Thesis

The experiences of first-generation Mexican immigrants in North San Diego County

The purpose of this study is to explore the narratives/stories of first-generation Mexican immigrants in North San Diego County to learn how they perceive their identity within a community that reflects strong anti-immigrant sentiments. The population for this study consisted of six immigrants that were able to regularize their immigration status to one of legal permanent residency by the implementation and enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). I conducted in-depth interviews to look at the identity formation of first-generation Mexican immigrants. The data reveal identity construction based on a country of origin rather than upon the current racial labels used in the United States. In addition, racial contact was key to shaping and creating meaning about other racial groups. Language and discrimination add to the maintenance of a country of origin identity among immigrants. Overall, this study reflects other studies about the complexities of racial formation among Latinos-in particular first-generation Mexican immigrants. Key words: Immigration, First-generation, Latino Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, IRCA (Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986), Identity formation, Race and ethnicity.

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