Jacqueline Maria Hagan

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This interview is part of Hannah Jessen's investigation into the lives of the mothers of migration. She is studying the relationship between mother and child, the ways they support their families in a new context, the new concerns that come with raising their children in a different country, and their hopes for their families and for themselves in the future. For this particular interview, however, Jessen sought to gain the perspective of an expert in the area of migration and family. Dr. Hagan is a Sociology professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an author, and has conducted research on migration. Dr. Hagan was able to offer an academic perspective on the mother-child relationship and on the changing role of the woman in migrant families that compliments the personal stories Jessen recorded with other interviewees.



Hannah Jessen: Okay, this is Hannah Jessen, and today I am interviewing Dr. Jacqueline Hagan, professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We are in Dr. Hagan’s office in Hamilton Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday, April 7, 2014 at approximately two p.m. Good afternoon, Dr. Hagan.
Jacqueline Hagan: Hi.
HJ: Hi. Thank you so much again for doing this interview. We can start with a little introduction of yourself: where you’re from, how long you’ve been teaching, anything you’d like to share.
JH: Okay, I have been at UNC since 2005. Before that I taught at the University of Houston. I’m a graduate of the University of Texas where I received my PhD in Sociology and Demography. My mother is from Costa Rica, and my father is from the United States. He was a Foreign Service officer, so migration has been an integral part of my whole life. I’ve travelled and lived in many countries and I certainly do think that that experience has had a strong influence on my scholarly interests. So that, you know, I recognize some of the challenges in growing up in two different cultures or in multiple cultures or worlds. And I think that drew me into migration more generally and in spending most -- half my time here in the United States after I finished school and then much of my time in Central America where I’ve conducted a lot of research and spent time with family.
HJ: Okay and what countries exactly?
JH: I’m a field worker, so I’m an ethnographer. I don’t do what we often refer to as secondary analysis, heavily quantitative, but rather I go in and try to understand the hows and whys and processes related to migration. And usually I work with irregular migrants, those without authorization papers, and focus on a particular theme like religion and migration, gender and migration, family and migration, and I work in both sending and receiving areas cause as you know migrant flows are often attached to communities of origin and communities of destination. And so there’s this kind of migratory circuit that I study, and I’ve done work all throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and in many different areas in the United States, but especially the Southwest.
HJ: Okay and how long have you been teaching at UNC?
JH: Since 2005.
HJ: 2005.
JH: And I love it.
HJ: Really?
JH: Yeah.
HJ: What classes do you teach here?
JH: I teach migration and family.
HJ: Perfect.
JH: Two separate and on occasion I’ve done courses, you know, together on that topic.
HJ: Great. Well that’s exactly what we will be talking about today. So I guess to start off with broader terms, can you talk about how the family structure in Latino families in general is different or similar to families here in the States.
JH: Well, you know, I do not like to generalize a lot because there’s so much variation within the Latino community, but basically when I teach family, and I try to understand it through an ethnic lens, we recognize that the conjugal family, the nuclear family is really the core of the Western family, especially American family whereas if you look at the Latina family, still puts a tremendous emphasis on family like we do here as being the most important social institution. It’s much more extended and multigenerational. So the kinship structure is larger, more expansive. And that’s been traditionally the case and much of it around, you know, the need to draw on resources from multiple kin to assist you in many different ways. It’s, you know, some of it’s a class issue. We find the extended kin and multigenerational family is also very important and characteristic of poor minority families in the United States, right? So it’s usually the conjugal, nuclear family, that’s characteristically your white, middle class families. So I would say the Latina family is usually larger and extended kin and multigenerational.
HJ: Right, I think I’ve noticed that too. So for the last interview I had, I told you a little bit about it, was a girl who migrated with her family from Ecuador when she was in fourth grade, I believe, and she said one of the advantages she felt for the transition was that her family came together as opposed to her parents coming first and then bringing the kids later. They -- it was an experience that they all did together. So what do you think are the advantages of a family migrating together as opposed to the parents being here or one parent being here and the children still being in the home country?
