Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Migrant workers
 Rural migratory labor in California:...
 Migration flows into an urban industrial...
 Processing Indochinese refugee...
 Field study problems in a refugee...
 Research summaries and reports
 Latino adversity: Culture, diseases...
 Organizations servicing Puerto...

Group Title: RIIES research notes ; no. 1
Title: Exploratory fieldwork on Latino migrants and Indochinese refugees
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00087170/00001
 Material Information
Title: Exploratory fieldwork on Latino migrants and Indochinese refugees
Series Title: RIIES research notes no. 1
Physical Description: ii, 139 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bryce-Laporte, Roy S
Couch, Stephen Robert
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (Smithsonian Institution)
Publisher: Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies, Smithsonian Institution
Place of Publication: Washington
Publication Date: 1976
Subject: Migrant agricultural laborers -- California   ( lcsh )
Migrant agricultural laborers -- Mexico   ( lcsh )
Refugees -- United States   ( lcsh )
Refugees -- Indochina   ( lcsh )
Indochinese -- United States   ( lcsh )
Trabajadores extranjeros -- EE.UU
Refugiados indochinos en EE.UU
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America -- California
Bibliography: Includes bibliographies.
Statement of Responsibility: edited by Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, Stephen R. Couch.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00087170
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 02855208
lccn - 76046749

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
    Migrant workers
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Rural migratory labor in California: Some key research issues
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
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        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Migration flows into an urban industrial center: Some key research issues
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
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        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Processing Indochinese refugees
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
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        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    Field study problems in a refugee camp: Community and bureaucracy compounded and confounded
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
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        Page 112
        Page 113
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        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
    Research summaries and reports
        Page 128
    Latino adversity: Culture, diseases and stress among Latin American immigrants
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
    Organizations servicing Puerto Rican and Virgin Islanders in New York City
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
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Exploratory Fieldwork on Latino Migrants

and Indochinese Refugees

RIIES Research Notes No. 1

Edited by


Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1976

(Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution 1976
Library of Congress Card Catalog No. 76-46749

The editors wish to acknowledge Delores Mortimer, Betty
Dyson, and Constance Trombly for their assistance in
preparation of the manuscript.

The views expressed in this volume are those of the
authors and are not meant to express the policies of
the Smithsonian Institution.


Preface i


Introduction 1

Rural Migratory Labor in California: 4
Some Key Research Issues
Nadine Robles and Richard Day

Migrant Flows into an Urban Indus- 37
trial Center: Some Key Research
Rodolfo Alvarez


Introduction 73

Processing of Indochinese Refugees 76
Joyce Bennett Justus

Field Study Problems in a Refugee 101
Camp: Community and Bureaucracy
Compounded and Confounded
Stanley F. Wiseman


Introduction 128

Latino Adversity: Culture, Disease 129
and Stress among Latin American
Immigrants -- A Summary
Lucy Cohen

Organizations Servicing Puerto 135
Ricans and Virgin Islanders
in New York City -- A Report
Carmen Allende

Work-In-Progress by RIIES Research 138
Fellows and Associates



The Smithsonian Institution is often known as a
museum of art and artifacts or a center of "hard" scien-
tific research in such traditional fields as biology,
astronomy, ecology, ethnography, physical anthropology,
or classical theory. As a research center, however, it
also has growing interests in contemporary human phenomena.
The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic
Studies (RIIES) was founded in 1973 under the administra-
tion of the Division of Science. RIIES's mission includes
research, dissemination, stiumlation and facilitation of
interdisciplinary study on immigration, and consultative
services on the broad range of knowledge of United States
One of RIIES's major foci is on recent and con-
temporary immigration to the United States, a subject
which has not to date received adequate attention from
the scholarly community. Such a focus complements the
Research Institute's goal of achieving a fuller, studied
understanding of immigration, its patterns and character-
istics, its ongoing impacts on American society and
discernible implications of the future of the international
community. The Institute's Research Notes Series falls within
this perspective.
The Series provides a forum through which persons
working on recent United States immigration can report on
the progress and preliminary findings of their research.
Its major purposes are:
To better understand the situations and ex-
periences of groups ranging from 'illusive'
and relatively 'invisible' migrant popula-
tions to Indochinese refugees on the one
and, and, on the other hand, sociological
'immigrants' from extra-territorial U.S.
jurisdictions who, because of that legalistic
technicality, are not statistically viewed
as immigrants.


To demonstrate different approaches and method-
ologies used to research these populations and
to discover the state and usefulness of various
types of data sources on these populations.
To discuss the experiences of researchers who
have tried to tap these data sources.
To gather information which will be short-lived
or is liable to soon become unavailable to
e To offer material which will sensitize future
researchers to the populations involved and to
opportunities offered by and problems with data
on these populations.

We hope that this series will help to further re-
search into the new immigration and thereby will contribute
to the Smithsonian's goal: to increase and diffuse knowledge
among men.


During the past decade increasing interest has been

shown in the structure, culture, and conditions of migrant

labor in the United States. This interest has emanated

from many quarters -- social scientists, public officials,

and human service personnel. But, substantive research

on migrant workers has been seriously hampered by a

number of structural factors inherent to the condition

of being a migratory laborer. One of these factors is

the geographic mobility of migrants. This mobility makes

it difficult for researchers to use many of the tradi-

tional methods of collection data on migrants from the

migrants themselves. An additional factor which produces

the same consequence is brought about by problems of the

legal documentation of workers. Many workers do not have

adequate documentation and are therefore reluctant to

have any contact with people who may be perceived as a

threat to the migrants' ability to live and work in this


The two research notes contained in this section

attempt to discover the extent to which private human

service and governmental agencies can provide al alter-

native source of information about migrant workers and

their conditions. Both research notes deal primarily

with Latino migrants in California -- one in a rural,

the other in an urban setting. Both reports are explor-

atory in nature and represent only part of what was a

larger research effort. The paper by Nadine Robles and

Richard Day focuses on the nature of the data on rural

migrants and why the data possess certain characteris-

tics. The work by Rodolfo Alvarez, with assistance from

Sherrin Packer, discusses two substantive aspects of the

relationship between migrants and human service organiza-

tions which should be kept in mind by individuals who

will subsequently do research on migrant workers.

The papers offer interesting insights both into the

kinds of data obtainable from service organizations as well

as some of the problems and tensions faced by migrants.

For example, the contention that the migrants are, in the

words of Robles and Day, "marginal, voiceless and often

times invisible" is supported. Alvarez correctly points

out that legal documentation represents a great source

of stress for migrants. Yet, there are serious problems

in attempting to learn about migrant workers through use

of organizational data of the kinds surveyed here. It

seems that we learn less about the migrants themselves

through studying these data than we do about the organi-

zations -- who political pressures and organizational

goals affect the data they collect and the orientations

of agency administrators; how the lack of an overall

definition of "migrant", brought about at least partially

by a lack of organizational coordination, produces

statistics which are not comparable across organizations;

and so on.

These findings imply two suggestions regarding the

need for future research, First, while valuable quali-

tative and suggestive quantitative data can be ob-

tained on migrants through government and human ser-

vice organizations, there seems to be no way around the

conclusion that major efforts must be made by research-

ers to collect primary data about migrants from mi-

grants. No short cuts exist if we are to gain solid,

reasonable data about migrants.

A second suggestion calls for a type of research

which would center on the organizations. Government

and private human service organizations and the sta-

tistics they produce are most important, both in under-

standing the complete migrant experience and in pro-

curing for migrants social and human services. Defini-

tions of problems and their magnitudes, and solutions to

those problems are based on the statistics and per-

spectives of these organizations. Studying these or-

ganizations and how they interact with their environ-

ment should not only help us to understand the nature

of bureaucracy, but may aid in the development and

implementation of fair and humane human policy,


Nadine Robles and Richard Day


This summary was prepared in order to provide the
reader with a practical orientation to some of the complex-
ities involved in doing research on rural migratory labor
in the state of California. To a large extent, the mater-
ials included in this report are the result of a prelimi-
nary information gathering and data evaluation study,
laying particular emphasis on the institutional sites of
this problem and their observed impact on the life of
itinerant agricultural workers. Our primary goal here is
to demonstrate that certain recurrent difficulties in
collecting accurate, reliable information on the State's
migrant laborers are actually a product or, more precise-
ly, an "artifact" of the situation under study.
Perhaps the most frustrating difficulties encoun-
tered in the effort to collect comprehensive data on Cal-
ifornia's rural migrants stem from two sources: First,
the State's itinerant workers represent a marginal, voice-
less and oftentimes "invisible" section of the population;
and second, the migrant service organizations located at
the federal, state, county and community levels are
isolated from one another, lacking any overall coordina-
tion or unifying vision of the problem.
The inconspicuous quality of the migrants' life
style arises not only from their constant diffuse move-
ment throughout the countryside, but from a concomitant
exclusion and, in many cases, avoidance of "normal every-
day" institutions. To the extent that they do not or

cannot participate in geographically stable communities,
they are effectively barred from the advantages inherent
in a wide variety of social, economic, and political in-
stitutions (e.g., church, education, suffrage, etc.).
This precarious sort of existence takes on a particularly
attenuated form in the case of undocumented workers (i.e.,
"illegal aliens") who must conscientiously attempt to
lead an anonymous, underground life in order to escape
the attention of the Immigration and Naturalization Ser-
vice. In short, the qualities of mobility and margin-
ality so characteristic of the migrants' life in the
agricultural hinterlands has tended to render them poli-
tically substanceless and enhance their already silent,
shadowy existence. Far from the urban centers and
beyond the "collective understanding" of the bureau-
crats and administrators charged with providing them
services, the migrant's traditional reticence to become
involved with the "official world" has helped to create
a rural subculture that brings a majority of the State's
itinerant workers into only occasional, delusory contact
with public and private agencies,
The above remarks suggest that the attempt to
obtain reliable data on the seemingly amorphous caravans
of individuals that make up California's migrant labor
force is a formidable task, These initial obstacles are
further compounded by the peculiar organization of the
migrant service agencies, the character of which also
acts to inhibit the efficient collection of comprehensive
information about the State's seasonal workers. In both
the public and private sectors, there is no superagencyy"
or master plan that serves to hierarchically integrate
the various migrant programs, prevent an overlap or
repetition of duties, or ensure a comprehensive, continu-
ous type of functioning among the several agencies.
Instead, we discover a multitude of autonomous organiza-
tions, each one with its own unique history, ethos, in-
ternal structure, boundaries, external network, and cor-

porate survival concerns. Not only do these agencies
function as independent units, but they often can be
found competing against one another for the same funds,
equipment, and clients. Presently, long-range planning
is largely out of the question since each agency's future
extends only to the expiration date of its present grant
or to the end of the legislative fiscal year, Beyond
the ever increasing pressure on organizations to provide
their donors with "visible" (e.g., statistical) evidence
of productivity, this piecemeal type of funding also
means that the life span of any particular program is ul-
timately dependent upon the State's whimsical political
climate, a climate that, today, may view the migrant
worker as an important social problem and, tomorrow,
may decide that it is necessary to sacrifice his inter-
ests to other economic priorities.
In such a milieu, information collection becomes
a haphazard affair. For example, there is no single agen-
cy capable of providing an overall map of the current mi-
gratory programs and, therefore, locating and interviewing
the representatives of five different programs did not
guarantee the discovery of a sixth migrant service. More-
over, the nature, content, and reliability of the materials
received led us to become increasingly wary of how, when,
by whom, and for what purposes a certain body of data had
been assembled. Over time, the conviction grew that many
of the inaccuracies, gaps, and incompletions in the data
were either a precipitate of the various political forces
impinging on this issue or an artifact of the goals of the
agency doing the collection. To illustrate, certain phen-
omena, (e.g., undocumented workers) were ignored or gross-
ly underestimated by certain organizations simply because
they were not supposed to exist and, in other cases, the
effectiveness of specific regulatory measures (e.g., mini-
mum wage laws) were judged on the basis of the enforcement
agency's own activities, rather than on any factual know-
ledge concerning the real frequency of violations (i.e.,

"if violations are not reported, they do not exist...").
We finally concluded that the absence of any coherent
integration among the various migrant services, along
with the systematic blind spots and biases of the donor
organizations, were the critical factors that not only
adversely affected the actual data collection process,
but, even more importantly, the nature and quality of
the information itself.

Data collection procedures utilized in this sur-
vey included the following: (1) inventorying the pub-
lished materials in Bay area libraries, (2) soliciting
research reports and service agency descriptions, (3)
personal interviews with important or knowledgeable in-
dividuals, and (4) keeping detailed field notes which
chronicled the collection of information and yielded
the subsequent network material. Entree was normally
gained into an organization by introducing the research
as being sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, whose
aim it was to gather and evaluate the currently avail-
able information on California's migratory laborers.
Reactions to this introduction were mixed, At the state
level, for example, we oftentimes were reminded that un-
der the new Governor there were no secrets from the
public, and, therefore, the files were completely open
to us. Some of the small private programs provided more
interesting receptions. One such organization would not
allow access in any form unless an adequate sum of money
was donated and until a promise had been extracted to
give the group written credit for contributing to the
report. Another community based organization reported
that it was totally preoccupied with providing services
and, hence, would not allow any of its members to be
interviewed, nor would it send any information describ-
ing its activities. It should be emphasized, however,
that a majority of the private agencies were readily

accessible, if not extremely generous with their time and
information. Since the library inventories and solici-
tation procedures (1 and 2) seem to merit little more
description, only the personal interviews and network
materials (3 and 4) will be discussed in greater detail.


The interviews were usually one-to-one inter-
actions and remained quite flexible in both length and
location. The sessions ranged from one-half-hour to
three hours in length and frequently took pla0" while
accompanying an individual on his routine tasks; they
typically occurred in private offices, kitchens, living
rooms, bars, coffee shops, and, of course, over the
telephone. Although the interviews were open-ended in
form, there was also a conscientious attempt to extract
a particular body of specialized knowledge from each
informant.. In this manner, our initial, prearranged
questions normally led to a wider conversation in which
the informant was encouraged to answer the general ques-
tion, "What do you know and how do you know it?"
If each interview period is viewed as a unique
social event, then it can be understood that the respon-
ses to our questions varied both quantitatively and
qualitatively from one session to another. Perhaps, the
subtle character of any particular interview session can
be illustrated by the case of one respondent who inquired
of us, some months after his final interview, "One thing
I've always been curious about, do you really work for
the Smithsonian?" Having been reassured that we indeed
were representatives of the Smithsonian Institution, he
noted, "I always thought it was just a great cover-
story." Thus, the content of any specific interview
period and the impressions carried away by both parties
must be viewed, in large part, as the artifact of a
complex, fluid, and oftentimes deceptive process of
social interaction.


