A growing body of work that has examined Chinese immigration to the US has coined the term “culture of remittances”: money that is sent home not only provides economically but also elevates the “face” of the family. However, using qualitative data from a multiyear ethnographic study of three undocumented and mixed-status Chinese families in the US and their families in China, we find that garnering face for the family is less of a motivator than the fear of losing it. This dynamic plays a role at all stages of immigration and amplifies existing norms in a way that perpetuates disadvantage experienced by Chinese immigrants. As these undocumented Chinese immigrants craft an idealized narrative of their lives in the US, more members from their sending communities are motivated to immigrate, leading to precarious consequences.
- chinese immigrant families
- qualitative methodology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science