Congratulations to RJ Johnson whose research findings were cited in the recent Aljazeera article, "Guatemalan families wager homes to finance US migration." An excellent example of communicating scholarship to the public!
"Richard Johnson, a Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona, agreed that the loss of land and homes happens, but he is not convinced it is as common as some report. In three years of research, he interviewed about 30 individuals and 40 focus group participants in roughly eight Guatemalan communities.
“Debt, I can say with quite a lot of certainty, is totally widespread,” he said. While dispossession “definitely happens,” he said, its frequency is difficult to ascertain, in part because the vast majority of the transactions occur in the informal economy.
Because the trek is illegal and high risk, it isn’t the type of activity for which migrants can secure traditional bank loans."