Current Projects

Young and Undocumented: The Impacts of Immigration Status on the Incorporation of Immigrant Youth

This project formed the basis of my dissertation research, as well as subsequent projects. I used survey data, in-depth interviews, and content analysis to analyze some of the challenges faced by undocumented immigrant young adults, how these challenges may vary across groups of undocumented young people, and how these young people resist exclusion and make claims for their rights. I build on several theoretical frameworks: 1) immigrant integration, 2) the production of legal status and legal status as an axis of stratification, 3) theories of citizenship, membership, and belonging. The published papers also bring migration literature into conversation with literature from social movements and the sociology of education. Publications from this study include:

Evaluating the Impacts of the Tenure and Termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program on Immigrant Young Adults, 2012-2020
Undocumented immigrant youth experience a range of disadvantages linked to their legal precariousness, leading to substantial inequality. This study asks: Do programs that regularize immigrant legal status reduce inequality among immigrant youth and between immigrants and non-immigrants? Alternatively, what happens when rights-granting programs are revoked? The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, implemented in 2012, granted some undocumented youth temporary relief from deportation, along with work authorization and other benefits. In September 2017, a gradual phase-out of the program was announced. DACA’s tenure and subsequent termination provide an unprecedented opportunity to analyze whether, how, and to what extent changes to legal status impact inequality among immigrant youth.

This study estimates the impacts of DACA’s tenure using multiple waves of representative survey data from California from the CA Health Interview Survey (CHIS). Other analyses use the ACS to identify population-level trends. Then, to examine the mechanisms influencing these impacts, I draw from the DACA Longitudinal Study, an original longitudinal survey and in-depth interview study of DACA recipients and undocumented non-recipients in California that I direct.

The findings from this study will inform federal immigration policy discussions, as well as state and local policies seeking to reduce inequality based on immigration status. Papers from this project include:

Immigration Detention and the Intersections of Immigration and Criminal Law

While an established literature has documented the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, we know far less about immigration detention. This project uses multiple sources of data to investigate immigration detention and enforcement in the United States. This project brings into conversation 1) the migration literatures on immigrant integration, immigration law enforcement, and immigrant families, with 2) the criminology literature on the individual and social consequences of incarceration.

Several of the papers are based on an extensive data collection projectconducted from 2013-2016 involving 1) in-person surveys conducted with nearly 600 detained people in facilities in California, 2) longitudinal surveys/interviews with individuals who were released from detention on bond, and 3) 62 interviews with children and spouses of detained individuals.

Most recently, I have turned to administrative data from DHS, acquired through FOIA requests, to examine when, how, why, and for whom enforcement matters. To that end, I have spent the last year compiling a series of representative datasets on immigration law enforcement. In a related project, I am analyzing all cases of solitary confinement in immigrant detention facilities between 2013 and 2018.

Legally Vulnerable Workers Project
A series of papers use survey data representative of 1.64 million low-wage workers in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York to explore the labor market experiences of legally vulnerable individuals (e.g. noncitizens, individuals with a criminal record, etc.). Papers from this study include:

  • Patler, Caitlin, Shannon Gleeson, and Matthias Schonlau. “The Impact of Immigrant Legal Status and Human Capital on Legal Knowledge and Claims-Making in Low Wage and Unregulated Labor Markets.” Revised and Resubmitted.
  • Patler, Caitlin, Bill McCarthy, and Angela Carter. “Degrees of Inequality: The Diminished Returns to Education for Workers with a Criminal Record.” In Progress.
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