Cecilia Menjivar

Professor of Sociology, University of California-Los Angeles

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About Cecilia

Menjivar's research focuses on the effects of legal systems, bureaucracies, and institutions on the lives of immigrants in the United States (Central American immigrants in particular) and women experiencing gender-based violence in Central America. Themes include the effects of immigration laws and enforcement strategies on immigrant families, women, children, etc; effects of legal status (especially temporary, uncertain) on immigrants' lives; and effects of state institutions on gender-based violence in women's lives in Central America. Menjivar works with community organizations advocating for immigrants' rights and with lawyers (especially those doing pro bono work, in community organizations, networks of lawyers, or law clinics) who work on cases of Central American women seeking asylum.


"'Bad Hombres': The Effects of Criminalizing Latino Immigrants through Law and Media in the Rural Midwest" (with Andrea Gomez Cervantes and Daniel Alvord). Migration Letters 15, no. 2 (2018): 182-196.

Explores the effects of ramped up immigration enforcement after January 2017 on Guatemalan immigrants as well as on the non-immigrant population in one rural town in Kansas. Finds that everyone, immigrants and non-immigrant town residents, are affected, with varying levels of intensity and in different ways, by immigration enforcement and media depictions of immigrants

"Undocumented and Unaccompanied: Children of Migration in the European Union and the United States" (with Krista M. Perreira). Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 45, no. 2 (2019): 197-217.

Examines experiences of unaccompanied migrant children in the United States and Europe, highlighting what challenges these minors face, the resources they arrive with and what they encounter upon arrival.

"The Ripple Effects of Deportations in Honduras" (with Juliana E. Morris and Néstor P. Rodríguez). Migration Studies 6, no. 1 (March 2018): 120-139.

Captures the economic, social, and emotional effects of deportations (for the deportees, their families and communities) to Honduras. Finds that Hondurans represent a group particularly singled out by U.S immigration enforcement. Notes the effects of deportations to Honduras go far and wide.

"Immigration Enforcement, the Racialization of Legal Status, and Perceptions of the Police: Latinos in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Phoenix in Comparative Perspective" (with William P. Simmons, Daniel Alvord, and Elizabeth Salerno Valdez). Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 15, no. 1 (2018): 107-128.

Compares how immigration enforcement affects Latinos/as' reporting crime to police in four U.S. cities. Finds there is a 'spillover effect' that affects all Latinos/as, even those with legal status or even U.S. citizenship, but distinct variation exist across the four contexts.

"“Humane” Immigration Enforcement and Latina Immigrants in the Detention Complex" (with Andrea Gómez Cervantes and William G. Staples). Feminist Criminology 12, no. 3 (2017): 269-292.

Examines experiences of Latina immigrants (mostly Central American women) in U.S. detention facilities. Finds that conditions are very much prison-like, even as the institution uses infantilized language and 'softer' terms that evoke family, motherhood, and the care of children.

"“What Guarantees Do We Have?” Legal Tolls and Persistent Impunity for Feminicide in Guatemala" (with Shannon Drysdale Walsh). Latin American Politics and Society 58, no. 4 (Winter 2016): 31-55.

Examines the legal, criminal justice, and social context in Guatemala for women and families seeking justice for the killings of women. Finds that legal tolls are imposed on victims' families, which contribute to impunity and undermine attempts to navigate the Guatemalan justice system.