Research and Publications

Recent Grants

The proposed project will develop a set of proposals to study how transnationalized families—shared by both the (U.S.) and Mexico—are impacted by immigration enforcement in the U.S.  Greater enforcement has disrupted the historical cyclical nature of migration between the U.S. and Mexico. Unable to enter and re-enter, undocumented immigrants have become pseudo-permanent residents in the U.S. At the same time, there has been a dramatic increase in their policing and removal. The concept of “Shared Populations” (Poblaciones Compartidas) (Figure 1) conveys the idea that the affected populations are neither exclusively Mexican nor American. As such, both countries will contend with the challenges this population presents, as well as their potential contributions to economy and society. Understanding these dynamics requires a systematically binational approach to research.

The Shared Populations Model

The dynamics depicted in Figure 1 restrict this shared population’s ability to achieve its human potential. This project will focus on effects on education, livelihoods, and health. Specific research questions include:

  1. Education: How does the uncertainty of living in the U.S. as “undocumented” impact education goal setting behaviors among children of undocumented immigrants? How are children of deported immigrants impacted by their new educational settings after they return to Mexico in terms of language, aspirations, stigma, and ethnic/cultural identity?
  2. Livelihoods: how do returnees to Mexico attempt to create a new life for themselves and their families? How are families impacted when wage earning or care-giving parents are deported and their US-born children are left in the U.S.? How do education and employment experiences of families split across the border impact decisions to remain or return to the U.S.?
  3. Health: How does the experience and stress of migration and return migration affect mental and physical health—both among mobile populations and the family they leave behind in either country?

Methods, Approaches, and the Competitive Advantage

What is innovative about this proposed research is the framework of inquiry (Figure 1). The framework is a departure from other studies that examine transnational populations in either sending states, or immigrant destinations. These easily conform to citizenship, residency, or national origin categories, which in turn are defined by international borders. But what if family units as a whole defy these categories. The framework is thus an ambitious attempt to identifying questions and methods for research that reflects and operationalizes the idea that certain socially and geographically conjoint populations defy conventional boundaries. They are somewhere in-between and this has implications for both the U.S. and Mexico.   

Members of the UA team have a proven track record of working with populations made vulnerable by their in-between state. They have used a range of methods, quantitative and qualitative that make them uniquely positioned to be competitive. To be sure, these methods are time-consuming and challenging. To gain insights into children’s and families day-to-day lives, data has been collected through home and community observations. Semi- structured interview methods have been used to gather data from primary caregivers in the home, and from women in migrant shelters. Survey research has been implemented using random sampling techniques that adhere to highly mobile populations (such as in a migrant shelter), or the more stable but more invisible populations in a large urban city in Arizona..

Approaches used that have distinguished the project team include working closely with school administrators, church groups, lay community health workers, migrant shelters, and immigrant advocacy organizations, which help to establish trust between researchers and respondents who may be apprehensive or reluctant to divulge information that may be incriminating. The lead UA team member and others collaborators have studied, reflected upon, and published on the methodological and ethical issues that emerge from identifying and reaching “hard to find” vulnerable undocumented populations.

In sum, conventional research commonly assumes that borders are fixed and that processes taking place within national boundaries can be easily separated from those outside (methodological nationalism). Many of the project team are themselves 1st and 2nd generation Mexicans living in the U.S, and as dual nationals, they move back and forth across tension-laden borders, switching seamlessly between languages and cultural settings. This ability in itself contradicts much of the thinking that the nation-state serves as a “container” of social phenomenon. In this way, project team members’ training is enriched by first-hand knowledge of what it means to belong to more than one nation and this provides access to and rapport with subject populations in a way that is innovative if not essential for the study of a population that also to large extent defies borders.


Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert

Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, Celestino Fernández, Jessie K. Finch, Araceli Masterson-Algar
University of Arizona Press, Oct 25, 2016 - Political Science - 316 pages

Undocumented Immigrants in the United States Today: An Encyclopedia of their Experiences

O’Leary, Anna Ochoa (Ed.) Undocumented Immigrants in the United States Today: An Encyclopedia of their Experiences. ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press

BMI Field Manual

“Protocol Development for the Standardization of Identification and postmortem Examinations of UBC Bodies along the U.S. - Mexico Border: A Best Practices Manual” Binational Migration Institute, University of Arizona

Unchartered Terrain: New Directions in Border Research Method and Ethics

O’Leary, Anna Ochoa, Colin Deeds & Scott Whiteford (Eds) Unchartered Terrain: New Directions in Border Research Method and Ethics. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press

Chicano Studies: The Discipline and the Journey

Anna Ochoa O'Leary (Ed.), Chicano Studies: The Discipline and the Journey, Dubuque, IO: Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Policy Briefs/Reports

A Continued Humanitarian Crisis at the Border

Martinez, Daniel E., Reineke, Robin C., Rubio-Goldsmith, Raquel, Anderson, Bruce E., Hess, Gregory L, and Parks, Bruce O.  A Continued Humanitarian Crises on the Border: Undocumented Border Crosser Deaths Recorded by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner 1990-2012.  Binational Migration Institute & Mexican American Studies Department, University of Arizona.

The ‘Funnel Effect’ and Recovered Bodies of Unauthorized Migrants

2006. “The ‘Funnel Effect’ and Recovered Bodies of Unauthorized Migrants.”  Report submitted to the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

Journal articles and Chapters


Montoya-Zavala, Erika C., and Anna Ochoa O'Leary. "Mexicanas Indocumentadas En Arizona. Politicas Migratorias de Repliegue Laboral Y Estrategias de Las Mujeres Inmigrantes." In Hogares Y Familias Transnacionales: Un Encuentro Desde La Perspectiva Humana, (Eds) José Guadalupe Rodríguez Gutiérrez, Oscar Calderón Morrillon Y Miguel Moctezuma Longoria. Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas y la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla: Juan Pablos, Editor S.A. de C.V.

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O'Leary, Anna Ochoa. "The Ethics of Culture and Transnational Household Structure and Formation." In Anthropological Visions of the U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region, Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez & Josiah Heyman (Eds), pp 177-197. Tucson, AZ: UA Press, 2016.

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O'Leary, Anna Ochoa. "Undocumented Mexican Women in the U.S. Justice System: Immigration, Illegality, and Law Enforcement." In Gender, Psychology, and Justice: The Mental Health of Women and Girls in the Legal System, Corinne Datchi & Julie Ancis (Eds). Pp. 254-279. NY: New York University Press.

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O'Leary, Anna Ochoa. "Con El Peso Peso En La Frente: A Gendered Look at the Human and Economic Costs of Migration on the U.S.-Mexico Border." In Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert: La Vida No Vale Nada. (Eds.) Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith et al.  pp. 69-96. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

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Erika Montoya, Anna O´Leary, Ofelia Woo, “Mujeres inmigrantes en Arizona y su inserción laboral. Dueñas de salones de belleza vs Estilistas informales” DOXA, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, 5(9) (ISSN: 2395-8758), p. 42-66

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Montoya, Erika, Anna Ochoa O’Leary, and Ofelia Woo.  ‘A Head-ache Every Day since the New Law’: Mexican Women in the Hair Salon Business and Anti-Immigrant Policies in Arizona. Migraciones Internacionales, 7(3): 131-162.

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O'Leary, Anna O, Sofia Gomez, and Erika C. Montoya-Zavala Stress and Fear in Immigrant Communities: Implications for Health and Human Development." Internacionales: Revista en Ciencias Sociales del Pacífico Mexicano 1(1): 150-172

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Carvajal, Scott, Cecilia Rosales, Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, Samantha Sabo, Maia Ingram, Debra McClelland, Floribella Redondo, Emma Torres, Andrea Romero, Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Zoila Sanchez, and Jill de Zapien. The Border Community & Immigration Stress Scale and Associations to Health Outcomes, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Doi:D-1 2-ooo85R

Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Colin Deeds, and Scott Whiteford.  “Introduction” IN New Directions in Border Research Methodology, Ethics, and Practice; (Eds) Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Colin Deeds, and Scott Whiteford.  Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1-26.

