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Researcher wants Mexican women immigrants in St. Louis to share their stories

Unauthorized immigrants in rural areas who seek legal representation can often face roadblocks when trying to find credible lawyers.
David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
A researcher in St. Louis wants to share stories of Mexican female immigrants to better inform academic research and public policy.

A researcher in St. Louis is collecting stories from Mexican immigrant women in the St. Louis region about how they adjusted to their new home and and any challenges they face to help researchers and policymakers better support their needs.

Jocelyn Moylan is interviewing over 30 participants for her “St. Louis as Home” project that will focus on immigrant women’s perspectives on what it took for them to feel at home in a new city.

“In immigration, there is much sadness, often leaving one home behind or coming to another. Like almost talking about home as if you're deleting a part of yourself,” Moylan said. “But a lot more people fall in the gray zone in between … like, ‘OK, I had to leave parts of myself behind, but I'm also growing parts of myself in a new place.’”

Moylan, who is pursuing a doctorate in global and sociocultural studies at Florida International University, is interested in how the women support themselves, ensure their families are safe and what they do in their leisure time.

Some participants have discussed how they found housing, grocery stores and schools, and if they had any interactions with police. Some also mentioned that they have had trouble accessing public transportation, contacting emergency personnel or using other public services.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population across the region has grown by nearly 50% over the past decade. St. Clair, Madison, St. Charles and St. Louis counties have seen the largest increases. Latinos in the city now make up more than 5% of the population.

Many Mexican immigrant women have difficulty traveling across the region because they cannot speak English, and many bus drivers do not speak Spanish, Moylan said.

The project aims to gather stories about the women’s journeys and determine if their challenges make it hard for them to call St. Louis home. Moylan said she can conduct interviews in homes or in public places. All stories will remain anonymous.

Moylan said she expects her research to reflect previous research on home and belonging.

“The three themes that have emerged are security, feeling control over one's environment and feeling familiar in a space,” she said. “I'm looking to see if those three themes arise here and also what St. Louis can bring to the table.”

After completing the interviews, Moylan will analyze the data and provide research to academics, scholars, researchers, policymakers and organizations.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated part of Jocelyn Moylan's approach to her research.

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.

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