Amada Armenta. Immigrants and the Law: Crafting Moral Selves in the Face of Immigration Control

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Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Co-sponsored by SOCA

Immigrants and the Law: Crafting Moral Selves in the Face of Immigration Control

US immigration laws criminalize unauthorized immigrants and render many of immigrants’ daily activities “illegal.” How does this affect immigrants’ attitudes and practices toward the law? Drawing on interviews with unauthorized Mexican immigrants in Philadelphia, this study examines how respondents resolve problems of law in their everyday lives. I show how time spent in the United States transforms migrants’ legal attitudes from one of “getting around the law” to one of “doing things the right way.” I highlight the implications of this legal transformation for the moral economy of immigration policy, for immigrant claims-making, and for Latino immigrants’ place in the racial hierarchy.  

Amada Armenta is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where she specializes in the areas of Race and Ethnicity, Immigration, and Crime and Justice. Amada earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA, and a B.A. in Political Science from Rice University. She was previously Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.  She is the author of Protect, Serve, and Deport: The Rise of Policing as Immigration Enforcement (UC Press), which was a finalist for the 2017 C. Wright Mills Award.  Her research has also appeared in Social Problems, Work and Occupations, and the Annual Review of Sociology, among other outlets.