Third Annual Summer Institute in Migration Research Methods

June 14 – June 24 / July 1, 2021

Via Zoom

All times are in Pacific Time Zone Times in orange indicate required attendance

Meet our Participants

Asad L. Asad - Assistant Professor at Stanford University, Department of Sociology

Asad L. Asad is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, where he is a faculty affiliate at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. His scholarly interests encompass social stratification, migration and immigrant incorporation, race/ethnicity, and health. Asad's current research agenda considers how institutions—particularly U.S. immigration policy and practice—mediate various facets of inequality. His ongoing projects include a book manuscript on how Latin American families perceive the threat of deportation, a series of related journal articles on the health consequences of deportability, and a new project examining how federal judges make decisions to denaturalize (or not) immigrants who have acquired U.S. citizenship.

Asad's research project entails a series of manuscripts that examine the heterogeneous effects of deportation threat on the health of immigrants who live in the United States. The first manuscript uses machine-learning methods to uncover profiles of psychological distress among a population-representative sample of immigrants. The second uses restricted, population-representative data to examine whether and how changing national policy contexts impact psychological distress among noncitizen-immigrants. And the third links multiple measures of immigration enforcement across U.S. counties to population-representative data on infants born to noncitizen-immigrant mothers. Overall, this research calls attention to the diverse mental and physical health experiences of immigrants living in the United States—particularly under contexts of elevated deportation threat.

Adrian Matias Bacong - Doctoral Student at University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health

Adrian Matias Bacong (He/His/Him), MPH, is a 3rd year doctoral student in Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. As the son of immigrant parents, Adrian's research focuses on both pre-migration and post-migration factors that affect immigrant health across the migration course and life course. Specifically, Adrian is interested in the role and fluidity of legal status and how legal status is racialized. Adrian's other research interests include the role of racism on health inequities among people of color and Asian American health.

Adrian's research on migration and health focuses on post-migration experiences. This project will explore how pre-migration stressors, specifically visa processing time, could have profound effects on post-migration health. I will use a novel longitudinal dataset, the Health of Philippine Emigrants Study (HoPES), which collected baseline data of Philippine migrants prior to migration and is currently in its third year of data collection. Preliminary analyses revealed that migrants with longer visa processing times had worse pre-migration health compared to migrants with shorter processing times, even when accounting for age. This project will build upon this work by examining the association of visa processing time on post-migration health.

Alein Y. Haro, MPH - Graduate Student at UC Berkeley, School of Public Health

Alein Y. Haro, MPH, is a doctoral student in Health Policy - Population Health Sciences at UC Berkeley. Alein’s research examines the association between policies and health disparities among immigrant communities and minorities in the US. She studies that impact of public policies on social inclusion and health outcomes among Latinx and immigrant populations. Her work seeks to clarify the individual, institutional, and structural mechanisms that link health and social policy changes to health care access and health outcomes. She is also a research fellow with the California Initiative for Health Equity and Action (Cal-IHEA), where she acts as a liaison between UC and CSU faculty and the policy-making community in Sacramento; conducts her own research on the intersection of health insurance, state policy and public opinion; and manages the "Improving Health Access for All Immigrants" portfolio. Her interest in immigration stems from her lived experience.

Stephanie Lynnette Canizales - UC Chancellor's Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Merced, Department of Sociology

Stephanie L. Canizales is a University of California Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Merced. Stephanie earned her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California in 2018. She specializes in migration and immigrant incorporation, children and youth, inequality, poverty, and mobility, race/ethnicity, and organizations. Her book project, entitled Sin Padres, Ni Papeles, systematically examines why undocumented, unaccompanied Central American and Mexican youth migrate to Los Angeles, California, and how they incorporate into school, work, family, and community life as they come of age without parents. Stephanie’s research has been published in Ethnic and Racial Studies and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, as well as by Youth Circulations, the Conversation UK and US, the Globe Post, and UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, among others. Stephanie was formerly an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University. She will begin her appointment as Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Merced in Fall 2020.

Stephanie's research: Between 2011 and 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 363,000 migrants from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras at nation’s southern border. Significant shares include unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Various reports now discuss the effects of immigration policies and procedures on the health, safety, and well-being of children and their families. The evidence is clear: the U.S. immigration system reinforces trauma from asylum seekers’ prior exposure to violence. But what about the adult service providers – legal, educational, social and health service providers who serve asylum-seeking children? My research with legal, health, education, and social service providers in Los Angeles County, California and Harris County, Texas —which resettle the highest numbers of asylum-seeking children in the United States – considers how these providers respond to the race against time to support children and their families. Preliminary interview findings show that the ever-changing policies and procedures that govern the U.S. immigration system causes profound second-hand trauma on service providers and advocates, which I refer to as legal trauma. Adult service providers report experiencing or observing others endure sleeplessness, loss of appetite, alcoholism, fatigue and anxiety induced by legal trauma. Those with immigrant backgrounds or personal migration experiences are especially affected. I aim to learn innovative migration research methods to more broadly observe expressions and manifestations of legal trauma. Doing so is critical to meeting the long-term legal and health needs of unaccompanied, asylum-seeking children and their communities.

