Cover of Borders of Belonging by Heide Castañeda
Borders of Belonging
Struggle and Solidarity in Mixed-Status Immigrant Families
Heide Castañeda


February 2019
288 pages.
from $27.95

Cloth ISBN: 9781503607217
Paper ISBN: 9781503607910



Borders of Belonging investigates a pressing but previously unexplored aspect of immigration in America—the impact of immigration policies and practices not only on undocumented migrants, but also on their family members, some of whom possess a form of legal status. Heide Castañeda reveals the trauma, distress, and inequalities that occur daily, alongside the stratification of particular family members' access to resources like education, employment, and health care. She also paints a vivid picture of the resilience, resistance, creative responses, and solidarity between parents and children, siblings, and other kin.

Castañeda's innovative ethnography combines fieldwork with individuals and family groups to paint a full picture of the experiences of mixed-status families as they navigate the emotional, social, political, and medical difficulties that inevitably arise when at least one family member lacks legal status. Exposing the extreme conditions in the heavily-regulated U.S./Mexico borderlands, this book presents a portentous vision of how the further encroachment of immigration enforcement would affect millions of mixed-status families throughout the country.

About the author

Heide Castañeda is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. She is a co-editor of Unequal Coverage: The Experience of Health Care Reform in the United States (2017).

"In this superior work of scholarship, Heide Castañeda allows readers to experience the sorrow, pain, and trauma current immigration laws and practices have inflicted not just on undocumented migrants, but also on their family members with some form of legal status. Engaging and brilliantly observed, Borders of Belonging makes an incredibly timely and policy-relevant argument about the interlocking fates within mixed-status families. This book is poised for instant success within and beyond the classroom."

—Roberto G. Gonzales, author of Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America

"This book's investigations into sibling relationships, the Rio Grande region, and the impacts of illegalization on U.S. citizen family members is important and original. Through the use of compassionate personal narratives, Castañeda humanizes the anguish and resilience of the book's protagonists. An essential and engrossing read."

—Susan Bibler Coutin, University of California, Irvine