The Colombian migration to South Florida: expectations and experiences

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor's Name

Eduardo A. Gamarra

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michael W. Collier

Third Advisor's Name

Anthony Maingot

Date of Defense



The purpose of this research was to examine Colombian immigration in South Florida from a sociological standpoint. This thesis studied Colombian immigrants from the moment they made the decision to depart Colombia to the moment they established themselves in South Florida. The main question of this study was: What is the level of satisfaction of Colombian immigrants in South Florida? The central hypothesis was that the level of information prior to migration greatly affects their level of satisfaction in South Florida. It was also hypothesized that informal sources of information - rumors, stories from relatives or friends in the U.S. - raise their expectations about migrating and contribute to the decision to migrate.

The methodology used for this research was based on two elements. First, a theoretical approach, which explored three migration theories related to the topic. Specifically, a behavioral theory that examines the migrant's decision-making process became the core of the theoretical approach. Second, an ethnographic approach, which used focus groups, interviews with leaders of the Colombian organizations in South Florida, and one-to-one interviews conducted in Colombia and in South Florida. Through the interviews and the focus groups, this study established the way that Colombian migrants raise their expectations before arrival and the process they go through once in South Florida.

The findings reveal that potential migrants in Colombia, as well as immigrants (already living in South Florida) tend to make the decision to migrate to the United States based on informal information sources. Such information is often incomplete and unreliable. As a consequence, most of the Colombian immigrants in South Florida are disillusioned, as they failed to realize their expectations. The study concludes that reliable and accurate information may contribute to the lowering of expectations and the picturing of more realistic images of the migration experience.



This document is currently not available here.



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).