Krystlelynn Caraballo - Doctoral Candidate at Georgia State University, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Krystlelynn is a doctoral candidate in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Her research interests center around poly-victimization of Latinx immigrants. Specifically, she studies the correlates and consequences of poly-victimization, and the potential for criminal coping among poly-victims. Her dissertation utilizes a criminology, law, and society framework to theorize the risk of poly-victimization across an immigrant’s lifespan.

Krystlelynn's research: By dichotomizing citizenship status, many databases oversimplify outcome prevalence rates between immigrants across statuses. Therefore, the question, “Does residency status influence the coping mechanisms used by immigrants who experience trauma?” is important. The National Latino and Asian American Survey (NLAAS) is a nationally representative, complex dataset that uses a stratified area sampling design and weighting. NLAAS measures country of birth, naturalization status, and voluntary or forced migration, sex, ancestry, years in U.S. and pre-migratory trauma, allowing for delineation between immigrant subgroups. Coping mechanisms include substance use, aggression, therapy, among others. Consistent with conventions for reporting complex survey data, raw frequencies, weighted population percentages and standard deviations, and categorical differences will be calculated using multinomial logistic regression analysis in STATA 16.

Denise N. Obinna - Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mount St. Mary's University, Departments of Sociology and Criminal Justice

Denise N. Obinna is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. Her research focuses on the complexities of the migration experience. Particularly on the fact that migration is often multifaceted and spans social, economic and legal divides. This means that the assimilation and integration of newcomers is often fraught with challenges based on national origins, race and legality. As such, a significant part of immigrant integration concerns legality as well as the ability to regularize status. Amid increases in enforcement and renewed scrutiny on immigration, her work illustrates that immigrants—both legal and undocumented often face anxieties with regards to their status. Immigration then, is not only a complicated social and economic process spanning national borders. It is also a legal one. Denise holds an MA and PhD in sociology from the Ohio State University.

Denise's present study examines disparities in health insurance coverage between the foreign and native-born population in the United States. For a multitude of reasons including fear of deportation, family separation or having to navigate a challenging health insurance system, immigrants may choose not to use healthcare services even when they are eligible. Using data from the 2011-2018 years of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), this project assesses differences between foreign and U.S born residents on four key insurance indicators: Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare and Medigap or Medicare Supplement Insurance. Controlling for factors such as race, socioeconomic status and length of time in the country, this work also discusses how both populations differ in out of pocket costs, co-payments and overall access to adequate medical care.

Dr. Kristina Lovato - Assistant Professor of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach, Department of Social Work

Dr. Kristina Lovato, PhD, MSW, joined the CSULB School of Social Work faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2017. Her research focuses on enhancing child and family well-being among vulnerable and undocumented immigrant families, particularly those subject to immigration and/or public child welfare involvement. Through her research, she aims to develop culturally grounded interventions to increase services and supports for immigrant families at risk of child welfare involvement. Dr. Lovato’s scholarly work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and she has presented at national conferences. As a social work educator, Dr. Lovato draws upon over 12 years of clinical experience serving diverse immigrant families as a bilingual child welfare social worker, child therapist, and school-based mental health clinician. Dr. Lovato serves on the Board of Directors at Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition in Long Beach, CA.

Dr. Kristina Lovato's research focuses on the shifts in federal U.S. immigration policies over the past two decades and how they have exacerbated fears among immigrant communities. The impacts of these policy changes, which include the narrowing of the public charge rule, threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), asylum restrictions, and forced family separations have been further intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examined: 1) the social service needs of Latinx immigrant families impacted by immigration enforcement and COVID-19; and 2) the experiences of social service agencies in serving immigrant families during the pandemic.1) Latinx immigrants experienced high rates of economic stressors and negative mental health outcomes due to the pandemic; 2) despite experiencing fear of immigration enforcement & other systemic barriers, Latinx immigrants increased basic needs social service utilization; 3) social service agencies adapted to new demands during the Shelter-in-Place orders by using culturally responsive and collaborative approaches and partnering with immigrant-advocacy based agencies to meet clients’ unique needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via phone with social service providers (N=25), who serve immigrant populations in Los Angeles. Perspectives from service providers were elicited about the barriers to serving immigrants during the pandemic and how their service needs may have changed. Interviews were transcribed and coded thematically and guided by an inductive approach to qualitative analysis. Data analysis followed the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1999). Findings show: 1) Latinx immigrants experienced high rates of economic stressors and negative mental health outcomes due to the pandemic; 2) despite experiencing fear of immigration enforcement & other systemic barriers, Latinx immigrants increased basic needs social service utilization; 3) social service agencies adapted to new demands during the Shelter-in-Place orders by using culturally responsive and collaborative approaches and partnering with immigrant-advocacy based agencies to meet clients’ unique needs. The study explores how the pandemic has exposed systemic inequities in U.S. health care and economics; disproportionately impacting Latinx immigrant communities. Given the magnitude of both the public health and economic crises, along with current restrictive immigration policy, undocumented immigrants and their families are extremely vulnerable. Macro, mezzo, and micro level recommendations are provided to promote service delivery innovations and policy changes to enhance immigrant health and well-being.

