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Publication Date

Spring 2015

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies


Alessandro De Giorgi

Subject Areas



In this project we sought to explore the day-to-day experiences of undocumented Mexican immigrants living California. Mexican immigrants were selected because they are thought of as criminals, are vilified, and are the most deported non-citizen ethnic group in the United States. Mexicans are also the ethnic category with the most authorized and unauthorized entries into the United States. Though Mexican immigrants have been subjected to the most exclusionary and punitive immigration legislation over the last 30 years, we suggest that the management of undocumented immigrant categories should not be considered solely as a calculation between exclusion and inclusion. Interviews with 10 Mexican immigrants residing in San Jose and Greenfield, California, support the concept of subordinate inclusion. This concept allows for punitive immigration legislation to be analyzed as part of processes where immigration laws subordinate and marginalize specific categories of people for inclusion in the margins of California’s economy. The interviews revealed that most people have lived in California for over a decade, have established families, maintained different jobs for extended periods, and have gone through K-12 public education, yet their inclusion in the social fabric of California is severely limited and at times never fully attainable due to their legal status. Thus subordinate inclusion restricts undocumented persons to quasi-citizenship moving back and forth between spaces of illegality and inclusion.