Latino Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 320–343

Racialized illegality: The regulation of informal labor and space

  • Juan Herrera
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/s41276-016-0007-1

Cite this article as:
Herrera, J. Lat Stud (2016) 14: 320. doi:10.1057/s41276-016-0007-1


Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in Oakland, California, this paper analyzes the construction of racialized forms of difference between indigenous and nonindigenous Latino workers, based on an examination of their solicitation practices at day labor hiring zones. I reveal how the construction of these racialized divisions shapes how workers organize themselves at hiring zones, and impacts their migration experience and relationship with the host community. I argue that migrants’ experience of illegality must be seen as coterminous with other forms of difference that produces new modes of discrimination not solely reducible to legal status. My concept “racialized illegality” draws attention to how migrants’ experience of illegality exacerbates racial divisions amongst Latino subgroups. Racialized illegality is an analytical tool to push scholarship to assess how an increasingly racially diverse group of Latin American migrants is experiencing migration and settlement processes.


illegality racialization Maya migration Latino identity indigeneity day laborers 

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Herrera
    • 1
  1. 1.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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