Frania Mendoza Lua - Doctoral Student at University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, Department of Social Work

Frania Mendoza Lua is a Doctoral Student at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her research focuses on how the socio-political construction of “illegality” is a key determinant of the health and well-being of U.S. citizen adolescents in mixed-status families. She is interested in examining how deportation threat and parental deportation shape the mental and sexual health of second-generation Latino adolescents. Furthermore, she is also interested in understanding the relationships that adolescents have with their deported parent, how technology and social media can be leveraged to maintain those relationships, and how digital transnational parenting influences the health of adolescents in mixed-status families.

Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Frania was a Research Coordinator at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She also served as a social worker in Washtenaw County, Michigan, and on numerous youth participatory action research projects working with parents and adolescents in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Frania received an MSW from the University of Michigan, School of Social Work and a BA in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Frania's research: As technology and social media have become a ubiquitous mechanism to foster digital connections among individuals and communities and disseminate ideas, these spaces have also become the tool to shape discourse and sentiment about immigration. Since the 2016 election, the current administration has engaged in social media as the space to connect with the public. For example, the President has used social media, specifically Twitter, to discuss sentiments around immigration and more recently, announce deportation raids. Reactions to these Tweets have been similar to the enactment or announcement of a policy, they have shaped the news cycle and have led communities and organizations to mobilize. Previous research has demonstrated that anti-immigrant policies and deportations impact the health and wellbeing of immigrants and their families. However, few research studies explore how deportation threats via social media, while not an executive memo or policy, have an impact on the daily behaviors of immigrants with vulnerable immigration statuses. This study uses immigrant participant recruitment data and causal inference methods to examine the impact of Trump’s deportation threat Tweets during the Summer of 2019, on immigrant participant’s willingness to participant in a research study.

Fulya Pinar - PhD Candidate at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Department of Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology

I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University, Cultural Anthropology department. I have been conducting my field research for around 24 months in total in the different cities and districts of Turkey, on social and online connections created and used by migrants. I have also been moderating art sessions (http://beyond-museum.com) and Turkish classes with migrant women in the peripheral districts of Istanbul. I had my MA in Comparative Studies in History and Society and my BA in Business Administration and Economics in Istanbul. While doing so, I volunteered for many women's organizations in Turkey and Europe, some of which involved working on the Turkish-Syrian border with a focus of migrant women's sexual and psychological health.

Fulya's research: Syrian migrants in Turkey are only temporarily protected by the Turkish state, instead of being internationally protected by the transnational bodies. On the other hand, they are not provided any special services such as Turkish language education or other integration-oriented support. These create issues related to knowledge acquisition, mobility, care, and legal, institutional, socio-economic, and medical support. Through conducting ethnographic research in the different districts of Istanbul, as well as the cities by the Turkish-Syrian border, I look at the ways in which Syrian migrants create and use social and online/digital networks and connections. I particularly examine when, why, and how they resort to online and digital modes of care and information, instead of going through daily face-to-face interactions and bureaucratic processes with Turkish citizens. While looking at the social lives of Syrian migrants through ethnographic research, I investigate the internet as a medium, a public sphere, and a site of encounter, interaction and isolation.

Geri Dimas - PhD Student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Department of Data Science

Geri is a current PhD Student in Data Science at WPI. Her current research interests are in the application of machine learning, explainable AI and Mathematical Optimization on data that can benefit society; addressing the ethical issues of fairness, efficiency and interpretability in areas such as immigration, public health, safety and security. Currently her research focuses on applying queuing theory in the immigration, focusing on the asylum court processes.

Geri's research: My research focuses on analyzing, understanding and building models involving immigration. Currently I am looking at the backlog of asylum seekers in the immigration court system by applying queuing theory. By applying data science methods my hope is to help guide and inform decision makers and policy. Through mathematical modeling we can better understand the relationship varying features may have on an immigrant’s journey through the court system. Although the mathematical development of this research can be useful for data scientist to better understand the process, realistically the projects main objective is to develop tools that can be useful for practitioners in the field which is why developing a better understanding of migration and immigration is important in my work.

Ivy Torres - PhD Student at University of California, Irvine, School of Public Health

Ivy Torres, MA is a third year PhD student in the Program in Public Health at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests lie at the intersection of racial stratification, occupational health inequities, aging, and the Latina/o/x community. In her academic work, she explores questions related to the concentration of Latina/o immigrants in low-wage and high-risk jobs; the role of racialization and gender processes in shaping the conditions under which Latina/o/x immigrants work; and the long-term health consequences for Latina/o/x employed in these jobs. She received her M.A. in Chicana and Chicano Studies from San Jose State University.

