In 2018, more than eleven million undocumented immigrants lived in the United States. Not since slavery had so many U.S. residents had so few political rights. Many fought tirelessly to belong. Others rejected the United States and turned to their homelands for hope. What explains these clashing strategies of inclusion? And how does gender play into these fights?
Undocumented Politics offers a gripping inquiry into migrant communities’ struggles for rights and resources across the U.S.-Mexico divide. For nearly two years, Abigail Leslie Andrews lived with unauthorized migrants and their families in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico and the barrios of Southern California. Her nuanced comparison reveals how distinct local laws, policing, and power dynamics shape migrants’ political agency. Upending assumptions about gender and migration, she exposes how U.S. policies abet gendered violence. Yet she insists that the process does not begin or end in the United States. Rather, migrants interpret the places they live in light of the differing hometowns they leave behind. In turn, their counterparts in Mexico must come to grips with migrant globalization. On both sides of the border, Andrews emphasizes, men and women transform patriarchy through their battles to belong. Ambitious and intimate, Undocumented Politics uncovers how the excluded find space for political voice.
Abigail Leslie Andrews is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Urban Studies and Planning at the University of California, San Diego.