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LMP supported study, “Coming and Going: Mexican Women Guestworkers in the U.S. Crab Industry”


Holly Straut Eppsteiner

We are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Department of Sociology Ph.D. candidate, Holly Straut Eppsteiner!

With support from the Latino Migration Project, the Institute for the Study of the Americas and Center for Global Initiatives, Eppsteiner conducted a study of Mexican women who work as H-2B guestworkers in the crab processing industry in North Carolina and Virginia.

Using interviews with workers and former workers in the crab processing industry, Eppsteiner examined how temporary legal status and isolated labor market and living conditions intersect with transnational motherhood to shape female guestworkers’ migration experiences and opportunities for settlement.

“This case study of an understudied population of migrant workers contributes to an understanding of the gendered nature of managed migration, temporary legality, and women’s labor force incorporation in new destinations,” Eppsteiner said.

Congratulations, Holly! Look for her upcoming publication (below):

Straut Eppsteiner, Holly. “Coming and Going: Mexican Women Guestworkers in the U.S. Crab Industry” Latino Studies. (Forthcoming: Vol. XIV, Issue 4)


Recruitment of female guestworkers by the U.S. seafood processing industry provides Mexican women with opportunities to support their families financially through legal seasonal labor migration at the cost of family separation. Based on interviews with workers and former workers from crab processing plants in the rural Southeast, I find that family contexts, isolated employment conditions, and precarious legal status shape possibilities for permanent settlement. Despite classification as “temporary nonimmigrants,” crab pickers, orjaiberas, use seasonal migration to the United States as a long-term strategy to support families in Mexico, and are held in temporary positions in both locations. These arrangements subject jaiberas to systems of social control that have important policy implications regarding the labor and family rights of so-called unskilled workers in the H-2 program.