Ivy's research: Expanding upon pilot data collected via in-depth interviews with primary care providers (e.g. physicians, resident physicians, and nurse practitioners), my project explores the relationship between work and the disability crossover Latina/o immigrants undergo later in life. Specifically, disability rates among Latina/o immigrants between the ages of 18-64 are lower than the rates of non-Latina/o whites and disability rates among Latina/o immigrants 65 years and older exceed those of non-Latina/o whites. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative dataset, I will examine the role of work in shaping inequities in disability rates later in the life course (e.g. age at onset of functional limitations and disability) for Latina/o immigrants.

Jacob Kirksey - Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University

Dr. Kirksey’s scholarship is broadly focused on issues at the nexus of education and other areas of public policy, including immigration policy, child and family policy, and health policy. His work stresses a holistic approach to policymaking by drawing attention to knowledge gaps in how changes made in and outside of schools interact with dynamic educational contexts. The goal of his research is to foster data-driven decision making in local, state, and federal policy to forge win-win public policies that reduce inequity in schools. To evaluate programs and policies, Dr. Kirksey employs quasi-experimental techniques using datasets from school districts, government agencies, and large-scale surveys. He has published extensively on topics related to student absenteeism and truancy, inclusion and special education, the ripple effects of immigration enforcement, and teachers and teacher education.

My research exploring the educational consequences from harsh immigration enforcement policies seeks to provide information to key stakeholders about the extent to which students and their educators might need additional support during times of heightened immigration enforcement. Understanding who is impacted during these times and to what extent ensures that limited resources can be targeted to those in greatest need of educational support.

The scale of immigration enforcement reached new heights under the presidential administration of Donald Trump. In 2018 and 2019, Trump issued multiple warnings of sweeping immigration raids, sending ripples of fear across thousands of communities, particularly in states like Texas where an estimated 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants live and 750,000 children live with at least one undocumented parent. Recently, several studies have shown the ways in which immigration enforcement actions harm immigrant-origin students and their families. This study examines the fallout from a 2018 and a 2019 large workplace raid in the state of Texas on immigrant-origin students and their schools. Using statewide longitudinal data from the Education Research Center, we propose to use the synthetic control method to select a group of schools against which the educational trends of schools near the raids can be compared. Having 2020 as the most recently available year of data, we also propose to investigate whether the workplace raids affected postsecondary and labor market trends for immigrant-origin students.

J. Nalubega Ross - Graduate Student at Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Department of Global Health

J. Nalubega Ross is a Ugandan American living in the dry dry desert of Arizona. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree at Arizona State University, with a focus on how refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa living in the United States, throughout their migration journey, look for and use information about sex and reproduction. Nalubega's interest in immigration comes from the fact she is an immigrant herself, and a childhood in Uganda observing the Rwanda Genocide, and the civil wars in Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nalubega has a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah in Community Health Education and Promotion, as well as a master's of science degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Bioinformatics. When not reading books for graduate work and avoiding writing, Nalubega spends tending to her ever growing collection of houseplants, watching and commenting on cartoons with her toddler and ranting to her partner about sex and reproduction in the United States.

J. Nalubega's research: The goal of my dissertation research is to answer the question: How do refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, throughout their refugee journey, from the refugee camp to resettlement in the United States, find information about sexual and reproductive health? My research aims to explore, given the different contexts refugees have lived in—that is, in their home country, a refugee camp and finally the United States--how do they learn about having children in each of those different contexts. My research seeks to explore the role of social media in the refugee migration journey as well as the role of social media in reproductive and sexual health information seeking.

Jenny Guadamuz - Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the USC School of Pharmacy, Program on Medicines and Public Health

Jenny S. Guadamuz is a postdoctoral research fellow at the USC School of Pharmacy (Program on Medicines and Public Health) and the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. She completed her PhD in pharmacoepidemiology and pharmaceutical policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She also holds an MS in health policy and administration from UIC and a BA in economics from Saint Louis University.

Dr. Guadamuz uses an interdisciplinary approach to identify how structural determinants (i.e., macro-level systems, institutions, and policies) impact the use of healthcare, especially medications among vulnerable populations. Her current research focuses on disparities in access to healthcare and health outcomes across immigration status. Immigration status is a critical yet overlooked factor influencing disparities because noncitizens experience significant barriers to legal and social protection, including inadequate healthcare access. She has also conducted research in the fields of drug utilization in vulnerable populations (e.g., children and older adults), policies to mitigate prescription drug risks, and the role of pharmacy accessibility in determining access to medications using cross-sectional and cohort studies, administrative claims, and geospatial data.

Dr. Guadamuz’s unique research perspective has garnered funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as part of their inaugural cohort of Health Policy Research Scholars, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, as a T32 fellow. Her research has been published in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, including JAMA, the American Journal of Public Health, and Health Affairs.

