Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level



World Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Almenara, Erika and Rosales, Steven

Committee Member/Reader

Bell, Steven

Committee Member/Second Reader

Dowdle, Andrew


The experience immigrants have today working and living in the southern United States is defined by systems that have developed out of lingering racist attitudes and reactions toward these individuals. The flow of people across the U.S.-Mexico border has a long history, and it is characterized by patterns that have continued from early guest worker programs to the present-day flow of migrants, both legal and undocumented. Also continually present is the racialization of these migrants, which has often forced them to work and live as marginalized members of American society. This project will explore the establishment of Mexican American citizen and immigrant workers in the Southwest U.S. and will follow the shift of these peoples’ focus to the east, in states like Arkansas and Mississippi, working in the poultry industry. Immigrants from Mexico and Central America and their descendants have come to constitute a significant portion of agricultural workers in the South, which is a region where White Americans have historically treated racial minorities poorly. Years of shifting immigration policy have made the process of immigrating legally more difficult, yet corporations are continually reliant on immigrant workers who they underpay and exploit. The struggles experienced by immigrant parents translates to the hardships their children can often face, with Latinx youth becoming more prevalent in the U.S. foster care system and in child welfare investigations. The countless stressors that immigrant parents face from the institutional obstacles and complicated social environment distract from the already-demanding job of parenting. Considering present anti-immigrant rhetoric that assigns negative traits to these individuals, it becomes increasingly important to highlight how several of the hardships they face are not the result of any supposed inherent incapability. Rather, these obstacles are derived from the oppressive policies and ongoing racist tendencies in the region.


Immigration, Latinx, Labor Exploitation, U.S. Immigration History, Immigrant Families