Leisy J. Abrego
Central Americans, Education, Gender & Sexuality, Immigrant Rights
Professor and Chair Core Faculty of Chicana/o Studies, UCLA
Division of Social Sciences
Leisy J. Abrego is Professor in Chicana/o and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Trained in sociology, she is a law & society scholar who studies the intimate consequences of U.S. foreign and immigration policies for Central American migrants and Latinx families in the United States. Her book, Sacrificing Families: Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders (Stanford University Press, 2014), 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.
Her research also explores how immigration and educational policies shape the educational trajectories of undocumented students. She is co-editor of We Are Not Dreamers: Undocumented Scholars Theorize Undocumented Life in the United States (with Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales, Duke University Press, 2020), a volume that offers a counternarrative to the idea that only exceptional and “deserving” migrants should gain citizenship and legal rights. Her scholarship analyzing legal consciousness, illegality, and legal violence has garnered numerous awards from the Latin American Studies Association and the American Sociological Association. She also dedicates much of her time to supporting and advocating for refugees and immigrants by writing editorials and pro-bono expert declarations in asylum cases.
More recently, Abrego has been writing about how different subsectors of Latino immigrants internalize immigration policies differently and how this shapes their willingness to make claims in the United States. Her current project examines 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 also dedicates much of her time to supporting and advocating for refugees and immigrants by writing editorials and pro-bono expert declarations in asylum cases.
Abrego received her PhD and MA in sociology from UCLA. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Pomona College.