English Proficiency and Trust Networks among Undocumented Mexican Migrants

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This study explores whether being a member of a migration-trust network (MTN; social structures that immigrants create to manage the challenges of undocumented status) affects the acquisition of English language proficiency among undocumented heads of household who migrate to the United States from Mexico. The analysis shows that human capital accumulation and interactions with non-Hispanic white Americans are important to learning English in this migrant population. But it also suggests that membership in an MTN can inhibit the acquisition of English language proficiency. I use Mexican Migration Project data and other accumulated research to argue that being undocumented and participating in MTNs can deter migrants from assimilating into American mainstream society: a lack of legal status among many first-generation Mexican immigrants pushes them toward survival strategies that rely on MTNs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-119
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • collective efficacy
  • migration-trust networks
  • paisanos
  • social capital
  • undocumented immigration


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