The International Student Border Commuter Experience: An Investigation on the Southern U.S. Border

Kristin Oberheide, University of Texas at El Paso


Prior literature on transborder (transfronterizos, transfronteriz@s, or transfronterizx) students in the Mexico-United States border region focuses predominantly on United States citizens and the San Diego-Tijuana region. This phenomenological study focuses on Mexican citizen international students, who live in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and commute across the border with student visas daily to attend college in El Paso, Texas. The study sought to determine “What are the everyday experiences of Mexican international student border commuters?” Twenty-three international student border commuters were interviewed with a series of open-ended questions, during June 2016 in El Paso. The following seven themes emerged as the essence of the international student border commuter experience: 1. Waiting on the Bridge: Stress 2. Power and Helplessness: Impotencia 3. Getting Used to it: Adaptation 4. Self-reliance and Resilience: Strength 5. Sacrifice is Worth it: Opportunity 6. Benefit from Both Sides: Fronterizos 7. Needing a Louder Voice: Help In the Paso del Norte region, the Mexican international student border commuter experience has elements of similarity with the general transborder student experience. However, international student border commuters face more extreme challenges than, and unique experiences from, U.S. citizen transborder students. International student border commuters do not have the power to resist questioning, and thus cannot destabilize the power of the border. International students cannot be fully engaged in the U.S., because they lack the citizenship that provides security to work, live, and resist.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational leadership|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Oberheide, Kristin, "The International Student Border Commuter Experience: An Investigation on the Southern U.S. Border" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29206822.