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Undocumented Dominican Migration

By Frank Graziano

Publication Year: 2013

Based on extensive fieldwork among less-studied migrants, as well as wide-ranging, interdisciplinary research, this book offers a comprehensive understanding of the multiple, interactive factors—structural, cultural, and personal—that influence people to migrate.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

The beach is windblown and covered with debris; the palms rise gently at odd angles. Families of pigs, foraging in the scrub, menace and grunt to protest my approach before retreating at a ridiculous trot. The piglets, sidelit, give an afterglow of indecent pink. I’m heading toward a naval outpost in the distance—it’s on the beach to impede undocumented migration—...


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pp. xvii-xxii

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pp. 1-30

When Claudia boarded a migrant boat to Puerto Rico she had no idea that her migration was conditioned by globalization, neoliberalism, or even chronic poverty—she just missed her husband. He had migrated a few years earlier and Claudia was motivated by love, longing, and the anxiety that another woman would replace her. The anxiety generated a sense of ...

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pp. 31-35

For decades the town of Miches was the epicenter of organized yola voyages; now departures are less frequent. I’m heading to Miches with a maid named Alicia who is returning to visit her sister. From Las Galeras we take a guagua (public-transportation van) to Samaná on the south side of the peninsula, cross the bay by boat to Sábana de la Mar, and then take...

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Across the Mona Passage

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pp. 36-78

There are four basic types of undocumented maritime migration from the Dominican Republic. The first and most common until recent years is travel on the traditional yola, a large wooden boat (thirty to forty feet long, eight to twelve feet wide, and five to eight feet high at the bow) built clandestinely for the purpose of transporting migrants. Yolas commonly...

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pp. 79-85

Orlando’s first problem was his race. He was born with skin darker than the siblings who preceded him and his father rejected him at birth. “That’s when the problems began,” Orlando relates, and they got worse as his childhood progressed....

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The Culture of Migration

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pp. 86-120

“Dominicans have an illusion,” Silvio explains, “that they’ll get to the United States, that everything is going to be wonderful. They’re going to make easy money. Then when they get there—if they manage to get there, because many are lost in the crossing—they realize that they have really made a mistake.”...

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pp. 121-125

Marta’s story is the least dramatic but the most common: her trip failed. When I met her shortly after her attempt at migration she was living in a rented house with her husband, Sergio, and their two young daughters. Marta is from a rural village and clearly out of place in town. She reminded me of a racehorse whose gate won’t open. Strong-willed, energetic,...

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The Psychology of Migrant Motivation

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pp. 126-162

Early in my research, frustrated by the brevity of an informant’s responses, I had a realization that changed my perceptions: migrant decision making is less ponderous than a life-threatening and life-transforming transition would seem to warrant; is highly emotive in its cognition; is often inaccessible to expression; and, even when accessed, is generally articulated...

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pp. 163-167

I am lying on a damp bed in Las Galeras, reading through a pile of photocopies. A bilateral agreement, a Coast Guard budget request, another study with “transnational” in the title. The tedium is polyrhythmic: on one side someone’s bachata on auto-replay and on the other the torture of television murders backed up by competing merengues. But the next ...

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Border Enforcement

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pp. 168-216

During the 1980 event known as the Mariel boatlift, some 125,000 undocumented Cuban migrants were transported to Key West, Florida. The following year, in response to Haitian migration and mindful of the Cuban exodus, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12,324 and, simultaneously, Presidential Proclamation 4,865. The latter provided...

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pp. 217-222

The paved roads turn to dirt and then to improvised trails that get smaller and smaller until the last wet stretch—you do that on foot—descends steeply to the house. I had seen Saúl a few times during previous trips but the mood now seemed different. The shacks inhabited by his extended family were vacant, and even his wife and two kids were gone because the ...


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pp. 223-270


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pp. 271-304


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pp. 305-319

E-ISBN-13: 9780292745322
E-ISBN-10: 029274532X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292725850
Print-ISBN-10: 029272585X

Page Count: 341
Illustrations: 45 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013