18 Challenges of Recognition, Participation, and Representation for the Legally Liminal: A Comment

  • Cecilia Menjívar
  • Susan Bibler Coutin
Open Access
Part of the Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace book series (HSHES, volume 9)


Following the approach to social justice taken in this book, we would like to bring attention to issues of recognition, participation, and representation as these are linked to migrants’ legality and their rights in the chapters by Petchot (17), De Vlieger (16), and Mora and Handmaker (15). These three issues are closely intertwined. In this review chapter, we start by recognizing the implications of migrants’ liminal legality, of migrants’ rights as workers, and of their right to access goods and benefits in society as key to advancing projects of equality and justice more generally. As Fraser (2007) observes, misrecognition is fundamental to inequality, particularly gender inequality.


Access to goods and services liminal legality migrants statelessness 


  1. Abrego, Leisy J.; Gonzales, Roberto G., 2010: “Blocked paths, uncertain futures: The postsecondary education and labor market prospects of undocumented youth”, in: Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 15,1: 144–157.Google Scholar
  2. Bosniak, Linda, 2006: The citizen and the alien: Dilemmas of contemporary membership (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, Pierre, 2004: “Gender and Symbolic Violence”, in: Scheper-Hughes, Nancy; Bourgois, Philippe (Eds.) Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology (Malden, MA: Blackwell): 339–342.Google Scholar
  4. Calavita, Kitty, 2005: Immigrants at the Margins: Law, Race and Exclusion in Southern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chavez, Leo, 2008: The Latino threat: Constructing immigrants, citizens, and the nation (Stanford: Stanford University Press).Google Scholar
  6. Cordero-Guzmán, Hector; Martin, Nina; Quiroz-Becerra, Victoria; Theodore, Nik, 2008: “Voting with their Feet: Nonprofit Organizations and Immigrant Mobilization”, in: American Behavioral Scientist, 52,4: 598–617.Google Scholar
  7. Coutin, Susan Bibler, 2000: Legalizing Moves: Salvadoran Immigrants’ Struggle for U.S. Residency (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press).Google Scholar
  8. De Genova, Nicholas P., 2002: “Migrant ‘illegality’ and deportability in everyday life”, in: Annual Review of Anthropology, 31: 419–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Department of Homeland Security, 2012: “Secretary Napolitano Announces Deferred Action Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities”, Press Release on 15 June; at: <> (8 July 2012).
  10. Ferrell, Jeff, 1999: “Cultural Criminology”, in: Annual Review of Sociology, 25: 395–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fraser, Nancy, 2007: “Transnationalizing the Public Sphere — On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Post-Westphalian World”, in: Theory Culture and Society, 24,4: 7–30.Google Scholar
  12. Hegel-Cantarella, Christine, 2011: “Kin-to-be: Betrothal, Legal Documents, and Remaking Relational Obligations in Egypt”, in: Law, Culture and the Humanities, 7,3: 377–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette, 2007: Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence (Berkeley: University of California Press).Google Scholar
  14. Massey, Douglas S., 2007: Categorically unequal: the American stratification system (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).Google Scholar
  15. Medina, Dulce, 2011: Return Migration: Modes of Incorporation for Mixed Nativity Households in Mexico (M.A. thesis, Arizona State University, School of Social and Family Dynamics).Google Scholar
  16. Menjívar, Cecilia, 2006: “Liminal Legality: Salvadoran and Guatemalan Immigrants’ Lives in the United States”, in: American Journal of Sociology, 111,4: 999–1037.Google Scholar
  17. Motomura, Hiroshi, 2006: Americans in waiting: The lost story of immigration and citizenship in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  18. Mountz, Alison; Wright, Richard; Miyares, Ines; Bailey, Adrian J., 2002: “Lives in Limbo: Temporary Protected Status and Immigrant Identities”, in: Global Networks 2,4: 335–356.Google Scholar
  19. Nakano-Glenn, Evelyn, 1988: “A Belated Industry Revisited: Domestic Service Among Japanese-American Women”, in: Statham, Anne; Miller, Eleanor M.; Mauksch, Hans O. (Eds.) The Worth of Women’s Work: A Qualitative Synthesis (Albany, NY: SUNY Press): 57–75.Google Scholar
  20. Nicholls, Walter J., 2012: “Voice and Power in the Immigrant Rights Movement: The Case of the Undocumented Student Movement (aka, the DREAMers Movement)”, Unpublished (University of Amsterdam, Department of Sociology).Google Scholar
  21. Pantoja, Adrian; Menjívar, Cecilia; Magaña, Lisa, 2008: “The Spring Marchers of 2006: Latinos, Immigration, and Political Mobilization in the 21st Century”, in: American Behavioral Scientist, 52,4: 499–506.Google Scholar
  22. Perla, Hector; Coutin, Susan Bibler, 2010: “Legacies and Origins of the U.S.-Central American Sanctuary Movement”, in: Refuge, 26,1: 7–19.Google Scholar
  23. Sadiq, Kamal, 2009: Paper Citizens: How Illegal Immigrants Acquire Citizenship in Developing Countries (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  24. Walters, William, 2002: “Deportation, Expulsion, and the International Police of Aliens”, in: Citizenship Studies, 6,3: 265–292.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Open Access. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction any medium, provided the original author(s) and in source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Menjívar
    • 1
  • Susan Bibler Coutin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations