2015 Recommended reading list on immigration



During my summers as an undergrad and grad student, I have put together my own summer reading lists as a way to expand my knowledge on various topics.  This year’s list includes over 40 books and plenty of articles on the topics of education, immigration, race, and political participation.  Below are a few of the books and articles that I have read and highly recommend for others who are also interested on the topic of immigration:

Abrego, Leisy. 2014. Sacrificing Families: Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders

Sacrificing Families offers a first-hand look at Salvadoran transnational families, how the parents fare in the United States, and the experiences of the children back home. It captures the tragedy of these families’ daily living arrangements, but also delves deeper to expose the structural context that creates and sustains patterns of inequality in their well-being. What prevents these parents from migrating with their children? What are these families’ experiences with long-term separation? And why do some ultimately fare better than others?”

Boehm, Deborah A. 2012. Intimate Migrations: Gender, Family, and Illegality among Transnational Mexicans

Intimate Migrations is based on over a decade of ethnographic research, focusing on Mexican immigrants with ties to a small, rural community in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí and several states in the U.S. West. By showing how intimate relations direct migration, and by looking at kin and gender relationships through the lens of illegality, Boehm sheds new light on the study of gender and kinship, as well as understandings of the state and transnational migration.”

Enriquez, Laura. 2015. “Multigenerational Punishment: Shared Experiences of Undocumented Immigration Status Within Mixed-Status Families,” Journal of Marriage and Family.

“Estimates suggest that approximately 16.6 million people in the United States are members of mixed-status families composed of undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens or documented immigrants. Drawing on interviews with 32 undocumented 1.5-generation parents, the author explores how immigration laws affect undocumented parents and their citizen children. She finds that U.S. citizen children and their undocumented parents often share in the risks and limitations associated with undocumented immigration status. She conceptualizes this phenomenon as multigenerational punishment, a distinct form of legal violence wherein the sanctions intended for a specific population spill over to negatively affect individuals who are not targeted by laws. Though not restricted to familial relationships, multigenerational punishment tends to occur within families because of the strong social ties, sustained day-to-day interactions, and dependent relationships found among family members. This sheds light on how laws can further the reproduction of inequality within families and over generations.”

Kubrin, Charis, Marjorie Zatz, and Ramiro Martinez. 2012. Punishing Immigrants: Policy, Politics, and Injustice (New Perspectives in Crime, Deviance, and Law) New York, NY: New York University Press.

“Arizona’s controversial new immigration bill is just the latest of many steps in the new criminalization of immigrants. While many cite the presumed criminality of illegal aliens as an excuse for ever-harsher immigration policies, it has in fact been well-established that immigrants commit less crime, and in particular less violent crime, than the native-born and that their presence in communities is not associated with higher crime rates. Punishing Immigrants moves beyond debunking the presumed crime and immigration linkage, broadening the focus to encompass issues relevant to law and society, immigration and refugee policy, and victimization, as well as crime. The original essays in this volume uncover and identify the unanticipated and hidden consequences of immigration policies and practices here and abroad at a time when immigration to the U.S. is near an all-time high. Ultimately, Punishing Immigrants illuminates the nuanced and layered realities of immigrants’ lives, describing the varying complexities surrounding immigration, crime, law, and victimization.”

Menjívar, Cecilia. 2006. “Liminal Legality: Salvadoran and Guatemalan Immigrants’ Lives in the United States.” American Journal of Sociology, 111 (4): 999-1037.

“This article examines the effects of an uncertain legal status on the lives of immigrants, situating their experiences within frameworks of citizenship/belonging and segmented assimilation, and using Victor Turner’s concept of liminality and Susan Coutin’s “legal nonexistence.” It questions black-and-white conceptualizations of documented and undocumented immigration by exposing the gray area of “liminal legality” and examines how this in-between status affects the individual’s social networks and family, the place of the church in immigrants’ lives, and the broader domain of artistic expression. Empirically, it draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix from 1989 to 2001. The article lends support to arguments about the continued centrality of the nation-state in the lives of immigrants.”

Menjívar, Cecilia and Daniel Kanstroom. 2014. Constructing Immigrant ‘Illegality’: Critiques, Experiences, and Responses. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

“The topic of “illegal” immigration has been a major aspect of public discourse in the United States and many other immigrant-receiving countries. From the beginning of its modern invocation in the early twentieth century, the often ill-defined epithet of human “illegality” has figured prominently in the media; in vigorous public debates at the national, state, and local levels; and in presidential campaigns. In this collection of essays, contributors from a variety of disciplines – anthropology, law, political science, religious studies, and sociology – examine how immigration law shapes immigrant illegality, how the concept of immigrant illegality is deployed and lived, and how its power is wielded and resisted. The authors conclude that the current concept of immigrant illegality is in need of sustained critique, as careful analysis will aid policy discussions and lead to more just solutions.”

Motomura, Hiroshi. 2014. Immigration Outside the Law Oxford University Press.

“In Immigration Outside the Law, acclaimed immigration law expert Hiroshi Motomura, addresses the
fraught issue of illegal immigration to the United States, which has become one of the most controversial political and social issues in contemporary America. The book revolves around two basic questions. First, what explains today’s intense disagreements about immigration outside the law? And second, what should we as a nation do about it? After beginning the book with a discussion of a landmark Supreme Court case—Plyler v. Doe (1982), which held that children have a constitutional right to attend public elementary and secondary schools even if they are in the United States unlawfully—he offers a reasoned and a careful discussion of what illegal immigration actually is and how the state (federal, state, and local) deal with it. He then looks at the ways in which unauthorized immigrants are becoming part of American society. In the final section of the book, Motomura focuses on durable and politically viable solutions to the problem in three public policy areas: international economic development, domestic economic policy, and educational policy.”

Ngai, Mae. 2004. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

“This book traces the origins of the “illegal alien” in American law and society, explaining why and how
illegal migration became the central problem in U.S. immigration policy—a process that profoundly shaped ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and state authority in the twentieth century. Mae Ngai offers a close reading of the legal regime of restriction that commenced in the 1920s—its statutory architecture, judicial genealogies, administrative enforcement, differential treatment of European and non-European migrants, and long-term effects. She shows that immigration restriction, particularly national-origin and numerical quotas, remapped America both by creating new categories of racial difference and by emphasizing as never before the nation’s contiguous land borders and their patrol.”

Sassen, Saskia. 2000. Guests and Aliens. New York, NY: The New Press.

Guests and Aliens presents a comprehensive analysis of worldwide immigration by one of the world’s
leading experts on globalization. Putting the current “crisis” of immigration into a historical context for the first time, Sassen suggests that the American experience represents only one phase in a history of global border crossing. She describes the mass migrations of Italians and Eastern European Jews during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the international dislocations—particularly after the end of World War II—that have engendered the “refugee” concept. Using these examples, Sassen explores the causes of immigration that have resulted in nations’ welcoming incomers as “guests” or disparaging them as “aliens,” and outlines an “enlightened approach” (Publishers Weekly) to improving US and European immigration policies.”

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