JH: Oh I would agree with the young woman you interviewed that there’s enormous advantage to travelling with your family. I mean they are your core support group and integrating into society in the absence of that support group would be really difficult. One of the social phenomenon that persons studying migration and family are increasingly observing is this -- the families that are separated by physical space so that we have a number increasing trend of what we call transnational parenthood, transnational motherhood, transnational fatherhood. And it really -- transnational parenthood means really kind of understanding and analyzing how the parent-child relationship is practiced and is experienced within the constraints of physical barriers. And there are a number of reasons why -- well, there’s always -- we’ve always had transnational fatherhood. That is traditionally from Latin America. The father has gone first to in this case the United States or to the global North or to a developed country and earned money and remitted those – those resources to his family, usually the wife or his mother in the country or community of origin to help subsist. So it’s been a household strategy where the man would go first. But today, there’s been -- and especially I would say in the last twenty years -- there has been a growing demand for women in our economy. Especially as more and more middle class women like myself enter the labor force, for wage work, that we hire domestics to take care of our children.
HJ: Right.
JH: So it’s this niche -- I mean it’s in many areas, but as you see especially in domestic service. So more and more women are being drawn here, and so they are migrating on their own right, independently of their husbands. And so you have this growing phenomenon of the children being left behind in the absence of either a father or mother. And so there’s been a lot of research now on how -- who cares for that child at home and how do you parent from afar. And what are some of the challenges that parents and children face as a result, and you know in many circumstances if you have papers or if you have money, it’s not problematic, you can go back and forth. But many of the Latinos who live in our country that we know are irregular migrants. They don’t have papers, and we live in a period of very restrictive policy. There was an article in the Times today that, you know, in the last ten years, we’ve deported two million people. I would probably say about eighty percent of those are Latinas. And many of these -- it makes it very difficult given this kind of immigrant climate for fathers and mothers to travel back and forth to see their children. So these periods of separation have gotten longer and longer. And you have this growth in transnational parenthood.
[Phone rings.]
JH: And I think as I was -- we were talking about earlier, one woman who I am very close with from Guatemala, you know she left home when her child was two and had every intention when she left of bringing him to the United States and of returning home. And of course, it just never happened. He became more and more dependent. And her mother and her sister, she now supports as well to care for her child, more dependent on her remittances. And with immigration policy the way it is, she’s been unable to go back, so she’s be away now from her son for nine years.
HJ: Wow. That’s hard to imagine.
JH: And so they communicate by cell phone every day, which is kind of interesting. So there’s all this new technology.
HJ: Right.
JH: They Skype together all the time.
HJ: That’s true.
JH: But he’s also become very dependent on that money. You know, he wants new sneakers, he wants, you know, the latest clothing, and it’s a real burden on her. So she’s supporting not only herself here and trying to find a way to gain a foothold, a legal foothold, here in the United States, but also support her child, pay for his education and then take of her mother and her father and her sister. So it’s – and it’s becoming harder and harder for her to think of ever going back because she’s now American.
HJ: Right.
JH: I mean she thinks of herself as very much an American, independent, young woman. She has a career here, she works. It’d be very hard for to go back to small rural Hamlet in Guatemala and kind of fall back into traditional gender roles.
HJ: Right. Does she want to bring -- is she looking to bring her son here?
JH: She’s tried twice to bring him. And both times he freaked out on the road and went back. So she lost a lot of money that she had actually paid to coyote.
HJ: Okay.
JH: To bring -- she tried to bring her sister and her son twice.
HJ: Okay.
JH: And now she doesn’t, it’s so dangerous; the crossing has become so dangerous.
HJ: Oh yeah.
JH: You know we average what about 500 migrant deaths a year in their attempts to reach the United States that she no longer wants to put her son through any kind of ordeal like that.
HJ: Put him at risk, right.
JH: She’s hoping for some sort of immigration reform.
HJ: Yeah, aren’t we all.
JH: Yeah, she’s kept every receipt from every job she’s ever had. She pays taxes in every job she has ever had. She’s a really good citizen. She’s everything we would want, right?
HJ: Right.
JH: So we’re hoping that something will develop.
HJ: Yes, hopefully. Do you think in the case of this woman and with the mothers and the women who are coming here increasingly to work, do you think that has had a harder effect on the children left behind as opposed to when the father would just come and the mother would stay behind?
