Project Overview: This study will examine the wide-ranging effects of long-term separation on aging parents left behind in Mexico by their adult children who have permanently settled without authorized immigration status in the United States. Undocumented Mexican immigrants who leave the US face great risk and potential death if they attempt re-cross the southern border clandestinely, often making travel to visit or even to say good-bye to aging or dying parents prohibitive. While remittances sent by migrant offspring can improve material circumstances for parents left behind, the out-migration of children contributes to the loss of emotional and instrumental supports. These immigrant families thus grapple with a crisis that ripples across both countries: The elderly parents of undocumented Mexicans in the United States are aging and dying alone in Mexico, while their children remain stuck on the other side of the border. My project will analyze how the parents of undocumented Mexican immigrants practically deal with the constraints of legal status, family separation, and waiting as they navigate their relationship with the state—the very entity responsible for constructing immigration status and for supporting the elderly via social care systems.

Bio: Angela S. García is a sociologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her research centers on international migration, law and society, social policy, and well-being. García’s book, Legal Passing: Navigating Undocumented Life and Local Immigration Law (University of California Press 2019) compares the effects of restrictive and accommodating state and local-level immigration laws on the everyday lives of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the US. Her current book project theorizes time and waiting from the perspective of undocumented immigrants who would have been eligible for Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans (DAPA) and their aging parents left behind in communities of origin across Mexico. She is also developing a collaborative project on Chicago’s municipal ID program, the first to unfold under the Trump administration. García received her PhD in Sociology and her master’s in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego.