Leisy Abrego – Barely Subsisting to Thriving: The Significance of Legal Status and Gender for Salvadoran Transnational Families
Listen above to the Research Seminar given by Leisy Abrego on December 1, 2009. We also encourage you to subscribe to our CCIS Podcast and listen to all of our research seminars for free!
Limited economic opportunities drive parents in many developing countries to migrate in search of employment. Because unauthorized international travel is dangerous and costly, migrants often leave their children behind, creating transnational families. Once in the United States, with few opportunities for legalization, these families face lengthy separations. How do the parents and children fare? And what determines their outcomes? This study finds that despite tremendous emotional costs, some families are thriving economically while others are only barely subsisting. The evidence demonstrates that migrants’ legal status and gender together shape how much these families benefit from the sacrifice of separation. Specifically, experiences associated with legal status and gendered cultural norms powerfully regulate how much parents earn and, in turn, how much they remit to their children. Surprisingly, the same factors determine how much children suffer emotionally during their parents’ absence.
Leisy Abrego is a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include Latino Studies, sociology of law, international migration, gender, and families. She has published articles in Latino Studies and Law & Social Inquiry about the role of legal status in the lives and educational trajectories of undocumented immigrant youth. Most recently, she published in the Journal of Marriage and Family about gendered differences in remittance practices. She is currently working on a book manuscript about effects of legal status and gender on Salvadoran transnational families’ well-being.