Building an Uncertain Future

Dissertation Project (and eventual book project)

Full title: Building an Uncertain Future: Understanding  Immigrant Families and Investments Across Borders

Using novel nationally representative survey data (n=1,046) and in-depth interviews  (n=44), my dissertation investigates the transnational lives and identities of first and second generation Latinos in the US,  with a focus on the case of homeland property ownership. I explore the empirical puzzle: why are  long-term migrants and the second generation investing in the countries of origin despite their  apparent assimilation? In other words, this phenomenon is a case of individuals investing their  time and economic resources in places in which they, in theory, shouldn’t. But, of course, this depends on  scholarly assumptions about assimilation, belonging, and transnationalism. My work challenges these theoretical frameworks, offering a more complex and nuanced understanding of the  immigrant experience. 

Resilient Remittances

Co-authored with Angela Garcia

Full title: Resilient Remittances? Examining Changes in Remitting During Covid-19 Pandemic 

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted projections of economic contraction and a resulting decline in immigrant remittances, which are fundamental to many migrant household survival strategies. However, in the first year of the pandemic, remittances from the United States to Mexico and other Latin American countries remained surprisingly stable. Using novel survey and interview data, we investigate this apparent divergence, and the dynamic familial networks that sustained these remittances. Bridging literatures on crisis remittance and Latin American immigrant families, we identify patterns masked by the overall macro trend of resilient remittance flows, including heterogeneity across remitters’ responses to the pandemic and household-level strain of remitting during this period. Specifically, we find evidence of an intensified expanded remittance pool, wherein remittance responsibility spread across household and extended family members—especially US citizens, authorized immigrants, and those with greater financial stability—in response to job loss and income instability within remitting households. During a period of extreme hardship, the continued need for remittances among non-migrant family members contributed to the construction of these expanded pools. This study demonstrates the utility of examining complexity, change, and oftentimes strain at the micro-household level that undergirds apparent stability at a macro-level of analysis.

Revise and Resubmit at International Migration Review 

Who are the Multiracials?

Co-authored with René D. Flores 

Full title: Who are the Multiracials? Understanding Multiracial Identification in the US Census 2000-2020

The number of multiracial Americans, those who identify as more than one race in the U.S. Census, is growing rapidly. In 2010, they represented 2.7% of the U.S. population. By 2020, they amounted to 11.6%. This represents a 327% growth in the multiracial population in 10 years. This sudden population growth puzzled many observers. Some believe it is driven by more multiracial babies being born. Others believe it represents larger “shifts in culture and society” in terms of how Americans identify themselves and how they think about the boxes available to them . Yet others may posit that changes in how the U.S. Census formulates the identity question and how it processes such information may be the main culprits. Our inability to adjudicate between these competing explanations hinders our empirical understanding of the compositional landscape of the United States. Further, it prevents us from assessing whether and how the way race is constructed in the U.S. may be changing. We tackle this empirical puzzle by examining three competing explanations for this sudden growth: 1) Natural demographic growth, 2) Census artifacts (changes in question, changes in processing data), and 3) Cultural changes around racial identification. 

Under review at the The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

Planning for El Futuro

Co-authored with Selena Zhong

Full title: Planning for El Futuro: Understanding Retirement “Return” Migration Desires among Latinos in the US

Retirement planning represents a major transition in the life-course that can be particularly challenging for the Latino immigrant and second generation in the United States. Latinos may employ migration to Latin America as a strategy to financially support retirement, though, familial and emotional ties may also shape these desires. Using data from a novel nationally representative survey of the Latino population in the US (N=1046), we study the factors that are associated with Latino adults' desired to spend all or part of their retirement in the homeland. 

In progress

Risk and Resilience of Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Families

Co-authored with Michael Schultz and Michael Lopez 

Full title: Understanding the Risk and Resilience of Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Children and Their Families within the Context of the Hispanic Population Served by Head Start

In progress