated their lives and affected fatherhood practices and relations with their spouses and children. In all of these cases, the names of the interviewees were changed in order to protect their identities.

Transnationalism and Fatherhood

To understand the importance of fatherhood to these men, it is important to contextualize their transnational movements and the complexity of their practices of fatherhood at a distance. Scholars have argued that transnationalism indicates a weakening of nation-states, and simultaneously, the strengthening of the contemporary global economy contributing to the formation and continuity of global financial and political institutions. For Jürgen Habermas, the weakening of the state was expressed by the crisis of capitalism and the system of national institutions: that is, the states no longer had the power to regulate the domestic market or the authority to make policy decisions. Rather, these powers were exercised by other institutions such as the World Bank (WB) or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which produced what Habermas called the “postnational” era (Habermas 1998). Global institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), IMF, and WB imposed their policies and agendas in many Latin American countries, resulting in conditions of inequality, poverty, and socioeconomic exclusion within their population. With transnationalism, large corporations moved operations around the world searching for countries with, for example, lax environmental regulations that would allow the use of toxic chemicals in the production of fabrics, clothing, and electronics. Corporations also searched for locations with cheap labor and few labor rights, compounding job insecurity and social inequality in these countries.

Scholars (Ong 1999; Kearney 1995) have analyzed the detrimental impacts of transnationalism on the economies and societies in peripheral areas of the globe. These global processes have contributed to the motivations of the people to move between countries producing a visible moment called the “age of migration” (Castles and Miller 2004). These migrations, particularly for undocumented laborers, have been shaped by class, gender, and ethnicity (Alarcón 1999; Alba 1999; Arroyo 1989; Bustamante 1975, 1997; Cornelius 1990; Delgado and Márquez 2007). The men participating in my research from the Coca community are among those undocumented migrants whose lives and movements have been deeply affected by the transnationalization of capital. These individuals are trying to reconfigure their lives, their community, and their gender identity and fatherhood as well. From this perspective, Malkin (1999) suggests that migration must be examined from the construction of gender to differentiate the participation of men and women within the transnational migration circuit because “we run the risk not only of granting priority to the ‘political’ over the ‘domestic’ but not to reinforce duality” (Malkin 1999, 475). Furthermore, migration affects “family dynamics,” which allows us to understand social cohesion, elements of solidarity, and reciprocity but also tension, conflict, and violence in the private sphere of families (Boehm 2008, 21).

Fatherhood in Latin America has emerged as a central topic in scholarship starting in the 2000s. Fuller’s Paternities in Latin America (2000), for example, positioned fatherhood at the center of analysis examining cases from different countries such as Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Chile. Each case shows diverse practices in the context of the global economy, which generates unequal relations based on gender, ethnicity, and migration. Recognizing Mexico as a multicultural country, Bonino (2003) proposes models of fatherhood based on different types of cultures, religions, and societies. Likewise, Alatorre argues that fatherhood is “an interpretation of the subject that places him in relation to sons and daughters and includes a series of practices and meanings, which are not universal or homogeneous, and therefore we will have to observe these men in their particular contexts without losing sight of their ethnic, relational, social, origins etc.” (Alatorre and Luna 2000, 244). Building on this literature, I recognize fatherhood as a shifting identity that includes the idea of being a “good father” and a “good spouse.” It is a social and cultural identity that is built on the relations with spouses and children, whether co-located or living at a distance.

Mezcala, a Village of Transnational Indigenous Migrants

Mezcala is an Indigenous enclave that represents one of the last riverside towns in Jalisco that still preserves their religious practices and identity. Anchored in the territory, they have a long history of struggles to defend their Indigenous Coca autonomy (Bastos 2010; Martínez and Alonso 2009). Although the Cocas no longer speak Nahuatl (their native language), they express their ethnic identity through their strong community organization structure, family, and community ties. In Mezcala, agriculture has been a fundamental part of the local and regional economy. It is a community of farmers and fishermen, which in recent years has changed as access to education has led to other jobs such as in the electronics industry and the building trades. Since the mid-1980s the maquiladoras near Mezcala have created jobs for local residents. Although they offer only minimum wage jobs, workers found these positions attractive as they provided better working and living conditions. Despite these factory jobs, Mezcala is still a poor Indigenous community, not fully benefiting from the global economies nor the Mexican state.