The focus will now be altered in order to study
the pattern of referrals and contacts, and its consequen-
ces for the process of data collection. This perspective
not only yields information about the various sources of
data on migratory laborers, but provides an important
means by which one can begin to evaluate the substantive
content of the materials received. Contrary to our
early expectations, few of the projects's resources (i.e.
individuals, public agencies, private organizations, etc.)
were in communication with one another and, frequently,
one was not even aware of the other's existence. Even
more ironically, our research occasionally thrust us
into the role of "resources" for our informants and we
found ourselves facilitating the flow of information
across boundaries that previously were impervious to
communication. In this manner, it was discovered that
our several contacts lacked a coherent, interconnected
structure of formal (i.e. institutionalized) or, for
that matter, informal information channels.


(X represents contacts)


Figure 1

Instead, we found that our various referrals formed small
clusters (i.e., networks) of specialized groups that (1)
were weakly connected by unilinear links, and (2) demon-
strated few, if any ties to other existing networks.

X --- X


X X- X -----X

(X represents contacts)


Figure 2

This latter configuration of small isolates provides some
indication of why compiling the research information
became such a tedious and time consuming task.
During the course of our investigation, it also
became apparent that these networks were not composed of
random elements, rather they were linked together around
common substantive interests such as health, immigration,
labor relations, housing, etc, It is this exclusive
interaction between agencies that share similar interests
which promotes the phenomenon of "network insulation,"
Moreover, it should be noted that the specialized sub-
stantive concern of each network usually does not focus
on migratory agricultural workers, per se; the immigra-
tion network, for example, was composed of organizations
whose primary activities were directed towards a much
larger population of clients including individuals who
were experiencing difficulties with their resident or
alien status, Hence, it was only through this tangential

concern that they had become involved in or knowledgeable
about the characteristic socioeconomic problems of un-
documented farm workers and "green carders" (i.e. resi-
dent noncitizens).
This lack of intranetwork communication and the
concomitant specialization of each network was particu-
larly apparent in the informants' everyday knowledge con-
cerning the State's migratory laborers. To illustrate,
reading interests varied with each network and reflected
the segmentation of our sources; moreover, seldom did
two individuals from separate networks recommend the
same book or article for inclusion in the project's
bibliography. In a similar manner, we also discovered
that no individual or agency could provide a comprehen-
sive or integrated perspective on the problems of Cali-
fornia's itinerant laborers. Instead, interviews and
research reports usually digressed into discussions on
the nuances of the particular program's operation, a
process which left the investigators with the impression
that the organization and its available services ultimate-
ly took on a more important reality than the clients
As most respondents worked within the enclosed
boundaries of their networks, only a few "key informants"
were able to perceive the basic ramifications of their
activities and showed a familiarity with migratory
laborers that was not limited to the normal parameters
defined by the agency's substantive concerns. Here it
must be emphasized that these key informants were not
only few in number, but of immense value to the investi-
gators. Characteristically, these individuals were
second level, younger employees of an agency, rather than
a director or vice chairman, and had the type of job that
forced them to spend long periods of time in the field.
For example, one key respondent, well versed in many
facets of rural housing, directed us to a series of rele-
vant state agencies, recommended various county and

community organizations we should contact, and introduced
us to several other well informed people, knowledgeable
about different aspects of the itinerant farm workers'
socioeconomic problems. In addition, this pivotal in-
formant furnished us with many hours of insightful in-
terview material which dealt with rural housing on
several different levels of analysis. To illustrate, the
individual succinctly cited the reasons for the diminish-
ing role of the grower in the private sector of farm
worker housing and the increasing control that the labor
contractor exercises over the same camps. At a more
generalleval, he also classified the many types of housing
available throughout the state and suggested which groups
of migrant seasonal laborers were likely to reside in
each category (e.g. undocumented workers are often forced
to live in unregistered illegal labor camps), Stated
briefly, key informants were of particular value because
they directed us to contacts outside their respective
networks, helped us to integrate much of the fragmented
data we received, and provided an opportunity to cross-
check the validity of the information that had been de-
rived from other, less informed sources.


In this section, we shall discuss the overall
characteristics of the data collected in order to give
further substance to the preceding methodological com-
ments. Specifically, information purporting to describe
the socioeconomic attributes and health problems of
rural migratory laborers will be presented and evaluated,
Focusing initially upon the defining character-
istics of the migrant farm worker, we find that we have
collected a bundle of segmented descriptive material,
all of which alleges to deal with the same subject
population'but, in fact, takes into account only frac-
tured aspects of the migrant's total livelihood and

existence, Most of the programs and agencies surveyed
provide services for simply a portion of the State's
migrant labor force and, as a consequence, their per-
spective on these workers is usually a function of the
group with which they characteristically are in contact.
Beyond the amorphous attribute of having moved at least
once in the last twelve month period in search of work,
various agencies may create contrasting definitions of.
the "migrant worker" in accordance with the nonoverlap-
ing sections of the population that they serve. To
illustrate, California's Migrant Housing and Migrant
Education programs define their recipients somewhat
differently. In defining the "migrant chil4" for ex-
ample, the latter agency includes the offspring of
itinerant fishermen.
A migratory child of a migratory agricultural
worker or a migratory fisherman has moved with
his family from one school district to another
during the twelve months preceding his identi-
fication in order that the parent or other
member of his immediate family might secure
employment in agriculture or in the processing
of agricultural or fishery products.

In contrast, the defining criteria utilized by
California's Migrant Housing Agency emphasizes the fea-
tures of low income, agricultural families (i.e. a family
of four may not earn more that $3,780 annually). One
member of the household must also fit the following
A migrant is a seasonal worker in agriculture...
who finds jobs by moving each year to one or
more work locations beyond the normal commuting
distance (undefined except as the normal "day-
haul") from a place called "home." Customarily,
he returns to his home when the crop season is
over elsewhere (State of California, Migrant
Services 1975b:18 )

Quickly scanning-these definitions, it appears
that the second does not include migratory fishermen or
"high income" agricultural migrants, and neither fully
considers the case of itinerant workers traveling alone.

As a result, the data a. cted by Migrant Education
refers to a larger population than materials obtained
from Migrant Housing, and the characteristics of both
segments together fail to reflect an accurate picture
of the total migratory labor force. In general, the
concealed problem of differential definitions has created
an ongoing variance in the data populations and a con-
comitant confusion over the reliability of statistical
reports. Cortes (1974:113-114), for example, attempted
to investigate the total number of seasonal laborers
required annually to meet the national agricultural de-
mand. He finally discovered that the estimates varied
in direct accordance with the definition being employed;
that is to say, from a figure of 5,000,000 migrant work-
ers reported by Economic Opportunity and an estimate of
2,265,000 laborers derived from the U.S. Census Bureau,
to a total seasonal labor force of 963,000 individuals
as reported by the Census of AgricuZture.
Similar difficulties arise in the attempt to
ascertain the magnitude and structure of California's
agricultural labor force. Even the most comprehensive
data from the State's Employment Development Department
remains suspect since all of the information is based
directly upon reports supplied by California's growers.
Here it is important to recall that the growers have
little intrinsic interest in collecting accurate data;
after all, it is a time consuming, economically irrele-
vant chore that can be effectively handled through vague
and incomplete estimates. What is more, one must keep
in mind the occasions on which it is in the employer's
interest to manipulate or disguise the figures reported
to EDD; the most obvious examples would be in the case
of growers who employ undocumented workers and school-
age minors, or make use of other improper or illegal
labor practices. The number of these violations reported
by other sources (i.e. United Farm Workers, Immigration
and Naturalization Service) and the lack of any external

check on the growers figures suggest that the statistical
material collected under the present system is less reliable.



Migrant 2

Housing 3

Rural .

Total Agricultural 365,000
Seasonal Labor 188,200 -- 22,753
Force patients
Estimated Migrant 61,400 80,000 7,500
Population 100% migrant migrant
children families
Migrant Population
Receiving Services NA 27,685 2,799 8,882
100% 100% 100%
Interstate Migrants 34,700 651 3,608
(Home base Calif.) 56.5% 75% 23.3% 40.7%
Total Intrastate 26,700 2,116 4,884
Migrants 43.5% 25% 76.7% 54.8%
Unites States 958 2,475
Intrastate Migrants 10% 35.3% 27.7%
Mexican Intrastate -- 15% 1,158 2,409
Migrants 41.4% 27.1%

State of California, Employment

Development Department,

2Migrant Education Consultant

State of California, Migrant Services Section, 1975a

4State of California, Department of Public Health, 1972

5 Estimate supplied by an employee of California Migrant

The totally unrealistic quality of these estimates
concerning the size of California's seasonal labor force
only became fully apparent, however, after we began to

~ ~r~7~

inquire about the number of undocumented workers em-
ployed by the agricultural sector of the economy. Al-
though EDD estimated that at least 122,000 "illegal
aliens" worked in the State's fields during 1974 (State
of California, EDD 1974:16), one representative of a
private agency suggested that, "Anybody who has any real
knowledge about the magnitude of this problem wouldn't
even hazard a guess." An INS official also stated, "I
don't know how many [undocumented workers] there are,
nobody knows. I have personally pulled up in front of a
field and seen over half the workers run for cover."
Finally, a third informant related a conversation that
was held with one of his contacts living in the Central
Valley, the latter told him, "There isn't one grower down
here that I know of that doesn't make use of 'wetback'
labor." Hence, the existence of an ineffective body of
immigration law and the perennial under-funding of the
enforcement agency (i.e. INS), not to mention the econo-
mic advantage reaped by employers from the status qua, are
the key factors that promote the present shortage of re-
liable data on the actual number of undocumented workers
in California's fields. In this sense, our inability to
accurately estimate the size of the State's migrant labor
force is, to a large extent, simply an artifact of the
ongoing political and economic maneuvering which is in-
volved in the creation and implementation of immigration
Likewise, the information on migrant workers'
annual income, ethnic composition, and seasonal itineran-
cy remain equally problematic. Although most resource
agencies agree that the rural migrant earns an extremely
low income compared to other, more fortunate members of
the labor force, it is difficult to obtain reliable fig-
ures on seasonal workers' actual earnings. In 1964, it
was reported that the migrant farm worker earned between
$700 and $1,338 annually on the basis of 120 days work
(Young 1972:77), By 1970, the U.S. Census recorded that

the median earnings for a male farm laborer (including
foremen) had reached $3,749 and for his female counter-
part $1,539 annually. These two figures provide a basic
range within which most estimates fall, if one remembers
that the latter figures are grossly overvalued for the
seasonal migrant due to the inclusion of foremen and
year-round agricultural laborers. Currently, California's
Migrant Housing reports that an average family (composed
of 5.3 people) residing in a state camp earned a total
income of $3,678 annually, At the same time, however,
another informant noted that the Migrant Housing data was
not completely trustworthy because families will often-
times under-report their income, thereby insuring that
they will remain qualified to live in the camps,
In 1974, migrant agricultural workers were
finally included in the State's minimum wage law and, in
the same year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture re-
ported that the average hourly wage for farm workers had
risen to $2,63 per hour. This figure, however, can be
extremely deceptive for many reasons, First, the State's
Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) employs only 40
full-time enforcement agents in order to monitor compli-
ance with basic labor law in all of California's indus-
tries, both urban and rural. Moreover, one DIR supervisor
noted that the department's enforcement problems are
compounded by the fact that "It is particularly difficult
to get complaints from the agricultural sector; the
migrants naturally fear any type of law officer and usual-
ly do not want to become involved with them. ." Second,
the State's minimum wage does not affect the actual earn-
ings of migrant groups such as undocumented workers and
school-aged minors, who are often hired surreptitiously
and paid at a much lower rate, And third, as low as
these figures are, they still do not express the full
extent of the farm workers' impoverished and exploited
condition. For example, the minimum wage fails to take
into account the money that is often automatically



California Migrant "Spanish Surname"
Migran 21,671
Education 23,861 9
1974 90.8%

California Clinic "Mexican"
Ruralfor2a Patients
Rural 2 23,445 4090 472 80 104 346 1261
Health 29,798
1971-72 29,79 78.7% 13.7% 1.6% 0.3% 0.4% 1.2% 4.2%

Migrant "Mexican"" Mexican
California Families tAmerican"
Migrant ---
Housing 2,799 2124 583 86 1 0 1 4
1974 75.9% 20.8% 3.1% .0% .0% .0, .1%

State of California, Department of Education, Bureau of Migrant Education, 1975

2State of California, Department of Public Health, 1972

State of California, Migrant Services Section, 1975a

deducted from the migrant's salary by contractors, grow-
ers, and other agents that supply him with transportation,
food, lodging, and similar necessities -- usually at an
inflated price. Briefly, the above comments indicate
that it is presently impossible to obtain reliable infor-
mation about the actual incomes of migrant laborers with-
out first undertaking a careful budgetary study on the
microsociological level.
In terms of ethnic composition, there is a gene-
ral consensus among the available research documents that
a large'majority of California's migratory farm workers
are Mexican in origin. However, a close scrutiny of the
pertinent materials uncovers significant ambiguities
(see Table 2). To illustrate, we learned from interview
data that there is a sizable Filipino migrant population.
How was this ethnic group classified? Was it included
in the "Spanish Surname" "Oriental," or "Other" categor-
ies? Was it even considered? Similarly, are seasonal
laborers of Portugese descent categorized as "Anglo,'
"Spanish Surname," or "Other"? From a methodological
point of view, this type of rigid but ambiguous category
system may disguise the movement of various ethnic groups
into and out of the migratory labor force, while arti-
ficially inflating a certain category of workers through
an uncritical mixing of individuals from several nation-
Turning our attention to the migrants' itiner-
ancy, there seems to be little or no detailed research
concerned with the many routes traveled by California's
seasonal farm laborers. We were able to acquire a
large-scale map from the Department of Health, Education
and Welfare that traces, in very general fashion, the
travel patterns of the nation's itinerant farm workers,
and we also received descriptions of smaller, more
specific routes during several interview sessions. The
following are examples of the sketchy accounts submitted
by informants.

Figure 3



This map shows the major directions of the northward migratory movement of domestic agricultural
workers. The movement is reversed as the crop season ends in the northern Stacts and the workers drift back
to their home-base areas--for many of them, southern California, Texas, and Florid..
Southern Negroes predominate among the agricultural migrants in the East Cost States and U & citizens
of Mexican ancestlr in the other States. In addition, low-inconur southern white faisnlin, I'urto Ricans, and
Indians are found in the domestic agricultural migrant population.

Source: U.S., Department of Health, EducaL ion and
lclfare, Public .Health Service, and U.S. Department of
Labor, Bureau of Employment Security, Domestic Agri-
cultural Migrants in the United States (Public Health
Service Publication No. 540; Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govern
ment Printing Office, October, 1966)

a. There are two groups of workers that come from
Michoaca, Mexico: one group travels directly
to Watsonville and the other goes immediately
to Dixon. They work eight to nine months out
of the year, then return to Mexico during the
b. The Mexicali migrants are men who travel in a
group together. They leave their families in
Mexico and specialize in cutting lettuce, broc-
coli, and celery. On their route, they make
about three stops a year in Arizona, Califor-
nia, and Mexico,
c. There are a large number of migrant laborers
who live permanently in east Los Angeles and
commute to Salinas during the harvest season,
only to return home on weekends.

