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On Border Identities: Transfronterizo Students in San Diego

Ana María Relaño Pastor

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This contribution focuses on transfronterizo students, who cross the Tijuana-San Diego border to attend private and public schools in San Diego (California). It analyzes how transfronterizo students construct their identity in daily interactions with Mexican and Anglo students at San Diegan schools. Transfronterizo students not only shape their social identities by ‘the crossing experience’, but also by the multiple interactions with diverse social networks on campus (e.g. trolos, sociales, fresas, cholos, nacos, pochos, chicanos, Mexicanos, Mexicano Americanos, Tijuanenses, and Mexicanos from the rancho, among others). Based on the transcriptions of 40 individually tape recorded interviews with border-crossing students collected by researchers from the Transfronterizo team, the paper documents the emergence of a transforming border identity that challenges exclusive ethnic and cultural identifications with either Mexican or Mexican-descent groups on the Southwest border of the United States.

Keywords: youth migration, transnational identity, crossing, border, language, education