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Public policies, social myths, and private vulnerabilities: The lives of Mixed Citizenship Status Families in the United States

April M Schueths, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Mixed Citizenship Status Families are a critically misunderstood segment of U.S. society. This critical ethnographic study examines the lived experiences of undocumented and formerly undocumented Latino/a immigrants partnered or married to U.S. native-born citizens of any race/ethnicity (i.e. mixed citizenship status families). In particular, this exploratory study examines vulnerabilities and the resources accessed by mixed citizenship status families in the United States to sustain their families. ^ Data sources include semi-structured interviews with 39 participants (20 couples) and qualitative content analysis of 55 newspaper articles from seven news sources. Two main themes emerged from this study: “We’ll Be Together Somehow” and “Once You Get Married to a Citizen It’s (Not) Over.” The threat of impending or actual family separation as well as a compromised citizenship for U.S. partners was described. ^ Qualitative content analysis revealed two themes: The Central Crisis of Immigration Policy and (In) Humanity. Findings confirm that family separation is a central issue facing mixed citizenship status families and that citizens and non-citizens are impacted by current immigration policies and laws. ^ This study concludes that mixed citizenship status families must be conceptualized in a new way. The public image of a seamless progression toward legalization for undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens is contrasted with private realities. This study argues that U.S. citizens should be permitted to partner and marry who they want and live peacefully with their families in the United States.^

Subject Area

Political Science, Public Administration|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Schueths, April M, "Public policies, social myths, and private vulnerabilities: The lives of Mixed Citizenship Status Families in the United States" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3350456.