Jenny's research: Citizenship and legal status, i.e., immigration status, may influence disparities because many noncitizens experience significant barriers to legal and social protections, including inadequate healthcare access. My dissertation examines immigration status and its association with the prevalence and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. For example, using nationally representative data, I found that high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes were common among immigrants regardless of nativity or citizenship, yet noncitizens are less likely to be treated or achieve control of these risk factors. I also found that unauthorized Latino immigrants have very low treatment rates of CVD risk factors. Based on these findings, I plan to examine whether immigration status is associated with (1) the incidence of cardiometabolic conditions and (2) all-cause/cardiometabolic mortality.

Justin Vinneau - Doctoral Candidate at University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Sociology

Justin Vinneau Palarino is a Ph.D. Candidate in sociology and a graduate affiliate of the Population Program with the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. His areas of research interest are international migration, population health and aging, and quantitative methods. His dissertation work examines the health of racially black immigrants from the Caribbean and across Africa living in the United States. He is also involved in several other collaborative projects examining both the mental and physical health of Mexican, Central/South American, and Caribbean immigrants in the U.S.

Justin's research: The immigrant health advantage suggests that, despite significant socioeconomic disadvantage, immigrant populations report better-than-expected health relative to U.S.-born counterparts. This phenomenon has been repeatedly shown in Hispanic-origin immigrant population with little focus on other racial/ethnic groups. In this study, the immigrant health advantage is examined as it pertains to overweight, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in African-origin black immigrants (n = 2748) relative to U.S.-born non-Hispanic blacks (n = 71,320). Additionally, to investigate within-immigrant heterogeneity in health deterioration associated with duration in the United States, the health of African-origin black immigrants is compared to non-Hispanic white and Mexican–American immigrants. Analyses are conducted on adults aged 18–85 + (n = 570,675) from the 2000–2018 National Health Interview Survey using binomial logistic regressions. Findings support the notion of an immigrant health advantage and suggest that, relative to U.S.-born blacks, African-origin black immigrants are at lower odds for obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, regardless of duration in the United States. Further, when compared to non-Hispanic white and Mexican–American immigrants, African-origin black immigrants display similar probabilities of reporting overweight, obesity, and diabetes across four duration categories. These findings suggest that, despite potentially experiencing high rates of discriminatory and/or racist behaviors, African-origin black immigrants’ health does not deteriorate differently than this sample of non-black immigrant counterparts. The findings presented here provide further insight into the health of African-origin blacks immigrants, a rapidly growing proportion of both the U.S.-black and foreign-born population.

Kevin Lee - Graduate Student at University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health

Kevin Lee is a second-year Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) student at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interest is in conceptualizing and operationalizing the effects of structural discrimination on immigrant worker health through an examination of immigration and labor policy. His previous multidisciplinary work includes conducting research and evaluation related to sexual health and HIV, sex and labor trafficking, access to health care services, financial savings behavior, and workforce development, often among underserved immigrant communities. He currently works at the UC Berkeley Labor Center where he researches barriers to employer-sponsored health insurance among underserved workers in California. Kevin received both his BA in Ethnic Studies and Psychology, and MPH in Health & Social Behavior from UC Berkeley.

Kevin's research: Immigrants in low-wage occupations disproportionately experience labor abuse, exploitation, and workplace injustices that result in economic hardship and adverse health outcomes such as chemical exposure, physical injury, and psychological stress. The goal of this research is to understand how social policies and workplace practices operate as forms of structural discrimination to influence health among low-wage immigrant workers. This will be accomplished by understanding the landscape of exclusionary immigration and labor policies across states, how policies affect the health of immigrant workers, and how policies translate into discriminatory workplace practices that influence immigrant worker health. Through a mixed-methods approach, this research will be accomplished by: 1) examining the immigration and labor policy landscape to develop an exclusionary policy measure, 2) using multi-level analysis to determine the relationship between immigration and labor policies and low-wage immigrant worker health, and 3) exploring the effects of exclusionary practices within workplaces on low-wage immigrant worker health through in-depth interviews.

Mahesh Somashekhar - Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Illinois at Chicago

Mahesh Somashekhar is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is interested in the effects of immigrant entrepreneurship on economic development, labor markets, and urban neighborhoods. His current research project aims to understand the unique challenges faced by undocumented immigrant entrepreneurs. While it is illegal to employ undocumented immigrants in the United States, it is legal for undocumented immigrants to own businesses in the formal economy. In previous work, he analyzed how retail chains gentrify immigrant business corridors as well as how the suburbanization of ethnic business districts affects immigrant workers.

Mahesh's paper provides the first ever estimates of the number of undocumented Mexican and Central American (MCA) immigrants who own businesses in the United States. Data from the 1996 to 2014 Surveys of Income and Program Participation indicate that there were between roughly 40,000 and 200,000 undocumented MCA immigrant business owners in the U.S. Instrumental variables regressions show that, although undocumented immigrants owned businesses, they were less likely to own businesses than documented immigrants, and undocumented entrepreneurs experienced an earnings penalty comparable to the one experienced by undocumented wage workers. Unlike the presumptions of many scholarly and popular accounts, undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy through means other than their wage labor, which future research and public policy must acknowledge. In addition, the paper’s findings expand on studies showing how legal status is required to participate in certain markets, and how a lack of legal status moderates the kinds of economic action that people pursue.