JH: Yeah, that’s a really good question. What you’re addressing here is that, is there a gender character --.
HJ: Yes, exactly.
JH: To transnational parenthood and there certainly is. Fathers are expected to provide for the material needs of their children, and that’s always been the case. And before women started migrating, either single or mothers, they would carry –--take care of the care giving, the raising of the child back home. And I don’t -- I think we still see this a little bit in our own country.
HJ: Yeah.
JH: So the problem that women who migrate here and are supporting their children at home face is they have to not only provide financial resources to their children -- in the case of this women I’m speaking about, her husband left her long ago. But she also has to provide for the emotional care.
HJ: Right.
JH: And so women just like you we have that what they call the second shift. You know, we go into the workforce everyday, we bring home the bacon but then we still got to clean up the house, and we still have to take a predominate role in childcare.
HJ: Right.
JH: And I think that’s changing a lot especially among your generation and even I think in my own marriage. My husband and I -- the household work and the childcare care, it’s much more egalitarian. But in many Latin American countries, the woman shoulders not only the material needs of her child but then in many, you know -- in this case the woman is single, and there’s a lot of common law and abandonment of family responsibilities by man, but she also has to manage the mothering from afar.
HJ: Right.
JH: And assigning those tasks to family back home, and in this case, it typically goes to other women in the family, so it goes to her mother and her sister. But I do think there’s an extra burden to the father. A father’s never been expected to worry about the emotional upbringing of the child. I’m not saying they don’t, but it’s not been expected. And with the mother it still is.
HJ: Right.
JH: And that’s been a source of real trauma and suffering for a lot of women is how they manage this from afar. And they worry about if their child is getting enough attention and being instilled with the correct values and morals and going to church and education and all of those concerns that are paramount in the reason that she migrated in the first place was to provide that for her child.
HJ: Right. And how even if the kids are here, how do you think they still try to instill those values, I guess in a new context?
JH: This is really hard. This is an interesting question. You know, some parents -- and I’m, you know, I’m thinking here, speaking much to parents that -- migrants who are generally poor who come to labor in low-wage work, whether they be working in construction or domestic service or in retail or hospitality. They often come alone and they might plan to bring their children, even if there was a possibility of bringing their children, and there -- it used to be much easier. And even if they could do it, there’s some resistance. It’s very interesting that on the one hand they see that there’s incredible educational opportunities here. But they also see that there’s all sorts of social problems in schools here that don’t exist at home. So they’re really nervous about, ‘well if we bring the child here, and we both work all the time, what would happen to our child?’
HJ: Exactly.
JH: And there’s you know, many of these come from traditional communities. Do we want to expose our children to street, to gangs, to drugs, etc.? So it is interesting. It’s some people want to bring their children here, others would prefer to provide for their education back home, and then when they’re older and adult, they choose for themselves whether they want to come.
HJ: Okay. That’s interesting.
JH: So I think there’s a tradeoff. I think there’s a tradeoff, and they’re very -- a lot of the migrants I spoke with, very concerned with the schools here and --. Chapel Hill’s an exception, of course, the public schools here are very good. But worried about children picking up the worst values of the -- you know, not the best values but the worst values of American youth here. And also facing barriers, language barriers and falling behind in school, etc.
HJ: Right. Were any of your books focused on, I guess the migrant population in this area, in Chapel Hill and Carrboro?
JH: Well this book here, Migration Miracle, which focuses on how migrants draw on faith, religion, both at a personal and institutional level to navigate the undocumented journey, several of the main characters, real persons in the book, yes, are from North Carolina.
HJ: Okay.
JH: And in fact the woman I was just speaking about. And so I asked her to read the book before publishing it, and she shared it with her children and she asked that in fact all my main characters asked that their real names be used in the book.
HJ: Wow.
JH: So they could share it with their children, and their children could understand the hardship and the suffering they went through to come to the United States to make their child’s lives better.
HJ: That’s really neat that she shared it.
JH: Yeah, it’s very cool.
HJ: Yeah.
JH: And they all have read it, their children have read it.
HJ: That’s great.
