The work experiences of Filipino and Mexican immigrants

This week we are discussing the ways Filipino and Mexican immigrants are inserted into the U.S. economy. Not only did I discuss how immigrant workers fare, I introduced students to the organizations that fight for their rights. Of course, I highlighted the work of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns with whom I have worked for many years. Most recently I worked in support of its organizing of caregivers. I also discussed the work being done by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. All three alliances have great websites, moreover there are lots of videos produced by and about them that can be useful for students. Image

Who will care for us? Interviews with caregivers

This is a very short video produced by PAWIS Silicon Valley (see that provides a glimpse of the struggles faced by caregivers. PAWIS is affiliated with NAFCON (the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns).

Asian-Latino Comparative Im/migrations: A Focus on the Filipino & Mexican Experience

It’s a new quarter and I’m now three weeks into this course. It’s been great so far. The students seem to be taking a keen interest and I enjoy teaching it.

Here’s the syllabus. If you’re interested in the assignments I give, contact me at rrodriguez@ucdavis. edu. I’ll try to post class activities over the course of the quater.

Asian-Latino Comparative Im/migrations:

A Focus on the Filipin@ and Mexican Experience   

Winter Quater 2014


Though in recent decades, it has primarily been the immigration of Latinos that has drawn the ire of some politicians, pundits and U.S. citizens, in the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth century, Asian immigrants were reviled for being an economic and cultural threat to the American nation. This course will help you to investigate and interrogate global immigration to the United States through an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. It will focus particularly on how people from vastly different countries like the Philippines and Mexico have come to make the U.S. their home. The Philippines and Mexico are especially interesting sites for comparison because they share similar histories having experienced colonization first by Spain and then later by the United States. Just as importantly, Filipinos and Mexican workers would ultimately find themselves working side-by-side in as farm workers in the fields of California as well as in other low-wage service occupations across the U.S. Indeed, when compared to other migrant-sending countries, the Philippines and Mexico rank similarly in terms of remittance earnings (i.e. the money migrants send back to their family members in the home country). This suggests, therefore, that for both countries, migration crucially shapes the lives of those who have been left behind. The course, however, will also introduce students to other Asian-Latino encounters, particularly the migrations of Asians into Latin America and the Caribbean.

Amongst the key questions this course will interrogate include:  What individual and structural conditions produce population displacement from the Philippines and Mexico and what ways are these conditions similar or different? How have Mexican and Filipino immigrants been inserted into the U.S. economy? How is American citizenship defined and how have these ideas shaped the politics of immigration, settlement and community formation for Mexican and Filipinos? How do immigrants’ experiences of life in the United States differ across different historical moments, generations, legal status, gender, race or class? In what ways do Filipinos and Mexicans offer alternative understandings of citizenship or belonging?


Acuña, Rodolfo. 2007. Occupied America : a history of Chicanos. New York : Pearson Longman

Rodriguez, Robyn. 2010. Migrants for Export. Minneapolis: University of California Press

Guevarra, Rudy. 2012. Becoming Mexipino  multiethnic identities and communities in San Diego. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press

Rodriguez, Evelyn. 2013. Celebrating debutantes and quinceañeras  coming of age in American ethnic communities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Gonzales, Alfonso. 2013. Reform without Justice: Latino migrant politics and the homeland security state. New York: Oxford University Press.


(Approximately 2-3 readings per class meeting; please check on SmartSite for any changes in the syllabus)



PART I: Why and how do immigrants come to the U.S.?




WEEK 1:Introduction: What is the landscape of Filipino and Mexican in the U.S. and around the world; Stories of Immigration
  • -Review of the Syllabus
  • -Brettell and Hollifield (2008). “Introduction,” in Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines, Brettll and Hollifield (eds), (New York: Routledge Press): 1-29



WEEK 2: Theories, Concepts, Disciplines






How do Mexican and Philippine histories, economies, and politics as well as contemporary processes of globalization impact immigration and migration to the US?


  • Portes and DeWind (2007). “A Cross Atlantic Dialogue: The Progress of Research and Theory in the Study of International Migration,” in Rethinking Migration: New Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives.
  • Favell, Adrian (2008). “Rebooting Migration Theory,” in Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines: 259-278
  • Abella, Manolo. (1993). “Labor Mobility, Trade and Structural Change: The Philippine Experience,” in Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3.
    • Recommended:
    • Abella, Manolo. (2008). “Overseas Filipino Workers and their Impact on Household Poverty
    • Abella, Manolo (2008). “Overseas Filipino Workers and their Impact on Household Employment Decisions.”


GUEST SPEAKER: Manolo Abella

WEEK 3: How do Mexican and Philippine histories, economies, and politics as well as contemporary processes of globalization impact immigration and migration to the US? continued


  • Guerrero, Amado. (1970) “Basic Problems of the Filipino People,” in Philippine Society and Revolution, p. 38-74
  • Occupied America: Chapters 3 & 7


WEEK 4: How have Mexican and Filipino immigrants been inserted into the U.S. and global economy?


  • Kim, Joon K. “California’s Agribusiness and the Farm Labor Question: The Transition from Asian to Mexican Labor, 1919-1939.” Aztlan. Fall2012, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p43-72. 30p.


  • Occupied America: Chapter 8


  • Migrants for Export: Chapters 2 & 3
WEEK 5 How is American citizenship defined and how have ideas shaped the politics of immigration?


  • Occupied America: Chapter 15
  • ‘Obnoxious To Their Very Nature’: Asian Americans and Constitutional Citizenship. Volpp, Leti, Citizenship Studies. Feb2001, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p57-71. 15p


  • Reform without Justice: Chapter 1




PART II: Defining and Debating the terms of Belonging





WEEK 6How is non-citizenship defined? What does it mean to be defined as non-citizens?
  • DeGenova, Nicholas. 2002. “Migrant ‘Illegality’ and Deportability in Everyday Life” (p. 431-440)
  • Mae Ngai, “Introduction” of Impossible Subjects.
  • Critical Filipin@ Studies Collective: “Resisting Homeland Security Report Report”


WEEK 7: In what ways have Mexicans and Filipinos created community? What are their struggles? Becoming Mexipino

  • Mexicans, Filipinos and the Mexipino Experience
  • The Devil Comes to San Diego: Race & Spatial Politics
  • Filpino-Mexican Couples and the Forging of a Mexipino Identity

Adrian Cruz. There Will be No ‘One Big Union’: The Struggle for Interracial Labor Unionism in California Agriculture, 1933 — 1939. Cultural Dynamics March 2010 22: 29-48,

WEEK 8:In what ways do immigrants and their children craft their identities? Celebrating Debutantes

  • Intro
  • “No Two Are the Same
  • The Work of Making Memories

Anthony C. Ocampo (2013): Are second-generation Filipinos

‘becoming’ Asian American or Latino? Historical colonialism, culture and panethnicity, Ethnic and Racial Studies,

WEEK 9: The Promise and Perils of Im/migrant Politics and Activism


  • Migrants for Export: Chapters 4 & 6
  • Bloemraad, Irene, Kim Voss and Taeku Lee. Pp 3-18 from “Chapter 1: The Protests of 2006: What Were They, How Do We Understand Them, Where Do We Go?” From Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America. Eds Kim Voss and Irene Bloemraad.
WEEK 10: The Promise and Perils of Im/migrant Politics and Activism


  • Reform Without Justice: Chapters 2, 5 & 6
  • Rodriguez, Robyn (2013 ):“Beyond Citizenship,” in Identities.