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–
Current undergraduate courses
Constructing Citizenship, Dismantling Hierarchies: The Immigrant and Racial Struggle for Political Equality
In the past few years, we have witnessed the undocumented, African Americans, and Latinos taking to the streets in protest, engaging in acts of civil disobedience, calling and writing letters to policy makers, and participating in a variety of other political demonstrations. Meanwhile, organizations—newly created and long standing, political and nonpolitical—are joining in by organizing political actions and lobbying on behalf of marginalized groups. Still, the impetus for these demonstrations, the mixed and sometimes nativist public reactions toward marchers, and the continued passage and implementation of punitive enforcement policies are also a reminder of the political marginalization of immigrant, racial, and ethnic groups in the United States. This course examines this heightened activism by situating it within historical political and social contests over citizenship in the United States. One set of questions explores political voice through political participation, mobilization, and organizational advocacy. How are immigrant and racial groups mobilized to participate in politics? In what ways do marginalized groups express their political voices? A second set of questions explores theoretical and methodological concerns in examining immigrant and racial integration in the political sphere. What are the barriers that immigrants face in acting politically, articulating their policy preferences, and having a “legitimate” voice in politics? In what ways are immigrant and racial groups’ political interests being represented? A final set of questions will consider the ramifications of inequalities in citizenship for democratic governance. The first part of the course will provide a historical overview of citizenship and its legal and social constructions. The second part of the course will draw from immigrant adaptation, minority political incorporation, and social movements to examine the political incorporation of immigrant and racial groups in the United States. The final part of the course will be devoted to an overview of the dynamics of immigrant integration in the political sphere; we will examine political participation and mobilization through the lens of the individual, organizations, and the state.
Related Cross-Discipline Paths
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 dismantle 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 these policies. Second, we will explore the complicated system of institutions and actors that make public policy decisions in each of these areas and across federal, state, and local levels. Finally, we will explore the role of different actors in attempting to shape policy. We will analyze the efforts of organized interests, of experts, and of local communities in their efforts to influence and implement policy. 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.
Related Cross-Discipline Paths
Protest is a major form of claim making for groups that find their voices shut out of traditional institutional spaces. People take to the streets to challenge policies and systemic violence, they collectively resist in their workplaces, and they confront and assert their place in distinct organizational spheres of society. They create alternative social and political spaces in their efforts to effect change by reforming or dismantling dominant societal institutions. In this course, we will bridge the academic literature on social movements and protest with cases studies of different movements in the United States and transnationally. We will imagine and re-imagine what a just society looks like and how protest can help to create that society—but also where it fails. Why do people protest? What gains can be made via protest? How is protest policed, co-opted, or contained as politics as usual? Is there a liberatory potential in protest?
Immigration has been a recurring and polarizing political issue in the United States and globally. 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” that have shaped immigration policy, and how today’s immigrants compare to 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. With this foundation, students will be asked to 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.
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, such as in Chicago and New York, but also in smaller towns and cities in Nebraska, Colorado, and Indiana. More recently, images of unauthorized youth facing off with police and immigration officials have become more commonplace, with young people being taken away in handcuffs or a recent striking image of a young woman in Los Angeles sitting atop a ladder surrounded by police and awaiting her fate. These images speak to us of a movement for immigrant rights that has called us to engage with questions of membership, policing, and immigration and race. In this course, we will explore the historical construction and evolution of “illegality”; we will assess contemporary policy debates and the roles of key elite and grassroots actors in immigration politics. Students will use the theoretical tools provided by studies of immigration policy development, social movements, and the politics of membership and belonging to assess immigration politics over time and to offer ways forward in the contemporary moment.