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The Chicken TrailFollowing Workers, Migrants, and Corporations across the Americas$

Kathleen C. Schwartzman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451164

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451164.001.0001

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Exit Mexico: “Si Muero Lejos De Ti”

Exit Mexico: “Si Muero Lejos De Ti”

(p.130) 8 Exit Mexico: “Si Muero Lejos De Ti”
The Chicken Trail

Kathleen C. Schwartzman

Cornell University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the extent to which globalization, in the form of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), transformed, ruined, or reconfigured the poultry industry and fueled emigration in Mexico. It first considers how trade and Mexican government policy shifts contributed to rural impoverishment and goes on to discuss the responses of those affected. Some small producers organized protests, while others opted for “exit,” abandoning their nonsustainable agricultural activities and emigrating. The chapter argues that NAFTA-mandated poultry imports led to a rural exodus not only because imports undermined the backyard production of poultry, but also because poultry was part of rural survival—one that was becoming less sustainable. Neoliberal reforms, which began during the “lost decade” of the 1980s and continued into the 1990s, unleashed changes that contributed to poverty and labor displacement in the countryside.

Keywords:   globalization, North American Free Trade Agreement, poultry industry, emigration, Mexico, trade, imports, neoliberal reforms, poverty, labor displacement

Emigration from Mexico is not new. 1 Numerous researchers have identified the U.S.-Mexico wage differential as the major factor, even more than joblessness. As Huntington (2004) argues, with a five-to-one income differential between the United States and Mexico (in 2003), migration is inevitable. Beyond the customary cost-benefit analysis that drives migrants, specific historical factors have affected the flow. In addition, improved transportation networks make travel easier for individuals of varying ages and physical capabilities. By the 1990s, many more people could exercise their “exit” option.

I return to the original question: To what extent did globalization in the form of NAFTA transform, annihilate, or reconfigure poultry production and fuel emigration? As with the commercial producers, the NAFTA effect on rural barnyard producers can be traced through direct (prices) and indirect (reform) paths. My argument is not that NAFTA-mandated poultry imports led to a rural exodus solely because imports undermined the backyard production of poultry. Rather, it is that poultry was part of rural survival—one that was becoming less sustainable. (p.131) Highlighting poultry adds one more component to the scholarly work demonstrating the injurious effects of commodity imports. 2 The study of poultry production demonstrates the local consequences of globalization. To connect globalization, poultry, and migration, I use the following syllogism: imported foodstuffs contributed to the impoverishment and nonsustainability of rural production systems; the rural economy was dominated by “family production units” (unidades de produccion familiar) employed in diverse agricultural and livestock production, including poultry; and many of those experienced impoverishment and were forced to abandon their traditional agricultural activities.

In this chapter, I describe how trade and Mexican government policy shifts contributed to rural impoverishment and the responses of those affected. “Exit” was a widespread response, but certainly there were noteworthy cases of small-producer organized protests. In July 2000, for example, five thousand sugar cane farmers converged on the capital to protest imports. In January 2001, protesters in the state of Sinaloa demanded that the government impose higher import tariffs on U.S. corn. In July 2001, farmers gathered at the customs station in Chihuahua to turn back U.S. grain shipments. In July 2001, rice farmers in Campeche took control of two cereal plants and demanded that the government renegotiate their loans (Thompson 2001). Fearing a crisis, hog farmers asked the federal government to save the sector by demanding that importers consume a fixed percentage of the national production. That sector, which employed some three hundred thousand people, was suffering, they said, from massive imports and declining prices, scarce financing from the public sector, corrupt customs rules, and a lack of necessary infrastructure (Espinosa 2003). In 2003, hog farmers from central Mexico, angry over NAFTA, protested imported meat. In 2008, about a hundred Mexican farmers partially blocked the border crossing between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, carrying signs that read, “Without Corn There Is No Country” (Tobar 2008). Overall, protesters were unsuccessful in obtaining trade protection or regaining state assistance. Miller, whose analysis regarding commodity protectionism was noted earlier, hypothesized that government-driven remedies (for instance, protection for corn in Mexico or culture in Canada) were most likely to ensue only when the government feared that the social disruptions could threaten the trade policy agenda (2002, 29). The Mexican government apparently felt that the protests did not rise to this level.

(p.132) Some engaged in protest, but many exercised “exit.” President Vicente Fox was quoted as saying that Mexico lacked the resources for such trade protection and that producers would have to be creative (“que se tendria que usa la creatividad”) (Espinosa 2003).They were creative; they abandoned their nonsustainable agricultural activities and emigrated.

The Countryside

The rural population (around 20 million) makes up from one-fifth to one-fourth of Mexico (Abundis 2003; Burstein 2007, 7; DeWalt and Rees 1994; Fleck and Sorriento 1994, 9; Huerta 2001; Rosenberg 2003, and Wise 2004). Rural workers made up 27 percent of the Mexican labor force in the 1990s, in contrast to about 3 percent in the United States in 1993 (Fleck and Sorriento 1994, 9). Historically, the Mexican countryside was typified by less efficient and more self-sufficient farming providing a precarious source of income. Naturally, portraits of small landholders vary by region, but authors typically describe production units as small plots with a prevalence of cows, corn, and hogs. Private land holdings were unevenly distributed. In 1990, 67 percent of all private property holders collectively had less than 1.1 percent of the total area, whereas the top 1 percent held more than 75 percent of the area. The majority of the holdings were small. In the early 1990s, 59.5 percent of farmers cultivated less than 5 hectares, and 32.7 percent cultivated between 5 and 20 hectares (Zepeda 2000, 13). For maize, 49 percent of the nearly three million producers worked between 4 and 8 hectares, and productivity levels were low. Small corn farmers grew for home consumption or for sale in a local or regional market, often used manual and animal traction, and applied as much fertilizers and pesticides as household incomes would allow (King 2006, 1). In northern rural areas of Sonora, those without land worked as day laborers and supplemented their diet with home-reared chicken, fruit, and vegetables. The small holders had some cows that were used for producing beef and milk. Acuna described a Michoacán village of two thousand people in the 1970s as having slightly larger production units. In addition to growing sorghum and other commercial crops, those ejidatarios operated a pig farm with about seven hundred animals and were contemplating a poultry industry (1981, 14).

