Event Registration

Legal Violence: How Immigration Enforcement Affects Families, Schools, and Workplaces

In an era of increased enforcement on the federal, state, and local levels, what is life like for immigrants—those with and without legal status, and for the wider communities in which they live? This event will focus on three primary aspects of society in America: the school, the workplace, and the family. We will discuss how detentions and deportations build upon one another in harmful ways, straining family ties, opening the door to employer exploitation and mistreatment, and causing children to underperform or exit school early. Since the documented and the undocumented live, work, and go to school alongside one another, these issues ripple outward, affecting entire communities.

This event marks the capstone of our “Documenting the Undocumented” series, which seeks to shine a light on all aspects of life for undocumented immigrants. We will be releasing the report “Legal Violence in the Lives of Immigrants: How Immigration Enforcement Affects Families, Schools, and Workplaces,” by Cecilia Menjívar and Leisy Abrego. The authors argue that the cumulative effects of immigration enforcement, and the ensuing stigmatization of immigrants that goes hand-in-hand—what they term ‘legal violence’—hinder today’s immigrants from integrating into life in the U.S. as their predecessors did before them. Between them the authors have conducted more than 200 in-depth interviews over 10 years of research, and bring their wide-ranging knowledge, and intimate stories of those affected, to the Center.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a discussion about the ways in which immigration enforcement affects families, schools, and workplaces. Authors Cecilia Menjívar and Leisy Abrego will discuss their research and the individuals caught up in the enforcement system they met along the way. Roberto Gonzales will discuss undocumented immigrants and education, from primary school through college, while Lisa Moore will discuss “A Wish for the Holidays,” an advocacy campaign focused on ensuring that families are not separated because detention and deportation. Finally, Chris Newman will discuss how immigration enforcement affects immigrants as workers, and as well as the campaigns to garner greater protections and rights for these workers.