Milkie Vu Ph.D. Candidate at Emory University, School of Public Health

Milkie Vu is a PhD candidate in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She will start her National Cancer Institute-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University in September 2021. Milkie obtained a BA in History & Cultural Anthropology from Duke University and an MA in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Milkie's research interests focus on structural and socio-cultural determinants of health and well-being among immigrants and refugees in the U.S. Her doctoral dissertation used mixed-method research to examine HPV vaccine decision-making in Vietnamese immigrant families. She has served as a Principal Investigator on several research projects funded by federal, foundational, and institutional sources. She is a current recipient of the F31 National Research Service Award from the National Cancer Institute.

Milkie's research: Trust plays a critical role in vaccine decision-making. While public health efforts have focused on promoting vaccine-related trust in racial/ethnic minority populations, relatively little research has examined vaccine-related trust specifically among Asian immigrant communities. Using a mixed-methods explanatory sequential design, my current research looks at trust in the HPV vaccine among U.S. Vietnamese parents, focusing particularly on trust in vaccine efficacy and safety, trust in healthcare provider recommendation, and trust in vaccine regulatory systems (e.g., the CDC or FDA). I explore how pre-migration and migration experiences as well as the COVID-19 pandemic have shaped U.S. Vietnamese parents' HPV vaccine-related trust.

Radhika Gore - Postdoctoral Fellow at NYU School of Medicine

Radhika completed a PhD in sociomedical sciences at Columbia University -- an interdisciplinary program that applies social science theory and methods to examine public health issues -- and a postdoctoral fellowship in primary care research at the NYU School of Medicine. Radhika's research broadly concerns the social and political conditions that shape primary care delivery and clinic-community ties in low-income, urban settings in the US and globally. Her dissertation was an ethnographic study of public-sector primary care provision in urban India, focusing on the "street-level" dilemmas that doctors in municipal government clinics confront in their everyday work. Her most recent research focuses on clinic-based efforts to integrate health and social services for low-income immigrant and racial/ethnic minority populations in New York City. As the COVID-19 pandemic began in NYC, Radhika took up a position at a social-impact technology company whose platform enables health-related organizations (e.g., health care providers, public health departments, payers) to connect people to social services and community-based resources. In this position, Radhika supports health systems to develop interventions that bridge health and social care for vulnerable populations, and to assess their health and social impact.

Radhika's Research: My proposed study focuses on the family-level mechanisms and child-level effects of “social referrals” offered in pediatric primary care practices in New York City. Social referral interventions are clinic-based initiatives to identify patients’ unmet social needs (e.g., housing, food) and refer patients to community, public, and nonprofit services. For instance, clinic staff can help enroll families in services (e.g., SNAP registration), connect them with service-providing organizations (e.g., for legal assistance), or provide information on how to resolve needs (e.g., how to file a complaint about housing conditions). Social referral programs are on the rise nationally, motivated in part by the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on population health-oriented primary care. However, the health effects of social referrals, and mechanisms describing how a family’s receipt of a social referral may enhance home environments and improve child health and development, are largely unstudied. I hypothesize that immigrant families’ perceptions and experiences of poverty, welfare, and civic engagement will inform the ways they utilize social referrals, with consequences for the health and social benefits they obtain from their interactions with community and public institutions.

Simon Ruhnke - Graduate Student at University of Utah, Department of Economics

Simon Ruhnke is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in economics at the University of Utah. Originally from Germany, his interest in immigration policy arose during his work in the German parliament during the height of the European “refugee crisis” in 2015. In his dissertation research, Simon uses quantitative research methods to study how their social and institutional environment impacts the health and well-being of immigrants in the U.S. He specifically focuses on the vulnerable population of undocumented immigrants, who find themselves in a, particularly exclusionary environment. Simon has taught both graduate and undergraduate classes in Poverty & Inequality and Health Economics and is a research fellow of the Health Economics Core of the University of Utah. He received his B.A. in economics and philosophy from the University of Göttingen and an M.Sc. in economics from the University of Utah.

Simon's research: Empirical research has well established that the immigrants to the U.S. are, on average healthier than their native-born counterparts. Whether this ‘Healthy Migrant Effect’ holds for the vulnerable sub-population of undocumented immigrants remains unclear, due to a lack of data sources capturing legal status. This study contributes to filling this empirical gap by employing statistical and machine learning methods to impute the legal status of foreign-born respondents to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). By pooling multiple years of the NHIS, we are able to decompose the undocumented population by gender, region of origin, and duration of stay in the U.S.