(p.133) Poultry was an integral part of this rural life. In Chihuahua, SAGARPA’s 2003 census registered 101,811 rural households with chickens (a total of 509,111 birds—an average of five per household). In the state of Michoacán, where SAGARPA was combating avian influenza, its technicians identified the target area of 40,000 rural households with a total of 6 million birds, an average of 25 birds per household. This small number of birds per household was in contrast to forty-seven large establishments in Michoacán with an average of 321,447 birds each (SAGARPA 2005). Family poultry production for subsistence (traspatio) could be found in practically all rural areas. 3

The Mexican government recognizes the importance of traditional poultry production as part of overall rural subsistence. The traspatio system provides needed nutrition to rural residents in zones where formal markets are absent (Villamar 2001, 16). Although the meat may be of minimal quality and not particularly profitable, its rustic nature and suitability to local conditions permit its survival. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food stressed the importance of the high protein levels of chicken and eggs for the dietary well-being of rural residents and, in the event of a small surplus, the possibility of a modest income from sales. Rural enterprises also take maximum advantage of household labor. Under the umbrella of SAGARPA, the subsecretary for rural development produced pamphlets providing details on topics like how to construct chicken coops and how to feed and attend to the sanitary conditions of hens and chickens. 4 SAGARPA also praised the French system, where 30 percent of the market is supplied by small-scale organic farmers (2007b, 26).

Maria Jesus, now in her 80s, resident of a village of about a thousand inhabitants in the Yaqui Valley outside of Hermosillo, Son., recalled poultry’s place in the family diet. 5 They used their ejido and small plot of land for cattle grazing and growing grains for feed. They sold milk and calves. Typically there were about a dozen hens in the yard, which provided eggs for daily consumption and, periodically, meat. 6 Until the 1970s, eggs were occasionally exchanged for other local commodities in a barter system called tenda de raya. Only in the 1990s did they regularly purchase poultry from a local outlet. Carmen, from the same village, remembered that in the 1970s, they had about fifteen hens, one rooster, and an average of ten chicks. 7 The family ate eggs daily, and chicken two to three times a week.

(p.134) Her mother killed and cleaned the birds. As a child, she and three friends partook of the tenda de raya system. They would wait until about one o’clock in the afternoon, when her grandmother was napping, take some eggs from the hen house, and exchange them for candies at the village store. On special occasions, such as a birthday party, the family would buy chicken from other residents in the village. In the early 1970s, on the village outskirts, Gilberto operated a poultry farm with about three hundred chickens. He would kill about twenty-five at a time and deliver them to a local store. They had to be bought immediately. He died around 1978, and his farm closed. Carmen’s recollection is that somewhere in the early 1980s, the backyard supply was supplemented by a vendor who brought chickens from Hermosillo, about two hours away.

This village portrait is similar to what I heard from Rosario (pseud.), who had lived in a town near Magdalena de Kino in Sonora. She told me that in the 1960s and 1970s, her family had about thirty hens and two roosters in the yard. It was part of their milpa (farm) operation, which included fruits and vegetables for home consumption. They sold calves for income. They ate eggs every morning and sometimes in the evening, and they ate chicken about twice a week. When there was a surplus (eggs or chicken), it was sold, exchanged, or given away. Children also exchanged surplus eggs for candies brought by a vendor who came around in a truck. In 1975, as her father aged, they started buying poultry from a local producer in Magdalena whose operation had about five hundred broilers. He closed around 1995. Rosario also described the “illegal” or “contraband” chicken (pollo americano) that was available in the 1980s. She recalled that it was brought from the United States at night on trucks, transferred to cars, and sold at the local stores. It came in a large box and included whole chickens and parts. She remembers asking the store owner, “Do you have pollo americano?” The owner would go to the back of the store to fetch it. She thought it was better quality than the local chicken. She also remembers that people thought that they had stomach ailments from lombrizes (worms) because local farmers let chickens roam freely, and they often ate human waste (pers. comm. 2008).

The presence of poultry was also recorded in the Mexican Migration Project data (MMP118). The MMP employs an ethnosurvey, combining techniques of ethnographic fieldwork and representative sampling to (p.135) gather qualitative and quantitative data. 8 The data provide a profile of 118 Mexican communities over roughly fifteen years located in twenty-one states. The database contains 18,804 household interviews conducted in Mexico between 1982 and 2007. The survey was administered to households located in ranches (ranchos with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants); towns (pueblos having 2,500 to 10,000 inhabitants); mid-sized cities (10,000 to 100,000 inhabitants); and metropolitan areas. Interviewers inquired about the number of chickens that bring some income to the household (table 8.1). Only 14.3 percent of the 19,000 households reported having chickens, but it is higher in pueblos and ranchos (17.1% and 33.9%, respectively). This may be an underestimation of the actual bird count, because the interviewer asks for information about “non-domestic animals” that bring “some income” to the household (Durand et al. 2005, 27). My own conversations in the Sonoran village (in the MMP classification, a rancho) indicate that the primary function of the backyard stock was household consumption. Such poultry would have escaped the MMP count. Of MMP households that reported having chicken, 80.5 percent had fifteen or fewer, a number suggesting self-sufficiency. I divided their sample into two time periods: 1982–96 and 1997–2007. In comparing those time periods for the pueblos and the ranchos, it appears that the percentage of households having chickens in the pueblos did not change, but in the ranchos, the percentage dropped from 38 percent to 30 percent. In both cases, the average number of chickens remained about the same between the two periods (table 8.1). My analysis of these data produces a portrait that coincides with one drawn from other data: poultry had a presence in the most rural areas, and its presence declined after 1996.


NAFTA brought an end to this rural life. Imports and increasing industrialization of domestically produced poultry changed the life of small rural producers. If they could afford to, those who had maintained backyard hens for home consumption increasingly found it more convenient to purchase poultry “parts.” The low price of poultry and eggs led to a reduction in the number of households with chickens and hens. Small (p.136)

Table 8.1. Mexican rural distribution of poultry

% of households that have chickens

Average number of chickens per household of those that have chickens

Pueblos (category 3)

   1982–1996 (N = 467)



   1997–2002 (N = 492)



Ranches (category 4)

   1982–1996 (N = 700)



   1997–2002 (N = 637)



Source: Author’s calculations based on data from MMP file (MMP118).

commercial producers of fresh and perishable whole chickens were unable to compete with frozen or chilled poultry parts. Nevertheless, as late as 2007, SAGARPA reports that while industrial poultry production met the demands of large urban areas, it generated no benefits for rural communities. Because small producers have been less and less able to compete with industrialized chicken (foreign or domestic), they abandoned their traditional poultry activities. SAGARPA judged this lamentable because rural enterprises require minimum capital investment yet occupy an important niche in rural community survival (2007b, 26–27).

