Legalizing Moves

Salvadoran Immigrants' Struggle for U.S. Residency
Susan Bibler Coutin
Examines the transnational implications of immigrants' legalization efforts


Legalizing Moves analyzes the battle Salvadoran immigrants have fought for two decades to win legal permanent residency in the United States. Drawing on interviews with Salvadoran asylum applicants, observations of deportation hearings, and fieldwork within the Salvadoran community in Los Angeles, Susan Bibler Coutin illustrates the profound effects of increasingly restrictive immigration laws on the lives of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Susan Bibler Coutin is Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society and the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, where she also serves as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Graduate Division.

Praise / Awards

  • "Coutin is a superb ethnographer, skilled in providing detail from her interviews and her participation in a range of community groups, and well-equipped to address complex theoretical arguments about human agency and the power of law. Her writing is in the best tradition of interweaving theory and ethnography so that each illuminates the other. Her scholarship is excellent."
    —Barbara Yngvesson, Hampshire College
  • "This is a clearly written book that renders a complex and multifaceted picture of a legal process that begins when people cross the border and ends with their legalization or deportation. . . . I highly recommend the book to those interested in the intersections of immigration, legal processes, ethnicity, gender, political struggles, and human rights."
    —Cecilia Menjivar, International Migration Review, Volume 35, No. 3 (2001)
  • "This is a wonderful ethnography. It demonstrates, with sensitivity and elegance, the practices of the law and law's power to define personhood and subjectivity. It is both accessible and sophisticated in its analysis. . . . This is a beautifully written, engaging, and interesting study that rewards the general reader as well as the student. It would be a pleasure to teach in the classroom. It would be valuable in a course on criminology, law, and society, the sociology or anthropology of law, migration or globalization to talk about the nature of borders today, the way law operates at these borders, and the challenges of trying to regulate borders in the contemporary era. The book is fascinating, a good read for students, faculty, and the general public."
    —Sally Engle Merry, Wellesley College, Theoretical Criminology

News, Reviews, Interviews

Review Law and Politics Book Review | 6/1/2000

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 248pp.
  • 5 photographs, 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08928-4

Add to Cart
  • $28.95 U.S.