In accordance with the existing literature, results show that undocumented immigrants lack behind both documented immigrants and U.S.-born individuals in access to healthcare, with the highest uninsured rate, and the fewest individuals that report having a usual source of care or having seen a doctor in the last 12 month. Despite this and other socio-economic disadvantages, among the three groups, undocumented immigrants show better health outcomes, both in terms of self-rated health and physician-diagnosed chronic conditions. This advantage is least pronounced among the Hispanic majority of immigrants and diminishes as the duration of stay in the U.S. increases. Further research is needed to explain the surprising association of healthcare access and health outcomes and to determine the drivers of the undocumented health advantage.

Tibrine Da Fonseca - PhD Candidate at Northeastern University

Tibrine da Fonseca is a 5th year PhD candidate in sociology at Northeastern University. Her research interests include health inequality, immigration law and policy, race and ethnicity, immigrant rights mobilization, and health-related deservingness. Her dissertation project will utilize a mixed-methods approach to explore how divergent and racialized local immigration-related policy measures shape the health care experiences and health access of immigrants within the context of a global pandemic. Her previous research has examined how young adult immigrant rights activists mobilize in relation to municipal sanctuary policies. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship.

Tibrine received her B.A. from Simmons College, and an M.A. from Northeastern University. Prior to her graduate studies, she was lead paralegal with the Medical-Legal Partnership Boston, where she contributed to the development of trainings for frontline health care providers on how to screen for unmet legal needs as social determinants of health.

Tribrine's research: Within the last several decades, the United States has undergone significant shifts in its immigration enforcement, as cities and states have taken up immigration policymaking, in the absence of national comprehensive immigration reform. Emerging research has emphasized policies at the state level, which typically regulate access to health insurance, educational benefits, and workplace protections. While Massachusetts has extended some health benefits to federally ineligible unauthorized immigrants, at the state level legislators have resisted calls to enact a state-level sanctuary law prohibiting local law enforcement from inquiring into an individuals' immigration status or sharing resources with federal immigration enforcement. This project will utilize a mixed-method approach to examine the effect of divergent local immigration policy contexts in three Massachusetts localities on immigrants' engagement with the health care system during the Covid-19 global pandemic. I plan to utilize existing data sets including the American Community Survey (ACS) and publicly available health data on Covid infection and testing rates to analyze this relationship. Data from this study will contribute to an understanding of health-related consequences of immigration enforcement.

Tolulope Babalola - Graduate Student, University of Southern California

Tolu is a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. Tolu is interested in studying Black ethnic politics within the United States, which cannot be done without examining the internal and external migration story and patterns of Black Americans. Tolu is also interested in studying punitiveness and its relationship with Black incarceration (from prisons to detention centers) in the United States and other parts of the world. When Tolu is not studying, he enjoys cooking and trying new West African recipes.

Tolu's research: Under what conditions does cultural heterogeneity via European colonialism affect Black Americans’ political behavior and attitudes? Are oppressive sociopolitical structures and experiences salient variables for Blacks and their ethnic group(s) in terms of how they think and act politically? The recent immigration of Black Africans, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latinx to the United States has diversified its Black population (Pew Research Center 2015). However, many political science scholars have studied blackness and Black political behavior as monoliths, especially in the United States’ context (Bobo and Gilliam 1990; Dawson 1994; Lockerbie 2013; Pinderhughes 1987; Verba, Schlozman, Brady, and Nie 1993; Walton 1985). The monolithic approach assumes Black Americans’ shared oppressive experience is similar, hence predicting their somewhat reductionist political behavior and attitudes. However, recent methodological trends in comparative politics underscore the essence of disaggregating holistic sociopolitical constructs and groups’ preferences and behavior (i.e., racial groups, states, culture, history) (Shayo 2009; Boix and Stokes 2012). Disaggregation provides analytical and non-reductionist leverage in understanding the political world (List and Spiekermann 2003). For instance, Inglehart and Welzel (2005) and Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2001) show that colonial legacies and experiences are manifold and different (i.e., settlers versus extractive, British versus French colonies, and internal versus external). They also have diverse, long-term implications on institutions and individual political behavior and attitudes, which are then passed down to their posterity.

Ashley Crooks-Allen - Doctoral Candidate at the University of Georgia

Ashley Crooks-Allen is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia, where they focus on Black immigrant identity and social movements. Their dissertation is tentatively titled, “Mestizaje Undone: A Qualitative Social Media Analysis of Afro-Latinx Identity & Social Movements.” This work will take a qualitative approach to understanding how Afro-Latinx people use social media to make identity claims in relation to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Their master's research focused on Afro-Caribbean Identity & Experiences with the Black Lives Matter Movement in Georgia. They also completed a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. They graduated from Emory University with a major in creative writing and a minor in sociology. At Emory, they were a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. They are from Irvington, NJ and are of Afro-Costa Rican descent. What happens when Afro-Latinx people enter the U.S. context with completely different notions of race? Their interest in Black migratory identity formation came from living the effects of their parents migrating to the U.S. and settling into Black prescribed spaces. In conjunction with academia, they also devote time to spoken word poetry and activism.