Several case studies have documented the negative effects of trade on Mexican production. Oxfam describes a corn producer in Chiapas who had a crop that guaranteed a minimum income and some surplus for family consumption throughout the year. In last few years, he reported, while the price of corn fell, production costs hit the roof (2003, 5). Thompson (2001) estimates that there are 3.5 million corn growers and that imports have left them with 2.4 million tons of unsold corn. Pickard (2005) estimated that roughly 15 percent of the population depended on growing corn; when the Mexican government chose to forego collecting the allowed import tariffs on corn and beans, farmers were unable to compete with the cheaper U.S. corn. So too with imported U.S. pork, which in 2003 sold for about two-thirds the price of Mexican pork. As Tayler writes, “One-third of Mexico’s hog farmers have gone out of business since NAFTA dropped tariffs on U.S. pork from 80 percent in 1994 to zero in 2001” (2003). Mexico’s negative agricultural (p.137) balance of trade with the United States was growing. The average agricultural trade deficit between Mexico and NAFTA partners grew during the 1990s. Mexico’s agricultural exports to NAFTA partners rose, but food imports from NAFTA partners rose much more, generating a growing commercial deficit (Rosenzweig 2005). Millions of small farmers suffered.

Neoliberal Shifts in State–Civil Society Relationships

Mexicans are fleeing livelihoods devastated by the shift from a regulated and protected system of rural production to one open to the global market. A single trade agreement, of course, cannot be held solely responsible for Mexico’s rural collapse. As was the case with the commercial producers, the state–civil society relationship changed radically for traspatio producers. Agricultural production is always vulnerable to the vicissitudes of nature and the market, but historically, the government had modulated such fluctuations through subsidized inputs, credits, and price guarantees. Most Mexican farmers were never rich, but rural households were becoming even less sustainable, and those renting land had a hard time accessing state-funded support programs (Oxfam 2003, 9).

Narrowing “globalization” to NAFTA-only commodity flows would lead to an underestimation of the true effect of globalization. Here, as above, I expand the model to include other global events that brought labor displacement to the traspatios: the 1982 debt renegotiations, the 1986 adherence to GATT, and domestic policies that were reactions to earlier stages of global integration. Once again, it was not only the invisible hand of the market that brought globalization to Mexico’s small landholders; it was also exogenous agents (such as the Wall Street Bond raters and the IMF) that pressured Mexico to restructure its state–civil society relations.

In 1991, Mexico’s undersecretary of agriculture, Luis Téllez, predicted dramatic changes in agriculture. He estimated that, within the following decade, the share of Mexico’s economically active population in agriculture would drop from 26 to 16 percent, thanks to President Salinas’s three rural reforms, “the North American Free Trade Agreement, the withdrawal of government subsidized production supports for family farming and a (p.138) Constitutional reform that encouraged individual titling of agrarian reform lands” (Fox and Bada 2008, 437).

Otero (2004) divides Mexico’s politics of production into three periods: 1940 to 1983 (the commitment to ISI), 1985 to 1995 (the move toward a neoliberal political economy); and post-1995 (post-NAFTA). These also correspond to the major shifts in the state–civil society relationship for small farmers. During the first period, agriculture might have been inefficient, but efficiency was not the priority. The objectives of the ejidal system were subsistence and employment in exchange for political support. Agrarian policies also assisted the post–World War II industrial push by guaranteeing foodstuffs for the growing urban industrial population (Alonso 2002). Programs embodied the gains of the Mexican Revolution (1917) and their reaffirmation under Cardenas, the populist president (1934–40). The rural peasantry benefited from the agrarian reforms and unprecedented land distribution programs that Cardenas imposed. Their political support was organized in the National Peasant Confederation (Confederación Nacional Campesina). Land redistribution continued under President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–70) and President Luis Echeverría (1970–76), who together divided 32.9 percent of all hectares ever distributed from 1917 to 1976. The land redistribution system met its demise in 1992.

In the early period, development programs along with capital infusions attended to the vitality of this sector and the prosperity of its workers. Government rural assistance encouraged capitalization (technical support, subsidies for fertilizer and electricity, marketing) and provided countercyclical assistance (price controls, import barriers, credit, insurance) along with safety-net programs. CONASUPO, the state-owned enterprise, was committed to maintaining the purchasing power of low-income consumers and the income of small “basic crop” producers. Pursuant to the first goal, its stores sold basic products at lower prices. To small producers, it sold fertilizer and seeds at low prices and promoted domestic commerce and distribution of goods.

Guaranteed price supports contributed to rural survival. From 1965 to 1988 (with a few exceptions), prices paid by the government to the producers of commodities such as corn, wheat, sorghum, and soy were above international levels. Between 1980 and 1988, corn prices were at least double the international price (Huerta 2001, 147). Despite this, some rural workers were displaced. In the earlier period, however, they were absorbed into the growing industrial and service sectors (first the Mexican and later the (p.139) Border Industrial Program and maquiladora programs). Before NAFTA, rural sustainability depended on government assistance.

Faced with the 1982 debt crisis, Mexico accepted the structural adjustment programs outlined by the IMF as a condition for acquiring short-term financing and a renegotiated debt. The SAPs necessitated privatizing, reducing the size of the government, and consenting to foreign investment. In order to acquire the foreign currency needed for debt service, Mexico had to allow the entry of foreign goods. In reality, what appeared as “domestic policies” of the 1990s were prerequisites or byproducts of Mexico’s global integration. The neoliberal agenda, continuing the pattern established by the SAPs in the 1980s, took the form of exhorting emerging markets to privatize and open up to direct and portfolio equity investment (Schwartzman 2006). In Mexico, this was accompanied, in December 1994, by a currency devaluation that led to high interest rates, in turn restricting domestic investment and employment.

These neoliberal reforms, starting during the “lost decade” of the 1980s and continuing into the 1990s, unleashed changes that contributed to the poverty that large segments of the countryside experienced. They did away with protections from global competition and many of the countercyclical and safety-net programs, while modernizing very little of the countryside. The Mexican government reduced spending on rural development; by 1993, the credit granted through the FIRA and Banrural (Banco De Crédito Rural State financial institution that provided low-interest credits in support of rural development) was slightly more than 50 percent of what it had been in 1980 (Huerta 2001). Perhaps the most notable domestic policy was the 1992 land reform (the revision to Article 27 of the 1917 Mexican Constitution), which envisioned larger-scale, modernized agricultural production through private land ownership, as opposed to guaranteed intergenerational usufruct of small ejidos. From that time forward, what had once been ejidal land could be bought and sold.

