Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

International Affairs

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Ferry

Abstract

In this thesis, I describe the immigration debate that has taken place in the United States. I outline the traditional arguments of assimilationists and cultural pluralists in order to demonstrate how both groups of scholars fail to provide a relevant means through which specifically Mexican immigrants can integrate into American society. Strategies that once worked with previous groups of immigrants prove ineffective with Mexican Americans due to the sheer volume of this ethnic group received by the United States over the last forty years. I show how the influx of both legal and illegal Mexican immigrants, due to the presence of a shared land-border between the U.S. and Mexico, has created conditions that have yielded a hybrid border culture. I found evidence of this culture through scholarly and ethnographical studies conducted in the border city of El Paso, Texas. I found that the hybrid border culture forms as residents in these areas seek to find common ground on which they can interact with each other. I agree with a growing group of scholars that a new idea of assimilation is needed in order prevent the Mexican American population from segregating themselves from the rest of society. However, my addition is that I use the hybrid culture of El Paso to inform my analysis that a national common ground can only be realized through the inclusion of Mexican immigrants into the American political arena. Thus, my conclusion prioritizes a more streamlined pathway to citizenship as a solution to the significant presence of Mexican Americans in the United States.

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