Study Context

Speak Are English

Southern Arizona-Northern Mexico

  • Third-generation Mexican American: family’s loss of Spanish fluency, a common outcome of acculturation (Solís)
  • Grandparents emigrated during the Mexican Revolution from the northern states of Durango, Sinaloa, and Sonora to Arizona
  • Between 1900 and 1920, the southwest United States saw the greatest increases in the Mexican immigrant population (Powers)
  • In 1910, Arizona’s two major industries—railroad transportation and copper mining—used discriminatory pay scales, or a dual-wage system to pay Mexicans less than white men, regardless of their citizenship status (Benton-Cohen)
  • In mining towns around the border known as “white man’s camps,” Mexican-origin workers were hired only for unskilled, “surface” labor rather than the more lucrative mining jobs (Benton-Cohen)
  • Maternal grandfather Gilberto Navarro was born in one of these “white man’s camps”
  • State Bill 1070 (SB 1070), bears comparison to a similar outbreak of legislation and reaction one century earlier
  • SB 1070  signed by Governor Jan Brewer required immigrants to carry state-sponsored identification and authorized state and local police to detain individuals they suspected were undocumented
  • House Bill 2281 (HB 2281) signed into law in 2010 : amid protests, Arizona State Superintendent John Huppenthal ruled that high school Mexican American Studies (MAS) courses were direction violations to ARS 15-1 12, focusing on “prohibited courses and classes” (Steiner)


  • Six interviews total (4.5 hours total)
  • 140 pages of transcripts
  • Interviews conducted at Alvarez residence in Safford, AZ
  • Coded for instances of schooling, immigration, and translanguaging practices (translating, interpreting, language brokering)