Some new policies of the 1990s did provide funding and a safety net. PROCAMPO provided direct payments to farmers who had produced maize, beans, wheat, and other grains. This temporary domestic assistance program (1993–2008) was to help modernize the rural sector by giving farmers an incentive to increase the local production of grains. 9 It was estimated to reach about 40 percent of those employed in farming and livestock activities. Critics noted, however, that the payments were not tied to actual production. The ALIANZA program also provided (p.140) funding for rural producers. SAGARPA judged that it accomplished its goals of increasing productivity, improving production quality, and raising employment and producer revenue (2002, 14). However, the main beneficiaries were those with entrepreneurial capacity and the modest amount of required matching capital, that is to say, those who were relatively well off. Cord and Quentin (2001) find that participation in PROCAMPO significantly reduced the likelihood that a ejido household was poor (in 1997) but Alianza had no significant impact on poverty reduction.

A peasant from the state of Guanajato expressed his view that his class had been abandoned by the government (Ortiz 2008). Peasants complained that PROCAMPO did not cover the cost of inputs or the transportation needed to move commodities to market. The reporter noted that in the state of Morelos, 75 percent of the families depended on agricultural production; farmers in Quintana Roo felt totally abandoned; and those in states such as Campeche and the Yucatán lacked the resources to develop infrastructure or to mechanize irrigation systems. Farmers from Sonora (Valle de Guaymas) went to Mexico City hoping for financial support to plant vegetables, watermelons, and wheat. Despite their complaints regarding PROCAMPO’s inadequacy, they advocated for its continuation. Overall reductions in government spending were disproportionately felt in the countryside (table 8.2).

The Mexican government was certainly responsible for the neoliberal shift; however, that decision was connected to international integration. From a world-systems perspective, even those “purely domestic” policies of nurturing and subsidizing rural production in the early period (before 1983) were, as I argued in the case of commercial producers, the response to Mexico’s semiperipheral position in the world system. The goal of populist regimes was to sever dependency relations with the developed countries

Table 8.2. Mexican government expenditures



Total expenditures as % of GDP



Expenditures destined to rural development as % of GDP



Source: Huerta (2001, 160).

(p.141) and to promote national development. It is therefore inappropriate to consider these policies as principally “domestic.”

Poverty and Labor Displacement

Both trade and transformations of state–civil society relations undermined household sustainability and to increased impoverishment in the countryside. The subsecretary of rural development classified 71 percent of rural inhabitants in 1980 and 81.5 percent in 1999 as moderately poor. 10 In 2002, 34.8 percent were judged to have an income insufficient for nutrition, and 67.5 percent had incomes insufficient for nutrition plus education, health, clothing, shoes, housing, and transportation (SAGARPA 2003). Mexico made progress in closing the rural-urban household income gap from 1992 to 2002 (the rural/urban ratio rose from 39.9 in 1992 to 47.1 in 2002), but poverty was still greater in the rural areas. Furthermore, despite improvements, the 2000 household income (in 1993 pesos) was the same as the 1989 level (SAGARPA 2003). And the safety net was now gone. Between 1994 and 1999, only 5.4 percent of the rural population was covered by Mexico’s social security system (Huerta 2001, 55).

The growth in rural income was unevenly distributed. I have summarized SAGARPA’s (2003) findings in table 8.3. They delineate the plight of the poorest. Between 1989 and 2002, rural income grew an average of 6.6 percent for the highest two income deciles, but only 3.3 percent for the lowest four. The wealthier 20 percent derived the greatest part of their monetary wealth from work and business income (60% and 24%, respectively). The lower 80 percent derived their monetary income first from work, and second from transfers. Transfers, in the form of remittances, pensions, and retirement funds, constituted 13 percent of the monetary income for the top two deciles, 26 percent for the fifth and sixth deciles, and 33 percent for the lowest four deciles. The nonmonetary sources constituted 19.6 percent of total household wealth for the top two deciles, but 27.6 percent for the lowest four. These differences in income streams are magnified by the fact that within the nonmonetary component, 21 percent came from subsistence farming for the top two deciles, compared to 43 percent for the bottom four quartiles. In short, the survival of the poorest rural households depended a great deal on transfers and subsistence production. (p.142)

Table 8.3. Sources of Mexican rural income

Income deciles

% of nonmonetary contribution to total rural income 2000

% of rural nonmon-etary income derived from subsistence farming

% of total rural monetary income derived from transfers 2002

9th–10th (top)








1st–4th (bottom)




Source: Data from SAGARPA (2003, 45).

Reduced household sustainability and growing impoverishment contributed to labor displacement and rural flight. Reflecting on the nonsustainability of the small family production units, Otero bade farewell to the small farmer. He attributed the rural crisis and the destruction of the peasant economy to the rise of capitalist agriculture. Rather than bringing jobs either to the countryside or to the city, it created a large semi-proletariat that fell somewhere between salaried workers and peasant production. The rural economy continued to deteriorate, leading to more and more lost access to the land, but neither industrialists nor agrocapitalists were able to absorb that surplus labor (Otero 2004).

Not all scholars blame global integration for rural labor displacement. Mexico was in the paradoxical position of having both insufficient agricultural production and poor farmers. Government statistics underscore the low levels of productivity and lack of competitiveness. In 2002, farming, livestock, forestry, and fishing contributed only 5.7 percent to the Mexican GDP and 17.9 percent to the labor force (Rosenzweig 2005, 10). Mexican agricultural production was significantly less efficient than U.S. production. Mexico could produce 1.7 tons of corn per hectare, using 18 labor days to produce each ton, while the United States produced 7 tons per hectare, using 1.2 hours per ton (DeWalt and Rees 1994) (see also table 6.1 for poultry). Abundis estimates that in 2002, only three out of a thousand farmers or ranchers had any possibility of exporting (2003, 3).

For Zepeda (2000), the poverty and economic exhaustion of Mexican agriculture derives from the inefficiency of small holdings. Such extensions are insufficient for commercial competition or even for profitable exploitation. Zepeda’s list of inadequacies includes insufficient financing, credit, and insurance; scare infrastructure (irrigation and electrification); inadequate marketing networks; poor quality inputs; inadequate management; (p.143) and irrational use of natural resources (deforestation, overfishing). Small plots neither merit nor produce adequate capital to buy a tractor or insure crops. 11 In 1991, for example, only 1.4 percent of the area planted with corn was insured. “Why isn’t Mexico Rich?” asks Hanson (2010). He shares Zepeda’s assessment of the inefficiency of the informal economy and criticizes romantic notions held by those who claim that small producers are vibrant contributors to economic growth. For Hanson, informal economic organization is inferior; it disperses resources excessively and tends to keep those in production who are poor managers or use outdated technology. Informality, Hanson argues, creates distortions in the economy that prevent naturally occurring reallocations of resources. In the end, for these authors, it is the organization of agriculture that perpetuates poverty.

