Family influences on goals, remittance use, and settlement of mexican immigrant agricultural workers in Minnesota

Catherine A. Solheim, Georgina Rojas-García, Patricia D. Olson, Virginia Solis Zuiker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


International migration to seek work and remit money home is an increasingly common family strategy to overcome financial hardship. However, little is understood about family involvement in the decision to leave or how family circumstances influence migration. This qualitative study analyzed narratives of 17 agricultural workers in Minnesota and 17 of their family members in Mexico to describe their migration experiences. Results show how goals, remittances, and families shape or are shaped by the migration experience. We identified three family situations that influenced immigrants' goals, remittance use, and their length of stay. 'Target earners" (n=5) left their spouses and children in Mexico. They earned money in Minnesota and remitted as much as possible to improve their lives in Mexico. "Settlers" (n=10) lived with spouses and children in Minnesota. Their earnings were spent primarily on basic living expenses; little was left to remit more than occasionally or invest in longer-term goals. Over time, U.S. settlement emerged as a goal for this group of immigrants. "Singles" (n=2) who were not married, primarily supported parents in Mexico. They were unsure of their future goals. The decision by families to use international migration to achieve goals and improve their lives results in economic activities and social relationships that span two countries. As globalization increases mis phenomenon, it is important to expand our understanding of the realities of these complex family systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-259
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 21 2012


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