Many of our informants noted that the customary
tendency is for California's farm workers to travel north-
ward throughout the summer months, following the succesive
peak seasons for various crops. Our additional data
further suggests, however, that this general movement is
actually composed of numerous smaller migratory routes
like'the ones described above. Unfortunately, we lack
two crucial pieces of research at the present time:
first, a study of the actual travel patterns followed by
the different groups that together make up California's
seasonal labor force; and second, an analysis of the so-
cioeconomic factors that determine the emergence and
demise of these routes. In regard to the latter problem,
many of our informants indicated that travel routes may
be affected by several important variables besides the
simple availability of work: for example, (1) informal
obligations and contacts (with growers and labor contract-
ors), (2) friendship patterns (among migrants from the
same village or geographic area), (3) traditional knowledge
and habits, (4) customary priorities held by certain
ethnic groups over specific crops (Filipinos in grapes,
and Mexicans in lettuce), (5) the presence of decent fam-
ily housing or state camps, and the like, Although the
above materials are very suggestive, it is vital to em-
phasize that currently there is little hard information

about the nature of these migratory routes, and no data
concerning how these travel patterns are responding to
the changing productive organization of the State's
rural economy (i,e., mechanization),
Finally, the fragmented, reactive approach to
problem-solving currently applied by most private and
public organizations means that there is little or no
reliable information about the changing character and
demand for migratory workers in California, The remarks
of one agency vice director are apposite here: "Planning,
I Jesus, there is no way we can plan over six, maybe
eight months ahead," As a result, rising trends which
are bound to create new problems oftentimes go unrecog-
nized or simply remain undiscovered untilthey eventually
manifest themselves in the form of a full blown emergency,
A second level, Migrant Housing employee, for example,
noted in passing that the number of itinerant agricultural
families was increasing as the domestic economy continued
to decline and the opportunities for stable urban employ-
ment became more dismal. Other sources simultaneously
pointed out that the growers' drive towards mechanization
was.now creating a greater demand for "flash peak" season-
al workers; that is to say, unattached, highly mobile (and
usually male) migrants who can quickly travel from one
part of the state to another in .order to handle and pro-
cess the new strains of crops which have been developed
-to ripen all at the same time and be mechanically picked
during a single, short period in the fields,
Assessment of the potential impact of these
trends on the State's migrant labor population might an-
swer a number of questions, Since family units travel
more slowly than unattached workers, will their frequency
of work and, therefore, their real income decline? Will
there be an increased fragmentation of migrant family
units? Is the seasonal work force bound to become even
more unstable? And, what services,will be needed to
deal with this emergent problem? In this case, inability

to obtain effective estimates about the future composi-
tion and probable condition of California's rural migra-
tory population is simply an artifact of the current lack
of public and private planning for the emergent needs of
migrant seasonal workers.


The health related materials on agricultural la-
borers was gathered from a variety of sources. The main
contributors were California's Rural Health Department,
the United Farm Workers, the University of California at
Davis, the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Wel-
fare's Rehabilitation Service, and several subdivisions
of the State's Department of Industrial Relations. It
should also be noted, however, that although this project
was primarily concerned with California's rural migrant
laborers, it was difficult to obtain health information
on this specific category of workers; that is to say,
most of the available health data failed to differentiate
between migrants and other types of farm laborers (e,g.
year round agricultural employees ) From an organization-
al perspective, the information can be separated into
three levels of documentation; the first describes the
health needs of California's rural population, while the
second level analyzes the types of injuries and diseases
commonly found among agricultural laborers, and the third
is largely derived from interview material concerning some
of the routine events in a farm worker clinic, In the
following pages, we will present these materials in a con-
densed form, then evaluate their reliability for research
In much of the level one research there is an
explicit comparison between the availability of medical
services in rural and urban communities, The U,S, Census
definition of a rural region a population center of
2,500 persons or less -- was utilized by Zarate (1974;1)

to estimate that 9,1 percent of California's population,
or a total of 1,817,089 persons, live in agrarian zones,
Furthermore, statistics also show that 15 percent of the
State's agrarian dwellers have an income of less than the
poverty level as compared to 10 percent of the urban resi-
dents. In addition, the rural poor -r including the aged,
the disabled, the unemployed, seasonal and migrant farm-
workers -- suffer from higher rates of morbidity and mor-
tality than the disadvantaged/living in metropolitan
regions (State of California, Health and Welfare Agency
Task Force 1975:9). Even though the State's pov~:ty
stricken rural inhabitants are proportionately in greater
need of medical care than their urban counterparts, they
frequently remain ignorant or often fail to enroll in
California's Medi-Cal program (Simboli 1975a; 1975b).
An insight into the extent of the disparity be-
tween urban and rural health facilities can be gained
from the physician to population ratio characteristic of
both areas: in rural California, the ratio is 88.2/100,000
as compared to the metropolitan counties that have a ratio
of 194.5/100,000 (State of California, Health and Welfare
Agency Task Force 1975:6).
Data from level two focuses on health care needs
of a particular segment of California's rural residents:
the seasonal and migrant farmworkers. During the peak
season for agricultural labor it is estimated that there
are 365,000 farm workers in the State (refer to Table 1).
Zarate (1974) has reported that California's farm workers
and their families suffer from higher rates of bodily
injury and disease than the national average, while
tuberculosis, other infectious diseases, and accidents of
all kinds are 150 percent above the average for other
populations. Moreover, Fuentes (1974) has noted that the
highest occupational disease rate is shown among farm
laborers (11.9 per 1,000 workers). Finally, Cortes (1974:52)
has also discovered that although farm workers are more
often severely disabled (both partial and total) than other

members of the domestic labor force, they are more likely
to continue working than other, less severely disabled
members of the national population,

What amounts to a total disability in some occu-
pations frequently is merely a partial disability
for manual farm laborers, Payment for farm work
in piece rates, instead of hourly wages, encour-
ages the employment of the partially disabled
family member of limited productivity,
(Cortes 1974:50)

In terms of available facilities, current re-
search demonstrates that farm workers systematically fail
to take advantage of the services provided by Workmen's
Compensation (Howitt and Moore, 1975), Migrant Rehabili-
tation Services (Cortes 1974), and Medi-Cal (Simboli 1975a;
1975b) primarily because they do not know about the
existence of the program, or because farm workers are
blocked entry due to socioeconomic, geographic, and
bureaucratic barriers.
There is a portion of the farm worker population
that does seek medical aid and the Farm Workers Health Service
Report (State of California, Department of Public Health
1972) does provide descriptive statistical data on the
30,638 patients that were treated in California's rural
clinics. Much of this information is summarized in Tables
1 and 2. Here we would simply like to note that females
generally made use of the clinics more often than their
male counterparts; overall, the female to male ration was
1.6/1.0 and, interestingly enough, between the ages of
15-35 -- the prime period of life for field labor -- there
were 3.1 female patients for every single male,
In general, it can be surmised from the above
information that due to the strains of agricultural work,
the geographic isolation, and marginal/declasse status of
farm workers, they disproportionately suffer from ill
health without actively seeking the medical aid for which
they are currently eligible,
The following level three data is largely derived
from interviews and describes everyday occurences at two

California clinics that care primarily for farm workers.
In light of the fact that it is impossible to cover all
of the diverse and rich topics discussed during the course
of these interviews, only three health related subjects
will be dealt with here: (1) farm laborers and their own
peculiar physical complaints, (2) the treatment of undocu-
mented workers (i.e., "illegal aliens"), and (3) the use
of folk versus Western medicine. This qualitative data
appears to enrich the preceding statistical materials, and
also provides a body of information not usually contained
in public research reports and grant proposals (e g, the
treatment of undocumented workers), Finally, the two
clinics being described will not be treated separately and
instead, will be presented as a composite picture,
California is a huge and geographically diverse
state which contains nearly 70,000 square miles of rural
area (State of California, Employment Development Depart-
ment 1973:3) and a variety of agricultural output rivaling
most nations. The State's size results in the rural
clinics being separated from each other by great distances
and'being situated in their own unique environment, Often,
each climate, terrain, type of crop, and ethnic group
serving as farm laborers combine to create certain mani-
fest maladies that are indigenous to specific geographic
locales. As a consequence, the rural clinics tend to
specialize in treating the diseases indigenous to the
area or the ethnic group that they serve. The following
examples illustrate the high incidence of diseases which
are found among particular ethnic categories of farm
workers. Recently, large numbers of Yemenites were re-
cruited by the growers to work in California's fields,
Unfortunately, many were host to a parasitic worm which
is transmitted via water and, as a result, the Delano
clinic now specializes in treating a condition that here-
tofore was seen only infrequently, Because tuberculosis
is such a common phenomenon among Mexican laborers, the
screening test for this malady has now become a routine

part of the intake procedure practiced by many of the
clinics. Lastly, clinics in areas frequented by Filipino
workers have had to develop techniques for treating
"Valley Fever" -- a high temperature that begins in the
lungs and travels to the body joints -- since the mortal-
ity rate from the disease is 300 percent above average
for this ethnic population.
An illustration of the combined effects of
climate and required types of work can be found in the
Salinas region where there is a high incidence of arthri-
tis, back, and muscular problems. Young male lettuce
cutters, in particular, are susceptible to back maladies.

The lettuce cutters realize that it is
between the ages of seventeen and thirty
years that they are at the peak of their
earning potential. So they push themselves
and allow themselves to be pushed by their
fellow cutters and foreman. They work in
teams and are continually told to increase
their pace by the crew boss. The work
teams are also given "whites" (uppers) to
help speed up their work and lose their
awareness of pain. (personal communication)

Often the resulting back and muscular problems
are so disabling that young and middle aged men of per-
haps 46 years old are forced to retire. What happens to
these men who have a family to support, who do not speak
English, and are barely literate in their own language?
California's rural clinics also treat numerous
cases of pesticide poisoning and injury. Farm workers
frequently walk in with their infected eyes swollen shut,
others enter with rashes that cover their entire body, and
many do not seek treatment until they can no longer halt
their continuous, severe vomiting. The foregoing are
simply the acute effects of pesticide poisoning and doc-
tors are now beginning to believe that the long-term,
differential results of various pesticides may be even
more serious (i.e, reduced reflex action and a decreased
ability of the body to employ natural healing powers),

In short, the workers exposure to pesticides may not
only shorten their career in the fields, but can create
severe health problems that may follow them for the rest
of their lives.
Since the clinics will treat anyone who walks
through the door, it must be surmised that undocumented
workers are among the patients who receive medical care
at these facilities, The clinic personnel have come to
assume that the patients who have tried to treat them-
selves unsuccessfully and those who have avoided seeking
medical aid until their condition is exacerbated beyond
the point of minor treatment are undocumented workers,
Similarly, women who walk into the clinic nine months
pregnant without ever having sought prenatal care are
usually "aliens out of status." Although clinic care is
readily available in many areas, hospitalization is un
available unless the undocumented worker has cash in
hand, In brief, the above demonstrates that undocumented
workers have serious health needs that are often ignored
because they live with a constant fear of deportation and
lack financial resources to procure professional atten-
tion once their malady has gone beyond the point of
clinic aid,
As a result of the fact that a majority of
patients are either Chicanos or Mexicanos the clinic staff
must come to terms with culturally determined treatment
expectations that differ from those of Anglo medicine,
Migrant farmworkers, for example, whose home base is in
Mexicali, Mexico, often go to their own 'doctor' for what
is termed the "I.V, Cure" a treatment which the clinic
staff believes to be simply glucose fed intravenously,
In this case, a patient who requests the "I,V, Cure" is
told that this particular treatment can only be obtained
in Mexico and that his present ailment will be dealt with
through an alternative method, Thus, the "I,V, Cure" and
all other requested treatment modalities which are con,
sidered to be potentially harmful to the patient's health

are not provided at the clinics, One staff member, how-
ever, also observed that, "We sometimes are forced to
succumb to some of the patients benign but strongly held
misconceptions." To illustrate, penicillin in the pill
form is favored over the hypodermic injection because it
is easier to administer, less costly, and equally effect-
ive. Frequently, patients insist that they be given
penicillin hypodermically since they are sure that the
pills are not as potent as an injection, Generally, the
staff will resist yielding to the patient's belief until
it appears that he will either find another doctor else-
where or give up the attempt to find any treatment at
all. The same clinic official again noted, "We will
sometimes give in to the patient's demands in order to
save him some expense, The doctors in private practice
charge patients for an office visit each time a.shot is
On occasion, patients will enter the clinic and
request a "massage", a traditional treatment for condi-
tions supposedly related to the dislocation of internal
organs (e.g. bolitas or mollera caida), When no other
obvious symptoms are apparent, the clinic may refer these
patients to a local cwandero who,has an excellent repu-
tation for providing curative massages. In terms of
mental health, a staff member reported that she was play-
ing with the idea of having a "professional comadre" who
would sit with clients, listen, and advise them about
their problems, Overall, the rural clinics have not only
had to adjust their practices to the expectations of their
patients, but they have also taken some initial steps
towards integrating traditional ethnic beliefs with the
practice of Anglo medicine,
Finally, it is interesting to note that the lack
of coordination and communication between the different
clinics sometimes acts to perpetuate unsound Anglo medical
practices, Specifically, the children of migrant families
often suffer from having had too many immunizations (i.e,,

everytime they visit a clinic during their travels they
are immunized over again) or from having had none at all,
in fact, either condition is equally unhealthy, In other
words, the relative isolation and lack of communication
between, the rural health centers, along with the geograph-
ic mobility of the migrants and their children, in parti-
cular, oftentimes fosters an uncritical application of
"taken for granted" Anglo medical procedures that origin-
ally emerged from within the context of a stable community


The health documetnation at level one appears to
have a two-fold purpose: first, to identify California's
rural population and describe the inadequacy of existing
medical facilities to meet their health needs; and second,
to utilize the above as supportive evidence for increasing
Rural Health's budget. Throughout, the assumption is made
that to achieve agrarian medical services comparable to
those found in urban regions is a much sought after good,
Little consideration is given to the rural residents' heavy
reliance on alternative health services (eg, folk healers,
chiropractors) which may significantly differentiate rural
health practices from their urban counterparts and make a
simple comparison largely invalid, This omission is under-
standable in light of the fact that the data at level one
is based primarily upon U.S, Census and California Depart-
ment of Health figures which are very far removed from
ongoing, everyday health events,
Much of the level two information was derived from
a comparison of U.S. Census statistics with the Workmen's
Compensation figures made available by California's Departs
ment of Industrial Relations, However, Howitt and Moore
(1975:6) have effectively shown in their study of pesti-
cide poisoning that there is a great discrepancy between
the actual number of farm workers injured and the number
of incidents reported to Workmen's Compensation (refer to

Table 3), The implications drawn from this study suggest
that the actual number of pesticide injuries are not only
grossly underreported, but the official figures drawn
from Workmen's Compensation are inaccurate and portray a
far better picture of farm workers' health than actually
exists. This specific finding is further substantiated
on a more universal level when one recalls the evidence
that public health services are uniformly underutilized
by farm laborers. For the above reasons, one can only
conclude that there is very little reliable knowledge
about the actual health condition of California's migrant
and seasonal workers. Here one must be satisfied with
vague estimates and projections, most of which indicate
that the situation is much worse than what is currently
reported in the official documents,



Attributed to Pesticides Statewide averages, All causes, Department
Workman's Compensa- of Industrial Health
Howitt & Moore, 1973 tion Insurance "Doc- Survey, 1973.
Farm Worker Survey tor's First Report"

Confidence Levell Farm P.C.O.2 Highest Average Man-
2 3 Workers Workers Construction ufacturing

1.467 2.653 5.251 .0056 16973 4.740 3.004

SLevel 1: Definitely pesticide related.
Level 2: Probably pesticide related.
Level 3: Possibly pesticide related.

