First Advisor

John Corbett

Date of Publication

Winter 3-21-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Mexicans -- Political activity, Mexicans -- Social life and customs, Immigrants -- Political activity -- Oregon, Transnationalism, Oregon -- Emigration and immigration



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 233 pages)


Using a mixed methods approach and expanding on the literature on immigrants' transnational civic engagement, this research explores the paths and barriers to Mexican immigrant civic, economic, political, and social engagement in both immigrants' communities of origin in Mexico and communities of residence in Oregon, a relatively new destination for Mexican immigrants. The majority of the adult Mexican population only arrived to the state of Oregon over the last 15 years. Today Latinos represent the largest racial-ethnic minority, twelve percent of the state population, with Mexicans making up 90 percent of this Latino population. Most of the Mexican immigrants in Oregon come from rural communities in Mexico, have an indigenous background, experience low levels and literacy, and up to 90 percent of the adult Mexican population is undocumented (King et al., 2011). This research modifies Paasche and Fangen's framework to better capture the civic engagement of Mexican immigrants in Oregon who lack legal status in the US and who come from an indigenous background.

The conventional wisdom is that immigrants are more engaged in their new communities the longer they have lived there, the more educated and well paid they are, and the better they speak English. Yet the majority of Mexican migrants in Oregon lack these attributes as well as legal status, but still appear to be strongly engaged in both Mexico and in the United States. Immigrants organize to pursue economic, political, and socio-cultural transnational goals in Mexico and in the U.S. Politicians, researchers, and activists in both Mexico and the United States have noted the growing importance of these migrant groups as bridges between the two nations (Rivera Salgado et al., 2005, p. 3). Transnational organizations provide immigrants with the opportunity to be civically involved with the development of their communities of origin, and at the same time also participate in social, economic and political issues in the United States. Civic participation by Mexican immigrants is of importance to Oregon's future because the majority of these immigrants have settled permanently in the United States with their families and have and will continue to affect public policy that will shape Oregon's future.


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