For most of the twentieth century, Mezcala residents have been migrating to the United States, starting with the Bracero program (1942–1964). Due to a labor shortage in the 1940s caused by World War II, the original objective of the Bracero program was to employ a large, temporary labor force to harvest fruits and vegetables for US consumption. Since then, migration from Mezcala (and other parts of Mexico) to the United States has continued virtually unabated. Mezcala has become a transnational community, with the Indigenous Cocas living in both Mexico and in the United States. California is home to a large population of migrants from Mezcala, particularly in the cities of Los Angeles and Sanger. In California, migrants have formed associations and groups that organize community gatherings to share and continue the traditions practiced in their community of origin. For example, Club Mezcala Inc., located in South Central Los Angeles, has been an active hometown association since 2006 with 120 engaged members. The club organizes fundraising events to support the community in Jalisco such as the construction of a community library and other projects. In the city of Sanger, groups of dancers practice for months prior to the December 12 celebration for the Virgin of Guadalupe. In both cities, Mezcala celebrations include dances, music, and special costumes. Migrants also have a soccer team that competes locally and participates in the annual soccer tournament in California (Perez-Marquez 2015).

In the city of Los Angeles, the Cocas reside in the central and southern parts of the city, in neighborhoods that are poor and considered by many to be dangerous. Some arrived between 1963 and 1987 escaping domestic violence, conditions of poverty, and marginalization in Mezcala. Those in Sanger arrived during the last stages of the Bracero program in the 1960s and remained in this city. Others arrived during the 1980s driven by the economic crises in Mexico at the time. There they worked in the harvesting of citrus and other fruits. Sanger is a city of fourteen thousand inhabitants located about fifteen miles east of Fresno, in the Central Valley of California. There the Cocas live in neighborhoods around the periphery of the city, where housing conditions are more precarious and pesticides part of the air they breathe.

The three young migrant fathers I discuss below all arrived in California without documents between 1996 and 2007. They all had support networks in both cities to help pay the costs of migration and settling in their new homes. The Mexican origin population in these cities includes both documented and undocumented people, although the young Indigenous undocumented people who continue the migratory flow from Mezcala are among the most vulnerable in terms of deportation.

The implementation of the Obama administration’s Secure Communities immigration program marked a change in the historic rhythms and cycles of migration from Mezcala. The program implemented a new level of collaboration between federal and state government agencies, local police forces, and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Through this program, security forces identified foreigners who were detained, had previous arrest histories, or were deemed threats to the security of US citizens and were deported to their country of origin. The efficiency of this program was reflected in the number of people deported to their countries of origin. Under the Obama administration, the United States deported more than three million people, the greatest number in US history (Nowrasteh 2019). One of the cases presented in this study was affected by this policy, and my final analysis includes the impact the Obama administration policies had on the Coca community.

Young Migrant Parents: Being Fathers and Husbands

In this context of deportation and mass return of Mexicans to Mexico, some young fathers from Mezcala who migrated in the late 1980s and during the early 2000s did not have residence documents in the United States and faced great challenges exercising their fatherhood because of their status. Being undocumented forced them to live in the shadows as they constantly were afraid of being deported. Being undocumented also prohibited them from traveling back and forth across the US border to spend time with their family, forcing them to stay as long as possible in the US and making their stay semipermanent. For these men, all of these experiences generate feelings of guilt, frustration, and remorse regarding their fatherhood because of their absence during the birth of their children or because of the prolonged absence in general. However, from their point of view, they try to remain closely connected to their children and seek to protect their families while they are absent from Mexico by sending remittances and maintaining constant communication. They consider it their responsibility to maintain the family economically.

A common theme among migrant Cocas fathers who had small children was that they sought to maintain the position of authority they had before migrating. They were “vocal and opinionated” and actively participated in the care of their children, albeit from a distance. Compared to their fathers or grandfathers, they considered themselves to be much less detached and more active fathers.

According to their wives, the migrant fathers changed after returning from the United States. This change was sometimes “for the better” and sometimes not. The wives noted that they became more demanding in terms of caring for their children and improving the conditions of family life. They exercised their presence as fathers by seeking authority, which sometimes involved using some type of violence, as the migrant fathers sought to regain the position they had before migrating. Sometimes they did not succeed, and the couple decided to separate. Javier’s case shows this dynamic.

Javier: The Frustration and Guilt

Javier is a thirty-year-old man. His father is a peasant; his mother a housewife. He is the third born among his thirteen brothers and sisters. He finished high school in Mezcala and then worked for a few years in Guadalajara as a merchant in the largest market in the city and in construction work at El Salto, a municipality near Mezcala. He married Paty in 2003, and less than a year later his first son Rafael was born, followed by his son Ramiro the next year. He lived with his family in the city of Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco.

