“Offshore Workers”: The Case of Mexican 1.5 Generation Returnee Migrants Working in Mexico City's Bilingual Call Centers

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:20 AM
Room: 415
Oral Presentation
Michael DA CRUZ , LEST-UMR 7317 - Aix-en-Provence, France
Over the past few years, return migration from the U.S. to Mexico has been an increasing phenomenon. As it involves the conventional return migration, composed in its great majority by males adults who migrated to the United States in a traditional worker migration pattern, it also concerns a less common category of returnees which is composed by young people who belong to what the migration academics calls the 1.5 Generation: the children of the first generation migrants who were not born in the U.S. In the US-Mexican immigration context, it also often implies that these children are, as their parents, illegal migrants. It is estimated that today in the U.S. more than two millions individuals face such situation. When they arrive in Mexico, a country that most of them barely know, as they often grew up most of their lives in the U.S., they are confronted to limited job opportunities mostly due to the fact that they’re unskilled. As a consequence, many of them incorporate into bilingual call centers thanks to their cultural capital – English linguistic skills, American cultural codes - which are the result of their life experience in the U.S. Based on thirty interviews with 1.5-generation Mexican returnees working in Mexico City’s call centers, this paper focuses on these young return migrants as key figures of globalization, transnational and transborder processes. The aim is to highlight the factors that push them to return to their parents’ homeland and their incorporation patterns into the Mexican labor market. The analysis shows how their lack of formal diplomas  is compensated by the cultural capital gained in the U.S. and how bilingual call centers have progressively become the only job niche in Mexico for most of them. Finally, this case highlights the intimate connection between the issues of international migration and globalized economy.