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Caitlin Patler, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Davis. She is a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Poverty Research, the Migration Research Cluster, the Social Control Cluster, and the Human Rights Program.

Dr. Patler’s research addresses the origins and reproduction of inequality in the U.S. through an examination of laws, legal statuses, and law enforcement institutions as drivers of socioeconomic and health disparities. She is particularly interested in variations and changes in legal statuses and legal positionality—e.g., gaining/losing rights, experiencing increased/decreased levels of law enforcement—and how those changes impact mobility and wellbeing. Empirically, she focuses on individuals whose lives are deeply intertwined with the law—e.g., noncitizens and individuals with immigration and/or criminal law enforcement system contact. Dr. Patler also studies the spillover and intergenerational consequences of legal vulnerability for children’s health and wellbeing.

Dr. Patler uses multiple methodologies to answer research questions, most commonly designing, fielding, and analyzing original surveys and in-depth interviews in legally vulnerable populations that are unidentifiable in secondary data. To complement these original data collection efforts, she draws from population-level survey and administrative data. Dr. Patler recently co-authored an Op-Ed in the New York Times on child detention and an Amicus Brief for the US Supreme Court summarizing empirical research on DACA.

Dr. Patler has received multiple grants and awards for her research, including grants from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Sociological Initiatives Foundation, and the American Sociological Association. Recently, Dr. Patler received the 2019 Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Perspectives Award (the  highest honor for articles from the PSA) for her paper, “To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.” In 2018, she received the Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award from the ASA Latina/o Sociology Section for her paper (co-authored with Whitney L. Pirtle) for, “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?”.

Prior to joining the UC Davis faculty, Dr. Patler was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the UC Irvine Department of Criminology, Law and Society. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, a Ford Foundation Diversity Fellow, and a UCLA Center for the Study of Women Paula Stone Legal Research Fellow. She received her M.A. in Sociology and her B.A. with College Honors in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA.

Dr. Patler’s research is informed by two decades of research-practice partnerships with legal and civil rights organizations focused on immigration detention, access to education for undocumented youth, and low-wage labor markets. She has volunteered with No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid organization on the U.S.-Mexico border. In her free time, Dr. Patler enjoys long-distance running and boxing.

CV available here.

**Recent Publications**

Smith, Robert C., Caitlin Patler, Cecilia Menjívar, Douglas S. Massey, James D. Bachmeier, Elizabeth Aranda, Mary C. Waters, Frank D. Bean, Susan K. Brown, Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Leisy J. Abrego, Joanna Dreby, Francesc Ortega, Amy Hsin. 2019. “Amici CuriaeBrief of Empirical Scholars in Support of Respondentes” Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in Nos. 18-587, 18-588, and 18-589 (DACA rescinding case)

Hibel, Leah and Caitlin Patler. 2019 (August 27). “What will Indefinite Detention Do to Migrant Kids? The Evidence is Clear: No Detention Center is Safe and Healthy for Children.” Opinion-Editorial, The New York Times.

Patler, Caitlin, Erin Hamilton, Kelsey Meagher,* and Robin Savinar.* 2019. “Uncertainty about DACA May Undermine its Positive Impact on Health for Recipients and their Children.”Health Affairs. 38(5): 738-745.

  • Health Affairs Featured Article

Hamilton, Erin, Caitlin Patler, and Jo Haile. 2019. “Growing up without Status: The Integration of Unauthorized Children and Children of Unauthorized Parents.” Sociology Compass. Online first.

Patler, Caitlin, Jeffrey O. Sacha, and Nicholas Branic. 2019. “The Black Box within a Black Box: Solitary Confinement Practices in a Subset of U.S. Immigrant Detention Facilities.” Journal of Population Research. 35(4): 435-465.

Patler, Caitlin. 2018. “To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.Sociological Perspectives. 61(6): 857-873.

  • Pacific Sociological Association 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Perspectives Award
  • Editor’s Pick for Volume 61.6 for “quality, relevance, and contribution to the discipline.”

Patler, Caitlin. 2018. “Undocumented Youth Organizations, Anti-Deportation Campaigns, and the Boundaries of Belonging.” Social Problems. 65(1):96-115.

Patler, Caitlin and Whitney N. Laster Pirtle. 2018. “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?Social Science & Medicine. 199(1):39-48.

Patler, Caitlin. 2018. “Undocumented Disadvantage, Citizen Advantage, or Both? The Comparative Educational Outcomes of Second and 1.5-Generation Latino Young Adults.” International Migration Review. 53(4):1080-1110.

Patler, Caitlin and Tanya Golash-Boza. 2017. “The Fiscal and Human Costs of Immigration Detention and Deportation in the United States.” Sociology Compass.

Patler, Caitlin and Nicholas Branic. 2017. “Patterns of Spouse and Child Visitation during Immigration Detention.” RSF: The Russell Sage Journal of the Social Sciences 3(4):18-36.


Contact Information

Caitlin Patler, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology, UC Davis

email: patler @
Twitter: @CaitlinPatler