The Migrant Peacebuilding Project

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Conducting Surveys

Posted by Sam Chase on July 23, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Two weeks ago, we started disseminating a survey to measure the public perception of migrant workers who have been deported by the United States government. Our team created the survey with the input and approval of a few different think tanks and research organizations which generously donated their time and expertise to helping us create the final product. The survey, which is available on the Spanish language version of our website, should allow us to better understand the nature of public perceptions of stigmas against those who have been deported. It is anonymous and it does a good job measuring the basic biographical data about those who are filling it out, so we can hopefully draw conclusions about what people from various age groups, employment sectors, and other walks of life think about their deported countrymen.

We are shooting for a total of 1,000 responses, which should allow us to draw basic demographic conclusions about the social perception of migrants, and although it has been fairly slow going, we expect to finish this week. Members of our team have been disseminating the surveys in various locations around Guatemala, which has resulted in getting tailed by security and kicked out of a few establishments in the process, but we are getting results. The process of conducting the survey has also resulted in many interesting conversations, as people naturally want to talk about the issue and tell us a little more about what they think. When I was distributing surveys which Javier in a local mall the other day, several shopkeepers told us that they had themselves been migrants, and told us a bit about their own personal stories of migration and reintegration, which in most cases were not easy processes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some employers we have surveyed are also providing us with more detailed information on why they might be more reluctant to hire people who have formerly been deported, although we can hopefully work to challenge these assumptions in the future. The survey is available online, and if you are reading this and live in Guatemala, do us a favor and fill it out! Additionally, we have been generously assisted in our efforts by some of Javier’s friends and family, who we are very grateful to for helping us speed this process up. Time is of the essence, as our job fair and research presentation is in less than a month!

*Photo in Antigua Guatemala at Central Park - Researchers Alvaro Flores and Arturo Salvatierra carrying out oral surveys. 

While with only about 400 results tabulated so far, it is a little early to be drawing any hard and fast conclusions, we are seeing that the surveys are corroborating what our interviews and focus group have told us about stigmas. As we suspected, people seem to consider education the most important factor for employers’ preconceptions about migrants, and the vast majority of people do recognize both the social and labor discrimination which migrants face in Guatemalan society. As someone not from the country, I was also very surprised to see the sheer number of Guatemalans who personally knew someone who had been deported. With over 50,000 people projected to be forcibly returned from the US this year alone, maybe I shouldn’t have been.

In other news, we are still connecting with aid organizations and private sector businesses to drum up interest for our upcoming job fair. We will also be starting to give our educational presentations on migration issues very soon, where we hope we can let people know a little more about the challenges which migrants face both during and after their experiences abroad. That’s about all for now, check back soon for more updates on our progress!


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