Legal Passing: Navigating Undocumented Life and Local Immigration Law
Colloquium | September 10 | 12:30-2 p.m. | Shorb House, Latinx Research Center
Angela S. García, Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
This book talk analyzes the ways federal, state, and local immigration laws shape the lives of undocumented Mexicans in the US. Comparing restrictive and accommodating immigration measures in various cities and states, it shows that place-based inclusion and exclusion unfold for immigrants in seemingly contradictory ways. Instead of erasing undocumented residents from the community, increased threat from restrictive localities creates conditions for immigrants to subvert the public gaze by legal passing, or attempting to mask the stigma of illegality to avoid police and immigration enforcement. As legal passing becomes embodied, immigrants distance themselves from their ethnic and cultural identities, resulting in coerced assimilation. In accommodating localities, undocumented Mexicans experience a sense of local membership and stability that is simultaneously undercut by federal deportation threat and complex street-level tensions with police. Combining social theory on immigration and law as well as place and race, the talk illuminates the human consequences of contemporary immigration federalism.