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Keywords:

  • Mexico–U.S. migration;
  • international migration;
  • unconditional cash transfers;
  • agriculture;
  • public assistance policies

Migration theories often ignore the role that states play in stimulating migration through public assistance policies. Using the case of Mexico, this article explores the role of the state as a migrant-producing actor by examining the relationship between migration and social assistance policies in the form of monetary cash transfers. It argues that direct, unconditional cash transfers, like those provided by agricultural programs such as Procampo, rather than providing the incentives needed to retain individuals in their home country, may instead be providing the resources needed to migrate, particularly if the amount of the transfer is insufficient to spur investment. Instead of discouraging migration by enhancing economic opportunities and reducing poverty, such policies can actually make it easier and more appealing for its beneficiaries to migrate.