Migration to the United States from Indigenous Communities in Mexico
Research on Mexican migration to the United States has long noted how the characteristics of sending communities structure individuals’ opportunities for international movement. This literature has seldom considered the concentration of indigenous residents (those with origins in pre-Hispanic populations) in migrant-sending communities. Drawing on data from 143 communities surveyed by the Mexican Migration Project, and supplemented with data from the Mexican Census, this article uses multilevel models to describe how the share of indigenous residents in a migrant-sending community relates to different aspects of the migratory process. We focus on (1) the decision to migrate to the United States, and (2) the documentation used on migrants’ first U.S. trip. We do not find that the concentration of indigenous residents in a sending community is associated with the decision to migrate to the United States. However, we do find that people in communities with relatively high indigenous populations are more likely to migrate as undocumented rather than documented migrants. We conclude that the concentration of indigenous peoples in communities likely indicates economic and social disadvantage, which limits the residents’ possibilities for international movement.