In 2006, Javier and his wife separated, and they agreed to each take custody of one child. Javier took custody of Rafael, the eldest, and his wife took Ramiro, the youngest. With Rafael, Javier went back to live in his mother’s house in Mezcala. Due to a lack of employment options and the stress of the divorce, Javier decided to go to the United States to find work, leaving Rafael in the care of Javier’s mother. Javier crossed the northern border of Mexico en route to the United States without documents or formal migratory authorization. His brothers, who lived in California helped him pay for the costs of a person (coyote) who helped him cross the border near Nogales, Sonora. The person(s) that provide such services are known as Coyotes; this nickname is usually associated with the animal’s behavior when trying to avoid detection by those who are under his surveillance. Crossing modern state borders without the proper documentation requires a coyote who should have a topographical knowledge and high level of cunning.

This area of Mexico is very dangerous and also closely monitored by organized criminals and the US border patrol, but it was the only viable option he had to get to Los Angeles. It took him several days to arrive, and he walked a few days in the desert. Then one of the coyotes picked him up in Arizona, hid him in the trunk of a car, and drove him to California.

Javier arrived in the city of Compton, south of Los Angeles, thanks to the financial help of his two brothers who already lived here. His brother Rodrigo worked as a supervisor at a fast-food packing house and got Javier a job at the company. Javier then began to work in the maintenance of the food-packing machines. Javier distributed his income between his living expenses (rent, food, gasoline) and sending money to his mother. His remittances varied between $100 and $150 a month, which were meant to cover the expenses of his son Rafael in Mezcala. At the age of eight years old, Rafael should have been in the fourth grade; however, after failing the second grade twice, he remained in the second grade. According to Javier’s mother, Rafael had a hard time learning and had behavioral problems (he gets distracted), but Javier’s mother thinks he is sick with sadness for not having his father or mother nearby. For Javier, he felt that leaving Rafael in the care of his grandmother was the only option he had after the divorce. In his words.

I know that the child has many doubts, why did I leave him with his grandmother instead of his mother? Why was I not there when he was little? Why did I leave others in charge? I am getting prepared and will return when the time is right. God will put the moment and the precise words in my mouth. I personally have a lot of guilt for having left him, which is why he does poorly in school. He needs his parents, at minimum his mom, but his mom is now his grandmother. I ask the Lord to enlighten me and let me be together with my son when I return to Mezcala. We will have better living conditions and I will be able to care for him. (Javier, interview by author, August 15, 2012)

Javier expresses his concerns about the neglect of his son because, according to him, every time he sees Rafael in photographs he doesn’t seem well cared for, with old clothes and tattered shoes.

I’m angry that he lives like this, all dirty, disheveled and broken. I am sure, he spendsall day in the street. . . It would be better if I cared for him because his mother nevervisits him in Mezcala. I know that she gave up her rights to him, but she should at leastvisit him from time to time. (Javier, interview by author, August 15, 2012)

When talking with Javier about the long-distance relationship he has with his children, he stated, “I am prepared for the questions. I am prepared to answer all their doubts. Why his mother rejected him, why we divorced and why I left him with his grandmother. The main reason I want to return to Mexico is that I want Rafa to feel loved and appreciated at least by me, I am his father; in fact, that is why I want to go back to Mezcala.” In 2013, after living and working in California for seven years, Javier returned voluntarily to Mezcala. He lives permanently in Mezcala and started a new family, and his son Rafael continues to live with his grandparents.

Javier’s experience provides insight into a number of factors that influence fatherhood for these men. First, the vulnerable conditions of being an undocumented immigrant living in California restricted his ability to return more frequently to Mexico to visit his family. This negatively affected his connection and relationship with his son. Second, his identity as a responsible father was disrupted because his mother was caring for his son, and his son was not doing well. In other words, for Javier being a good father required him to be present in his son’s life, to guide him, and participate in his everyday life activities to ensure his well-being. Not being able to do these things negatively affected Javier’s self-identity as a good father, which was further compounded by constraints on his masculinity as an undocumented migrant.

