21 Int'l Migration Rev. 4 (1987)

handle is hein.journals/imgratv21 and id is 1 raw text is: 



Undocumented Central Americans

in   Houston: Diverse Populations '

Nestor P. Rodriguez
University of Houston

     Fleeing political conflict and/or economic decline, large numbers of
     undocumented Central Americans have been coming to the United
     States since the late 1970s. Many of these migrants have settled in urban
     areas of the country  that have large Hispanic concentrations. It is
     estimated that about 100,000 have settled in Houston. Interviews and
     observations indicate that this Central American population, composed
     principally of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans,  constitutes
     a new  diverse Latino immigrant experience in the city.

Following political and economic instability in Central America in the late
1970s, large waves of migrations have characterized the region. Millions of
Central Americans  have  migrated internally or to Mexico (U.S. General
Accounting  Office, 1984; Aguayo,  1985; Jamail and Stolp, 1985). Several
hundred   thousand have  also migrated, without papers, to the United
States (Hamilton  and Chinchilla, 1984; Ruggles and Fix, 1985; Penalosa,
1986), especially to urban centers with  large Hispanic populations.  In
Houston,  a city with over 300,000 native Hispanics, and an undocumented
Mexican  population estimated at over 80,000 for the early 1980s (Bean, et al.,
1982), immigrant-aid agency directors, social workers and other observers
familiar with Latino immigration estimated the number  of undocumented
Central Americans  at over 100,000 in 1986.2
  This article describes preliminary findings of an on-going study, launched
in the summer   of 1985, that has sought to identify the different undocu-
mented  Central  American  populations in Houston   and to explore their
aspects of settlement, work, and motivations for emigrating.

  I This research has been supported by funding from the Inter-University Program for Latino
Research and the Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston. Research support was
also received from Leonel Castillo and the staff at Houston International University. The author
is indebted to eirht interviewers. especially to Sergio Armando Savon. Maria D. Jimenez and
Alfredo Santos, and to Harley L. Browning, William Simon, Paulo Hidalgo and Harriett Romo
for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.
  2 Other estimates for the 1985 Central American population in Houston are 80,000 Salvadorans,
by Ruggles and Fix (1985); 80,000 Salvadorans and 5,000-10,000 Guatemalans, by the Coalition
for a New Foreign and Military Policy and the Commission on U.S.-Central American Relations
(1985); and 100,000, by Jamail and Stolp (1985). In a report originally published in 1984,
Fernando Penalosa states that the Salvadoran community in Houston may have already reached
100,000 (1986:29).
4    IMR  Volume   xxi, No. 1

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