Her research focuses on the workplace experiences of immigrants, the role of documentation status, and the legal mobilization processes. The research for this article was conducted under IRB approval from the University of California, Berkeley, CPHS #2005-12-22, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, #HS0801259. Generous financial support was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the University of California Labor Employment and Research Fund. Helpful comments were also provided on earlier versions of this article by the UC Berkeley Interdisciplinary Immigration Workshop, Lauren Edelman's Law and Society Workshop, Irene Bloemraad, and Sam Lucas.
Labor Rights for All? The Role of Undocumented Immigrant Status for Worker Claims Making
Article first published online: 16 AUG 2010
© 2010 American Bar Foundation
Law & Social Inquiry
Volume 35, Issue 3, pages 561–602, Summer 2010
How to Cite
Gleeson, S. (2010), Labor Rights for All? The Role of Undocumented Immigrant Status for Worker Claims Making. Law & Social Inquiry, 35: 561–602. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-4469.2010.01196.x
- Issue published online: 16 AUG 2010
- Article first published online: 16 AUG 2010
Drawing on forty-one interviews with both documented and undocumented Latino restaurant workers in San Jose, California, and Houston, Texas, this article examines how documentation status shapes the legal consciousness of immigrant workers. I identify three common narratives that undocumented workers provide to justify not making claims on workplace protection. First, I highlight that an ever-present fear of deportation inhibits any formal confrontation. Second, I demonstrate how undocumented status leaves undocumented immigrants with a particularly pragmatic and short-term understanding of their working life in the United States, rendering their working conditions temporary and endurable to them. Third, I expand Gordon and Lenhardt's (2008) discussion of the centrality of work to the American conception of citizenship. I reiterate that this particular sense of belonging is situated vis-à-vis other low-wage workers. These findings provide sociolegal scholars important theoretical contributions for crafting a research agenda on the role of undocumented status and legal mobilization.