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The Power of the Imagined Community: The Settlement of Undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans in the United States

Abstract

Using logistic regression, this article tests the relative importance of the “imagined community” on the intentions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. The argument is that, everything else being equal, imagining oneself as part of a local community is a powerful influence on settlement. If for whatever reason, an undocumented immigrant comes to this self‐perception, then he or she is likely to desire to stay in the community. The results clearly underscore the importance of feeling part of the community. Not only is the influence on the dependent variable statistically significant, but the odds ratio indicates that those who feel part of the local community are almost four times (Mexicans) or almost five times (Central Americans) as likely to intend to stay permanently in the United States as those who do not. 1994 American Anthropological Association

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