Hiding within Racial Hierarchies: How Undocumented Immigrants Make Residential Decisions in an American City

Citation:

Asad, Asad L., and Eva Rosen. Forthcoming. “Hiding within Racial Hierarchies: How Undocumented Immigrants Make Residential Decisions in an American City”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
asad_rosen_jems_2018.pdf319 KB

Abstract:

In the United States, the residential segregation of Latinos from whites has persisted but has begun to fall between Latinos and blacks. Demographers offer the size of the Latino population that is undocumented as one potential explanation for these patterns. However, little work has examined undocumented immigrants’ first-hand accounts of their residential decisions. Drawing on 47 interviews with 20 undocumented-headed, Latin American-origin families in Dallas County, Texas, we explore how lacking legal status is related to residential selection processes. We find that some undocumented families perceive certain neighborhoods to be “off-limits,” not only because of financial constraints, explicit legal impediments to their tenure, or individual racial preferences, but also because they perceive them as high-risk: Most households in the study agree that law enforcement patrols areas with white majorities in order to exclude Latinos and, specifically, the undocumented. As a strategy to minimize the perceived risk law enforcement poses to their families’ stability, some undocumented families report opting into neighborhoods with Latino majorities in order to “blend in,” whereas others describe feeling safe in neighborhoods with black majorities where they can “hide in plain sight.” We demonstrate how undocumented families’ perceptions of law enforcement in neighborhoods with differing racial compositions may partly underlie trends in residential selection and stratification.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 10/16/2018