North of El Norte
294 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Apr 2021
Release Date:15 Sep 2020
Release Date:15 Sep 2020
Release Date:15 Sep 2020

North of El Norte

Illegalized Mexican Migrants in Canada

UBC Press

Undocumented. In popular perception and most research, the term connotes movement to and from the United States. North of El Norte provides an important counterpoint by examining a lesser-known migration route: that taken by contemporary Mexican migrants to Canada.

Paloma Villegas examines the changing landscape of Canadian immigration policy and practice, and the implications for Mexican migrants who lack permanent resident status or citizenship. Her analysis takes into account the context in Mexico, the experience of border crossing, policies to restrict migration, and options available to Mexican migrants to achieve secure status in Canada. Villegas also provides an assessment of the barriers migrants encounter once in Canada, specifically in the labour market, in their creative pursuits, and in accessing health care.

Drawing on interviews, policy documents, media descriptions, and literature from local social service organizations, North of El Norte concludes that migration – and by extension migrant illegalization – is assembled, produced, and negotiated. The comprehensive research in this book sheds light on how individuals and institutions work to illegalize migrants through the production and circulation of discourse such as policies, media accounts, and speeches, and on migrants' active resistance to these efforts.

Scholars and students of migration will find this book insightful and informative, whether they are in sociology, anthropology, international studies, political economy, ethnic studies, geography, social work, or Latinx studies.

North of El Norte is by every measure a timely and welcome contribution to critical debates. Chris Alexander, Literary Review of Canada
There is little research on the experiences of Mexican migrants in Canada. This pioneering depiction of their lives in Toronto documents how migrant journeys are rooted in the political, social, and economic insecurities in Mexico, and vividly illustrates the hardship, humiliation, abuse, and pain that migrants endure while trying to attain legal status. Tanya Basok, professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor

Paloma E. Villegas is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at California State University, San Bernardino. Her research on the intersections of migration, citizenship, borders, race, and gender can be found in publications such as Citizenship Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Women’s Studies International Forum, the Journal of Gender Studies, the Journal of Law and Society, the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Refuge, and the Journal of International Migration and Integration. She is also a co-editor of Seeds of Hope: Creating a Future in the Shadows (with Tanya Aberman and Francisco Villegas).


Part I: Immigration Trajectories

1 Assembling Insecuritization in Mexico

2 Transit and Encountering Borders

3 Assembling Discursive and Affective Productions of “Illegality” through Visa Restrictions

Part II: Immigration Status Trajectories

4 Navigating a Shifting and Exclusionary Refugee Determination System

5 Yearning for Secure Status

Part III: Internal and Interlocking Borders

6 Access to Health Care and Temporal Negotiations of Internal Borders

7 At the Intersection of Precarious Work and Status

8 Creative Practices amid Internal Borders


Appendix: Participant Information at a Glance

References, Index

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