Zepeda and others argue that inefficient producers should stop being farmers. They see the minifundio (small holdings) as an institutional obstacle to the development of agricultural wealth. It only persisted for many years because of Mexican government policies and, according to Alonso (2002), created economic distortions and deterioration in the terms of trade between agriculture and other sectors. Because minifundio were nonsustainable, they became increasingly vulnerable with the post-1982 precipitous drop in public investment, the removal of price supports, and the end of government subsidies.

Peasants were leaving the farms and farming as a way of life in Mexico was disappearing. A Michoacán ejidatario reported that he had produced commercial surpluses in the past but now was producing for subsistence and striving to hang in there while the children migrated (Gledhill 1995, 37). A sugar farmer lamented, “There is almost no place left in the country where a small farmer can make a good living.” Thousands of peasants were abandoning small plots (Thompson 2001). Poultry production had existed on multiple tracks since 1955, but global economic integration affected rural producers, including those who used traditional means of raising poultry, either for self-sufficiency or for sale at informal local markets.

Changing Sentiments: From “Se Muero Lejos De Ti” to “Por Qué Nací Yo Del Lado Equivocado?”

The changing nature of Mexican emigration is captured in these two Spanish phrases. The song lyric “Beautiful Mexico, if I die far from you” (p.144) captures the sentiment of early migrants, yearning for their country of birth. The second “Why was I was born on the wrong side?” captures the sentiment of a high school student in Tucson lamenting that she was born in Mexico and brought to the United States by her undocumented parents (Bagley and Castro-Salazar 2009). For voices of the displaced that went unheard by the Mexican government, either because they lacked the organization capacity of UNA or because their leverage in the face of global neoliberal pressures was weak, they exercised “exit.”

Having followed the trail from trade and neoliberal reforms to rural immiseration, I now turn to the path from immiseration to emigration. NAFTA reinvigorated the longstanding debates about the benefits of global economic integration. To what extent can the rise in illegal immigration be understood as a consequence of market adjustments and the competitive disadvantages with which Mexico entered the NAFTA agreement? To argue that immiseration led to migration contradicts the predictions that NAFTA would ameliorate Mexican unemployment and poverty, thereby minimizing emigration.

Researchers have used different approaches to establish the rural poverty-displacement-emigration linkages. Some deduce the causal linkage from a national-level data set over time that shows an inverse relationship between per capita GDP and migration rates. Others have inferred causality based on Mexican state-level data showing a negative association between per capita income and remittances from the United States or between state-level poverty and emigration. This includes the governors of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Nayarit, who pointed out that the crises in their states had generated new waves of migrants to the United States (Thompson 2001). Still others have sampled municipalities and drawn inferences based on migration rates, the importance of basic crops production, and the degree of Mexican government support (Fox and Bada 2008; Martinez 2007). In addition, the MMP interviews (sampled from municipalities known for migration) provide demographic detail on individual migrants (Massey et al. 1994). Collectively, the research findings depict impoverished rural environments that drive out their residents.

As I did with the discussion of commercial production, I first make the strongest possible case for a NAFTA effect, and then I expand the notion of globalization. In connecting trade-induced immiseration to migration, (p.145) I reiterate Przeworski’s lemma—“the motor of History is endogeneity” (2007, 168). This methodological warning (that there may be unobserved covariates determining the outcomes) actually creates space for the world-systems paradigm since both the trade liberalization and emigration encouraged by the WTO were more likely to be associated with developing countries.

Trade, Rural Immiseration, and No Alternatives

The village of Comalapas in Chiapas, one of the poorest in the country, saw the rise of travel agencies on Main Street, offering just one destination—Tijuana. Agencies offered a range of services from bus tickets to plane tickets with a U.S. job thrown in (Oxfam 2003, 6). Former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari blamed former presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox for allowing Mexico to wallow in economic stagnation between 1995 and 2005. He said, “Five million compatriots left the country in search of a future in order to respond to their own expectations and those of their families. … It’s difficult to encounter a country in times of peace that has a migratory phenomenon of this magnitude” (FNS 2008).

Martinez analyzed the net impact of market liberalization on migration. He studied small basic crops producers in 744 migrant-sending municipalities and tested the effects of the removal of price supports and input subsidies, the 1992 land reform that granted property rights, and NAFTA. He concluded that for the 1992–97 period, the negative effect of international integration and domestic reforms was strongest for basic crop producers. In other words, a rise in exposure to basic crop production led to a rise in the percentage of households with migrants. This was in contrast to the insignificant effect of the level of foreign direct investment or of imports and maquiladora exports (2007, 95–101). Being a basic crop producer is what mattered.

Was emigration the only alternative? Poverty and emigration certainly were an integral part of Mexican history. Undercapitalization of the countryside had historically contributed to the rural immiseration and displacement as well as internal migration. Mexico City grew from 1.8 million in 1940 to 18 million 1987. The challenge is to explain the new wave of labor displacement, rural expulsion, and emigration. The first factor was that rural immiseration led to labor displacement because (p.146) alternative rural employment had stagnated over the past thirty years. The rural stagnation worsened after the trade opening in the mid-1980s, which resulted in lower prices for domestically produced agricultural goods (Ros and Rodriguez 1987).

During the growth period of the 1970s, displaced rural labor was absorbed into Mexico’s urban areas and industrial zones. During the pre-NAFTA waves of international integration (such as GATT), some displaced rural population was absorbed in construction, commercial agriculture, or the growing export assembly industry. Moreno-Brid et al. describe the 1950–90 period as one in which per capita GDP grew at an annual average rate of over 3 percent and the dynamism of the manufacturing industry transformed Mexico “from an agrarian to an urban, semi-industrial society, and the incidence and depth of poverty decreased” (2009, 157).

In contrast, Moreno-Brid et al. write, the real GDP expansion in 1990–2006 was less than the 1950–80 average. By 2000, a weak U.S. economy and growing competition from China had reduced such job options. Lynch (2006) writes that only a sliver of new jobs are created for the about one million Mexicans who enter the labor pool annually, and according to the IMF, just 12.8 million of the country’s 43 million working-age population have jobs in the formal sector. This was aggravated with the demographic increase in the relative size of Mexico’s working-age population (Hanson 2006).

