Latino Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 187–206 | Cite as

Queer in a legal sense: Negation and negotiation of citizenship in Boutilier v. Immigration and Naturalization Service and Arturo Islas’s The Rain God

  • José A. de la Garza ValenzuelaEmail author
Original Article


This essay brings together the US Supreme Court’s Boutilier v. INS decision and Arturo Islas’s The Rain God to analyze the negation of homosexual and queer experience in the legal negotiation of access to citizenship. The article brings together methodological frameworks from literary, legal, queer, and Latina/o/x studies to argue that citizenship requires a narrative presence, one that immigration policy and its judicial interpretation has, until recently, refused to homosexual migrants. In analyzing The Rain God’s depiction of Felix as a legal intermediary between migrant laborers and US citizenship alongside standing immigration policy insistent on homosexual exclusion, this article demonstrates how homosexuality is leveraged not only against queer people, but also against their immediately surrounding communities to negate queer presence in US legal and cultural contexts.


Citizenship Migration Law Sexuality Islas 

Queer en sentido legal: Negación y negociación de la ciudadanía en Boutilier v. Immigration and Naturalization Service y The Rain God de Arturo Islas


Este ensayo combina la decisión de la Corte Suprema de EE.UU. Boutilier v. INS y la novela The Rain God de Arturo Islas para analizar la negación de la experiencia homosexual y queer en las negociaciones jurídicas para acceso a la ciudadanía. El artículo junta marcos metodológicos procedentes de los estudios literarios, legales, queer y latinos para argumentar que la ciudadanía exige una presencia narrativa, la cual, hasta hace poco, las políticas migratorias y su interpretación judicial han negado a los inmigrantes homosexuales. Con un análisis de la representación de Felix en The Rain God como intermediario legal entre los obreros inmigrantes y la ciudadanía estadounidense junto con las políticas migratorias vigentes que insisten en excluir a los homosexuales, este artículo demuestra cómo la homosexualidad se utiliza no solo en contra de las personas queer, sino también en contra de sus comunidades inmediatas a fin de negar la presencia queer en los contextos legales y culturales de los Estados Unidos.

Palabras clave

Ciudadanía Migración Leyes Sexualidad Islas 



I would, first, like to thank the generous anonymous reviewers for their truly productive feedback. I would also like to extend an overdue thank-you to Julie Minich at University of Texas–Austin and Stefanie K. Dunning at Miami University, for their guidance through the first drafts of this piece; the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies for being such an encouraging audience for an early version of it; the Department of Latina/o Studies and the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University, for seeing promise in my work; and Curtis Dickerson, for patiently reading endless revisions of the piece. Finally, and most importantly, gracias a mi familia—Blanca Valenzuela, Joe de la Garza, and Jordy de la Garza—por su infinito apoyo.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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