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Student Research Spotlight: Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas

Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas

Contrary to popular assumptions, migration flow between the United States and Mexico has reversed in recent years. Currently, the number of individuals returning to Mexico surpasses the number of individuals entering the United States. The reversal is the result of a combination of increased deportation along with an increase in voluntary returns.

As a Mexican citizen studying in the United States since 2007, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas cultivated his interest in international migration research early on during his undergraduate years at Middlebury College. In addition to pursuing a doctoral degree in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dominguez-Villegas also works as an independent consultant at the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, DC. His graduate school experiences include researching salary equity, teaching statistics, and providing methodology consulting at the Institute for Social Science Research.

As a CRF student research scholar and recipient of a pre-dissertation award, Dominguez-Villegas is working on his PhD dissertation with his advisors Professors Jennifer Lundquist and David Cort. He plans to study the socio-economic outcomes of return migrant families in Mexico. Specifically, he will employ a mixed methods approach to evaluate the differences in reception between families who are deported and those that return voluntarily. Dominguez-Villegas will also examine how varying contexts of reception influence the socioeconomic outcomes of the families.

“Given the current political discourse on immigration and deportation, issues on migration flows in Central America, Mexico and the United States are as timely as ever”, says Dominguez-Villegas who is currently conducting an extensive literature review, finalizing his research design and performing quantitative analyses. He reports that this unprecedented trend of voluntary reverse migration may be influenced by changing domestic policies within the United States and changing socio-economic climate in Mexico. Every migrant’s involuntary or voluntary decision to return to Mexico nonetheless appears to have direct micro-effects on one’s family and indirect macro-effects on local communities and society at large.

He says, “CRF’s pre-dissertation fellowship made it possible for me to devote more time on my research. The fellowship also covers my travel expenses to conduct fieldwork in rural Mexico where I will be interviewing 30 to 50 return migrants this summer. CRF’s fellowship has also freed up my time to write an NSF dissertation improvement grant for next year.’