The export assembly industry has proven a weak engine for driving the Mexican economy, and the maquiladoras have lost step with the rising demand for employment. In 2003, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote that while FDI in Mexico led to the creation of 500,000 manufacturing jobs from 1994 to 2002, the country lost at least 1.3 million jobs in the agricultural sector alone, where one-fifth of Mexicans still work (Mekay 2003). Furthermore, in the export/ maquiladora manufacturing sector, jobs have below-poverty wages—typically between one-quarter and one-half what it costs to provide basic necessities (Rosales 2006). Workers in the informal sector have even lower wages and no benefits, and many find themselves in unstable marginal jobs. There is no unemployment compensation, and only slightly more than half of the population had benefit coverage for health services, old age pensions, and disability and widowhood through the public social security system (Fleck and Sorrentino 1994, 28).

(p.147) NAFTA and its interconnected reforms (currency devaluation, inflation, slower economic growth, high interest rates, and the withdrawal of government support) created irreparable damage. For the commercial sector (Chapter 7), the devaluation affected the capacity to import and bankrupted thousands of farms and businesses. For workers, the 1994 devaluation destroyed an estimated 1 million formal sector jobs; destroyed low-wage jobs, causing millions of layoffs (Mayer 2002, 8); and diminished domestic alternatives for displaced rural workers. These were the final blow to a precarious and inefficient, but functioning, rural system.

The reforms created a pool of unemployed workers, further exacerbating the U.S.-Mexico wage gap. Migration to the United States became a more attractive option. These factors propelled migrants first out of rural areas and then out of the country; labor dislocation became rural dislocation and then national dislocation.

Migrant Origins and Characteristics

For most of the twentieth century, migration involved predominantly agricultural labor from rural Mexico (Fussell 2004, 937). Migrants tended to be male and relatively uneducated. The Bracero Program (1942–64) created migration paths from rural central-western Mexico. The social networks established in that period continue to fuel migrants in the contemporary period.

Based on their data set of twenty-five Mexican communities (1987–92), Massey and Espinosa (1997) find that economic deprivation and residence in an agrarian community are strong predictors for the first migration trip to the United States of undocumented workers. This “rural poor–emigration” link requires at least two qualifications. First, the most destitute rural workers are less likely to migrate. The mid-1990s migration from Zacatecas, for example, appeared to be of small landholders. They saw migration as a better option than the corn production in which they were engaged and were more likely to migrate than the extremely poor or better-off rural residents (quoted in Lugo 2007b). Fox and Bada also find that the more economically marginal have a lower probability of migration (2008, 441). These conclusions replicate earlier migration studies that found that the first transnational labor migrants usually did not come from the very bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy but from the lower middle ranges (p.148) (Portes 1979; Portes and Rumbaut 1990). More recent research finds lower migration rates from rural municipalities with indigenous speaking residents (Martinez 2007). Individuals in the middle range have enough resources to absorb the costs and risks of the trip but are not so affluent to find foreign labor unattractive. Of course there are exceptions to these generalizations, such as the estimated twenty thousand primary school teachers who had left Mexico by 1996, had acquired work permits, but were working as unskilled laborers (Lugo 2006).

Second, we must be cautious in attributing motives based on just demographic and human capital characteristics. The longitudinal and comparative perspective developed by Massey in the MMP presents a multitude of significant findings. One is that the typical cost-benefit calculation of the migration decision ignores the role of accumulated social capital. Massey and colleagues have documented that increased out-migration makes subsequent migration more likely by reducing the risk and cost for later migrants who can benefit from the knowledge, assistance, and community organizations of those who went before them regarding the journey, work, and housing options at the place of destination. Thus, the experience of early migrants differs significantly from that of later migrants. Accumulated social capital contributes to the diversity of the migrant stream, making it “increasingly independent of the conditions that originally caused it” (1994, 1496). As the qualities (and quantities) of the migrant streams change, so too do the networks and institutions in the United States.

The classic rural stream has been diversified with skilled migrants and migrants of urban origin. More recently, displaced urban workers from Nezahualcoyotl (Mexico City region), Guadalajara, Monterrey, Toluca, Puebla, Morelia, León, Acapulco, and Veracruz have joined the migratory streams. Many moved from the primary industrial cities to northern export-oriented industrial cities or coastal cities specializing in tourism and trade (Fussell 2004). The stream of migrants to the northern Mexican border is demographically similar to the new urban stream of migrants to the United States (Roberts et al. 1999). Hernandez-Leon’s case study of the industrial center of Monterrey demonstrates how skilled and semiskilled urban workers came to join migrant streams. The neoliberal reforms in Mexico in the 1990s involved industrial restructuring, creating unemployment. They also transformed the traditional social welfare and (p.149) labor guarantees, removing Mexico’s safety net. Many of those trained and skilled displaced workers migrated to Texas, where they acquired jobs in the oil tools and technology industry (2004, 426–27).

Several factors have boosted the demographic diversity of migrant flow, which now includes children, the elderly, women, various social classes, the unmarried, and linguistically and culturally distinct ethnic groups (Hanson 2006). Consequently, migrants have a wider range of intentions, such as staying rather than returning or seeking year-long urban employment not seasonal agricultural work typical of former rural migrants (Fussell 2004, 939). While the number of urban-origin migrants is growing, a majority still comes from rural areas (Durand et al. 2001; Fox and Bada 2008; Marcelli and Cornelius 2001; Roberts et al. 1999). As the president of a producers’ association in Sabino Cepeda, Puebla said, “Until we are offered a price which we can live off, people will continue going to the U.S. It is not possible to live in the countryside without decent prices for our production” (Oxfam 2003, 6).

Migrant Flows: Volume

In Chapter 1, I argued that the central theme of this book is time-sensitive—the 1990s is the crucial decade. The thesis of dual labor displacement highlights the interaction of volume and timing of migration. The Mexican-origin population living in the United States is estimated to be around 30 million. I offer five comparisons that contextualize the estimated size of the migratory flow. For example, the total population of Mexico in 1955 was 30 million. The Mexican population receiving U.S. permanent residency in 1986 was estimated to equal 17 percent of all adult men in rural Mexico at the time (Fox and Bada 2008, 437). 12 NAFTA did nothing to reduce this number: in 2002, 14 percent of all people born in Mexican villages were living in the United States (Goodman 2007). Martin wrote that the number of Mexican-born workers in the U.S. labor force in 1997 was the equivalent of one-eighth of Mexico’s total labor force and one-half of its formal sector private jobs (1998–1999, 419). A 1992 Mexican government survey found that 8 percent of the Mexican respondents had been to the United States and 17 percent had a household member there. By 1997, these numbers had risen to 9 percent and 21 percent, respectively (p.150) (Massey and Zenteno 2000). It is clear that U.S. migration has seized a significant fraction of the Mexican population.

