Ph.D. student Emilia Ravetta published “Mixed-status Families in Northern Arizona: An Inductive Analysis of Legal Clinic Participation and the Gendered Dynamics of Emotional Care Work” in Humanity & Society on September 16, 2021. Her and her co-author’s research was from Emilia’s master’s thesis that she did at Northern Arizona University.
Fear of deportation and consequent separation of “mixed-status families” (those with citizen and non-citizen members) is a central issue facing immigrants today. Yet, there is a gap in sociological explorations of legal clinics designed to assist these families. Here, we examine parents of mixed-status families in danger of deportation who visited one such clinic: what factors drove them to seek legal help? While we explore theoretical implications related to legal violence, we also highlight ways to better reach these families and provide free legal services, particularly to women who seem to be primarily tasked with this work. Research was conducted through Northern Arizona Immigration Legal Services (NAILS). Using in-depth interviews with nine undocumented Mexican-born parents, mostly mothers, our findings reveal patterns that could aid NAILS and other legal support services in providing assistance to these families. Issues such as traditional gendered labor division within the family and the role of social workers were the most relevant themes in seeking legal help. These findings not only contribute to the growing sociological research on immigration and gender dynamics but can also help NAILS and other similar community organizations connect with immigrants in more efficient ways, particularly as it relates to the emotional care work of mothers in mixed-status families.