I am grateful to Hiroshi Motomura, Sylvanna Falcón, Leo Chavez, and Lilia Soto for their feedback on previous drafts of this article. I am indebted to Carroll Seron and the three anonymous reviewers for their incredibly helpful suggestions. I also benefited from presenting the paper at the 2009 Law & Society Association Conference. Special thanks to Carlos Colorado for his support. This research was generously supported by the University of California Office of the President, the Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Haynes Foundation, the UCLA Latin American Center, and the Latin American Studies Association Section on Central America. Please address correspondence to Leisy Abrego, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 7357 Bunche Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1559; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Consciousness of Undocumented Latinos: Fear and Stigma as Barriers to Claims-Making for First- and 1.5-Generation Immigrants
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
© 2011 Law and Society Association
Law & Society Review
Volume 45, Issue 2, pages 337–370, June 2011
How to Cite
Abrego, L. J. (2011), Legal Consciousness of Undocumented Latinos: Fear and Stigma as Barriers to Claims-Making for First- and 1.5-Generation Immigrants. Law & Society Review, 45: 337–370. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5893.2011.00435.x
- Issue published online: 25 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
This article examines the legal consciousness and incorporation experiences of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Although this population may be disaggregated along several axes, one central distinction among them is their age at migration. Those who migrated as adults live out their daily lives in different social contexts than those who migrated as children. Therefore, although all undocumented immigrants are legally banned, their identities, sense of belonging, and interpretation of their status vary. Based on ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews of Latino undocumented immigrants from 2001 to 2010, I examine how illegality is experienced differently by social position. The findings suggest that the role of life-stage at migration and work-versus-school contexts importantly inform immigrants' legal consciousness. Fear predominates in the legal consciousness of first-generation undocumented immigrants, while the legal consciousness of the 1.5 generation is more heavily infused with stigma. Fear and stigma are both barriers to claims-making, but they may affect undocumented immigrants' potential for collective mobilization in different ways.