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ERIC Number: EJ915159
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1074-1917
For Love of Family and Family Values: How Immigrant Motivations Can Inform Immigration Policy
Piacenti, David
Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, v21 p35-52 2008-2009
This article consists of more than fifty interviews with Spanish and Yucatec-Mayan men from Yucatan, Mexico, to the United States. Based on interview responses, I contend that Yucatec-Mayan immigrants support Jeffrey Cohen's (2004) "household model" and use a ch'i'ibal-centered, or family-centered, decision-making process to frame leaving and returning to their hometown. I theoretically underpin this motivation with Max Weber's wert-rational or value-rational social action. Weber states, ""Wert"-rational [involves] a conscious belief in the absolute value of some ethical, aesthetic, religious, or other form of behavior, entirely for its own sake and independently of any prospects of external success" (1947). Therefore, immigrating is, on the surface, a rational social action, but is underpinned by an emotional, family-based, absolute value system. Absolute values such as love, caring, respect, concern for family maintenance, and family creation in Yucatan are expressed as motivations to both leave "and" return. This theory is more holistic compared to macroeconomic and microeconomic models, which are useful in explaining why people leave but explain very little as to why people might otherwise return. Because of this, I argue that immigration policy makers should implement a family-based policy. If the institution of family and family values are reasons to leave and return, and are likewise assumed to be important social values, immigration policy should reflect similar social values. Policy should be data-driven and promote familial stability by reflecting the underlying motivations behind immigrating to the United States, as well as the underlying motivations for returning to the sending community. Since policies will never eliminate immigration, the next step is to create immigration policy that seeks to lessen the negative impact of immigration on the immigrant families who experience the phenomenon directly. (Contains 3 endnotes.)
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 617-496-0320; Fax: 617-384-9555; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico; United States