Homelessness and migration at the edge of America: Transnational mobility and survival in the streets of El Paso

Josue Gilberto Lachica, University of Texas at El Paso


This study examined both homelessness and migration, as they pertain to border transnationalism, by addressing the social phenomena of homelessness as it is theoretically and fundamentally viewed in both the U.S., Mexico, and the border region between. This thesis simultaneously observes and compares the phenomena of homelessness within the cross-border shared experience of migration between Mexico and the United States. There is limited sociological research that combines homelessness with migration, but the interrelationship between migrants experiencing homelessness and homeless people migrating has often co-existed. This study attempts to address this limitation. As with many things along the U.S.-Mexico border region, a cross-pollination of ideas, mechanisms and cultures collide to create a medley of overarching and often new forms of living. This study attempts to capture these transnational interactions as they are played out in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. This thesis brings together over two years of data collection using a mixed method approach to develop a nuanced ethnographic and statistical description of homelessness, migration, and transnational practices as they come together along the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the most important themes that resulted in this study is that regional demographics can very much effect who is homeless in any given region. Therefore, if homeless demographics, including ethnicity among others, differ between regions, how society attempts to address homelessness must not be seen as a national issue needing national attention but rather a national issue needing regional attention. With the overall population of the United States moving towards a minority-majority population, the understanding of how the future demographic changes will affect poverty is increasingly important.

Subject Area

Sociology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Lachica, Josue Gilberto, "Homelessness and migration at the edge of America: Transnational mobility and survival in the streets of El Paso" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1539956.