JH: Yeah.
HJ: So I guess when you were doing research for these books and in general, did you encounter any differences in the migrant population here in Chapel Hill, if it’s -- if the people who came here, the mothers feel more comfortable with their kids going to the schools, since like you said, they’re normally better here or if it’s a different atmosphere in North Carolina?
JH: Yes, that they feel if they can get their child into the schools in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, they feel very good about that. But that’s difficult since many of them live in Durham, they can’t afford to live here.
HJ: Okay, right.
JH: I would say that migrants’ families here -- you know, that’s interesting. I’ve also interviewed a number of families here who left Texas and left California and Chicago and big urban areas in New York and moved here because the quality of life was so high. That as they thought that going to a small town, be it Siler City, be it a number of small towns in Duplin County and that area, that there would be advantages since there would be, you know, it’d be a rural area, there might be good schools, there might be more attention given to their children. And they wouldn’t be exposed to kind of the street life and crime and social problems that come with living in inner city, poor, segregated neighborhoods.
HJ: Okay.
JH: So I think there’s definitely a draw here because the quality of life is better.
HJ: Okay yeah cause the two other women I’m talking about are living in this area so I just wanted to see --.
JH: And do they say the same?
HJ: I think they love the schools that their kids go to, and they seem to have a more positive outlook --.
JH: I mean there are challenges because we don’t have enough Spanish-speaking teachers here. And every school has their own way of handling this. Some of them have ESL, some of them bilingual education. So there are challenges, but we are becoming I think as a local community more and more sensitive to the needs of the immigrant population.
HJ: Absolutely, I would agree with that. Okay so you said -- another question I guess about the relationship more specifically between mother and child for those living in the States together in migrant families, does the age of the child affect its relationship with the mother, whether she brought him or her when they were little and they don’t really have memories of where they came from, as opposed to if she brought them when they were ten or twelve and maybe they left behind a different life?
JH: You know I really can’t speak too much to that, but I know that from the perspective of the migrant, they’d much rather have brought the child when they were young. I mean we know that adolescence is a really tough time for any kind of strain in the child, whether it be divorce, family separation, those are really tough especially on, well it depends, but on young boys and girls as well. I find that, you know, I’m really impressed with the mother/child relationship that I see in the Latina families here. Children are exceptionally well behaved.
HJ: Yes, it’s true.
JH: Oh exceptionally well behaved. I think of my own great nieces who are, you know, compared to them, I hate to say malcriar, but really little brats. These children are just so well behaved and, you know, strict churchgoers and very respectful of their parents, of me whenever they visit my home and -- I mean, you’ve noticed the same thing?
HJ: Yes, absolutely. I work with many Latino families --.
JH: I think it’s really interesting, it’s really interesting the way that there’s definitely a socialization experience that’s different among immigrant families.
HJ: Yes, I would agree with that.
JH: Especially first generation immigrant families.
HJ: Right.
JH: And I think that transcends Latinos. It’s Asians, it’s any group that you find.
HJ: Okay. Yeah I’m not as familiar with those since I work specifically with Latino families. But I have -- I feel like I definitely have noticed that in the families that I know really well. Do you think there’s a difference -- so you said younger is generally better to bring them when they’re young?
JH: Well, I think so. I mean coming at three or four and -- is going to be a lot easier than someone coming at ten or eleven and be thrown into school and not have the language.
HJ: Right.
JH: And the social skills and understand any of the cultural processes and values. It could be very much difficult. But I think this is a general in childhood development, that the adolescence is, you know -- I can remember mine.
HJ: Oh yeah.
JH: Tough period, right?
HJ: Absolutely.
JH: And you know, you go through a period where there’s incredible, even rejection of your parents, right, as you come of age. So I think to bring migration into the equation is very difficult. But we find this in studies of family separation and transitions, divorces, major events in one’s life. It’s usually the case that it’s easier -- you know, when we think of divorce, it’s always easier, do it when the children are small. If you wait too long it’s going to be much more difficult.
HJ: Right, it’ll be harder. Do you think that there’s a difference -- and again this is a general question that might be hard to investigate into -- but do you think it’s a different -- it makes a difference whether the child is a boy or a girl? Is it easier for young girls to adapt or young boys or is it kind of hard to say?
