Current Projects

Illegality in the Heartland

My first book, Illegality in the Heartland, examines how intersections of race, class, and gender shape Latin American immigrants’ experiences of illegality and integration in the Midwest immediately before and during the Trump administration. I rely on 64 in-depth interviews, ethnographic participant observation, and newspaper articles collected between 2016 to 2019 in Kansas.  The legacies of colonialism that spawn violence and inequity through gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity boundaries in Latin America interact with immigration policies in the U.S. to generate divisions, exploitation and different paths of integration among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Latin American immigrants in Kansas.

Small Towns and Race Relations

In this collaborative project with Cecilia Menjivar, and Walter J. Nicholls, we investigate perceptions of immigration and race relations in rural U.S., by looking at how people in a small town perceive and treat a new immigrant group from Central America and Mexico. My collaboration for this project involves ethnographic participant observations in rural Kansas as well as in-depth interviews with Latino immigrants and Anglo residents living in the town. The criminalization of immigrants, particularly Latinos, shapes interactions between immigrants and non-immigrants and affects social integration processes.

Latino/as’ Healthcare Access 

What barriers do Latina/o immigrants face upon accessing healthcare? and What initiatives do health providers create to address the health of the Latina/o immigrant population? For this collaborative project with the Migration Policy Institute, and JUNTOS organization in the University of Kansas Medical Center, I work as a research consultant to analyze qualitative data including in-depth interviews with medical providers and focus groups with Latino/a immigrants and produce a report on that highlights Latino/as access to health care. This research aims to generate recommendations for mental and physical healthcare providers to best serve the Latina/o immigrant population in the Kansas City metro area.


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