Migrant remittances (dollars) also permit a rough (albeit methodologically problematic) estimation of the foreign-born. 13 Mexico is among the top three remittance recipients in the world. The amount rose from about $3.67 billion in 1995 to nearly $24 billion in 2006. As Wise (2003) has estimated, “One out of five Mexican households depends to some extent on wage remittances sent by family members working in the United States.” Meanwhile, an IDB survey found that the average remittance to Mexico supported a family of 4.5 people (2007). In 1998, remittances equaled 63.3 percent of tourist expenditures and 38.5 percent of foreign direct investment. By 2003, they were 138.9 and 124.2 percent, respectively. And, in 2003, remittances ranked only second to crude oil exports as a source of foreign exchange (Hernandez-Coss 2005).

In global migration, demand (pulls) and supply (pushes) are rarely synchronized. For the United States, the “social organization of U.S. labor markets had been changed permanently so as to create a built-in, structural demand for immigrant workers” (Massey et al. 2002, 41). This shifting structural demand for labor is reminiscent of the nineteenth century, when the conjuncture of plentiful capital (both for farming and railroad construction) and cheap labor transformed the agricultural system from small plots to expansive commercial farms. West Coast farming was irrevocably reconstructed and became perpetually dependent upon cheap immigrant labor.

The Mexican crisis of the 1990s generated a potential migrant push that exceeded the number of visas allotted under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The established quota limit of 120,000 per year for the entire Western Hemisphere required Mexicans to compete with other Latin Americans. The number pales in comparison to the more than 3.6 million people waiting to receive an immigrant visa (as of January 1997). These visa-seekers already had approved petitions on file but were waiting because of limits on most categories of immigration and per-country levels. Mexico topped the approved-but-waiting list with 1,020,823 (Vaughan 1997, 5–6). The quota simply could not accommodate everyone who wanted to migrate. Without the prospect of receiving visas for work or family reunification, many opted to enter illegally and became undocumented immigrants. 14

(p.151) Estimates of the number of undocumented Mexicans vary widely and are calculated several different ways. The U.S. Census bases its estimate on the gap between visas awarded and foreign-born respondents (citizens and noncitizens). Martin uses the number of apprehensions to plot the flow over time (Martin 1998–1999). To show the rise in flows in the 1990s, I use the number of mismatches in the Social Security files. The INS estimated that in 1975, there were as many as 10 to 12 million aliens illegally in the country (with 85 percent from Mexico). More recently, Passel and Cohn (2011) have estimated the 2010 illegal population at 11.2 million (with 58 percent from Mexico). By 2007, according to the U.S. Census Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the number had stabilized or even begun to decline. This could have been due to the U.S. economic downturn as well as increased border enforcement.

Migrant Flows: Timing

The migratory flow was not evenly distributed over time; it grew substantially in the 1990s. A survey of a sample of Mexican-born individuals living in the United States finds that almost 50 percent arrived in the 1990–2000 period (fig. 8.1). In Chapter 2, I presented my analysis of the Census data for the five states, the findings from the Dalton survey, and anecdotal evidence such as the rise in asylum applications and the increase in Mexican consulates. Even the Mexican government acknowledged the decade of soaring migration and in 2000 established Grupo Beta—a program to protect migrants (during their journey in Mexico) from transnational smuggling cartels. These sources all point to a similar conclusion: migration rose significantly after 1990.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) data reflects the number of undocumented workers who have acquired employment using a fraudulent social security number. I draw this inference from the number of wage items entered into the Earnings Suspense File (ESF). The SSA creates a social security number (SSN) for new employees and payroll funds go into the Master Earnings File. If the W-2 contains erroneous information, the funds are placed into the ESF. Since its inception in 1937, bookkeeping errors have always added to the number of units in the ESF, but they are (p.152)

Exit Mexico: “Si Muero Lejos De Ti”

Figure. 8.1. Mexican-born residents living in the United States in 2000 by date of entry

Source: Author’s calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau (2002) data. For each period, I combined the naturalized and non-U.S. citizens (22.5% and 77.5%, respectively).

removed once found. In other words, it is doubtful that the sharp rise of erroneous SSNs in the 1990s is due to bookkeeping. In light of the labor displacement transpiring in Mexico, it is reasonable to assume that many in the ESF are undocumented.

SSN “misuse” refers to situations in which individuals illegally use SSNs to obtain employment. An SSA analysis of employer’s suspended wage items for a three-year period (TYs [tax years] 1996 through 1998) showed that approximately 96 percent of the reported items contained “irregularities” such as: (1) SSNs that were unassigned; (2) SSNs that were assigned to different individuals; and (3) SSNs simultaneously used two or more times (SSA 2001a). The ESF data show the number of mismatches growing at an accelerated rate (see fig. 1.1). A 2002 SSA report indicated that 96 percent of ESF wages currently in the file had been posted since TY 1970. The number shot up after the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which mandated that employers verify an employee’s work status by examining a passport, birth certificate, SSN card, or alien documentation papers. This increase ensued despite the removal from the file workers who were “regularized” under the same law, having received (p.153) amnesty, a path to citizenship, and a claim on their previous earnings. This measure, as is true of most, certainly underestimates the number of illegal aliens: some employers hire workers off the books without a W-2; some workers borrow or rent authentic social security cards; and others use an ITIN.15 Hernandez-Leon, for example, describes a skilled worker from Monterrey who entered the United States legally on a tourist visa and then borrowed employment documents to get a job (2004, 442). I treat the ESF numbers as indicating a trend: the rise in the 1990s.

In 1995, the number of new wage items placed into the ESF overtook the all-time high of 1986 and continued its steep climb. Since 1990, the ESF has grown by an average of 5 million items per year, and the annual increase reached a high of 8.4 million in TY 1999. In that year, the ESF held a total of 212 million suspended wage items (SSA 2001a). A relatively small number of employers account for a disproportionate share of the suspended items and dollars. In 1996, for example, about three thousand employers (one twentieth of 1 percent of all employers) accounted for 30 percent of all suspended wage items. In analyzing the service sector, a SSA OIG study found one Chicago employer who issued over 17,400 W-2 wage reports in 1996. This employer supplied temporary labor to approximately 150 client companies in the Chicago metropolitan area and hired up to 300 temporary workers on a daily basis to perform light industrial work such as packing and assembly work and loading and unloading trucks. The employer had a 367 percent increase in suspended W-2s between TY 1993 and TY 1996.

