Continuity Amidst Change: Undocumented Mexican Migration to Arizona*


  • John P. Harner

    1. JOHN HARNER is a graduate student in the Ph.D. program in the Department of Geography at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0104. His research interests focus on regional ties between Arizona and Sonora, involving both cultural and political economy elements.
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  • *

    I would like to thank Kevin McHugh for his valuable suggestions and editorial assistance with this paper, and to acknowledge the helpful comments from three anonymous reviewers. My thanks also to Don Bergeron at the Phoenix District Office of the INS and to Lisa Harner and Barbara Trapido-Lurie for their cartographic help.


This study examines geographic patterns of undocumented Mexican migration to Arizona, utilizing Immigration and Naturalization Service records of deportable Mexican aliens. The analysis uses a comparison with known patterns for other destination states, as well as with historical information on Mexican migration to Arizona. The results reveal the importance of Arizona's unique historical connections with Mexico in formulating networks, which build on regional ties with Sonora and the greater Mexican northwest. Results also support the emergence of new migration systems, particularly the link with internal migration within Mexico through redistributor cities and migrant origins from outside of traditional sending areas.