The Industry of Migrant Mobility: Bastard Institutions and Infrastructures in the Eastern and Western Migratory Corridors of the U.S.-Mexico Border

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Ruben HERNANDEZ-LEON , Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Efren SANDOVAL-HERNANDEZ , CIESAS-Programa Noreste, CIESAS-Programa Noreste, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
The international migration scholarship has paid little attention to the actors, institutions and infrastructures that facilitate migrant mobility.  In this paper, we use the concept of migration industry as “bastard institution” and “infrastructure” to analyze migrant mobility in two corridors of the United States-Mexico border: the Monterrey-Texas or eastern corridor and the Tijuana-California or western corridor.  Coined by sociologist Everett Hughes, bastard institutions are chronic deviations from established institutions, which provide alternative distribution channels of goods and services.  The migration industry can be conceptualized as a bastard institution in that such industry and its actors provide alternatives to state sanctioned mobility across international borders.  We also conceptualize the migration industry as infrastructure, that is, as institutionalized means which facilitate migrant mobility.  How did a migration industry of migrant mobility emerge in the eastern and western corridors of the U.S.-Mexico border?  Who are the migration entrepreneurs that facilitate and develop the infrastructures of migrant mobility?  How do segments of the migration industry of migrant mobility go from being a bastard institution to become a legitimate institution? What differences and similarities exist between the industry and infrastructures of migrant mobility of the Monterrey-Texas and Tijuana-California migratory corridors and what accounts for them?  We answer these research questions using data from a multiyear ethnographic and qualitative study of transportation networks on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.