Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

The ABCs of migration costs: Assembling, bajadores, and coyotes

Anna Ochoa O'Leary


In efforts to avoid detection by border enforcement agents, undocumented migrants from Latin America often risk life and limb to enter the U.S.  Most commonly, they walk two to four days through an inhospitable desert in hopes of being picked up and whisked away to their final destination. Cost in human lives not withstanding, the price of this venture correlates to increased border enforcement. Interviews with repatriated migrant women on the border helps uncover this economic “underbelly” of transnational movement in what I dub the ABCs of migration costs: those related to assembling, bajadores (border bandits), and coyotes. 


smuggling; bandits; women; border; crossing

Full Text:



Alvarado, Jeanette E. (2004). The Federal Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Illegal Reentry after Removal. Unpublished manuscript prepared for the State Bar of Arizona. Duplicated.

Beebe, James (2001). Rapid Assessment Process: An Introduction. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

Castro, L., A. Lucía, J. O. Miranda and B. E. Z. Bracamonte. (2006). Cruzando el Desierto: Construcción de una Tipología para el Análisis de la Migración en Sonora. Hermosillo, Sonora: El Colegio de Sonora.

Carruthers, Ian and Robert Chambers (1981). Rapid Appraisal for Rural Develop-ment. Agricultural Administration 8: 407-422.

Clift, Elayne and Vickie J. Freimuth (1997). Changing Women's Lives: A Communi-cation Perspective on Participatory Qualitative Research. Journal of Gender Studies, 6(3), 289-296.

Conover, Ted. (1987). Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America’s Illegal Aliens. New York: Random House/Vintage Books.

Cornelius, Wayne A. (2001). Death at the Border: Efficacy and Unintended Conse-quences of U.S. Immigration Control Policy. Population and Development Review 27(4): 661-685.

Department of Homeland Security. (2005). Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2005, Data on Enforcement Actions, available at /ximgtn/ statistics/. Accessed 3/11/07.

Garcia Castro, Ismael. (2007). Vidas Compartidas: Formación de una Red migratoria Transnacional Aguacaliente Grande Sinaloa y Victor Valley California. Sigfido Bañueles, México. Facultad de Estudios Internacionales y Políticas Públicas.

Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. (1994). Gendered Transitions: Mexican Experiences of Immigration. Los Angeles/Berkeley/London: University of California Press.

Marchand, Marianne H. and Anne Sisson Runyan. (2000). Introduction. Feminist Sightings of Global Restructurin: Conceptualizations and Reconceptualiza-tion. In Gender and Global Restructuring : Sightings, Sites, and Resistances, Edited by Marianne H. Marchand and Ann Sisson Runyun. London ; New York : Routledge: 1-22.

Nevins, Joseph. (2002). Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the "Illegal Alien" and the Remaking of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary. New York : Routledge.

______ (2003). Thinking Out of Bounds: A Critical Analysis of Academic and Human Rights Writings on Migrant Deaths in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region. Migraciones Internacionales, 2 (2) pp. 171-190

O’Leary, Anna Ochoa. (2008). Close Encounters of the Deadly Kind: Gender, Migra-tion, and Border (In)Security, Migration Letters. 15(2): 111-122.

______ (2009a) (Forthcoming). “In the Footsteps of Spirits: Migrant Women’s Testi-monios in a time of Heightened Border Enforcement.” In Violence, Security, and Human Rights at the Border, Kathleen Staudt, Tony Payan, and Z. An-thony Kruszewski (Eds.) University of Arizona Press.

______ (2009b) (Forthcoming). Mujeres en el Cruce/Women at the Intersection: Mapping Family Separation at a time of Global Uncertainty, Journal of the Southwest. (forthcoming).

Quinn, Dale and Brandy McCombs. (2007). “2 of 23 in Truck Killed,” Arizona Daily Star, March 31 2007, p. 1.

Rubio-Goldsmith, M. M. McCormick, D. Martinez, I. M. Duarte. (2006). The Funnel Effect” and Recovered Bodies of Unauthorized Migrants Processed by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, 1990-2005. Unpublished report submitted to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, October 2006.

Sadasivam, Bharati (1997). The Impact of Structural Adjustment on Women. Human Rights Quarterly 19 (3): 630-665

Spener, David. (1999). This Coyote’s Life. NACLA: Report on the Americas 33(3): 22-23.

Valdéz-Gardea, Gloria Ciria (2009). Actores de la globalización: reflexiones metodo-lógicas para su estudio. In Achicando Futuros, Gloria Ciria Valdéz-Gardea, (Ed.) Forthcoming, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico: El Colegio de Sonora


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Transnational Press London

Copyright © 2003-2016 Migration Letters / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us