2 P.C.O. denotes workers for Pest Control Operators

Source: Howitt and Moore, 1975, page 6.

Finally, the Zevel three interview data furnished
the qualitative information necessary to fully comprehend
and evaluate the preceding statistical material. Since
many of these interviews were provided by the clinic per-
sonnel, it is obvious that we lacked equivalent material
from the farm workers themselves discussing their health
care habits, describing their working conditions, and
relating their feelings about the availability of medical
resources throughout the countryside.
Interestingly enough, each level of data provides
a unique (even if not completely accurate) perspective
which attempts to portray a bit of the reality of farm
worker health. Although none of the levels are directly
comparable, since they draw upon different data bases,
each one does complement the other and serves to illumin-
ate the weak points in different data sources. Probably
the most striking result, however, is the apparent dis-
tance between the official information purveyed in pub-
lic documents and the magnitude of the everyday health
problems that are part of the farm worker's lives. In
addition, we also have yet to see a proposal for the
future organization of California's rural medical system
that takes into account important.operating factors like
the functional specialization of regional clinics, the
effects of ethnic medical beliefs and practices, or the
peculiar health problems (e.g. over-innoculation) created
by the migratory workers' mobile life-style.


The goal of this report was to demonstrate that
much of the currently available information on Califor-
nia's migratory farm workers is riddled with incomplete,
contradictory, vague, unverified, and unrealistic state-
ments and evidentiary materials. Moreover, it has been
suggested that this situation is an "artifact" of the
problem under study and can be traced to a certain number
of fundamental sources. First, there are the conditions

fostered by the migrant subculture itself, Here we at-
tempted to point out how the constant mobility, marginal/
declasse status, and aversion of itinerant workers to the
"official world" not only expose them to an ongoing pro-
cess of economic exploitation and sociopolitical exclu-
sion, but inhibits the effective collection of reliable
information about their actual circumstances. Second, we
have also indicated that a majority of the data obtained
from public and private agencies is characteristically
fragmented, narrow, and, oftentimes, highly suspect; a
situation which, in part, reflects the peculiar segmen-
tation and lack of communication between various service
programs, not to mention the "existential" distance that
separates many urban bureaucrats from the day-to-day
realities that compose the migrant's life in the State's
agricultural hinterlands. Finally, the authors were
likewise impressed by the degree to which interpretations
derived from available materials mirrored the present
mattix of conflicting social, economic, and political
groups whose own corporate interests and survival con-
cerns have become intextricably intertwined with the
existence of a seasonal labor force. In short, the state
of the current data led us to conclude that it frequently
provides moreinformation about the ethos and operational
weaknesses of the donor organization than reliable know-
ledge about the subject it professes to describe.
The above remarks simply outline some of the
numerous pitfalls inherent in the effort to collect com-
prehensive, reliable information on California's migra-
tory farm laborers. From a methodological perspective,
they also indicate the necessity for maintaining a cri-
tical attitude towards one's informants, and emphasize
the value of employing-research techniques designed to
estimate both the limitations and accuracy that can be
expected from any particular corpus of data, During our
own field research, for example, we became increasingly
concerned with a close questioning of program represen-

tatives about "how," whenn' "where" and "by whom" a
certain body of information had been obtained; in this
manner, we were often able to surmise not only the rep-
resentativeness of the available statistical information,
but the degree of manipulation it had undergone before
reaching our hands. Similarly, a process of cross check-
ing information via other networks proved to be an effect-
ive means by which to ascertain the validity and general-
izability of materials and interpretations gathered from
restricted organizational settings, As previously noted,
"key informants" were instrumental in this procedure since
they provided knowledge and referrals which transcended
the normal limits set by institutional boundaries, In
addition, it was discovered that arranging fragmented and,
frequently, incomplete information into "degrees of dis-
tance" from the phenomena described (e.g. the "levels" in
the rural health section) served to strengthen our analy-
sis as well as provide an additional, comparative check
on the various types of data gathered in any specific area
of concern. Even though the preceding methods are, admit-
tedly, restricted to the evaluation of certain data cate-
gories, they nevertheless exemplify the necessity of
devising research techniques to overcome the "artifactual"
qualities that permeate the current information on
California's itinerant agricultural workers.


Cortes, Michael E,
Handicapped Migrant Farm Workers U,S, Department of
Health, Education and Welfare, Rehabilitation
Services, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974.

Fuentes, Jose
"The Need for Effective and Comprehensive Plan-
ning for Migrant Workers." American Journal of
Public Health V. 64, 1, 2-10, 1974.

Howitt, Richard and Charles V. Moore
"Internalizing Health Effects of Pesticides."
General Agricultural Economics v. XIV, 1975 pp. 1-14.

Simboli, Ben J.
"Is Med-i-Cal Reaching California's Rural Poor?"
A research study prepared for the state of Cali-
fornia, Department of Health, February 5, 1975
pp. 1-21.

"Medi-Cal Enrollment and Utilization: A Rural-
Urban Comparison" A research study prepared for
the State of California, Department of Health,
February 5, 1975, pp. 1,21,

State of California, Department of Education Program. Bureau
of Migrant Education.
"Statewide Ethnic Survey of the California Mi-
grant Education Probram" March 10, 1975, pp. 1-3,

State of California, Department of Industrial Relations
Work Injuries in California Agriculture 1972,

California Work Injuries, 1973 1974,

State of California, Department of Public Health
Farm Workers Health Service; Annual Report 1971-1972 1972,

State of California, Employment Development Department
Farm Labor Report 1973 1973,
California Rural Manpower Report 1974 1974,

State of California, Employment Development Department
"Midmonth Estimates of Agricultural Employment,
by Type of Worker, Report 881W," 1975, p, 1,

State of California Health and Welfare Agency Task Force
State of California Rural Health Plan April 14, 1975.

State of California, Migrant Services Section
Annual Operational Summary Migrant Family Housing Center
January December 1974 1975.
Migrant Services Program Description and Guide 1975,

United States Department of Agriculture, Statistical
Reporting Service, Crop Reporting Board
Farm Labor Washington, D,C. 1975.

Young, Jan
Cesar Chavez and the Migrant Worker New York; Messner,

Zarate, Ismael
"Rural Health in California" Presented at the
California Conference of Local Health Officers
Meeting San Diego, California. December, 1974.
pp. 1-4.


Rodolfo Alvarez

This research note is based on an attempt to use

personnel of human service organizations as key sources

of information on the flow of Latino migrant workers

through the inter-agency network of metropolitan Los

Angeles. The research frame of mind was of necessity

that of "discovery" rather than of "verification," From

the moment the research agenda was established it was

realized that the researchers were starting from "ground

zero" -- that there were no reliable quantitative data

to describe the Latino migratory worker population in

Los Angeles. Standard verificational research strate-

gies were found to be inadequate. It is hoped that our

* Professor Alvarez gratefully acknowledges the assist-
ance of Ms. Sherrin Packer, a graduate student within
the Sociology Department, UCLA. He also wishes to thank
the Institute for Social Science Research and the Span-
ish-Speaking Mental Health Research and Development
Program, both at UCLA. Special thanks are due to Samuel
J. Surace, Lloyd H. Rogler, and three anonymous review-
ers for useful comments on an earlier draft of the manu-

research may (1) stimulate attempts to identify and

define the flow more precisely and (2) describe the

ensuing response of various institutions. To the

extent that that stimulus is effective it may be

possible in future to achieve quantitative studies in

the more usual format of verificational research


In the process of conducting the research, two

substantive factors of importance to future researchers

become evident. One is that the type of documentation

(e.g. resident alien, foreign worker, etc.) held by a

worker is extremely important, both in terms of the

worker's psychology and in terms of his contact with

human service organizations. The second is that human

service organization personnel perform, in addition to

their prescribed duties, a latent socializing function

which helps the migrant in his attempts to adjust to

and gain rightful services from the American host so-

ciety. This paper will briefly discuss these two find-

ings in the hope that a sensitivity to these factors

will help researchers move towards further delineation

of social characteristics and dynamics of the migrant

worker population and the relationship of that popula-

tion to American human service organizations.


This report is based primarily on lengthy

exploratory interviews with thirty-five individuals

representing a broad variety of human service organiza-

tions in the Spanish-speaking community of metropolitan

Los Angeles. An initial group of key informants was

selected on the basis of the senior author's personal

knowledge of these agencies. These individuals were

encouraged during the course of the interview to make

suggestions for modification of the questionnaire. The

research instrument was modified further as a result of
those initial set of interviews. It must be noted that

the instrument had already gone through extensive revi-

sion in the researchers' attempt to identify critical

issues confronting the urban Latino migrant worker in

relationship to the human service agencies. Thereafter,

a second set of respondents was interviewed, While most

initial informants were directors of organizations,

many among the second set of informants were "front line"

service delivery personnel who deal with their agency's

"clients" on a day-to-day basis. As .our research devel-

oped and we began to conceptualize the process by which

Latino urban migrant workers come into contact with

human service institutions, we went back to selected

informants (as many as three or four times) to expand

upon exploratory discussions and in so doing to validate

our perceptions of this process.
In addition to the formal interviews held with

personnel of human service agencies, lengthy informal

discussions were also held with about half that number

of Latino workers. While the researchers kept field

notes of interviews with the former, they deliberately

kept no records whatever of conversations with the lat-

ter to insure against even the most remote possibility

of jeopardizing their already difficult existence.

These unobtrusive conversations took place almost ex-

clusively in Spanish and in very casual settings in the

company of mutual acquaintances: where one of the

researchers was, in a sense, a participant observer.

While both researchers interviewed agency personnel,

only the senior author held conversations with workers.

However, the research process was similar in both cases.

As particular perspectives emerged it was possible to

have them surface naturally in subsequent discussions

and compare agency personnel responses with those of


Among agency respondents, "Mexican" interviewees

were particularly cautious as compared to non-Mexican

agency personnel. Most organizations in which our

respondents were located did not include service to

migrants in their official organizational objectives.

These respondents were cognizant that indiscreet remarks,

despite our trusted status, could potentially result in

identification and deportation of persons not able to

present adequate documentation to maintain their

"immigrant" status in this country. Reaction to

blurring of the documentary status among migratory

workers led us to make a distinction among agency

personnel. (The blurring gradations in documentation

will be discussed later in this paper.) Independent of

whether they were of "Mexican" heritage, we were able to

describe some of our respondents as rule-oriented and

some as humanistically oriented. This is not intended

as derogatory but, rather, as descriptive of their

occupational performance. Some organizations specifical-

ly preclude service to migrants, some specifically permit

it, and others have policies which are silent on the

matter. With regard to immigrants, most organizations

require strict adherence to the most firm levels of

documentation. Rule-oriented officials appeared to

interpret their principal function as preventing

"shysters" from getting aid to which they were not en-

titled. For example, such officials were precise in

asking prospective "clients" very specific questions,

some of which were not strictly required by organiza-
tional policy. These queries, based on the agency

interviewer's understanding of the residency require-

ments, might ultimately lead to disqualification for

service on the basis of not having been a resident of

the service area. Humanistic administrators, on the

other hand, interpreted their principal function as the

delivery of services to people in need. During the

course of the project they were observed to be as

effective and efficient in performance of their

rule-oriented counterparts. However, their questions

and consequent interpretation of responses seem focused

on how to find ways to fulfill a "client's" human

needs rather than to see if s/he would be disqualified

by some rule. Qualitative data from workers and agency

personnel indicate that Latino migrant workers are

sensitive to these distinctive orientations among agency

personnel and, to some extent, are able to take them in-

to account when attempting to secure needed services.


Efforts to locate reliable sources of infor-

mation were made difficult because of inherent fears

and practical difficulties that beset the Latino

population in general and the Latino migrant worker in

particular. There are two principal practical issues

that permeate the entire social and psychological

existence of the Latino urban migratory worker: docu-

mentation and their lack of knowledge of universalistic

standards generally and their own rights as workers in

particular. Both of these issues are associated with

the degree to which Latino workers are able to "settle"

in a given locale. The more firm their documentation,

the greater the likelihood of becoming settled and

ceasing to be "migrants." Similarly, the more they leam

about basic human rights guaranteed to citizens in this

society, and about how to secure human services available

to them through various agencies operated on universal-

istic criteria, the greater the likelihood of becoming

settled. From the outset of this discussion, the reader

is put on notice to be sensitive to the subtle and

intricate ways in which "immigrant" and "migrant" status

are intertwined among Latino workers as much on a legal

as on a social and psychological basis. We do not pro-

pose to have the last word on these issues. We do

offer a way of conceptualizing that may help further

our understanding of this population.

A. Relationship of Types of Documentation to Problems
of Latino Urban Migrant Workers

On a scale of degrees of firmness of documenta-

tion, the Latino urban migrant worker may be classified

into roughly six categories. The most firm and secure

documentation is United States citizenship by right of

birth. Even so, native born U.S. citizens of Latino

heritage still encounter a number of difficulties often,

but not exclusively, related to their degree of

cultural distinctiveness. To the extent that they stand

out as "different" they are disproportionately subject

to abuse by both officials and lay citizens. Even

third and fourth generation U.S. citizens are vulnerable

because they often lack knowledge of their full rights

as citizens and do not have organizations to help

ensure those rights. Many persons, undoubtedly due to

poverty, are literate in neither English nor Spanish. A

migratory life style shared with small bands of fellow

migrants makes oral Spanish the only medium of communi-

cation necessary. But such a life style also reifies

a certain amount of cultural distinctiveness. For

example, the Puerto Rican is, legally, a citizen of the

United States. Yet, because he is frequently poor, he

blends in with the predominantly poor population of

Mexican heritage in the Los Angeles area. It is this

type of cultural distinctiveness as constituted by lan-

guage, constant migration and poverty, which gives

Latino migrant workers (a very large portion of the

Latino population) many of the characteristics of an

immigrant group. The fact than non-Mexican workers

from other hispanic countries tend to mix with and par-

ticipate in the socio-cultural life of the Mexican

migrant society also contributes to the distinctiveness

from the mainstream American society. Thus, actual

"immigrant" status may be the source of many difficul-
ties experienced by Latino migrant workers in each of

the five documentation categories to be subsequently

discussed. However, to the extent that native U.S.

born Latinos remain residentially concentrated and edu-

cationally disadvantaged, they, and especially migrant

workers among them, will retain many of the character-

istic disadvantages and difficulties associated with

immigrant status.

