Ernesto Castañeda

Assistant Professor of Sociology, American University

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About Ernesto

Castañeda’s research compares Latino immigrants in the U.S. and Muslim immigrants in Europe. He has conducted surveys and ethnographic fieldwork in the United States, France, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico, Algeria, and Morocco. Castañeda is interested in the relation between the contexts of immigrant reception, including the avenues available for political voice, and the political inclusion of immigrants and minorities. His ongoing research projects compare different metropolitan areas along the US-Mexico border, address Hispanic Health Disparities, look into the causes of homelessness, and examine the link between migration and mental health.

In the News

"The Contradiction at the Heart of Immigration Restriction," Ernesto Castañeda, The Washington Post, June 10, 2019.
"Americans Should Show Zero Tolerance to "Zero Tolerance" Immigration Policies," Ernesto Castañeda, Morning Consult, June 25, 2018.
"Now is the Time for Immigration Reform," Ernesto Castañeda, U.S. News & World Report, October 10, 2017.
"Yes, El Paso is Safer than DC, So Why are We Talking about Border Security," Ernesto Castañeda (with Michael D.M. Bader), The Hill, October 10, 2016.
"Border Residents Say Neighborhoods Are Safe," Ernesto Castañeda, Fort Worth Star Telegram, September 19, 2016.
"Is the Border Safe? Border Residents’ Perceptions of Crime and Security," Ernesto Castañeda, Contexts, September 5, 2016.
Interview on immigration Ernesto Castañeda, Borderzine, April 12, 2013.
"La Pérdida del Idioma Español Partes 1 y 2," Ernesto Castañeda, Univision. KINT 26, February 21, 2012.
Ernesto Castañeda's research on immigration discussed by Jesus Sanchez, "The Integration of Immigrants into Society Benefits Them and Their New Country," Borderzine, September 22, 2011.
Guest to discuss Mexican Independence Day on KNPR, Ernesto Castañeda, September 16, 2011.
Ernesto Castañeda's research on immigrants and drug use discussed by Diana Washington Valdez, "Invest in Youth, Halt Use," El Paso Times, August 16, 2011.
Interview on recent changes in El Paso entitled Somos El PasoErnesto Castañeda, Telemundo El Paso, May 7, 2011.
Ernesto Castañeda's research on immigrant populations discussed by Diana Washington Valdez, "Hispanics Grow to 82 Percent of County Population," El Paso Times, February 18, 2011.


Building Walls: Excluding Latin People in the United States (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019).

Puts the recent calls to build a border wall along the US-Mexico border into a larger social and historical context. Describes the building of walls, symbolic and physical, between Americans and Mexicans, as well as the consequences that the walls have in the lives of immigrants and Latin communities in the United States. Provides a sophisticated analysis and empirical description of racializing and exclusionary processes.

Collective Violence, Contentious Politics, and Social Change: A Charles Tilly Reader (edited with Cathy Lisa Schneider) (Routledge, 2017).

Discusses the American sociologist Charles Tilly. Connects Tilly's work on large-scale social processes such as nation-building and war to his work on micro processes such as racial and gender discrimination. Provides a road map to Tilly's work and his contributions to the fields of sociology, political science, history, and international studies. 

"Substance Use by Immigrant Generation in a U.S.- Mexico Border City " (with Oralia Loza and Brian Diedrich). Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 19, no. 5 (2017): 1132-1139.

Attempts to estimate the prevalence of substance use among Hispanics in El Paso and to determine the association between substance use and immigrant generation. Shows that the rates of tobacco, marijuana, and illicit drug use were lower among young adults in El Paso. 

Immigration and Categorical Inequality: Migration to the City and the Birth of Race and Ethnicity (Routledge, 2018).

Explains he general processes of migration, the categorization of newcomers in urban areas as racial or ethnic others, and the mechanisms that perpetuate inequality among groups.

"Why Walls Won't Work," Book review, July 31, 2015.
Argues that walls won’t work because (1) the border has long been a place of connection; (2) the wall is an aberration in local history; (3) the prosperity of the border twin cities requires that there be no barriers between them; (4) people always find ways over, under, through, and around walls; (5) government and private interests continue opening doors in the wall; (6) the “third nation” does indeed exist in the minds and habits of border residents; (7) mobility and demographic realities trump the border industrial complex; (8) Mexico is increasingly global and democratic; and (9) walls always come down.
"A Family of Strangers: Transnational Parenting and the Consequences of Family Separation Due to Undocumented Migration" (with Lesley Buck), in Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration, edited by Lois Ann Lorentzen (Praeger, 2014).
Discusses the processes that create transnational families and the consequences for the members. It includes vignettes from the lives of unaccompanied minors, children formerly left behind, and children of deported parents.
"Urban Citizenship in New York, Paris, and Barcelona: Immigrant Organizations and the Right to Inhabit the City" in Remaking Urban Citizenship: Organizations, Institutions, and the Right to the City, edited by Michael Peter Smith and Michael McQuarrie (Transaction Publishers, 2012), 57-78.
Compares immigrant civic participation in three global cities.
"Living in Limbo: Transnational Households, Remittances and Development" International Migration 51, no. 2 (2012).
Examines in detail the nexus between migration and economic and social development.
"Remittances, Transnational Parenting, and the Children Left Behind: Economic and Psychological Implications" (with Lesley Buck). The Latin Americanist 55, no. 4 (2012): 85-110.
Discusses the strains faced by families divided by borders and the perverse effect of current economic and migratory policies.
"Places of Stigma: Ghettos, Barrios and Banlieues" in The Ghetto: Contemporary Global Issues and Controversies, edited by Ray Hutchison and Bruce D. Haynes (Westview Press, 2012), 159-190.
Looks at French public housing neighborhoods in relation to American Ghettos and Barrios.