Caitlin Patler

Caitlin Patler

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California, Davis

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About Caitlin

Patler's research explores citizenship and legal status as axes of stratification that significantly shape opportunities for mobility. She is currently conducting longitudinal mixed-methods research studies on: 1) immigration detention, deportation, and the intersections of immigration and criminal law, and 2) the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Patler’s research has been cited in two recent Supreme Court cases (Jennings v. Rodriguez and United States v. Texas) in support of immigrant rights. Her research and teaching are informed by over 15 years of work with immigrants’ rights organizations focused on immigration detention, access to education for undocumented youth, and low-wage labor markets. She has also volunteered with No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid organization on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

In the News

"What Will Indefinite Detention Do to Migrant Kids?," Caitlin Patler (with Leah Hibel), New York Times, August 27, 2019.
Caitlin Patler quoted by Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil, "Jails Serve Inmates and Immigrants" Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2017.
Caitlin Patler's research on recommending that the Department of Homeland Security “shift away” from privatized detention discussed by Report of the Subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2016.
Caitlin Patler quoted , "Amicus Curaei brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Jennings v. Rodriguez" , November 2016.
Caitlin Patler quoted , "Oakland Man Facing Deportation for Nonviolent Drug Crime" East Bay Express, August 11, 2015.
Guest to discuss the lives and challenges faced by undocumented immigrant students, detailed in this documentary film on An Unfinished Dream, Caitlin Patler, 2019.


"Patterns of Spouse and Child Visitation during Immigration Detention" (with Nicholas Branic). The Russell Sage Journal of the Social Sciences (forthcoming).

Finds that detainees held in private facilities have more limited access to child visitation than others. Also finds that detainees with undocumented children receive relatively fewer visits than those without undocumented children.

"From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?" (with Whitney N. Laster Pirtle). Social Science & Medicine (2017).

Provides the first statistical analysis of the impacts of DACA on psychological wellbeing. Finds that Latino immigrants with DACA in California are less likely to report distress, negative emotions, and worry about self-deportation, but remain worried about the deportation of family members.

"Undocumented Youth Organizations, Anti-Deportation Campaigns, and the Boundaries of Belonging" Social Problems (2017).

Analyzes how national undocumented youth organizations in the United States use normative notions of citizenship, which are also embedded in laws and policies governing immigration, to make claims against deportations. 

"The Economic Impacts of Long-Term Immigration Detention in Southern California," UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2015.

Presents findings from the first study of long-term immigrant detention in the United States. Finds that detention generated severe economic hardship for detainees and their families. 

"From Undocumented to DACAmented: Impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, Three Years following its Announcement," (with Jorge A. Cabrera), UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2015.

Presents findings from research on the impacts of DACA program. Discusses education, employment, and health, among other outcomes. Makes recommendations for policies that could address some of the barriers faced by undocumented youths and their families.

"Framing Citizenship: Media Coverage of Anti-deportation Cases Led by Undocumented Immigrant Youth Organizations" Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 41, no. 9 (2015): 1453-74.

Analyzed English-language print and online coverage of undocumented immigrants whose anti-deportation campaigns were led by national undocumented youth organizations in the U.S. Finds that campaigns for undocumented students were more likely to receive coverage than those of non-students. Regardless of a mention of educational status, articles included pro-immigrant quotes four times more frequently than anti-immigrant quotes. News coverage of anti-deportation cases represented citizenship in three related ways: citizenship as acculturation, citizenship as civic engagement (or ‘good citizenry’) and deservingness vis-à-vis victim status.