Ashley's Research: Working Title: “Mestizaje Undone: A Qualitative Social Media Analysis of Afro-Latinx Identity & Social Movements.” What does it mean to exist as a Black person in a community that is notorious in its anti-black reputation? In the U.S., those who identify as Afro-Latinx, do so at the intersection of a Latinx community that often rejects them and an African American community that often does not understand them. They share a linked fate with with both groups in the form of inequality, discrimination, and state-sanctioned violence. So they likely march alongside their people in social movements, but who are their people? How do they understand themselves in racial movements like Black Lives Matter?

I will examine the relationship between Afro-Latinx identity and the #BlackLivesMatter movement via social media. My prior research has found that social movements can be a powerful mechanism in identity formation. My research questions are: 1) How do Afro-Latinx social media users understand the Black Lives Matter Movement in relation to their identity? 2)How do social media users utilize these platforms to assert and affirm their identities? And how does gender impact or intersect with this process? 3) How might #BlackLivesMatter have impacted the proliferation of #AfroLatinx*? Cox (2017) and Ince, et al. (2017) make the case for analyzing social media as it provides data on how people are reacting to events as they occur, as well as social media’s ability to provide a platform for traditionally marginalized voices. This has the benefit of creating a type of #BlackLivesMatter time capsule for my research; even as the physical demonstrations associated with the movement decline, it lives on via the internet. I will use a combination of hashtag coding, content analysis, and in-depth interviews with social media users to pursue my questions.

Meet our Instructors

Irene Bloemraad (UC Berkeley) - Irene Bloemraad is the Class of 1951 Professor of Sociology and the founding Director of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative. She studies how immigrants become incorporated into political communities and the consequences of immigration on politics and understandings of membership. Her research stands at the intersection of immigration studies and political sociology, with a strong interdisciplinary and comparative orientation.

Jennifer Van Hook (Penn State University) - Jennifer Van Hook is Roy C. Buck Professor of Sociology and Demography at the Pennsylvania State University, and non-resident fellow at the Migration Policy Institute. Her research focuses on the demographics of immigrant populations and the socioeconomic integration of immigrants and their children. One strand of her work uses demographic methods to estimate the size, characteristics, and dynamics of the unauthorized foreign-born population. Another strand of her work focuses on the health and well-being of immigrants and their children.

Brandie Nonnecke (CITRIS Policy Lab, UC Berkeley) - Brandie Nonnecke, PhD is Founding Director of the CITRIS Policy Lab, headquartered at UC Berkeley. Brandie has expertise in information and communication technology (ICT) policy and internet governance. She studies human rights at the intersection of law, policy, and emerging technologies with her current work focusing on fairness, accountability, and appropriate governance mechanisms for AI. She served as a fellow at the Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub and at the World Economic Forum on the Council on the Future of the Digital Economy and Society. She was named a 2018 RightsCon Young Leader in Human Rights in Tech and received the 2019 Emerging Scholar Award at the 15th Intl. Common Ground Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society. Her research has been featured in Wired, NPR, BBC News, MIT Technology Review, Buzzfeed News, among others. Her research publications, op-eds, and presentations are available at nonnecke.com. She is currently studying the role of Twitter bots in spreading disinformation, harassment and political divisiveness on immigration issues to influence voting behavior.

Joanna Dreby (University at Albany - SUNY) - Joanna Dreby’s research primarily focuses on family dynamics under conditions of increased globalization, with specific expertise in research with Mexican migrants and with children.

She is author of the award-winning books Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and their Children (University of California Press 2010) and Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families (University of California Press 2015), and the award-winning article "The Burden of Deportation on Children in Mexican Immigrant Families" (Journal of Marriage and Family 2012). She is co-editor of the volume Family and Work in Everyday Ethnography (Temple University Press 2013). Professor Dreby has published more than 25 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters on a range of topics of interest to the media including child care fatalities, transnational families, gender and generational relations in families, work-family balance, and the impacts of immigration enforcement policies on children.

Professor Dreby was a Fulbright Scholar to Costa Rica in 2017 and received a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Grant in 2004-2005 for field research in Mexico. Her research on children and youth has been funded by the Foundation for Child Development (2009-2012). Currently her project titled “The Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement Episodes” is funded by the Russell Sage Foundation (2019-2021) to explore how immigration policies shaped the experiences of second-generation young adults raised during the era of immigration enforcement in the state of New York. Professor Dreby’s work includes a variety of qualitative methods, emphasizing ethnography, comparative research and in-depth interview techniques.

Professor Dreby comes to academia with a background in social services and retains interest in community-based work. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2007.

Jens Hainmueller (Stanford University) - Jens is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University and holds a courtesy appointment in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His research interests include statistical methods, causal inference, immigration, and political economy. He has published over 60 articles, many of them in top general science journals and top field journals in political science, statistics, economics, and business. His statistical methods are used by organizations to conduct causal inferences in various settings. He has also published three open source software packages and his research has received awards and funding from organizations such as Schmidt Futures, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Society of Political Methodology, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2016 he was selected as an Andrew Carnegie Fellow.


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