Home Institution

Yale University

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Morocco: Migration and Transnational Identity


This paper discusses how economic factors impact the journeys and destinations of irregular trans-Saharan migrants who enter Morocco through Oujda. Though many may choose either to return home or settle in Morocco and eventually receive status, migration policies continue to view virtually all immigration into Morocco through the lens of transit migration—it assumes that all migrants in Morocco are en route to Europe. The reality, however, is that the majority of trans-Saharan immigrants into Morocco will never have the means to reach Europe. Thus, this paper aims to fill the gaps in our understanding of immigration to Morocco—not simply as a stage on the journey to Europe, but as an experience being lived by individual migrants. Migrants who enter Morocco are faced with difficult decisions regarding where to go next. Through conducting eight unstructured and semi-structured interviews, both with migrants from three distinct social groups, and with the organizations, individuals, and associations that work with these migrants, I have discovered that the journeys and aspirations of individual migrants are largely impacted by economic factors, such as migrant access to money, or the ability to find a job. As a result, the experiences of Arab refugees from the Middle East, Francophone immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, and Anglophone Immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa differ greatly. These differences, which affect socio-economic status in Morocco, are the main factors that help migrants determine their trajectories and final destinations. All in all, this study serves as a reminder that migration experiences in Morocco are complicated by outside factors, which are not accounted for in the overly simplified statistics and depictions of migration routes. Rather, understanding key issues, such as the affects of migration policies, predicting the routes of migrants, and building infrastructure to aid migrants in Morocco, is tantamount to understanding the experiences of individuals based on a more nuanced grasp of their experiences with socio-economic status.


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change


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