Migration Industries: A Comparison of the Ecuador-US and Ecuador-Spain Cases

David Kyle and Rachel Goldstein
Published in
European University Institute case study (2011)

There has been growing attention recently in what has been labeled alternatively the “migration industry,” the business of migration, or migration merchants. This paper describes two of the most significant cases of migration industries facilitating large-scale labor migrations from Ecuador to first, New York City and, then, Spain. We compare the organization and impact of these two separate migration industries and their ability to impact key features of Ecuadorians’ labor mobility and settlement at these two destinations. We discuss the historical context of the sending regions and the policies of the destination states to better understand the conditions under which such migration industries can flourish. We argue for a robust conception of migration industries, comprised of a diverse set of formal and informal economic activities, increasingly able to shape migration patterns and outcomes.