A second and somewhat less firm category of

documentation is that of the naturalized United States

citizen born outside of this country. While in the

strictest sense there may be little difference in the

rights and privileges to which native born and natural-

ized citizens are entitled, in point of practical fact

there is some considerable difference in the manner in

which these workers are treated in the work place, de-

pending upon their degree of acculturation and the

extent to which they are able to enforce their rights.

Highly educated professional workers, for obvious

reasons, are better able to secure treatment more near-

ly akin to what they are legally entitled. Similarly,

those who become naturalized early in life and have

lived in this country a long period of time are more

likely to receive treatment equal to that of citizens

his is probably due to their greater involvement in

and access to organizations able to enforce these


A third category is that of resident alien.

These are non-citizens who must register annually with

the federal government. They may own property and par-

ticipate in most social institutions with the same pri-

vileges as citizens, but may not vote or hold public

office. Their status as-officially welcomed in this

country may easily be revoked. Non-migrant aliens are

more likely to join unions and other worker associations

and thus become more integrated into our society. Fol-

lowing Castro's revolution, many Cubans emigrated to

the United States and were granted resident alien status

and/or citizenship in a program of rapid absorption.

Many were educated and, if not rich, at least not poor.

Their predominant middle class orientation along with

their "official" welcome in this country makes them

stand out in contrast to persons of Mexican heritage, a

substantial proportion of whom have held resident alien

status of much longer duration. But, probably because this

latter group is predominantly poorer and less edu-

cated, they remain relatively more isolated from major

institutions of this society. Psychologically, there

is much greater uncertainty and insecurity among these

more socio-culturally isolated resident aliens. This

especially so when border patrol and immigration offi-

cials conduct their periodic "sweeps" in search of

"Mexicans." Hundreds, if not thousands, are deported.

Their fears are fed by abundant stories of both United

States citizens and resident aliens of Mexican heritage

who, perhaps because they are unable to speak English

or prove their legitimate status at the moment, are

"rounded up" and deported. This sense of insecurity

may affect a diminishing proportion of resident aliens

from Mexico, as an increasing proportion come in under

new immigration regulations giving priority to visa

applicants who have relatives in this country or who

have skills in short supply.

A fourth category is that of documented foreign

worker. Whether the worker is migrant or settled, there

are various forms of documentation admitting persons

into this country for the purpose of working in

specified areas for specified periods of time; for

example, the well known "green card" holders. These

forms of documentation appear to be more or less diffi-

cult to acquire depending on the stage of the business

cycle in this country and the resultant pressures on

elected and appointed public officials. In California,

the vast majority of Latino workers in this category

come from Mexico and generally perform unskilled manual

labor. Those that come on government supervised pro-

grams usually go to rural agricultural employment with

relatively assured compensation and protections while

in this country, and are returned to Mexico at the com-

pletion of their sojourn. While there is no basis in

principle for these programs to be restricted to agri-

cultural work, we know of no such programs for urban

industrial workers. Moreover, in the recent economic

recession, such programs have been severely curtailed

or have gone out of existence altogether.
A fifth category may be described as that of

"inadequate documentation." This includes persons

with a variety of different types of documents such as

tourist visas. The inadequacy results from the fact

that while they may have proper documentation for one

purpose, they do not have proper documentation for the

purpose of long term gainful employment in this country.

The psychological pressure of being under constant

threat of discovery can be great. People in this cate-

gory are under psychological and social pressure not only

of discovery and deportation, but of exploitation

by all manner of unscrupulous persons ranging from em-

ployers and business persons to government officials.

We have been unable to find reliable evidence as to the

size of this population that can be considered to be in

this country "illegally"only in the narrow sense of

having overstepped the limitations of their documenta-

tion to some greater or lesser extent. We have been

privileged to hear numerous stories of how industrious

and enterprising persons are able to earn enough money

during these sojourns to be able to establish connec-

tions with employers who are prepared to sponsor them

as persons with critically valuable skills and/or to

marry U.S. citizens, either or both resulting in

securing a high priority in subsequent application for

a permanent visa.

A sixth and final category consists of those

persons who hold no official documentation whatsoever

for their residence in this country. This is perhaps

the population of workers, whether migrant or settled,

that is most psychologically vulnerable to the constant

threat of detection and deportation. As in the case of

the fifth category, there is no point even to mention

the various estimates of population size because such

speculations can only be totally unreliable. It is

possible to speculate that since they are in this coun-

try without any form of documentation, it may be due to

lack of education and/or financial resources with which

to obtain even a temporary visa. Thus, both due to the

lack of documentation and the reasons for it, this pop-

ulation becomes the most easily and frequently exploit-

ed We have heard numerous stories of employers whose

places of business are conveniently "raided" by immi-

gration officials just prior to pay-day, thus exposing

the undocumented worker to deportation without even the

low wages to which s/he is entitled for work performed.

Partly due to the temporary nature of the employment

that undocumented workers are able to secure, and part-

ly out of fear of detection and deportation, the most

usual employment pattern is that of migration from one

job and locale to another. Many undocumented workers

indicate they merely wish to make enough money to re-

turn to their country of origin with the ability to buy

a plot of land or make some other desirable investment.

However, many, especially those with multiple long work

sojourns in this country, indicate that given the oppor-

tunity they would officially emigrate. It is sociologi-

cally possible, if not legally so, to view a large

proportion of the undocumented worker population as

permanent immigrants who happen to live in this country

with the constant threat of deportation.

Problems of documentation obviously present the

migrants with a number of structural and psychological

troubles. In addition, documentation and its conse-

quences have implications for those of us trying to tap

human service agencies for data on migrants. One can

reasonably expect that migrants with documentation

problems are -ess likely to seek assistance from human

service organizations for fear of being detected. This

means that any data the researcher obtains will most

likely be biased towards migrants with more adequate


B. The Agency Official as Socialization Agent

Over and above their obvious role in perf ming

specific public service, human service organizations

perform a very valuable, latent function for migrant

workers. They provide a relatively "safe" context

within which a continuing series of different types of

interpersonal exchanges take place, resulting in social-

ization of the Latino migrant worker to the universal-

istic rules and value perspectives of modern urban in-

dustrial society. These organizations operate by

specified rules which are in principle applied equally

to the universe of "clients" who fulfill specified

conditions. Special personal favors normally do not

play a major generalizable role in rendering services

to clients. Regardless of the degree of documentation

a migrant worker might have, once he is defined as an

"eligible client," services are rendered according to

what he is entitled to by the rules. (The more contact

a person has with an agency and the more frequently he

associates with persons who have received services from

an agency, the more precisely he can ascertain the na-

ture and type of service available.) In the case of

inadequately and undocumented migrant workers, this may

make the difference as to whether or not they settle in

a given locale with the objective of ultimately securing

firm documentation. A migrant lifestyle is frequently

inseparable from the fear of discovery and deportation.

For all documentation categories, the fear of exploita-

tion is reduced when treated according to general rules

applicable to all. Increasing knowledge of these uni-

versalistic standards facilitates participation in other

social institutions and decreases dependency on personal

relationships with any sort of political or economic

boss. What is being suggested here is that, in effect,

organizations cultivate and educate constituencies which

call upon them for assistance. But also, knowing how to

relate to an agency is a skill that is transferable to

relationships with organizations in general. Knowledge

of workers' own rights goes hand in glove with the de-

gree of participation in and access to organizations

that, directly or indirectly, can help enforce those

rights. The psychological predisposition to learn

about and operate under the guidance of universalistic

norms requires that the individual have rights enforce-

able by law. Increasing knowledge of such rights makes

resident alien status and citizenship all the more de-

sireable for those whose documentation is insecure and

whose original primary motive in coming to this country

was simply the prospect of earning more money than they

would have in their country of origin. The undocumented

or improperly documented person would not have full re-

course to the law for most problems. Solutions to prob-

lems of existence experienced by inadequately or un-

documented workers in modern highly organized rule-

oriented society most frequently depends upon attachment

to a "political" or "economic" boss for favors and

imagined, if not real, protection. This very attachment

is an impediment to the individual's obtaining personal

knowledge of available employment opportunities and

human services that would increase the capacity for

self-reliance. Dependence on a "boss" does have the

advantage of increasing predictability in one's life.

It is the measure of predictability that makes the

individual's life tolerable. Even a highly exploita-

tive relationship provides some security in that allow-

ing oneself to be exploited prevents one from being

denounced and deported. The seemingly everlasting hope

is that time is on the migrant's side. The longer one

can maintain a relationship to protectors, service

agencies, and society in general, the more knowldege

one gains on how to keep the relationship going, and the

greater the probability of getting that "lucky break"

through which secure documentation will be obtained in

the case of "immigrants," or, in the case of citizen

migrant workers, greater economic security.

Over and again we see emerging from our field
experiences with our respondents bits and pieces of

insights and descriptions which when fitted together

lead us to conceive of both rule-oriented as well as

humanistic officials as socialization agents that play

an important role in acculturating Latino migrants to

life in the city. In the sense that they help the

migrant acquire generalizable knowledge and normative

perspective by which they can help themselves, these

agency officials are "leaders" in the best sense. We

distinguish a "leader" from both a "patron" and from a

political "boss" in that these latter exercise non-

ideological power and influence by virtue of having

constituencies that are personally dependent upon them

for social and material favors. Their constituencies

are not so much loyal followers as they are material

dependents, as may be revealed by frequent and severe

measures taken against those who remain materially

subservient and punish those who seek better material

reward elsewhere. As Rogler (1974) points out, the

Puerto Rican political boss in the eastern city of

Maplewood, as much as the classic Mexican-American

patron in Mountain Town, Colorado, both lose their

capacity to hold their constituencies when they lose

the economic base from which to reward their dependent

legions. The modern leader, on the other hand, provides

perspectives and ideas whereby constituents can inde-

pendently seek their own betterment, either to make

successful claims for benefits universalistically

available to all who meet required conditions under

given rules and laws, or to organize-themselves for the

purpose of creating the rules under which they would

qualify for rewards society can bestow. Thus, consti-

tuents are not in any kind of.personal bondage to a

leader. On the contrary, a diffuse but long term sense

of loyalty can develop since a leader can always be

credited with having exposed the person to the ideas

that started that person on the road to self-reliance

and self-sufficiency. Moreover, a constituency may have

multiple leaders from which to draw ideas with which to

deal with a variety of issues and tasks. The patron and

the boss tend to have their constituents almost totally

beholden to them for everything. The classical role of

the patron was based on the land tenure system of the

colonial period and, of course, has long since passed

from the modern scene. Rogler's comparative analogy of

that system to that of the ethnic political boss is

based on the notion that control of political networks

allows for virtual control of all material benefits

available to a Latino migrant population from public

organizations in the city of Maplewood. Unlike Maple-

wood, the city of Los Angeles is one of the largest and

most modern in the world. It is unlikely that only one

ethnic political boss ever emerged among the Latino mi-

grant population of Los Angeles. Although there are

several interesting historical examples analogous to

that of the ethnic political boss described by Rogler

(1974), these examples are of a minor scale and, more-

over, were very small enclaves in various parts of the

city to the extent that they existed. What we have ob-

served is a phenomenon more or less half way between the

completely universalistic set of secondary relation-

ships normally thought to characterize bureaucratic or-

ganization on the one hand, and on the other, the almost

purely particularistic set of personal relationships

that normally characterize political machines and boss-


The human service organization administrator and

front line service deliverer are in a sense unsung heroes

teaching migrants how to survive in the city. Both rule

oriented and humanistically oriented personnel in these

organizations serve the unintended function of providing

migrants with the techniques, information, and values by

which they can become relatively independent and self-

sufficient in securing assistance in all of the many

forms in which it is made available by local, state and

federal institutions in our society. Interpersonal ex-

changes with rule-oriented personnel in service organi-

zations adversely affect the migrant, who either by

reason of inadequate documentation or by reason of in-

sufficient length of residence in the city is denied the

assistance needed to care for self and family. As often

as not, this occurs in a moment of crisis for the family.

A cautiousness against volunteering any but the most

directly relevant information required by the situation

is learned. Through this sort of trial and error mi-

grants increase their knowledge of rules and conditions

under which eligibility for assistance is determined.

Interpersonal exchanges with humanistically oriented

personnel of organizations may be said to reward the

migrant for knowledge of various forms of assistance

available, including the specific conditions required

for any given service, and for self-confident limited

requests for specific services. Limited statements of

information on points that qualify an individual for a

given service, presented in a self-confident manner

that focuses on the deep human need under consideration,

may lead officials away from general requests for infor-

mation that might ultimately disqualify a "client." As

the "rules of the game" are learned, they are transmit-

ted by word of mouth throughout the migrant worker com-

munity. Family relations are, of course, excellent con-

duits of survival information. Within the extended

Latino family, one may find both citizens and non-citi-

zens with all levels of documentation previously dis-

cussed. As in the case of Irish and Italian immigrants

to the east coast of the country in other eras, the

close knit Latino family plays an important part in

helping the Latino urban migrant worker to make appro-

priate contacts with officials in human service agencies

who are known to be sympathetic. The family is fre-

quently instrumental in helping the migrant find a home,

job, transportation, doctor, school for the children,

and legal aid. Conversations with migrants and agency

officials confirm observations that the cultural heri-

tage of Latin people generally, and Mexicans in particu-

lar, is one of intensive social participation inside the

extended family structure (Almond and Verba, 1963, chap-

terl0; Scott, 1959, 93-35). However, if social science

is to avoid romantic notions about the Latino family,

research will have to specify how it differs from the

role of the traditional Irish or Italian family in the

immigrant experiences of those ethnic groups. Our point

here is that it serves a major communications function

for the Latino urban migrant. Among the most important

items of information that the extended family network

may carry is when and how to deal with which officials

in particular agencies about particular services in

order to survive in the city as self-sufficient individ-
uals that are not personally beholden to any "boss" or
"patron." Rather, both rule-orientea and humanistically

oriented agency officials serve the role of teachers

through whom the migrant learns increasing amounts of

knowledge about how to survive in the city and acquires

the universalistic values by which to employ this know-

ledge (Gottfried, 1968; 248-52).


There is every reason to believe that the Latino

community in this country is increasing its utilization

of human service organizations. This is so despite the

considerable evidence that these services are under-

utilized by Latinos, as compared to almost every other

population on which data are available. Underutilization

may be partly due to cultural values which stress self

reliance and family solutions to problems. It may also

be due in part to an aversion to, if not a fear of, any

kind of formal or official organization. Stories abound

of how interaction with officials ultimately leads to

difficulties with immigration authorities, even for per-

sons who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens. Never-

theless, there is evidence that Latino "clients" do use

services provided by organizations in which they per-

ceive themselves to be welcomed, as evidenced by the

existence of Latinos in the employ of such organizations.