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Carvajal, S., C. Kibor, D. McClelland, M.Ingram, J.G. De Zapien, E. Torres, F. Redondo, K. Rodriguez., R. Rubio-Goldsmith, J.Meister, C. Rosales. “Stress and sociocultural factors related to health status among US-Mexico border farmworkers”. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Doi: D-1 2-ooo85R

O’Leary, Anna Ochoa and Gloria Ciria Valdéz-Gardea. “Neoliberalizing (Re)production: Women, Migration, and Family Planning in the Peripheries of the State.”  In Feminist (Im)Mobilities in Fortress(ing) North America: Identities, Citizenships, and Human Rights in Transnational Perspective. (Eds) Anne Sisson Runyan, Amy Lind, Patricia McDermott, and Marianne H. Marchand.  Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom: Ashgate, Gender in a Local/Global World Series. 75-94

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O’Leary Anna Ochoa, Gloria Ciria Valdez-Gardea, and Azucena Sanchez. Reflections on Methodological Challenges in a Study of Immigrant Women and Reproductive Health in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region IN New Directions in Border Research Methodology, Ethics, and Practice; (Eds) Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Colin Deeds, and Scott Whiteford.  Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 184-205.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa. “Of Coyotes, Cooperation, and Capital: Social Capital and Women’s Migration at the Margins of the State.”  In D. C. Wood & T. Matejowsky (Eds.), Research in Economic Anthropology (Vol. 32): Political Economy, Neoliberalism, and the Prehistoric Economies of Latin America. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., 133-160.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa & Sanchez, Azucena. “Mixed Immigration Status Households in the Context of Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Policies.”  In Anti-immigrant sentiments, actions and policies in North America and the European Union,” Mónica Verea (Ed).  Mexico City: Centro de Investigación sobre América del Norte (CISAN) de la Universidad Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), 157-174.

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Montoya Zavala, Erika Cecilia, Blas Valenzuela Camacho, and Anna Ochoa O’Leary. Factores que determinan la participación de las mujeres inmigrantes en actividades por cuenta propia. Una revisión bibliográfica. In Migrantes, empresarias, políticas, profesionistas y traficantes de drogas: Mujeres en la esfera pública y privada, (Ed.) Montoya Zavala, Erika Cecilia, Culiacán, Sinaloa: Juan Pablos, SA. 19-48.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa & Sánchez, Azucena. Anti-Immigrant Arizona: Ripple Effects and Mixed Immigration Status Households under 'Policies of Attrition' Considered. Journal of Borderlands Studies.  26 (1): 115-133.

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O'Leary, Anna Ochoa.  Mujeres en el Cruce: Entre la Separación y Reunificación Familiar en Epoca de (In)Seguridad.  In Retratos de Frontera: Migración Cultura e Identidad. Gloria Ciria Valdez-Gardea and Helen Balslev Clausen (Eds). Hermosillo, Sonora: Colegio de Sonora, pp. 157-186.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa. In the Footsteps of Spirits: Migrant Women’s Testimonios in a Time of Heightened Border Enforcement”. In Violence, Security, and Human Rights at the Border: Gendered Violence and Insecurity,  Kathleen Staudt, Tony Payan, and Z. Anthony Kruszewski (Eds.). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 91-112.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa, “Mujeres en el Cruce: Remapping Border Security through Migrant Mobility,” Journal of the Southwest. 51(4): 523-542

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Goldsmith, P., M. Romero, R. R. Goldsmith, M. Escobedo, & L. Khoury. Ethno-Racial Profiling and State Violence in a Southwest Barrio. Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, 34(1): 93-124.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa, The ABCs of Unauthorized Border Crossing Costs: Assembling, Bajadores, and Coyotes, Migration Letters 6(1) 27-36.

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O’Leary, Anna Ochoa, Close Encounters of the Deadly Kind: Gender, Migration, and Border (In) Security, Migration Letters 15(2): 111-122.

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Pat António Goldsmith, Mary Romero. “Aliens, “Illegal,” and Other Types of “Mexicanness”: Examination of Racial Profiling in Border Policing. In Globalization and America: Race Human Rights, and Inequality. Angela J Attery et al. (eds), Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Rubio-Goldsmith, Raquel, M. Melissa McCormick, Daniel Martinez and Inez Magdalena Duarte. “A Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: New Estimates of Deaths Among Unauthorized Immigrants.” Immigration Policy Center.Policy Brief. February 1, 2007.

Rubio-Goldsmith, Raquel, M. Melissa McCormick, Daniel Martinez and Inez Magdalena Duarte. “A Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: New Estimates of Deaths Among Unauthorized Immigrants.”

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 Koulish, Robert, E. Manuel Escobedo, Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith and Robert Warren. “Final Report of the Tucson Border Interaction Project: A Study of U.S. Immigration Authorities and South Tucson, Arizona.” May 23, 1994.