Informal Networks, Phones and Facebook: Information Seeking and Technology Use by Undocumented Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border
iConference 2015 Proceedings (pp. 1-10; 2015)
11 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2014 Last revised: 3 Feb 2016
Date Written: December 16, 2014
This paper presents the results of an exploratory study of information behaviors among undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Through semi-structured interviews with recently deported and other migrants at a shelter in the border town of Nogales, Mexico, we examine how undocumented migrants are seeking, acquiring, understanding, and using information prior to, and during, migration across the U.S.-Mexico border. We document the prevalence of word-of-mouth information seeking and use of cell phones over other information technologies to inform plans for border-crossing, and explore the ambivalent nature of information technology use in the vulnerable setting of life at the border. We discuss the use of mobile phones, which help meet the migrants’ communication needs and also increase their exposure to crime and abuse. This research informs a broader research agenda on immigration and information, contributes to a philosophical discussion about the morality of ICT use in the context of undocumented migration, and explores the notion of immigrant transnationalism as it applies to the experience of undocumented migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Keywords: immigration, technology, migration, information seeking, information access, information behavior, undocumented, Mexico, migration, migrant, borders
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