JH: I mean some of the research shows that -- for example, we’re talking about transnational parenthood -- that it’s especially hard on the young girls left behind.
HJ: When their mothers leave them?
JH: Mhmm.
HJ: Okay.
JH: With regards to how they adapt and adjust here whether they’re boys and girls, I really don’t know. I do know that there’s a tendency among -- I know this especially among Latina families and especially in urban areas -- to lock down your children. You know like, the girls keep them at home. So you’re very protective of them.
HJ: Oh, I see.
JH: Because you don’t want them to be exposed to any of the social ills. There have been studies to show that boys are given a lot more freedom. Girls, there’s high expectations in school, they’re expected to come home right after school. It’s a term of this kind of a lock down child. And that we see in Latino immigrant communities. We also see it in some Asian immigrant communities as well. So I think it can be -- you know, I think there are different standards for immigrant families when it comes to their children, whether they’re boys or girls. I think it’s the same. I think we find the same thing in the American families especially when I was growing up it was very much the same.
HJ: Right.
JH: Boys were given a lot more freedom than girls.
HJ: Right. So generally it’s harder on the girls not to have that motherly figure in their lives?
JH: Definitely, definitely.
HJ: I would imagine so. Okay.
JH: Because the mother was always essential to the emotional welfare as well.
HJ: Yeah, definitely. So for the families who do come here together like my
friend that I interviewed and the child comes when they’re young and they kind of grow up here, is their relationship with the parents -- does it become more strained the older they grow as the child is adapting to American culture, is speaking English in most places other than the home?
JH: Yeah I think it depends. I mean -- you know as any individual goes through life transitions, their relationships with their families are challenged. As you know we were talking earlier about adolescence, going off to college, etc. I think that the second generation or 1.5 generation or those who come when they’re young and they’re with their parents, they have certain challenges. They are negotiating often the world for the parents.
HJ: Right.
JH: We see this a lot where they are the intermediary: that they’re often expected to do the translations to navigate things for their parents. There’s also huge pressure on them because they’re the second generation. ‘I gave up everything for you, and now it’s your turn to prove us, you know, to demonstrate that what we did was meaningful.’
HJ: To make it worth it.
JH: To make it worth it. So there’s a tremendous pressure on second generation or 1.5 generation children to do well, to make their parents proud. And some can -- some do it and some don’t. I mean there’s all sorts of factors playing in there. I, you know, I think having a second language is an advantage for many immigrant children.
HJ: Oh yeah.
JH: And they’re able to use that. In other cases it’s, you know, the pressure’s really great.
HJ: Right. And in terms of language, does it -- is cultural miscommunication, does that ever become a problem within the families, especially for children who were here young and maybe they can speak Spanish but they don’t know how to read or to write it as well. Does that have an impact on the parents and does it make that difficult?
JH: I think the real issue that comes when children are young is that the parents don’t have enough English themselves to come forward and represent their children. So they’re not as, for example, involved in schools, they’re more likely to be very uninvolved in schools. And we lack the outreach programs to reach out to these parents. They’re either too busy working, they don’t have the language skills, they don’t have the legal status, so they’re intimidated to get involved. And you know we as, you know, nonimmigrant families, our parents are always very involved in our schooling, and we’re encouraged to do so. So I think that’s where the real problem exists.
HJ: Okay, just the fact that the parents weren’t able to be involved whether it was because they’re --.
JH: Cause they don’t know the language so they’re relying on their children and their children may need them to.
HJ: Okay so there may be a disconnect in that way where the kids have this outside life that the parents can’t be a part of.
JH: Yes, yeah.
HJ: Okay, interesting. Do you -- do you feel like, I guess -- is it harder for -- well, you’ve done -- you’ve done a lot of research with deportation policy right?
HJ: Have you -- have you encountered any cases where parents had to be sent home and the children were allowed to stay here, whether they were covered under the DREAM Act or they were born here?
JH: No I have come across cases where the person was deported and the children were put into foster care.
HJ: Oh my goodness, okay.