Raul: Voluntary Return and the Negotiation of his Conjugality

In another case, the migrant father’s absence and disconnection from his children became the very source of the loss of his parental position. After a long absence, he did not recognize himself as a father despite being the one responsible for supporting the family financially. Raul is a thirty-year-old man who was born in Mezcala. After high school, he left to work for a construction company for a year and a half in a neighboring town. This work allowed him to travel and get to know different parts of Mexico as the company did projects in Cancún, León, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. When he was nineteen, he met Lilia with whom he then had two children in the next two years: Rosalia and Carlitos. In 2008, when Raul was twenty-one, he went to Los Angeles where four of his brothers live. He did not have a way to get to the United States legally, so his brothers helped him pay for all the costs of crossing the border, which involved hiring a coyote. When Raul arrived, he started working in a tire factory and then later for a fast-food packing house where two of his brothers worked. He stayed in Los Angeles from 2008 until 2010, when he decided to return to Mexico to meet his son Carlitos, who was already a year old.

After his two-year stay in the United States, Raul thought that his experience had changed his perspective on being a man in several ways: “There you are a man and a woman, because there you have to work outside of the house and also wash your clothes, iron and cook. There is no distinction between being male or female” (Raul, interview by author, May 13, 2011).

Raul lived with his brothers in a garage that served as an apartment. This allowed him to save up to buy a van, which was one of the goals of the trip to the United States, in addition to sending money to Lilia to pay for the household expenses back home. While Raul was in the United States, Lilia lived with his parents. In their home, he felt confident that his wife and children would not lack food or necessities; however, he also thought it was important for Lilia to have some money for emergencies, birthday parties, and for medicines if his children got sick.

I sent money to Lilia every time I could, every fifteen days or every month I would send her a little money so she could buy the baby’s milk or buy gasoline to take them to the hospital if they got sick. I also sent her money to have a big birthday party for Rosalia and buy her a princess dress or whatever she wants. I wanted her to buy her a dress and send me pictures. (Raúl, interview by author, May 13, 2011).

Raul returned to Mezcala voluntarily in 2010 because he was not present at the births of either of his two children and felt estranged from his family. Although Raul did not have any work options in Mexico, he decided to stay there permanently. Raul’s experience as an undocumented migrant allowed him to understand and negotiate his identity as a husband and economic responsibility as a father. He reflected that in the United States undocumented migrants, both men and women, have similar working and everyday life experiences. He understood that men and women must work hard to obtain their goals in life. Through the lens of gender, he reflected on his role as a father, his position as man, and his ability to support his family.

Pepe: Deportation and Family Separation

Pepe was born in Mezcala in 1980, the youngest in a family of seven brothers and sisters. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1988, and although they had already had previous experiences of temporary migration, they secured permanent US residency during the Simpson-Rodino Amnesty or IRCA of 1986. His father had begun migrating in 1975, going back and forth between Mezcala and California. Then his mother began to take the eldest children to the United States. They applied for permits for temporary and then permanent stays through the IRCA Amnesty, which allowed them to stay indefinitely. However Pepe did not have the same fate because his mother did not request identity documents within the required period to process the paperwork, and as a result he became undocumented.

Pepe grew up in the United States, and because he was the youngest of all his brothers, he had more financial resources, which allowed him to finish high school. After high school he worked picking fruit in Sanger. Later he worked in a jam factory in the city of Fresno, California, shortly before he was deported in 2012. At the age of twenty, Pepe married a woman of Mexican origin born in Fresno whom he met in high school. They have four sons aged eight, seven, five, and two years old.

Regarding his relationship with his children, he reflects:

I am very close to them, I am the one who gave them breakfast, and I took them to school. I was the one who took care of them when Ana, my wife, worked many hours . . . I have been very careful with my children because my parents took care of me because I’m the youngest of my brothers and sisters and I know how important it is to have your mom and dad close to you. That is why I try to take care of my children as much as I can, to tell them how to do things and all that, but now that I am away, they have even told me they are skinny. (Pepe, interview by author, February 20, 2012)

This dynamic changed when in 2012 the police took him to a jail in Fresno for driving without a driver’s license, and later he was deported. He arrived in the city of Mexicali, where he stayed for one year hoping to find a way to return. He finally decided to go to Mezcala and to the house of his only sister. When I interviewed him in Mezcala, he had been here for six months and could not find a job, nor could he return to his family in Fresno. His mother sent him some money every two weeks, money that he shared with his sister Martha in Mezcala and used to buy phone cards to talk to his wife in Fresno and find out about his legal migration situation in the courts. When I spoke with his mother Fernanda in Sanger, she told me that Pepe’s children “are very sad because he was the one who looked after them. Pepe was the one who took care of them, took them to school, made them dinner.” Fernanda showed us photographs of the children and explained that the children have lost weight due to the absence of their father. Pepe feels frustrated and guilty for not being more careful when he was detained on the road.

