Low-wage Workers and Public Policy: Marginalization, Coercion, and Alternatives

Thursday, April 28, 2016
2:00 - 3:30pm
Public Affairs Room 5391

Speakers and Topics of Discussion:


About the Panel:

This research forum takes a broad look at emerging issues of immigrant integration, incarceration, and low-wage work.  Six very different researchers from four UC campuses will present their cutting-edge research, looking at the destructive effects of many policies currently in place, but also at alternatives to move toward economic and social justice.


About the Speakers:


Kelly Lytle-Hernandez research interests are in twentieth-century U.S. history with a concentration upon race, migration, and police and prison systems in the American West and U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her new book, MIGRA! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press, 2010) is the first book to tell the story of how and why the U.S. Border Patrol concentrates its resources upon policing unsanctioned Mexican immigration despite the many possible targets and strategies of U.S. migration control. Her current research focuses upon exploring the social world of incarceration in Los Angeles between 1876 and 1965.
Rocío Rosales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this appointment she was a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA in 2012 and received her A.B. in Sociology (cum laude) with a certificate in Latin American Studies from Princeton University. Her research interests include international migration, immigrant and ethnic economies, race and ethnicity, law and society, Latinas/os in the US, and qualitative research methods. Her work has been funded by the American Philosophical Society (2011), John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation (2010), Ford Foundation (2005-2008), and Mellon Mays Foundation (2003-2012). Her research appears in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Ethnic and Racial Studies. She is currently working on her book manuscript based on over four years of ethnographic research among street vendors in Los Angeles.

Noah Zatz's interests include employment & labor law, welfare law and antipoverty policy, work/family issues, feminist legal & social theory, and liberal political theory.  His writing and teaching address how work structures both inequality and social citizenship in the modern welfare state.  Zatz’s primary focus is on which activities become recognized and protected as "work," how work is defined in relationship to markets, and how the boundaries of markets are themselves mediated by gender and race, among other things.  His published scholarship engages these questions by studying the legal concepts of "work" in welfare work requirements and "employment" in labor & employment law, especially with regard to the status of family caretaking, prison labor, workfare, and sex work.  Another major interest is how antidiscrimination law, and employment law more generally, address labor market inequality that is jointly produced by workers’ interactions with employers, coworkers, and actors outside the workplace.


As a teacher, Zatz is particularly committed to training public interest lawyers and to engaging students with law’s possibilities both as an instrument of injustice and as a contributor to emancipatory social change.  To these ends and others, Zatz actively participates in UCLA’s Epstein Public Interest Law & Policy and Critical Race Studies programs.


Zatz’s current research explores how U.S. antipoverty programs exclude child care from assessments of a household's economic needs and how this exclusion links family caretaking’s status as nonwork with the inadequate provision of child-care assistance to employed parents.  Another current project analyzes the theoretical basis for the “disparate impact” claim of discrimination, with an emphasis on the significance of intra-group differences and the importance they take on in contexts such as the racial significance of exclusions based on criminal records.




Dr. Walter Nicholls is Associate Professor of Planning and Policy at the University of California, Irvine. His main area of research has been the role of cities in broad social movements. More recently, he has been studying how immigrants forge a political voice in hostile environments. His main teaching interests are urban sociology, immigration, and qualitative methods.



Tom K. Wong is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Director of the International Migration Studies Program Minor. His research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant "illegality." As these issues have far-reaching implications, his work also explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity.

His first book, Rights, Deportation, and Detention in the Age of Immigration Control, analyzes the immigration control policies of twenty-five Western immigrant-receiving democracies (Stanford University Press, May 2015). He is currently completing his second book, which is on the politics of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S., among other projects. Wong's research has been used by policymakers both in the U.S. and in Mexico, as well as by organizations that serve immigrant communities. He is the lead researcher on one of the first nationwide surveys of undocumented youth. He is also the creator of the CIR Blog, which predicts support and opposition to comprehensive immigration reform among all 535 current members of Congress. Wong and his work has been covered by ABC News/Univision, Fusion, NPR, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo News, and by Univision in Mexico.

He is also on the leadership committee of the California Immigrant Policy Center, the board of the New American Leaders Project, and on the advisory council of Unbound Philanthropy. Wong also consults on campaigns and elections, specializing in mobilizing low-propensity voters of color and immigrant communities.

Boris is The Hull Professor of Feminist Studies and Professor of History, Black Studies, and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the home as a workplace--on domestic, industrial, care, and mother workers—and on racialized gender and the state. She is the author of the prize-winning monographs Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States [Cambridge University Press, 1994], and with Jennifer Klein, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State [Oxford, 2012, 2014] and other publications on care and household work here and abroad. She has published in the Nation, New York Times, Dissent, and elsewhere.




This event is presented by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor & Employment (IRLE)