Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Immigration Article of the Day: Transformative Effects of Immigration Law: Immigrants' Personal and Social Metamorphoses through Regularization by Cecilia Menjívar and Sarah Lakhani
Abstract: This article examines the enduring alterations in behaviors, practices, and self-image that immigrants’ evolving knowledge of and participation in the legalization process facilitate. Relying on close to 200 interviews with immigrants from several national origin groups in Los Angeles and Phoenix, the authors identify transformations that individuals enact in their intimate and in their civic lives as they come in contact with U.S. immigration law en route to and as a result of regularization. Findings illustrate the power of the state to control individuals’ activities and mind-sets in ways that are not explicitly formal or bureaucratic. The barriers the state creates, which push immigrants to the legal margins, together with anti-immigrant hostility, create conditions under which immigrants are likely to undertake transformative, lasting changes in their lives. These transformations reify notions of the deserving immigrant vis-à-vis the law, alter the legalization process for the immigrant population at large, and, ultimately, shape integration dynamics.