That event marked his and his family’s life. While at times he feels proud of being a loving father and very close to his children, at other times he feels that he has not done enough to be able to return to them, though he had tried once to cross the border without documents. In June of 2015 I learned that Pepe had decided to cross the northern border of Tijuana-San Diego with the identification documents of one of his brothers. Now he lives in Fresno but not with his wife and children because his wife decided she wanted a divorce. He lives alone in an apartment and works harvesting oranges at the factory where much of his family works. He sees his children every weekend and occasionally picks them up from school to take them to lunch and spend time with them.

In Pepe’s case, three points are clear. First, migration from Mezcala is so complex even within the same families, his brothers were able to obtain the proper documents to reside in the United States, but Pepe remained undocumented. Second, his commitment as a father was unmatched in relation to other cases, but his deportation to Mexico challenged his dedication to his children. Furthermore, it showed the vulnerability of the children due to their father’s undocumented condition. Finally, it shows Pepe’s willingness to return to the United States to be with his children despite the permanent threat of being deported due to harsher migratory laws.


The cases presented in this study demonstrate how young fathers who face migration to the United States today realize that fatherhood is a relationship that needs one’s physical presence and requires constant affection, care, and attention to children and spouses. The idea of fatherhood intersects with conjugality in the context of transnational migration and entails: (a) being an economic provider, for example, through remittances but also (b) demonstrating paternal affective presence and care and (c) negotiating marital readjustment, that is, the relationship with their wives. Above all, the experience of migrating marked a significant change in the way they constructed their identity as fathers, as it made them aware of the importance of being close to their children, rather than just supporting them economically.

These issues emerge as constant concerns in these three cases of young fathers, the temporary separation of families generated tense dynamics with their spouses and children and in the cases of Javier and Pepe, their absence has been a real crisis for their children. For migrant parents, it is important to maintain a bond with their families; even at a distance, economic and emotional presence is a relevant issue in their lives.

Despite the distance and complexity of staying in hiding, young migrant parents sought family reunification insofar as it was possible. With the vicissitudes and complexity of fatherhood under physical separation, it is necessary to depend on other people to be present as a parent, for example, grandmothers and of course mothers who take the role of absent fathers. In that sense, the presence of wives or mothers of these men is fundamental to reconstruct the contents of fatherhood, which is based on physical presence and economic support.

Complex and adverse situations arise when people experience migratory vulnerability. Due to these factors, ideals of fatherhood are slowly changing for these men. Vulnerability is experienced daily. It involves uncertainty because one runs the risk of losing one’s work, being separated from the place one is living, and being deported. These men live in a state of constant precarity, which causes them to reconsider their stay in the United States and maximize their resources for the well-being of their families in Mexico.

These experiences of vulnerability as undocumented Indigenous migrants were a recurrent theme during my interviews in their community of origin. Despite this vulnerable condition, these men felt they must continue being responsible fathers by being economic supporters of the family and caring for their children.

These constant concerns about deportation among the migrant fathers of Mezcala also affected their possibility of voluntary return until they had met their goals for migrating. This affected, above all, their children, since they were the ones who lived without their fathers. Migration to the United States results in multiple experiences and produces diverse situations where the identity of these Indigenous men is challenged through universal conceptions about how to be a father, the meaning of family, gender perceptions, and community.

In this way, the complexities in the lives of young migrant fathers are relevant in light of the actions of recent US government policies that separate families.

Key Terms

Bracero program: a temporary worker program operating from 1942 to 1964 to address the labor shortages in the 1940s caused by World War II. The original objective of the Bracero program was to employ a large, temporary labor force to harvest fruits and vegetables for US consumption.

remittances: money sent from migrants to their families residing in the country of origin.

Resources for Further Exploration


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About the author

Elizabeth Pérez Márquez holds a PhD in social anthropology from the Center for Research and Higher Education in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), Guadalajara, Mexico. Dr. Pérez Márquez is a professor at University of Guadalajara at Department of Cultural Management. Her work explores, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the diversity of fatherhood, contemporary Indigenous practices, and identities in transnational migration in Mexico and the United States.



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Gendered Lives Copyright © by Elizabeth Pérez Márquez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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