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Helen B. Marrow

Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University
Chapter Member: Boston SSN

About Helen

Marrow's research and writing focus on immigration, race and ethnicity, social class, health, and inequality and social policy. At Tufts, she teaches courses on sociology, social policy, immigration and the media, and qualitative research methods. Her published work analyzes immigration incorporation patterns and race relations in "new immigrant destinations" in the rural U.S. South, immigration and ethnoracial health disparities under the Affordable Care Act, bureaucratic responses to undocumented immigrants in the rural South and San Francisco's health care system, patterns of contact between immigrants and the U.S.-born in U.S. cities (with attention to their implications for intergroup threat, trust, and civic engagement), issues involved with measuring immigrants' perceptions of discrimination, and American aspirations to live abroad, among other topics. In addition to her academic work, Marrow has served as an adjunct member of the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina since 2003, for which she received the 10th Anniversary Recognition Award in honor of distinguished service to the Mexican and Latino community in North Carolina in January 2012.

In the News

"Why Anti-Immigrant Policies Matter for Population Health," Helen B. Marrow (with Tiffany D. Joseph), Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science, April 8, 2019.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Vikki Ortiz Healy, "Immigration Activist Arellano Allowed to Remain in United States for Another Year" Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2017.
Helen B. Marrow quoted on sanctuary cities by Robert Katz, "Somerville Mayor Pledges to Stand with Immigrant Community after Sanctuary City Executive Order" Tufts Daily, February 8, 2017.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Shannon Larson, "Massachusetts Officials Denounce Trump's Executive Orders" The Daily Free Press (Boston University), January 31, 2017.
"How the ACA’s Repeal Will Hurt North Carolina," Helen B. Marrow, The News & Observer, January 10, 2017.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Jei-Jei Tan, "Somerville, Medford Reaffirm Commitment to Undocumented Immigrants" The Tufts Daily, December 12, 2016.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Charles Bunnell, "Professors from Across Fields Discuss Future of Country, World Under Trump Presidency" The Tufts Daily, December 2, 2016.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Julia Doyle and Sahar Roodehchi, "What Makes a Sanctuary?" Tufts Observer, November 30, 2016.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Marcela Valdes, "'We're Looking at a New Divide Within the Hispanic Community'" The New York Times Magazine, November 15, 2016.
Guest to discuss the experience of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. on WBUR Radio, Helen B. Marrow, 2015.
Helen B. Marrow quoted by Taylor McNeil, "Past, Present, and Future of Race and Inequality" Tufts Now, March 2, 2015.
"The President’s Executive Order: What Difference Will It Make for Immigrants?," Helen B. Marrow, The Conversation, November 21, 2014.
"Immigration Reform: 4 Reasons a Path to Citizenship is a No-Brainer," Helen B. Marrow, Raleigh News & Observer, July 10, 2013.
"Mexican American Mobility," Helen B. Marrow (with Tomás Roberto Jiménez), Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2013.
"When We All Become the Immigration Police," Helen B. Marrow, Latino Decisions: Everything Latino Politics, December 19, 2011.
"Latinos in Dixie," Helen B. Marrow, Interview with Marjorie Howard, Tufts Now, October 5, 2011.
"Access Not Denied? The Role Localities Can Play," Helen B. Marrow, ACCESS DENIED: A Conversation on Unauthorized Im/migration and Health, May 18, 2010.
Helen B. Marrow quoted on immigrant populations in major suburbs, "'Away from Cities, into Suburbs' Infographic" New York Times, April 16, 2009.
"County’s Language Ban Could Backfire on It," Helen B. Marrow, Washington Daily News, February 28, 2007.
Helen B. Marrow's research on Brazilian-American identity discussed by Casey Woods, "U.S. Label-Frenzy Leaves Brazilians in Identity Limbo," Miami Herald, June 4, 2006.
Helen B. Marrow's research on the dynamics of black-Hispanic race relations in the rural South discussed by Ashley Pettus, "Friction at the Entry Level," Harvard Magazine, May/June 2007.


"Welcoming, Trust, and Civic Engagement: Immigrant Integration in Metropolitan America " (with Linda R. Tropp and Dina G. Okamoto). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 690, no. 1 (2020).

Uses survey data and in-depth interviews with Mexican and Indian immigrants in Atlanta and Philadelphia to examine how interactions between immigrants and the U.S.-born contribute to immigrant integration. Discusses when immigrants feel welcomed by U.S.-born Whites and Blacks, they report higher levels of trust in and greater interest in knowing Whites and Blacks, plus higher civic involvement.

"Hope Turned Sour: Second-Generation Incorporation and Mobility in U.S. New Immigrant Destinations" Ethnic and Racial Studies 43, no. 1 (2020): 99-118.

Examines a stark turn toward more restrictionist enforcement and policy-making in “new immigrant destinations”, especially in the U.S. South, after 2005. Overviews how this shift has negatively affected adult first-generation immigrants from Latin America over the last 15 years, and then considers the the implications for the Latino “second generation” – their children.

"How Does Interacial Contact Among The U.S.- Born Shape White and Black Receptivity Toward Immigrants?" (with Linda R. Tropp, Michael Jones-Correa, and Dina G. Okamoto). Cambridge University Press (2019).

Takes a relational lens to examine how contact between U.S.-born Blacks and Whites shapes both groups’ attitudes toward immigrants. Draws on an original representative survey in Atlanta and Philadelphia, we show that when Whites have more frequent contact with Blacks, they are more receptive toward both Mexican and South Asian Indian immigrant newcomers

"Modeling American Migration Aspirations: How Capital, Race, and National Identity Shape Americans’ Ideas about Living Abroad" (with Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels). International Migration Review 54, no. 1 (2018).