The last decade has been marked by the increase of or-

ganizations directed and staffed by Latino personnel at

all levels. Thus, emerging evidence is that the Latino

population is increasingly utilizing these services.

As utilization of services by the Latino popu-

lation increases, it should be increasingly possible to

design research projects on which to make quantitative

estimates of the size of the migrant worker population

in this metropolitan area. No doubt problems will con-

tinue to plague researchers, especially with regard to

estimates of persons with less than the most firm levels

of documentation. However, federal immigration policies

may be significantly altered in the near future, thus

reducing if not eliminating the problem of documentation.

At that point, it will be easier'to collect data on mi-

grant and settled workers. Another possible future de-

velopmant is that human service organizations may be

permitted some kind of immunity whereby they might offer

services to all who otherwise qualify without regard to

their documentation status. In any case, we believe that

human service organizations provide a major potential

source for research on migrant workers. It is hoped that

this paper will help sensitize researchers to some of the
importantfactors which need to be kept in mind when doing

this type of research.


This bibliography is only suggestive of the
kinds of books, journals, and articles that are avail-
able to the researcher. The list should be employed
as a tool for developing an orientation to the subject
preliminary to the planning and conducting of the data
gathering portion of the study. Due to the recent emer-
gence of interest in the phenomenon of the urban migrant,
the present library information retrieval system is not
useful. Researchers must go through existing works in
order to pull out small sections relevant to the topic
of urban migrants. Therefore, researchers should con-
centrate their efforts on going through current (post-
1969) reference works such as: The Sociological, Psycho-
logical, and World Agricultural Economic and Sociologi-
cal Abstracts, A few suggested headings under which to
check the presence of relevant topics are: Urban Stud-
ies, Urban Services, Spanish, Mexican, Occupation and
Future researchers are advised to contact the
Employment Development Department of the State of Cali-
fornia, formerly the Rural Manpower Service/Farm Labor
Office. Regions IV and V of this agency may be helpful
as an additional source of bibliographic material, since
they have initiated a descriptive study on migrants in
the Greater Los Angeles area which will be completed
in 1976.


Allen, Vernon L.
"Personality Correlates of Poverty." In V.L.
Allen (ed.) Psychological Factors in Poverty, Chicago:
Markham, 1970. (pp. 242-266).

Almond, Gabriel and Sidney Verba
Civic Culture. Boston: Little Brown, 1963.

Alvarez, Jose Hernandes
"Demographic Profile of the Mexican Migration to
the United States, 1910-1950." Demografia y
Economic 1:18-39, 1967.

Alvarez, Rodolfo
"The Psycho-Historical and Socioeconomic Devel-
opment of the Chicano Community in the United
States." Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 53, (March);
pp. 920-942, 1973.

"Latino Community Mental Health", Monograph num-
ber 1, Spanish Speaking Mental Health Research
and Development Program, UCLA, December, 1974.

"Delivery of Services for Latino Community Mental
Health" (ed.), Monograph number 2, Spanish Speak-
ing Mental Health Research and Development Program,
UCLA, April, 1975.

Alvirez, David
"The Consequences of Migration to the United States
on Men from Monterrey." M.A. thesis, University of
Texas at Austin, 1970.

"End to Green Card System is Proposed," McAllen,

ITxas: Valley Evening Monitor, Tuesday, April 6
1971, p,2.

"Economic Research of Interest to Agriculture
1970-1972.'. Berkeley, California: U.S.A. Ag-
riculture Experiment Station, University of
California, 1973 (25 pp.)

"Grants to States for Migrant Children," Ameri-
can Education, 7 June 1971, p. 32.

Autonomous Center for Social Action (CASA).
"Daily Repression Encountered by Immigrant
Workers." CASA Newsletter, Los Angeles Cali-
fornia, 1975.

Aranda, Roberto M.
"Migration, Culture and Health of Mexican-Ameri-
cans." ERIC Abstracts No. 055-722, Vd. 2, No 67, 1967.

"Preliminary Study of Nutrition of Preschool
Children." ERIC Abstracts No. 054-897, Vol 7,
No. 1; 1972.

Arriaga, Eduardo E. et at.
"The Magnitude and Character of California's
Population Growth." Paper presented at the Sym-
posium on California Population Problems and
Policies, March 1971. Mimeographed by California
Legislative Assembly Council.

Bodin, Raymond and J. Sabatini
"La Main d'Oeuvre Etrangere en Provence, C8te
d'Azur, et Corse." Echelon Regional de 1'Emploi,
Marseille, France 19.71.

Briggs, Vernon M.
Chicanos and RuraZ Poverty. Baltimore: John's Hopkins University

Press, 1973.

Browning, Hanley L. and W. Feindt
"Selectivity of Migrants: A Mexican Case
Study." Demography, 3:347-357, 1969.

Catani, Maurice
L'Alphabetisation des Travailleurs Etrangers. Tema-
Formation. Paris, France, 1973.

Cavard, Denise and A. Cordeiro
Travailleurs Immigris et Formation: Motivation et Con-
texte Socio-Economique. University des Sciences
Sociales. IREP, Grenoble, France, 1974.

Cheyney, Arnold B. and Herbert W. Wey
"National Goals for Migrant Education." Paper
presented at the National Conference on Migrant
Education, May 15-17, 1968, Denver, Colorado.

Crozier, Michel
"Le Probleme de l'Innovation dans les Organiza-
tions Economiques." Sociologie du Travail, January/
March, 1968.

Davis, Kingsley
World Urbanization 1950-1970, Vols. 1 and 2. Berkeley:
University of California Institute of Internation-
al Studies Population Monographs, Nos. 4 and 9,
1969 and 1972.

(ed.) Cities: Their Origin, Growth and Human Impact (Readings
from Scientific American). San Francisco, W.H. Free-
man, 1973.

and Frederick G. Sayles (eds.)
California's Twenty Million: Research Contributions to

Population Policy. Berkeley, California: Universi-
ty of California Population Monograph No.10, 1971.

Eldridge, Hope T.
"Primary, Secondary and Return Migration in the
United States." Demography, 2:444-445., 1965.

Elizaga, Juan C.
"International Migration: An Overview." Inter-.
national Migration Review 6(2); 121-146, 1972.

Fogel, Walter
"Job Gains of Mexican-American Men." Monthly Labor
Review, 91:22-37, 1968.

Friedman, M.
"Migrant Workers." Newsweek, July 27, 1970 76:60.

Galarza, Ernesto
Merchants of Labor. Santa Barbara California:
McNally and Loftin Publishers, 1966.

Spiders in the House and Workers in the Field. Notre
Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1970.

Gamio, Manuel
The Mexican Immigrant, His Life Story, Autobiographic
Documents, New York, Arno Press 1969.

Mexican Immigration to the United States, New York, Arno
Press, Reprint 1939 edition, 1969.

Gecas, Viktor
"Self Conceptions of Migrant and Settled Mexican-
Americans." Social Science Quarterly 54(3): 579-
595, 1973.

,.ottfried, Alex
"Political Machines." International Encyclopedia of
the Social Sciences. Vol. 12:248-52. New York:
Macmillan and Free Press, 1968.

Grebler, Leo
The Mexican-American People. Illinois: Glencoe Free
Press, 1969.

et. at., Mexican Immigration to the U.S. Los Angeles;
Graduate School of Business Administration,
U.C.L.A., 1965.

Guichard, Jean-Paul
"Les Relations Entre les Migrations Interieures
et Exterieures." Mimeograph. Atelier Meditera-
neen de Prospective. Nice, France, 1972.

Heller, Celia S.
New Converts to the American Dream? Mobility Aspirations
of Young Mexican-Americans. New Haven, Conn: College
and University Press, 1971.

Hernandez, Jose A.
"A Demographic Profile of Mexican Immigration to
the U.S.; 1910-1950." Journal of Inter-American Studies
8, (July);47-96, 1966.

"Foreign Migration in California's Growth." In
Davis and Styles (eds.) California's Twenty Million.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.

With L. Estrada and D. Alvirez
"Demographic Correlates of Group Achievement:
Contrasting Patterns of Mexican Americans and
Japanese Americans." Social Science Quarterly, 53:
671-687, 1973.

Hunt, Gerard J. and Edgar W. Butler
"Migration Participation and Alienation." Sociolo-
gy and Social Research, 56(4):440-452, 1972.

Hymer, E.
A Study of the Social Attitudes of Adult Mexican Immigrants
in L.A. and Vicinity. San Francisco: R and E Research
Associates, 1971.

Jordan, Louis
Mexican-Americans: Resources to Build Cultural Understand-
ing. Littleton, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited,
Inc., 1973.

Karp, Herbert K. and Dennis Kelley
Toward a Sociological Analysis of Intermetropoiltan Migra-
tion. Chicago: Markham, 1971.

Keller, Suzanne and Marisa Zavaloni
"Ambition and Social Class: A Respecification."
Social Forces, 43(October):58-70, 1964,

"The Social Role of the Urban Slum Child: Some
Early Findings." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,
33, (June):823-831, 1963.

Kram, A.
"Basic Business for Migrant Workers Children,"
Business Education Forum, 25(March);16-17, 1971,

Lansing, John and Eva Mueller
The Geographic Mobility of Labor. Ann Arbor: Universi-
ty of Michigan, Institute for Social Research, 1967,

Lee, Everett S.
"A Theory of Migration." Demography, 3:47-57, 1966.

Litwak, Eugene and Ivan Szelenyi
"Primary Group Structures and Their Functions:
Kin, Neighbors, and Friends." American Sociological
Review, August, 1969, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 465-481.

"Technological Innovation and Theoretical Func-
tions of Primary Groups and Bureaucratic Struc-
tures." American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 73, No.4
pp. 468- 1968.

Mangin, Stanislas
"La Formation des Travailleurs Etrangers en Entre-
prise." Round-table discussion of 18 January, 1973,
in Vivre en France, May, 20, 1973.

Mann, Michael
Workers on the Move: The Sociology of Relocation. New
York: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

Marie, Michel, et al.
"Conflits et Travailleurs Immigres dans la Region
Parisienne." Mimeographed, CSEP; June, 1973.

and R.J. Dos Santos
"Societ6 Francaise et Travailleurs Immigres."
Mimeographed. vCORDES;.August, 1971.

and R.J. Dos Santos
"Migrations et Force de Travail."Espace et
Societes,Number 4, 1971, Paris.

Massoth, D.
"Teaching Nutrition to the Migrant Worker."
Forecast for Home Economics,17(February):74, 1972.

McCready, A.M.
"Migrant Youth Today: Highlights of a Study of Alameda
County, California." Child Welfare, 50 (December) 560-572'71.

McDonnell, John J. and Elizabeth J. duFresne, Cahill,
Gordon, Sonnett, Reindel and Ohl
"The Migrant Labor Camps: Enclave of Isolation
in our Midst." Fordham Law Review, 40 (2):279-304, 1971.

Mikrut, John J., Jr.
"Adult Education for Migrants." Journal of
Extension, 8(4) :46-52, 1970.

Miller, Walter B.
"Forcal Concerns of Lower Class Culture." In
L.A. Ferman, et al., Poverty in America. University
of Michigan Press, 1968. (pp. 261-270.)

Moore, Joan W.
"Mexican-Americans and Cities: A Study in Migra-
tion and the Use of Formal Resources." International
Migration Review, 5(3):292-308.

Nelkin, Dorothy
"Responses to Marginality: The Case of Migrant
Farm Workers." British Journal of Sociology 20(4):
375-389, 1969.

Oriol, Michel
"Domination Culturelle et Domination Economique."
A communication to Colloque sur les Travailleurs
Etrangers en Europe Occidentale. Aparaltre.

et at.
Les effects de la Formation sur les Travailleurs
Immigres. Centre Associe de Formation aux Relations
Interculturelles. Institute d'Etudes et de Re-
cherches Interethniques et Interculturelles,
University de Nice, 1975,

Pallerson, M.G. et at.
"Extending the Role of the School Nurse to
Migrant Families: Fresno Co.." The Journal of
School Health,41(October) :421-424, 1971.

Parent, Michael
"Ethnic Politics and the Persistence of Ethnic
Identification." American Political Science Review,
61(September):717-726, 1967.

Penalosa, Fernando
"Education-Income Discrepancies Between Second
and Later Generation Mexican-Americans in the
Southwest." Sociology and Social Research, 53:
448-454, 1969.

Poston, Dudley L. and D. Alvirez
"On the Cost of Being a Mexican-American Worker."
Social Science Quarterly,53:697-709.

Pratt, M.
"Effect of Mechinization of Migrant Farm Workers."
Social Casework, New York, February, 1973, 105-113.

Price, Daniel O.
"Rural to Urban Migration of Mexican-Americans,
Negroes and Angelos." International Migration Review,
5:281-291, 1971.

Rogler, Lloyd H.
"The Changing Role of a Political Boss in a Puerto
Rican Migrant Community." American Sociological Review,
February, 1974, vol. 39, No. 1, pp 57-67.

Migrants in the City: The Live of a Puerto Rican Action
Group. New York: Basic Books, Inc, 1972.

Roysher, Martin and D. Ford
"California's Grape Pickers Will Soon Be Obsolete."
New Republic, 158 (April, 1968): 11-12, 159(May):4-41.

Sarbin, Theodore R.
"The Culture of Poverty, Social Identity and
Cognitive Outcomes." In V.L. Allen (ed.),
Psychological Factors in Poverty. Chicago,
Markham (pp.29-46.) 1970.

Scheff, Thomas J.
"Acculturation and Ties to Former Home of Mexican-
Americans in an Industrial City." International
Review of Community Development,15-16:239-244, 1966.

Schneiderman, Leonard
"Value Orientation Preferences of Chronic Relief
Recipients." Social Work,9(July, 1964):13-18.

Scott, Robert
Mexican Government in Transition. Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1959.

Shannon, Lyle and M. Shannon
Minority Migrants in the Urban Community: Mexican-American
and Negro Adjustment to Industrial Society. Beverly Hills,
California: Sage Publications, 1973.

Shryock, Henry S.
Population Mobility Within the United States. Chicago:
University of Chicago Community and Family Study
Center, 1964.

Social Science Quarterly
"The Chicano Experience in the United States." Special
Topical Issue, Vol 53, March, 1973.

Steiner, Paul E.
Cancer, Race, and Geography: Etiological, Environmental,
Ethnological, Emidemiological and Statistical Aspects.
Baltimore: Williams and Williams Company, 1954.

Suval, Elizabeth M.
"Selectivity in Migration: A Review of Litera-
ture." Technical Bulletin, No. 209: June, 1974,
North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station.

Talbot, Jane
A Comprehensive Chicano Bibliography. Austin, Texas:
Jenkins Publishers Co., 1973.

Tapinos, Georges
L economice des Migrations Internationales .Foundation
National des Science Politiques, Editions Armand
Colin. Paris, France, 1974.

Tauber, Karl E., L. Chiozze and W. Haenszel
"Migration in the United States: An Analysis
of Residence Histories." Public Health Monograph 77.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing
Office, 1968.