JH: It’s become a great -- a big issue. There’s an article today in the Times about deportations but we have -- I can’t get into specific cases but I could think of at least ten cases that I know of.
HJ: Oh wow.
JH: Where children have been picked up by Social Services.
HJ: Okay.
JH: Child Protective Services when their parents or one parent was deported. And their parents are in Mexico trying to find out where their children are.
HJ: And it wasn’t an option for the children to go back with them?
JH: They’re picked up. The parents are just picked up and they’re put right away into detention and they’re gone. The children are picked up by Social Services. There’s no connection there. There are a few cases where you know the parents -- you know let’s say the mother is sent back to Mexico and the father is already there, their children have been picked up by Child Protective Services, you know, parents never came to pick them up at school for example. They go into Child Protective Services. In some cases the social worker might try to locate, for example, go to the consul and say can you help us locate these parents in Mexico. And there’s great communication, and the child could be sent back. In other cases, there -- they might not be able to find the parent, there might be not enough initiation taken by a social worker. The child could stay in protective services for years and then eventually go into foster care.
HJ: Wow.
JH: And they could be very young, but it’s not that common. I think the figure that I looked at in the paper today, I think it was -- they now have about 5,000 children of deportees in foster care.
HJ: Wow.
JH: And some of them are very young.
HJ: Within this year or how --?
JH: I don’t know, I don’t know the time period.
HJ: Okay.
JH: But it’s not uncommon, and I know this from interviews with the consulate general here and the consulate that it’s becoming a real problem, family separation.
HJ: So separation --.
JH: So it’s not just leaving children behind there, it’s leaving children behind here, that you’re being rushed out, and you don’t have time to get your children.
HJ: Okay, that’s what I was about to say, that the separation -- when we think of separation within migrant families, we think it was their choice to have the parents come here. But I guess in 5,000 cases it wasn’t.
JH: Yes, it wasn’t their choice.
HJ: Wow, that’s hard to imagine. I guess -- this is kind of shifting the subject a little bit unless you had anything else about that --.
JH: No, it’s fine.
HJ: Okay, so talking about -- we’ve talked a lot about the relationship between the mother and the children, but how does the relationship between the wife and husband shift or change as -- during the migration process, whether they’re split up, whether they come together?
JH: Well, you know, migration for many women especially coming from very traditional societies and communities, which a lot of the women that I’ve worked with do come from, can often be an empowering and liberating experience. Often they were not in the wage labor market at home. So this is the first opportunity for them to earn their own wages. That could be very liberating. They also adopt some values like egalitarianism here, freedom, and so I think that there can be some tension in the relationship. Often you know when let’s say a couple is married and they’re back in a small community in Guatemala, they have the parents and the community watching over and everyone’s adhering to norms, but now they’re on their own. And I’ve seen it over and over again where women have adopted values from here: cut their hair, changed their dress, etc. Especially from indigenous communities, and this could be very threatening to men which is often why a lot of the migrant men will go back home to get a wife cause they’re going to be more traditional versus coupling with somebody who’s already here who’s a migrant. So I think the real challenge is in the relationship for a couple here, yes. Some of it’s change in gender roles, not having the parents here, a lot of infidelity, we know that. There’s been a lot of that so --. And then often you know both the man migrates and the woman stays back. Sometimes he might just stop remitting, he might develop a new family here.
HJ: Right, a new life.
JH: And we see that over and over again as well. So there’s, you know, there’s -- migration can be really tough on the family. You know I don’t, I do think it’s -- if you were to say is it good or bad, I would probably err towards the bad because it has huge costs for the family but they don’t really -- most migrants don’t have a choice. They don’t want to leave their family, they don’t want to leave their community.
HJ: Right.
JH: They don’t want to leave all that they know and hold dear. They just want to make a better life for their children. And this is the best way they know how.
HJ: Okay and then kind of going on that, also my friend that I interviewed, she said one of the hardest parts about the migration experience was the fact that both her parents were working, and she had to raise her little sister in some ways. Is that -- I imagine that’s a common thing in these families where both parents have to work to make ends meet?
JH: Well most -- most children in the United States now grow up with dual working or dual career families. It’s just that we have wealth. We can hire someone else to come take care of them.
