Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Studies (Sci)


Mark W. Lusk


For the past six years, the war on drugs in Mexico has resulted in the out-migration of tens of thousands of Mexican nationals fleeing violence, many settling in El Paso, Texas. The historical context of being pulled to the U.S. for economic opportunity had changed. Mexican nationals were now refugees pushed out of their country for safety. Because the context of migration had changed, the close proximity and similarities between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, and the availability of social support in the U.S., the experiences of this refugee cohort were unique. Because increasing numbers were seeking mental health and legal assistance in El Paso, Texas, it was important to understand their perspectives in order to provide culturally enhanced services to this population. Therefore the purpose of this study was to explore and describe the pre, peri, and post-migration perspectives of Mexican national refugees fleeing violence in Mexico.

This study was nested within a larger, mixed methods study entitled "Subjective Experiences and Mental Health Sequelæ of Mexican Refugees Fleeing Violence in Mexico" and conducted from November 2010 through November 2011. This criterion-based sample was comprised of 22 Mexican national refugees in El Paso, Texas. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. Following IRB approval for secondary data analysis of these interviews, qualitative within and across-context analysis using Silove's core adaptive systems framework was conducted on 18 interviews and data saturation maintained. Analysis identified that in the pre-migration phase, loss of trust and experiences of violence led to a fear for safety that catalyzed the decision to migrate to El Paso, Texas. Personal attachments were most affected during the peri-migration phase. The post-migration phase marked a period of improved sense of personal safety, yet issues of mistrust and a sense of injustice continued. Deconstruction of categories and themes revealed that despite cumulative violence exposures, Mexican refugees had maintained a strong sense of identity and culture through adaptive mechanisms of maintaining a culture of silence and cultural coherence.

Based on these findings, it was concluded that Mexican national refugees exhibited an incredible resilience. Because of the cultural discontinuity between the U.S. and Mexico and systems of structural violence in the U.S., Mexican children are vulnerable to poor identity and moral development. Policy, educational, and cultural interventions and recommendations are presented.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

170 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Jana L. McCallister