Uses an original, nationally-representative online survey to show that fully one-third of American citizens aspired to live abroad in 2014, primarily for the purpose of exploration. Shows that these aspirations are structured by cultural capital, Americans' social networks with prior migrants, and strength of national attachment.

"Health Care, Immigrants, and Minorities: Lessons from the Affordable Care Act in the U.S." (with Tiffany D. Joseph). Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43, no. 12 (2017): 1965-1984.

Explores, theoretically and empirically, through both smaller qualitative and larger national quantitative data sources, the implications of the Affordable Care Act for the health care of immigrant, ethno-racial minority, and low-income individuals during its early implementation (2010-2016). Provides relevant background on the Affordable Care Act, its political challenges to its implementation, and stratification by documentation status, income, and place of residence, plus overviews of the remaining articles in the volume.

"Immigrant Perceptions of Native-Born Receptivity and the Shaping of American Identity" (with Michael Jones-Correa, Dina G. Okamoto, and Linda R. Tropp). RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences (forthcoming).

Examines how Mexican and South Asian Indian immigrants' perceptions of being welcomed by U.S. born whites and blacks temper the relationship between the former's ascriptive characteristics—namely language and race and skin tone—and their identification as American. Shows how these linkages have important downstream consequences, with stronger perceptions of being welcomed increasing Indian immigrants' likelihood of naturalization and decreasing Mexican immigrants' desire to return to Mexico.

"Hope Turned Sour: Assessing the Prospects for Second-Generation Incorporation and Mobility in U.S. New Immigrant Destinations" Memo Invited for Presentation at Children of Immigrants in New Places of Settlement Conference at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017).

Overviews existing research on children of immigrants in new U.S. destinations, highlighting early evidence for optimism but increasing cause for concern since 2005-06. Argues that lack of legal status and restrictive turns in legal-political contexts of reception are the two key factors likely to dampen key segments of the second generation's prospects for successful incorporation and upward economic mobility in the future, as both become more heavily dependent on and stratified by legal status.

"How Contact Experiences Shape Welcoming: Perspectives from U.S.-Born and Immigrant Groups" (with Linda R. Tropp, Dina G. Okamoto, and Michael Jones-Correa). Social Psychology Quarterly 81, no. 1 (forthcoming, March 2018).

Examines how intergroup contact experiences—including both their frequency and their qualities (friendly, discriminatory)—predict indicators of welcoming among U.S.-born whites and blacks and Mexican and South Asian immigrant groups. Shows that greater contact frequency predicts greater tendencies to welcome, and to feel welcomed by, each of the other groups— effects that persist even when demographic characteristics, perceived discrimination, and exposure are included as predictors in models.

"The Difference a Decade of Enforcement Makes: Hispanic Racial Incorporation and Changing Intergroup Relations in the American South's Black Belt" in Transatlantic Perspectives on New Immigrant Destinations, edited by Stephanie Chambers, Diana Evans, Anthony M. Messina, and Abigail Fisher Williamson (Temple University Press, 2017), 102-120.

Examines implications of the U.S. South's sharp negative turn in "context of reception" toward immigrants since 2005-06 for the state of black-Hispanic relations and theories of the southern color line(s). Argues there is emerging evidence of black-Hispanic coalition-building primarily at elite levels and in the formal institutional realms of southern politics and civil society, and less so in nonelite levels of workplaces, neighborhoods, and public spaces.

"Out of Context: The Absence of Spatial Variation in U.S. Immigrants' Perceptions of Discrimination" (with Daniel J. Hopkins, Jonathan Mummolo, Victoria M. Esses, Cheryl R. Kaise, and Monica McDermott). Politics, Groups, and Identities 4, no. 3 (2016): 363-92.

Examines the hypothesis that immigrants' perceptions of discrimination vary across U.S. localities, as threatened responses by native-born residents may increase perceived discrimination among neighboring immigrants. Considers the alternative hypothesis that barriers to the expression and detection of discrimination de-couple native-born attitudes from immigrants' perceptions about their treatment. 

New Destination Dreaming: Immigration, Race, and Legal Status in the Rural American South (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Explores how the rural context impacts the American immigrant experience, how rapid Hispanic immigration influences southern race relations, and how institutions like schools and law enforcement agencies deal with unauthorized residents. It presents a cautiously optimistic view of Hispanic newcomers’ opportunities for upward mobility in the rural South, while underscoring the threat of increasing anti-immigrant sentiment and restrictive policymaking.

"Immigrant Bureaucratic Incorporation: The Dual Roles of Professional Missions and Government Policies Helen B. Marrow" American Sociological Review 74, no. 5 (2009).

Examines how rural American residents and institutions in “new immigrant destinations” in eastern North Carolina were adapting, if at all, to Hispanic newcomers in the early 2000s. Suggests that Hispanic newcomers were undergoing a process of “bureaucratic incorporation”, whereby some public service bureaucrats were initiating incorporation.

The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration since 1965 (edited with Mary C. Waters and Reed Ueda) (Harvard University Press, 2007).
Presents a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and authoritative account of the most recent post-1965 surge of immigrants to the United States. Includes thematic essays that address such topics as immigration law and policy, refugees, unauthorized migrants, racial and ethnic identity, religion, and education, followed by comprehensive articles on immigration from the 31 most significant nations or regions of origin.