HJ: Okay.
JH: It might be that, you know, the migrants, I don’t know they may work more hours, they might not be able to spend as much quality time with their children. But I think Americans in general, I think this is becoming the norm now.
HJ: So it’s becoming the norm for the migrant families who are living here as well then?
JH: Mhmm.
HJ: Okay that makes sense.
JH: It’s just they work such long hours often so they might work seven days a week.
HJ: And at inconvenient times too, maybe when the kids are out of school.
JH: Yeah, exactly.
HJ: Okay, well those are --.
JH: And often they’re working for other women’s children. Taking care of other women’s children.
HJ: Yeah, that’s true.
JH: And not being able to be with their own children.
HJ: How is that on them psychologically?
JH: You know it’s really interesting. I’ve spoken to a number of immigrants who have left their children back in -- back at home and have a really difficult time with wrestling with that, taking care of other mothers’ children.
HJ: Cause they feel guilty or --?
JH: Huge guilt.
HJ: Okay. And on the children’s part, do they -- do they feel jealousy or --?
JH: They, you know, they’re not aware of their mother’s situation really.
HJ: Okay.
JH: But it is kind of an interesting irony.
HJ: It is.
JH: You know that we’re hiring working class women, as supposed feminists, working class women to care for our children. And they’re caring for our children so that they can send home funds for their own children.
HJ: That is interesting.
JH: It kind of has created an inequality.
HJ: Right.
JH: Or furthering inequality among different groups of women.
HJ: Yeah that’s an interesting dynamic to look into, I hadn’t thought about that, what sort of impact emotionally that would have on the migrant mothers doing that kind of work.
JH: Well I think it builds up. Studies have shown that over time, it starts to build up resentment. Especially if they can’t come home, and they see other children growing up and etc. So you can imagine. At first it, you know, seems like -- of course they get very attached to these children, but I can imagine there’s quite a bit of, you know, guilt.
HJ: They get attached to the children that they’re working with?
JH: Yes, yes. Very much so. But there’s a tremendous amount of guilt and a little bit of resentment and anger.
HJ: Okay well, I know we’re running out of time and that you’re busy but I didn’t know if you wanted to talk a few minutes I guess about the current research that you’re doing or any final thoughts.
JH: Right now I am doing research on labor markets and migration. So I’m really not working on issues of family. I continue to work on the deportation issue, and we -- but in general my work is on labor markets right now. But I would imagine that at some point I might return to working on family migration.
HJ: Okay, what’s your favorite area to kind of look into when it comes to migration?
JH: I love it all.
HJ: All of it?
JH: I really enjoy my work. I had a lot of fun with this book.
HJ: Which one is it?
JH: This is Migration Miracle, which was, you know, actually tracing how migrants use religion throughout the journey to come to the United States. So that was a lot of fun because it involved so much culture and visiting sacred places and shrines and throughout Central America and Mexico. This project spawned the one I’m doing now because I’m spending half my time in Mexico and half my time here.
HJ: Okay, where exactly in Mexico?
JH: In Guanajuato.
HJ: Great!
JH: I’m actually this -- this survey I just finished was in León. So I’m sure you went there. Did you go?
HJ: I actually was not able to go but my class went -- they went to Guanajuato and to the surrounding communities.
JH: I’m sure they remember León because it’s the shoe capital of Mexico. I think maybe I talked in your class last year.
HJ: Really?
JH: I don’t know if you were there, but I told all the girls to stop and go to the plaza de zapatos because it has the best shoes.
JH: Yeah, Guanajuato is lovely. So it’s -- that’s where I’ve done a lot of research on this for this book.
HJ: Okay.
JH: And I’ll probably be down there next summer as well.
HJ: Were you doing interviews down there?
JH: Yeah, interviews. And unfortunately, you know, I’ve stayed in Guanajuato City which is just beautiful, but this summer when I go I’m going to have to stay in León which is kind of a large, industrial city. It’s not as nice, but it’s where I’m going to do the work.
HJ: Okay, great. Well thank you for your time.
JH: You’re very welcome.
HJ: I appreciate it.
JH: You’re very welcome, good luck.
HJ: Thank you so much.