In addition to the temporary work and service industries, OIG confirmed that the “Unauthorized Noncitizen Workforce” in the agricultural sector was a major contributor to SSN misuse. Several of the agricultural employers interviewed by OIG acknowledged that large numbers of their workers were unauthorized noncitizens. The employers told OIG that they examined various types of employment eligibility documents, but they knew many of them might be fraudulent (SSA 1999). In 2001, the SSA reported on California and Florida employers who deposited 100 or more wage units into the ESF between 1996 and 1998 (SSA 2001b). Looking at the top ten agricultural employers from each state, the SSA concluded that SSN misuse in the agricultural industry was widespread. About six of every ten wage items submitted did not match: two employers submitted over 7,000 SSNs that the SSA had never issued; another submitted over (p.154) 900 duplicates in the three-year period. In Chapter 2, I presented some of the SSA’s findings for the five states in my sample. As one of the detained poultry-processing workers said, “They ask for your papers, but they don’t look at them very hard” (Constable 1995).


The vertiginous rise in illegal immigration occurs at the conjuncture of a socially constructed pull from the U.S. and a crisis- and reform-induced push from Mexico. The migrant pull into the United States has some market-driven elements (“jobs that nobody wants”); it also has industry-driven, socially constructed elements (profit and labor crises). The economic crises and reforms in Mexico and their associated migratory push continue to distort the U.S. labor market.

My research suggests two conceptual shifts, introduced in Chapter 3. First, the historical boundary of the segmented labor market is no longer impenetrable. Immigrants do continue to occupy secondary-sector jobs (lower wages, few benefits, and undesirable working conditions) such as agriculture, construction, and housekeeping, but they also acquire primary sector jobs in trucking (Milkman 2006), in factories, and elsewhere. Second, the boundary dividing primary-and secondary-sector firms is no longer immutable. Firms that historically belonged to the primary sector have restructured under globalization and crossed the boundary to become secondary-sector firms. The stable arrangements of firms and labor markets under monopoly capitalism weakened with the demise of Fordism. Kallenberg (2003) describes the changes in industrial societies and characterizes the variety of transformations that firms undertook in pursuit of flexibility in both the production and employment systems. He focuses on the firms that increasingly reassign a portion of their employment to nonstandard work. But clearly some firms desire to locate their entire employment system within the realm of nonstandard work arrangements. As immigration increased in the 1990s, those preexisting and new secondary-sector industries could draw on an immigrant labor force. Globalization and the increased labor supply provided firms the possibility of shifting their production processes and becoming secondary-sector firms.

(p.155) And for Mexico, the economic reforms generated additional migratory pushes. Emigrants who made their way to the United States sometimes found themselves without access to public social services and under legal and societal scrutiny. For Mexican-born undocumented emigrants, the distress is captured in the comment of the young woman “Por qué nací yo del lado equivocado?” 16 This is the story of how Mexico, the beautiful, became Mexico, the wrong side.

This brings us close to the end of the chicken trail. My examination of Mexican commercialized poultry production (Chapter 7) sheds light on the globalization/free trade debate in a number of ways. The industry data demonstrate the importance of using a more encompassing concept of globalization. It must include, as others have, the 1982 debt crisis and the subsequent pressures for neoliberal reforms. In describing the commercial sector, however, I have argued that it must be expanded further to include those “domestic policies” that resulted from Mexico’s attempts to traverse earlier phases of globalization. Using a world-systems/dependency perspective, it is easier to understand how industry and the traspatios were first created and then transformed. NAFTA provided the final blow because it simultaneously eliminated trade protection, guaranteed prices, and sponsored subsidies in a way that had not occurred before. And by severing the traditional relationships between the Mexican government and rural producers, NAFTA also severed the relationship between Mexico and its citizens.


(1.) Si Muero Lejos de Ti (“If I die far from you”). This line from the famous song “México” Lindo (Beautiful Mexico) captures the nostalgia and loyalty that an immigrant felt about leaving his home land. The song continues “If I die far from you, may they say that I am asleep and may they bring me back to her (Mexico).”

(p.172) (2.) Many have documented the connection between trade with rich countries and the fate of rural smallholders in Mexico (Avila 2008; Bacon 2007; Burstein 2007; Martinez 2007; Mekay 2003; Otero 2004; Oxfam 2003; Ros and Rodriguez 1987; Thompson 2002, and Wise 2003). Mexico joins other countries that experienced rising inequality and minimal poverty reduction following a high degree of trade openness.

(3.) These are also known as family farms (huerto familiar, huerto casero); poultry production, mostly chicken, is referred to as barnyard poultry (aves de corral).

(4.) This Project for the Production and Handling of Barnyard Poultry (Proyecto Tipo Producción y Manejo de Aves de Traspatio) was promoted under the umbrella of PESA, SAGARPA’s Special Program for Nutritional Security (Programa Especial para la Seguridad Alimentaria).

(5.) Maria Jesus. Conversations with author. Sonora, Mexico, April, 2008.

(6.) In 2007, the per capita (measured) consumption of eggs in Mexico was 345. In that year, the per capita consumption was 349 in China and 250 in the United States (Poultry Site 2011).

(7.) Carmen Trujillo. Conversations with author. Sonora, Mexico, May, 2008

(8.) The percentages reported are not generalizable due to project sampling techniques (Massey, Douglas, and Zenteno 2000 or mmp.opr.princeton.edu).

(9.) On the eve of its 2008 expiration, President Felipe Calderón extended it until 2012.

(10.) Abundis reports that 80 percent of rural farmers were classified as poor and half as extremely poor (2003, 3), whereas the World Bank estimated that 42 of every 100 Mexicans live in poverty and nearly half of those in extreme poverty (Oxfam 2003, 15).

(11.) According to the balance sheet of a corn farmer in Puebla, he pays one third of his income to rent land on which he grows corn and has two temporary jobs because he needs money to buy insecticides and chemicals to improve the land (Oxfam 2003, 8).

(12.) The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act granted residency to undocumented immigrants who met certain requirements.

(13.) The 2008 drop in remittances could have resulted from (1) the same number of immigrants sending less because they became underemployed, unemployed, or experienced a rise in the cost of U.S. living; (2) a drop in number of immigrants as some return to Mexico or others are dissuaded from coming; (3) less need to send money as immigrants are joined by family members; or (4) a rise in the fees of formal sector intermediaries and banks that transfer funds.

(14.) Visas for immediate relatives (spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents) of U.S. citizens are not subject to numerical limitation.

(15.) Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), created in 1996 by the IRS, are official U.S. tax numbers for the purpose of receiving taxes on dividends or income earned by nonresident aliens. They have been issued to illegal aliens, who sometimes use them to acquire work. From 1996 to 2002, over 5.5 million were issued.

(16.) She is part of the movement advocating for the “Dream Act,” which would provide instate college tuition for Mexican-born undocumented high school graduates living in the United States.