Luisa Laura Heredia

Joanne Woodward Chair in Public Policy

on leave for 24-25

BA, University of Notre Dame. MA, PhD, Harvard University. Research interests include Latino and immigration politics, with special interests in migration control regimes, social movements, inequalities in citizenship, and religion in the United States and Spain. Current work compares the development of US and Spain enforcement regimes, their constructions of racialized “illegal” bodies, and their radical movements to dismantle the state’s migration control practices. Her first book project, Illegal Redemption, investigates the crucial yet contradictory role that the Catholic Church has played in challenging a growing and restrictive regime of immigration control in the United States in the contemporary period. Author of “From Prayer to Protest: The Immigrant Rights Movement and the Catholic Church,” a chapter in the edited volume, Rallying for Immigrant Rights, by Irene Bloemraad and Kim Voss. SLC, 2014–

Previous Courses

Public Policy

First-Year Studies: From Schools to Prisons: Inequality and Social Policy in the United States

Open, FYS—Year

Inequality and social policy go hand in hand in the United States. From the schools to the criminal justice system, policies structure our lives by either contributing to or helping to scale back inequality. This course introduces students to policymaking through the lens of different issue areas in the United States. Students will examine major policy areas—including immigration, criminal justice, health, and education—along three axes. First, we will explore these areas socially and historically to see how debates and policies have evolved. We will also draw from the social-science literature to examine the strengths and weaknesses and the intended and unintended consequences of those policies. Second, we will explore the complicated system of institutions that have the power to make public-policy decisions in each of those areas and across federal, state, and local levels. Finally, we will explore the role of different actors in attempting to influence and implement policy—organized interests, experts, and local communities. Students will leave the class with an understanding of major policy issues, policymaking, and how to effect policy change. This foundational information will feed into broader discussion about inequality in the United States. Biweekly individual conferences will alternate with group conference activities.


From Secure Communities to the DREAM Act: Critical Themes and Reflections in Immigration Policy, the Livelihoods of Migrants, and Societal Inequality

Open, Seminar—Spring

Immigration has been a recurring and polarizing political issue in the United States and globally. During the Trump administration, we witnessed sweeping changes to our immigration and enforcement systems. While some of those changes were sharp disjunctures from the previous Obama administration, others have roots and continuities with earlier administrations. Now, again, immigration is set to be a central part of public debate and policymaking. And yet, despite immigration having been a central part of public debate in contemporary politics, it is still debated as if it were ahistorical and decontextualized. In this semester-long course, students will explore critical themes in the study of immigration and policy. We will answer questions such as: How do federal, state, and local immigration policies and their linkages impact the livelihood of migrants, and what does that mean for the shaping of societal inequality? Where is the most effective location at which to effect policy change, why, and how? More specifically, this course will trace critical moments of immigration policymaking at multiple scales and in multiple arenas. We will also center the contemporary moment by exploring the policies of the Biden/Harris administration and situating these within broader trajectories of policymaking. Finally, students will contribute to ongoing debates by reflecting on where we are and what we can we do to create a better system and a more equitable society.


Gold Hoops, Red Lipstick, and YHLQMDLG: The Cultural in Everyday Politics and The Political in Everyday Culture

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring

While ideas of politics and policy change can focus on electoral and sometimes contentious politics, the role of culture is important in (re)shaping ideas and discourses on particular issues and as political acts in and of themselves. For example, the visual imagery, musical soundtracks, theatre productions of migrant justice, Black Lives Matter, climate justice, and many other social movements have aided in providing and disseminating counternarratives and political claims that disrupt everyday institutional politics. In doing so, these cultural productions can help to build movements and provide power to those on the outside seeking change. Everyday culture, however, can also be political. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sonia Sotomayor have raised the significance of gold hoops and red lipstick as fashion choices rooted in Latinx communities but also as symbols of disruption, as they are Latinx women traversing hegemonic political spaces. Trap artist Bad Bunny debuted his studio album, YHLQMDLG, during a mobile concert in New York that started in the Bronx, traveled through Washington Heights, and ended in Harlem. According to anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla, while on its face the concert was expressly apolitical, the route it traversed, the date it was planned, and the songs themselves posed a political critique of a history of governmental neglect; it marked the eve of the devastation of Hurricane Maria and traversed historically Latino communities that have been most devastated by the current pandemic. At the same time, the mobile concert provided Latino communities a respite, a moment of collective joy and celebration that was also a response and production of this time of social distancing and the end of large gatherings. Popular culture in the form of beauty, fashion, music, and other productions and practices is shaped by, and responds to, cultural, political, and historical forces in ways that can sustain or reject dominant hegemonic constructions. This course, then, aims to provide an understanding of how the political marshals culture, of how everyday practices of looking and consuming are mediated through fields of power, and of how these practices can become the locus of world-building for different marginalized communities. In centering culture in this course, race, immigration, and gender/sexuality become important axes of analysis, as they have been intimately linked with major social movements and with world-making on the margins. While the course will cover politics and popular culture historically, it will also highlight current movements and social issues and include a community engagement component that will help to situate the course’s themes in time and place.


