Leisy Abrego

Institutional Affiliation 
Associate Professor, Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCLA
Professional Bio 

Leisy J. Abrego is Associate Professor in Chicana/o Studies at UCLA. Trained in sociology, she studies families, Central American migration, and the production of “illegality” through U.S. immigration laws. Her book, Sacrificing Families: Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders (Stanford University Press), examines the well-being of Salvadoran immigrants and their families—both in the United States and in El Salvador—as these are shaped by immigration policies and gendered expectations. She also conducts research on the day-to-day lives of mixed status families after DACA. Her scholarship analyzing legal consciousness, illegality, and legal violence has garnered numerous national awards. She is also a committed scholar-activist, writing pro-bono expert declarations in asylum cases and dedicating much of her time to supporting and advocating for refugees and immigrants in various ways.

Area of Expertise 

My research investigates how immigration laws and the legal statuses they confer on immigrants mediate the educational, occupational, and emotional experiences of undocumented Latino immigrants and their families in the home country. Central to my research agenda is the systematic analysis of “illegality” – the historically contingent, socially, politically, and legally produced condition of immigrants’ legal status and deportability. My work unpacks the concept to argue that U.S. immigration policies’ consequences are more complex and widespread than policymakers and enforcers suggest.

Workshop Locations