Thomas, Brinley
Migration and Urban Development: A Reappraisal of
British and American Long Cycles. London: Methuen.

Turner, Ralph H.
"Some Family Determinants of Ambition." Sociology
and Social Research, 46(July, 1962) :397-411.

Uhlenberg, Peter
"Demographic Corellates of Group Achievement:
Contrasting Patterns of Mexican-Americans and
Japanese-Americans." Demography, 9:119-128, 1972.

"Minorities in California's Population." In Davis
and Styles (eds.) California's Twenty Million.
Berkeley: University of California Press(pp 93-106)

University of Southern California
Agencies and the Migrant: Theory and Reality of the Migrant
Condition. Los Angeles: Phillips Hall of Education,

U.S. Cabinet on Opportunities for Spanish Speaking People
The Spanish-Speaking People of the U.S., a New Era.
Washington, D..C. .U.S. Government Printing Office,

Weiner, Dandra
Small Hands, Big Hands: Seven Stories of Mexican-
American Migrant Workers and their Families. New York:
Pantheon, 1970.


Few papers in the social sciences tend to focus
on problems of data gathering. It is, of course, more
exciting to discuss findings rather than research problems.
Yet ideas and experiences of others at this level can be
greatly beneficial to researchers who may find themselves
someday in a similar research situation. The benefits can
be particularly great when the population under examination
is in some way especially "distinctive." This is the case
with the two research notes which follow. Both papers deal
with the same distinctive population -- the Indo-Chinese
refugees who were initiated into American life at Camp
Pendleton, California.
This particular population is interesting both be-
cause of its sociological character as a group of "refugees"
and because of the temporary nature of their community at
Camp Pendleton. As with all temporary communities, Camp
Pendleton is of interest to students of social organization.
How are formal and informal organizational structures set
up? How effectively do they operate? How do the processes
involved differ from those which take place in communities
of a more permanent nature? Also, this community puts
great pressure on researchers -- if data are not gathered
quickly, they will be lost forever.
As refugees, the population under examination dif-
fers from other "immigrant" groups in several ways. Such
people suffer emotional experiences of a particularly dif-
ficult kind because of the nature of their separation from
their homeland. Since they entered this country together,
in large numbers, they can be expected to share certain
difficulties, anxieties and illnesses which are derived
from their common situation. Yet they may receive a good
measure of emotional support from fellow refugees who were
all, in an important way, "in the same boat." Also, the
fact that so many entered at once created tremendous chal-

lenges for those in the United States who had the task of
helping them adjust to American life. Out of these chal-
lenges came advantages for the refugees in the form of
certain types of legal and humanitarian aid. At the same
time, problems such as finding jobs and homes were st '1
very difficult to solve. Moreover, the very fact that
various types of aid were offered to the refugees forced
them to attempt to adjust very quickly to dealing with a
bureaucracy which was foreign and alien to some of them --
in particular, those who came from lower class backgrounds.
This made their cultural adjustment even more difficult.
For the researcher, the refugees offer an oppor-
tunity to investigate a vast array of interesting and im-
portant questions. What problems of adjustment do the
refugees encounter in camp? How are they handled, both by
the refugees and by government and private agency officials?
Can these problems help us anticipate and ameliorate prob-
lems the refugees will face after leaving the camp? What
kinds of social structures emerge and are used by the refu-
gees to help them cope with their new life? Do ethnic and
class boundaries carry over from their homeland to the
United States?
These are some of the questions which led these
researchers into collecting data on this transitory popula-
tion. Joyce Justus and Stanley Wiseman come from different
social and academic backgrounds and perspectives. Justus
is an anthropologist; Wiseman a political scientist. Their
approaches and their methods, therefore, differ. Yet, due
to the fact that both were trying to gather data from the
same population, many of the research problems they faced
were the same. The papers show how the researchers at-
tempted to handle these research problems, giving us an
interesting look at the workings of social scientific re-
search, and a start towards an understanding of the initial
period of life for the Indochinese refugees in this country
While the insights offered by these research notes
are of value in themselves, still greater value should come

from use of the data during follow-up studies of the refu-
gees. The work of these researchers will allow longitudinal
studies of refugees to be done -- studies which should tell
us much about the adjustment of Indochinese refugees to
American life, as well as of the long-range success or fail-
ure of United States resettlement policies.


Joyce Bennett Justus


For scholars concerned with the absorption of
immigrants there is at least one problem which remains
unresolved. Attempts at understanding the absorption
process have been greatly hampered by inadequate data on
the period immediately after the immigrants' arrival in
the host country. Such data as is available is collected
from immigrants at a much later time, when many of the
situations initially encountered have either been for-
gotten or redefined in light of new experiences or under-
standings. Attempts to retrieve data from other sources
(e.g. newspaper accounts of the time) are also hampered
by the fact that, often, only what was regarded by the
host society as important, sensational or significant was
recorded. This may have differed considerably from the
immigrants' definitions of the situation. Researchers
have rarely been participant observers to record the
experiences of a group during the earliest phase of con-
tact with the host society.
For scholars concerned with problems of ethnicity
and ethnic identity, there has been another set of prob-
lems which in many instances are complementary to those
alluded to in the preceding paragraph. There has-been
considerable agreement that a common sense of a need to
survive, to maintain common beliefs and values, has been
of great importance.in uniting persons into self-defining

* Professor Justus wishes to acknowledge the assistance
of Mrs. C. Sandra Murray, graduate student in Anthropology,
University of California, San Diego

groups. The situation is compounded when the ethnic group
is also an immigrant minority. As immigrants, there is
the problem of adjusting to a new society, of learning the
beliefs, values, and new language. As ethnic, there is
the felt need to preserve ethnic identity, or the sense of
peoplehood, so to speak. Yet, host societies are con-
cerned to prevent the creation and maintenance of these
separate groups, and to keep them from becoming localized
or confined to any one area by encouraging distribution of
the immigrant groups throughout the society as much as
possible. Thus, for the researcher attempting to under-
stand the problems of ethnicity and ethnic group boundary
maintenance, there is the concern to establish when and
under what cirucmstances a group decides to remain separate
from the host society or, conversely, what situations are
likely to contribute to the group decision to de-emphasize
the significance of boundaries among other groups with
which they are in contact.
Our research on Indochinese refugees is guided by
concern with both sorts of problems outlined above. On the
one hand, we are attempting to understand the initial ex-
perience of Indochinese refugees in the United States. On
the other hand since this is a situation of forced migra-
tion, and since the United States government had the desire
and the ability to distribute the refugees throughout the
50 states (at least initially), the question of ethnic
boundary maintenance is of significance, One of our con-
cerns was to provide information on the refugees so as to
be able, perhaps, to contribute to some understanding of
the scope of potential problems and possible sources of
stress (emotional, physical or otherwise) which may arise
in later years. These concerns led us to determine what
types of data were being collected by the various agencies
operating at the Camp, and to design our research so as
to ensure that it would yield data which would be comple-
mentary to data available from other sources, We con-
sidered this to be a good strategy because it would have

been foolish if not impossible to duplicate all of the
various quantitative data being collected; this would not
have been the best use of the resources we had at our


The choice of research problem not only guides
the choice of data, but also methods of collection and
research strategies. We opted for limited descriptive
surveys of the entire process in order to provide a back-
ground for the other data with which we were concerned.
Our main efforts centered around collection of qualitative
data. Because the research problem, as we defined it,
called for an understanding of interactive situations,
patterns evolving therefrom, and their effects on the
processing of refugees, our focus was on interpersonal
As the research progressed, varieties of inter-
active styles, frequencies, and racial and ethnic distinc-
tions could be discerned. This information will prove to
be invaluable for any research which has as its goal the
understanding of the absorption process, or the problems
encountered by individuals, families, or other groups as
they attempt to cope with day to day living in this
We rejected survey research as impracticable.
Only limited access to refugees was accorded to us, Some
of the intergroup conflicts and rivalries were such that
sampling problems involved with survey research would have
been horrendous for some of the following reasons:
1. Necessity of doing stratified cluster sampling
to control for social class, ethnicity and
country of origin,
2. Enormous language problems. With only the better
educated speaking English or French, social class
distinctions were such that we were never quite
sure of the accuracy with which upper class or

or middle class refugees could be relied upon to
convey accurately information received from
fisherfolk or rural poor,
3. Concern with confidentiality was so pervasive
that it took a considerable amount of time to
gain access to and the confidence of refugees in
order to be able to engage them in conversation.
4. Restrictions on entering living areas prevented
interaction with refugees at those times when
they would be most likely willing to cooperate
with interviewers (when the offices were closed
and there was nothing for the refugees to do but
sit around and wait for the next day when the
offices would again begin the task of trying to
match refugee to sponsor, to provide health care,
and in a few cases, employment counseling).

Background information on agencies was collected
to ascertain their scope and function, relative size,
staffing, differences in approach, information prepared for
dissemination to refugees, governmental agencies and the
public at large, goals and timetables for processing and
plans for continued interaction with refugees beyond the
closing date of the camp. This data differed slightly from
the type that was received in relation to processing of
refugees per se.
We included the agencies' perceptions of the
processing, refugees' perceptions, our observations on
what was going on, the differences in approaches -- indi-
vidual versus group sponsorship, single persons versus
family sponsorships, etc.
The last type of data to be collected and focused
on was the preparation of the refugees for the outside
world (i.e., language training, survival skills, employ-
ment preparation, effects of immigrant status, licensing,
apprenticeship, medical care, public assistance, and


In order to understand the entire processing of the
refugees, limited descriptive surveys were undertaken in
some 25 agencies utilizing interview schedules with mainly
open-ended questions. Questions centered around the
agency, its roles and functions, problems encountered and
attempts at solutions. Also included was information on
agency staff (numbers, qualifications, previous experience).
We collected a history of each agency's operations at the
camp, initial objectives and procedures, subsequent
changes, and the reasons for making the changes, We also
were interested in discovering the agencies' views as to
their responsibilities to the U.S. government on behalf
of the refugees and current plans for continued assistance
to the refugees after placement. Wherever possible, we
administered the schedules to more than one member of the
agency staff. This proved to be invaluable since there
was frequent turnover in senior staff, and it .was often
necessary to interview several members of the staff be-
fore one could obtain any information on problems that
had been encountered or attempts at resolution.
Descriptive survey research has been regarded as
eminently suitable for the study of an area of social
life where one's interest is in the quantity and distri-
bution of the social variables. In many areas it was the
most appropriate and only method for obtaining the infor-
mation we required. In addition to voluntary agencies, we
conducted interviews with members of the San Diego Refugee
Coalition, the American Red Cross, members of the staff
of various agencies within the Inter-Agency task-force, and
the Government of Canada, using limited instruments and
depth interviews.


A research project of this nature would be of
limited use without demonstrating an understanding of the

refugees' definitions of their situation and the manner
in which they coped with physical discomfort, their sense
of uncertainty about the future, status reversal, and
loss of country and loved ones. We know of no other way
for getting at such information than to ask the respond-
ents just how they feel about it. Given what we anticipa-
ted would be the complexity of the refugees' feelings about
leaving Vietnam and their anxiety about entering into
American society, we opted for depth interviews with as
many refugees as time and language skills would permit,
We attempted to contact the refugees at different points
in the camp to maximize the potential for varied information,
The variation among the agencies revealed itself
to us when we were in the process of carrying out our
descriptive surveys. As a result, two agencies (one
secular, one religious; one working exclusively with
families, one working with everyone who came through its
doors; one working toward placement with groups and in
communities, the other involved with placing refugee
families with individual sponsors) were selected and
depth interviews carried out with senior staff members.
Depth interviews were also carried out with the Inter-
agency Task Force staff members responsible for the
development and preparation of the Camp newspaper, the
head of the data center, and the staff member with
responsibilities for the unaccompanied minors program.
Interviews occupied a major portion of our time
at the camp, We considered this to be a most important
feature of our research. It deepened our understanding
of the complexities of the situation, the differences in
approach to the refugees by the agencies, and the differing
perceptions of the refugees as to what was involved in the
entire resettlement process. It was here that we picked up
information as to the refugees' ambivalence about having
to leave Vietnam, as well as their anxiety for friends and
relatives left behind. We also interviewed four volunteers
teaching in the ESL (English as a Second Language) classes,
three U.S. Marine Corps commandants, one psychiatrist

working with unaccompanied minors, and one Buddhist monk.
This sundry group provided us with another aspect of the
resettlement process. In this regard, the Marine officers
were invaluable. All three had been stationed in Southeast
Asia, one spoke some Vietnamese, two were married to Viet-
namese, and-all expressed much concern for the refugees
and the problems they thought that would be encountered
on leaving camp. The Buddhist monk, a graduate of the
California State University system, was engaged'in the
adult TESL classes and provided us with much information
on language problems, the fears the Vietnamese had about
being isolated in areas without other Vietnamese speakers,
and what he perceived to be the underlying reasons for
their unwillingness to accept sponsors and leave the camp.
He proved to be almost diligent and reliable interpreter,
and conveyed to us a feeling for the significance of
social class and rural/urban dimensions in the resettlement


A major concern of participant observation is the
understanding of the frame of reference of the group that
is being studied. We were concerned with understanding
the frame of reference of the refugees and the agencies
involved in placing them. This has traditionally required
that the researcher have access to a group long enough to
understand total culture or way of life. Although the
camp situation did not provide the ideal situation for this
type of research, we were able to utilize these techniques
profitably and in situations where we felt that they were
the most appropriate methods available to social scientists.
For example, one aspect of the processing which required a
somewhat complete understanding of the "camp culture" was
the matching. We were interested in understanding how the
agency personnel went about choosing a potential sponsor,
how sponsor and refugee were "matched" and what was involved
in the refugee's accepting or rejecting a potential sponsor.

We also came to recognize that the very process by which
a refugee decided to affiliate with one agency rather than
another, or decided to change registration from one agency
to another, was also of paramount importance.
In an attempt to collect data of the type that
would help us understand and explain the matching process,
we located ourselves with two agencies utilizing different
approaches to the resettlement problem. For the entire
period of our research, we involved ourselves in an ongoing
basis with the day to day functions of these agencies. We
assisted in writing up interviews, talking with sponsors,
transporting refugees and potential sponsors from one point
to another, and in the social interaction among agency and
refugee staff.
We also spent some time with two other agencies
which were smaller than the other two selected for intensive
study. However, they fell into the same broad divisions:
secular/religious, group sponsorship of families to commun-
ity organizations/arranging sponsors for anyone who re-
quested its services. Here our concerns were to see whether
size was an important factor in the type of approach and
the quality of the agency/refugee interaction.


