Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Stephanie A. Bohon

Committee Members

Lois Presser, Frances Ansley, Jon Shefner


This dissertation examines the ways that immigrant illegality is structured and resisted in new Latino destinations in the US Southeast. I analyze the US Southeast as a new frontera, or borderland, for Latina/o immigrants, a border that is structured by racialized discourses of difference and belongingness between newcomer Latinas/os and long established Anglo and black populations. Experienced by Latina/o immigrants as a space of non-belongingness, this borderland has become an important site in the modern production of immigrant illegality. In the Southeast, illegality arises from the enforcement of non-belongingness, and it is structured through new forms of immigration enforcement, such as police-ICE collaboration and state-level “crimmigration” laws, which operate through what I refer to as the enforcement lottery and bureaucratic enforcement. These mechanisms render the threat of enforcement omnipresent, but never certain, producing illegality in everyday life and structuring the vulnerability of immigrants in the Southeast. Still, even as unauthorized immigrants are rendered vulnerable, they also resist the policies and practices that structure their illegality. Just as their vulnerabilities structure resistance, however, certain forms of resistance may actually legitimize illegality, ultimately reproducing the vulnerability of unauthorized immigrants.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."