Castañeda’s areas of expertise include migration, citizenship, and how legal institutions shape everyday experiences of immigrant communities. Her book, Borders of Belonging: Struggle and Solidarity in Mixed-Status Immigrant Families (2019), examines the impact of immigration policies and practices not only on undocumented migrants, but also on their family members, including US citizens. Recent studies examine mixed-status immigrant families; U.S./Mexico border enforcement; the experiences of immigrant youth; and transit migration to destinations in the United States and Europe. Castañeda has worked with community organizations including United We Dream, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE).
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Borders of Belonging investigates a pressing but previously unexplored aspect of immigration in America—the impact of immigration policies and practices not only on undocumented migrants, but also on their family members, some of whom possess a form of legal status. Heide Castañeda reveals the trauma, distress, and inequalities that occur daily, alongside the stratification of particular family members' access to resources like education, employment, and health care.
Unequal Coverage documents the everyday experiences of individuals and families across the U.S. as they attempted to access coverage and care in the five years following the passage of the ACA.It argues that while the Affordable Care Act succeeded in expanding access to care, it did so unevenly, ultimately also generating inequality and stratification.
Presents results from a longitudinal , five-year ethnographic study of healthcare access in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Explores reasons why this region along the U.S./Mexico border has the highest rate of uninsured persons in the country and remains among the most medically underserved, despite some increases in coverage accompanying the Affordable Care Act. Argues that the convergence of healthcare and immigration policy, framed by a unique regional history and social environment, has had multiple direct and indirect impacts on health and healthcare access.
Examines primary frameworks used in recent public health literature on the health of immigrant populations and argues for a broader examination of immigration as both socially determined and a social determinant of health.
Examines the discursive distinction between “voluntary” and “forced” migration and the consequences of this dichotomy for migrants’ experiences in host countries.