The case study approach was utilized with three
Vietnamese women and two Vietnamese men. The case studies
included depth interviews, participant observation, pro-
jective tests, and content analyses of written material
(letters written to one member of the research team after
the refugees had been placed). This phase of the research
is continuing and still yields valuable information as to
the successes and failures of the processing, the problems
of adjustment, the growing feelings of isolation, and in
general the changing perceptions the refugees have of
Americans and American society.
Our main interest here was to create a pool of
data on the absorption process. Since few refugees were

settled in the San Diego region initially, we were forced
to maintain contact by telephone and by letter. However,
since the onset of the winter there has been a heavy in-
flux of refugees into the Southern California area, and we
have included in our sample some persons with whom we had
contact previously and who are now residing in the San
Diego area.


Appriximately 68% of the refugees are classified
as Vietnamese. However, even within this group there are
several sub-groupings which are significant for an under-
standing of the scope of the problem. Vietnamese divide
themselves up into several groups: people from the Delta
(the fishermen), people from Saigon (the bulk of the popu-
lation), and people from the countryside. They further
divide themselves along religious lines, mainly Buddhist
or Catholic. The. long period of American occupation
produced another category of persons who assumed great
significance in the camp; these were persons employed by
the American government. Finally, there were military
The largest segment of the refugee population is
comprised of nuclear families with upwards of four children.
The next largest can be classified as truncated families,
mainly mothers and daughters. Vietnamese employees of the
U.S. government and their families received preferential
treatment and were airlifted with members of their families.
Oftentimes one parent chose to remain in Vietnam, sending
the remaining spouse and daughters. Most of these older
women (and a few men also) spoke little English. Because
their daughters (or in a few cases sons) were employees
of the State Department, many of them were airlifted along
with their former American supervisors and resumed work
at the camp almost immediately upon arrival. The aged
parents of the English-speaking Vietnamese were the most
isolated. Their daughters were often the first to leave

camp, returning daily to work for one or another of the
agencies, leaving their mothers alone in the apartment
without any other Vietnamese person with whom to interact.
Few large extended families were present in camp at any
time. In most instances parts of th'e family were left
behind, and in some the actual whereabouts of the family
were unknown.
Few male refugees had not been in the military,
whether as combat troops, as helicopter pilots, or as
intelligence personnel. Indeed during the months of July
and August, the largest "skilled" employment category was
that of "helicopter pilot." Most males were very young
and unskilled. Less than 10% were recorded as having some
skill in addition to being a soldier. Some were high
ranking officers, accustomed to giving orders and antici-
pating that they would be obeyed. Most of the single
persons without any relatives whatsoever were males, able
to escape only because of their positions in th.e Navy or
the 'Air Force.
The next largest group were Cambodians. Some 5,000
Cambodians were processed through Camp Pendleton, Few
Cambodian families were extended: many were truncated,
Many in the camp had parents, wives and children left
behind. Most were high-ranking officials of the Cambodian
army, or lower ranking members of the Cambodian forces, A
few were civilian employees of the Mekong Delta Authority,
There were also an estimated 4,000 Chinese, Chinese/
Vietnamese, and Chinese/Cambodian refugees, Many of these
were involved in trading, Some were outside Vietnam or
Cambodia at the fall of these countries and were unable to
One of the human consequences of the airlifts of
persons out of Saigon is the category of persons now known
as unaccompanied minors, persons under 18 years of age who
arrived in the United States or were found among the camp
population without close kin, By the end of the period
there were some 225 unaccompanied minors with ages ranging

from 18 months to 17 years. Reports are that immediately
preceding the fall of Saigon and in the general panic
that ensued, persons sent children off to the United
States in the hopes that this would give them a far better
opportunity than if they remained in Saigon under the
North Vietnam regime,
In summary, the refugees were from many countries,
of both sexes, with ages ranging from a few days to mid-
seventies; were Catholics, Buddhist or Protestant ( a small
minority); were military or civilian and spoke English,
French, Cantonese, Khmer or Vietnamese. Few had no expo-
sure to Americans. Many had been employees of the U,S.
government (Department of Defense, Department of State,
USAID) and for as long as ten years. The bulk were urban,
middle and upper class. Many reported that their families
had lived in the North and fled to Saigon after the estab-
lishment of the Communists in the North. Among the older
persons and fisherfolk interviewed, there was little con-
ception of the permanence of the move, as many of them
spoke of returning to Vietnam after things quieted down,
and even invited'the researchers to come and visit them


When questioning refugees about their perceptions
of the processing, many were unclear about the stages and
what they meant. Only the very well-educated, good Eng-
lish speakers and the refugees with experience and knowledge
of bureaucracies could describe the stages well. Where
refugees were well-educated and could speak some English
but had little experience with bureaucracies, the procedural
experience did not seem to be integrated in such a way that
it could be expressed or articulated, except in the brief-
est manner. Thus, many refugees were unclear about the
various distinctions in function of some of the organiza-
tions -- especially I,N,S, and H,E,W, -- and it was only

if they had more than usual interaction with the American
institutions (e.g., if they were volunteers, had special
problems, or were very interested) that they could even
begin to form a picture of how the institutions related
to each other.
Among most refugees with whom we spoke, the early
experiences in camp were often hazy in their memories, or
else recalled out of the sequence in which they could
possibly have occurred. Some stages were left out alto-
gether. The day of the registration with the Voluntary
Agency was also often vague, although, often without
being asked, most refugees easily recalled the day on
which they visited the I.N.S. office. The question usu-
ally asked was, "Tell me what you did on your first days
in camp. Where did you go? Whom did you see?" The
topics remembered most frequently were arriving at Camp
8, receiving warm jackets, being taken to their tents,
getting bed linen and toiletries, going to I.N.S., going
for the health check-up, and going to register at the
Voluntary Agency. When asked about "What have you been
doing in camp?" the replies in rough order were: 1)
waiting for a sponsor, 2) standing in the chow-line, 3)
listening for the loudspeaker, (washing and child-caring
for women), 4) talking to people, 5) taking English classes,
6) visiting friends, and 7) going to the library (sewing
center with most women). None of the refugees included
checking with the agencies, going to the various recrea-
tional activities, going to the Red Cross to try to arrange
reunification, or to other institutions for purposes of
further migration. It was only after more questions that
people could list some of the other things that they did.
While they were willing to talk about "when will a sponsor
come," "I'm frustrated/worried/tired of waiting," and other
such sponsor-related topics, they did not list their acti-
vities in pursuit of a sponsor.
Although most refugees registered with a Voluntary
Agency during their first few days in camp, many did not.

Those who went promptly were the better educated people
and those who could speak or understand at least some
English. It seems that the refugees who were tardy in
going or just did not go were among the farmer and fisher-
men groups and the unskilled. According to the more
acculturated refugees, it was because "The fishermen are
not well educated they are having a better life
here, and are enjoying being here. They have a place
to stay, and enough to eat, and no work. They couldn't
want anything morel"
And another view: "They don't speak any English.
It is going to be hard for them to adapt. Why would they
want to leave camp? They are afraid to go out to find
a sponsor."
And another more cynical prediction: "There are
40,000 fishermen now. The Americans don't want them.
They just bought their way in. They got on junks and
sailed out, so what could the Americans do? Those people
don't want anything. I think that the government will
build a reservation for them somewhere. Maybe they can
even make a profit -- a Vietnamese village -- it could
be a tourist resort!"
However, for most refugees, perceptions regarding
the processing seemed to become more crystallized after
their first visit to the Voluntary Agency and after some
adjustment to their new living conditions was made. Most
refugees were unclear about what the processing meant.
When asked why they went to one agency or failed to go
to another, responses were varied. During the course of
the interviews, attempts were made to discover the refu-
gees' understandings about their status as "parolees,"
and to include perceptions of any limitations this may
have had on their functioning and the responsibilities
of the sponsors to them.
On this matter, there was considerable confusion
among the refugees. None of the refugees interviewed
in depth understood the differences between their status
and that of any other immigrant. Nor did they understand

what it would take for them to become United States
citizens. The very act of leaving Indochina suggested
that they were rejecting their citizenship of birth, yet
many of the refugees interviewed both formally and in-
formally were not at all clear on this and spoke of
returning when things got quiet again. Initial fears
arose when the first batch of refugees to request re-
patriation were experiencing difficulty in making arrange-
ments. Many considered themselves "American" and spoke of
the time when they could "vote for the President."
The perceptions about sponsorship were far more
significant for the absorption process. Many refugees
spoke of sponsors as if they were to be surrogate parents,
to instruct them as to what behavior was appropriate, and
to take care of all their needs. All assumed that their
total needs would be met by the sponsors until they could
care for themselves. Sponsors were:spoken of in idealistic
terms: as kind, good persons who would help the refugee
get established and continue to be advisory ad friend for
an indefinite: period. Sponsors were considered to be
rich, influential, able to find them jobs and willing to
help the Indochinese in their plight. Nor did the volun-
tary agencies aid much in this regard. Staff members
would describe sponsors in glowing terms, often in an
attempt to encourage the refugee to accept the sponsor-
ship. Thus both refugee and staff members had perceptions
about the sponsors which were mutually reinforcing but
really erroneous. The refugees did this because it became
a means for reducing anxiety; the staff members because
they assumed, sometimes rightly, that a person who wanted
to become a sponsor did so for altruistic reasons.
These unrealistic assumptions on the parts of both
the staff and the refugees were reinforced by the refugees'
desire to resume a normal life. Sometimes the refugee
would inflate his job category in the hope that this would
improve chances of sponsorship without realizing that this
would have deleterious effects on any attempt to place him
in employment. Several sponsors were interested in the

employability of the refugees from the outset. However,
since the refugee did not give accurage information about
skills and previous training and employment, there was
considerable difficulty in'matching refugee to job.
Furthermore, the refugee at times failed to understand
what the job title meant, and on occasion we witnessed a
refugee being matched to an employer when the refugee had
no skills to perform a particular job.
What effects do these perceptions have on adjust-
ment? We contend that many problems which emanated after
the refugee was sponsored out could have been averted if
the refugee had had more realistic perceptions of the
sponsorship. More problems could have been minimized if
the sponsors had a better idea of the problems involved:
the length of time that they would have to be responsible
for their particular refugee, cultural differences, lan-
guage problems, and employability. Many times a refugee
was placed in a position which was unsuitable, with spon-
sors who, though well-meaning, did not understand the
refugee's expectations. Questions of employment avail-
ability were pursued only superficially, aid problems with
language were underestimated. The general feeling was one
of guarded optimism: the refugee would succeed provided
he was willing to work.


In the discussions of the methods utilized, I
introduced the topic of social class. Initial observations
suggested that the Indochinese refugees represented a broad
spectrum of society. We know that several were high rank-
ing military officers. We also were informed that many had
been employed by the United States government for several
years and because of the relatively higher salaries they
had received, they were regarded as generally better off
than other Indochinese in similar positions.
Beyond this initial information received from our

observations or interviews with agency personnel, we were
interested in understanding how social class and role
distinctions would affect the functioning of the camp and
even the absorption process. Two measures were employed.
We observed and recorded the amount of jewelry the refugees
were wearing, the amount of cash they spent on a daily
basis, and the number of trips they made to the gold ex-
changes. We also asked the refugees to tell us about
their homes in Indochina. From this information it was
easy to construct a socio-economic scale (in some cases
this was aided by photographs).
Class distinctions were significant in every
aspect of camp life. Refugees who were better off finan-
cially rarely ate at the chowline. When they did they
augmented the food with fresh fruit obtained from the
staff cafeteria. They also asked staff members to buy
various items of clothing for them. For the most part
they also spoke English and/or French and as a result
were more easily sponsored out. Many working as inter-
preters were highly visible to potential sponsors. Those
with the most money and the highest skills (professionals)
were allowed out without formal sponsorship. At least
three persons (none of whom would agree to a formal inter-
view) are residing in the region, living in homes they
purchased after leaving camp, and have resumed a more or
less normal existence.
The rural poor -- farmers and fisherfolk -- were
easily identified by their dress, by their inability to
understand English, and by their general hesitancy in
dealing with the agencies. Problems of communication were
compounded since within this group were persons who spoke
different languages or different dialects of the same
language. They were despised by numbers of the middle
and upper class refugee population who described them as
net wanting to leave the camps, as enjoying the camp situ-
ation, since it was reported, this camp was a far superior
experience to the one to which farmer and fisherfolk were
accustomed. Often cited was the fact that everything was

provided;they never had to work for anything. It was
even suggested that they should not have been evacuated
since, it was argued, no harm would come to them under
any regime Thus, the people who were potentially the
most difficult to place were further hampered in their
attempts to obtain sponsors by their inability to fend
for themselves. They were dependent on their English-
speaking countrymen, many of whom had little or no sym-
pathy for them. Indeed, it was after the majority of
middle and upper class refugees had left the camp, and the
language comprehension of the interpreters was the lowest,
that most of the farmers and fisherfolk were actively in-
volved in obtaining sponsors.
As to role distinctions, we were most concerned
with familial roles. We were interested in how the family
defined itself. We were told that refugees chose to
register as head of household the person in the family
having the best language skills, the greatest chance for
employment, and some experience in dealing with bureau-
cracies. Yet we were never able to find out exactly how
they made their selection. However, in some households
there was more than one person who fit into this category.
The exact basis for making the decision in such cases was
never clear to the researchers.
In addition to the selection process of household
heads, we were concerned with the status reversal we ob-
served in many family untis. We observed parents being
"told" what decisions to make: whether or not to accept
a sponsor, to go to English classes, and the like. It
appeared that for many of the refugees there was a need
not to have to make a decision. Many parents, especially
mothers, did not involve themselves in the choice of
sponsors. Few were brought into the office to meet a
potential sponsor. We also observed many women, deprived
of the normal housekeeping chores, actively involved in
language class. We think that the higher the social class
of the refugee, the more anxious he was to get out of
the camp. We do not have enough cases to confirm this

hypothesis, but the observation data tend to support such
a position.


No research has ever been accomplished without
some anticipated and unanticipated problems. Both re-
searchers were well aware that language was going to be
a problem. We knew that our subjects spoke either Viet-
namese or Cambodian. We expected that given the duration
of the American presence in Vietnam, there would be some
persons who spoke English. We also anticipated that
there would be a residue of French speakers. Since both
researchers had French language skills, we planned to
carry out some interviews in French. We were not prepared
forthe social class bias that bi-lingualism (i.e., French/
Vietnamese, English/Vietnamese) would represent.
At the outset few Vietnamese would admit to under-
standing French. Those who did were either former mili-
tary intelligence personnel (who also possessed English
language competency) or older persons who were unwilling
to be interviewed. As time went on, and as we established
better rapport, more Vietnamese would initiate a conver-
sation in French, and this became a second language for
much of the interaction with the refugees. More refugees
admitted to language competency in English. Initially
refugees who were former employees of U.S. government
agencies in Saigon and posessed good language skills were
anxious to talk with the research team. These were also
the same persons who obtained employment as interpreters
in the various agencies and were the first to be spon-
sored out of the camp. As time went on the language
problem increased, not only for the researchers but also
for the voluntary agencies. Such interpreters as were
available were limited in their ability to comprehend
English, and even more so in their ability to translate
questions and to relay answers from monolingual Vietnamese
or Cambodians. This posed a grave problem for the research

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