Document Type



This article seeks to expand the U.S. domestic poverty discourse to incorporate cross-border connections of social welfare policy, low-wage work, immigration and international economic organization. The author looks at the U.S. and Mexico as an example in which these multiple legal discourses can be analyzed. First, I explore the long-standing labor and immigration ties between the two countries, and the creation of a false dichotomy within the U.S. of those in wage work and single parent families receiving social assistance benefits. I then focus on recent changes in U.S. social welfare policy toward single mothers, many of whom are in low wage work, and legal immigrants, the largest number of whom are from Mexico. I juxtapose these two groups to the single mothers employed in the Mexican maquiladoras and the women- and children-only villages in Mexico whose men are often undocumented immigrants in the U.S. By exposing the artificiality of national borders vis-à-vis nationality and electoral voice, I pose the question of redistribution as a cross-border issue, hoping to generate debate that might produce a more nuanced and comprehensive poverty strategy.

Date of Authorship for this Version



Poverty, Equality, Public welfare, social welfare, globalization, immigration, immigrants, low wage work, Mexico, social assistance, Foreign Law, Law

Original Citation

Originally published in the Indiana Law Review, vol. 34 no.4 (2001), pp.1243-1260.