Immigration, Race, and the Making of the United States: An Immigration Policy Perspective

Open, Seminar—Year

Immigration has been a recurring and polarizing political issue in the United States and globally. While undocumented youth have forced their plight into the national debate, in an earlier moment “Positively No Filipinos” and “Irish Need Not Apply” signs were commonplace in places of business. And yet, in the contemporary political climate, immigration policy is debated as if it were ahistorical and fixed. In this yearlong course, students will explore immigration, immigrant integration, and societal inequality. We will answer questions such as: How has immigration policy changed over time? And how are immigrants integrating into society? We will delve into theoretical debates over why people migrate, the role of states in managing migration flows, the “actors” who have shaped immigration policy, and how today’s immigrants compare with earlier waves of immigrants. More specifically, this course will trace the history of immigration policy and of immigration flows into the United States, as well as the distinct trajectories of groups and cohorts along a series of societal indicators. Students will contribute to ongoing debates by reflecting on where we are and what we can we do to create a better system and a more equitable society.


Marijuana, DACA, and Guns: A Primer on Voice and Power in Crafting Policy Change

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

In this course, we will examine political power at different levels through both theoretical and practical lenses. We will consider questions of membership and belonging and of political engagement. How are communities defined? How is political voice exercised? And how do power dynamics shape who belongs and whose voices are heard? Current policy debates will serve as a backdrop for the course, which will allow us to explore the relationship between national- and local-level policy contests. Through conference work, students will trace the pathways for effecting change in a series of contemporary policy debates at different levels of government and geographies—including debates over marijuana, DACA, and guns. New York will be our extended classroom, positioning students to connect theory and the academic classroom to practice and the real world.


The American Welfare State

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring

This course will assess the historical and political trajectory of the American welfare state. Students will learn about the US policy response to economic inequality and poverty via redistributive policies and evaluate different theories about why the response has been so weak. In addition, the course will explore the role of mulitiple actors and factors that have shaped this policy area, with particular attention to public opinion, interest groups, race relations, social movements, and the state. Race, immigration, and gender will also be important axes of analysis, as they have been intimately linked with the development of the welfare state and its evolution, as well as evolving understandings of race, immigration, family, and work. Finally, the course will allow for broader based discussions on the US welfare system in relation to US ideals and in relation to the welfare systems of other countries. Overall, students will gain an understanding of the scope, form, and function of social welfare provision in the United States into the contemporary period.


The Politics of “Illegality,” Surveillance, and Protest

Advanced, Seminar—Fall

Over the past few years, newspapers, television, Facebook and Twitter have disseminated images of unauthorized immigrants and their allies taking to the streets to protest punitive immigration policies. The aerial shot of downtown Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, with more than 500,000 immigrants and allies wearing white t-shirts, was only one in a series of images that captured the 2006-2007 demonstrations in big cities where they were expected, like Chicago and New York, but also in smaller towns and cities in Nebraska, Colorado, Indiana, and elsewhere. More recently, images of unauthorized youth facing off with police and immigration officials have become more commonplace, the newest of these images being a young woman in Los Angeles sitting atop a ladder surrounded by police awaiting her fate. These images speak to us of a movement for immigrant rights that calls us to engage with questions of immigration enforcement, “illegality,” and citizenship. In this course, we will explore the historical, legal, and cultural construction of “illegality.” Rather than a strictly legal category, “illegality” has been constructed over time through policy and discourse. As such, we will ground our investigation of the present in an investigation of the past. Students will assess the evolution of immigration-control practices and of the construction of “illegality,” from the US focus on policing the Chinese through the buildup of the US-Mexico border and into the present. Our study of contemporary debates will center on the shifts in immigration control and the actions of key elite and grass-roots actors in attempting to shape this politics of enforcement. Students will use the theoretical tools provided by studies of immigration enforcement, social movements, and the politics of membership and belonging to assess immigration politics over time and to offer ways forward in the contemporary moment.