“Coming Out As…” Laura Enriquez

Laura E. Enriquez is an assistant professor of Chicano/Latino Studies at UC Irvine. She received a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA. She earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology and History from Pomona College. During her time there she began working closely with undocumented immigrant students. Building on this work, she has researched, presented, and published on a range of issues related to the educational, economic, political, and social experiences of undocumented young adults who immigrated to the United States as children.

She has published multiple articles on the complex role that immigration status plays in the everyday lives of undocumented young adults.  Currently she is working on a book manuscript tentiatively titled, “Of Love and Papers: Forming Families in the Shadows of Immigration Policy.” Drawing on qualitative interviews with undocumented young adults and their romantic partners, the book explores how immigration-related laws impact the family formation experiences of undocumented immigrant young adults, their romantic partners, and their citizen children. She examines how all family members, regardless of their immigration status, are impacted by various immigration-related laws and policies that sanction undocumented immigrants by imposing deportation threats, an inability to legally obtain employment, an inability to obtain a state-issued driver’s license or identification card, and limited pathways to legalization. Further, conducting interviews both before and after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows her to isolate the impact of these particular aspects of illegality as all of these limitations were eliminated or transformed by the DACA program. Using a sociological lens, she addresses how these structural limitations shape the creation of mixed-status families as well as individuals’ agency as these families navigate the law.

Putting her research into practice, she works directly with colleges and community organizations to help them better serve undocumented immigrants. She is a member of UCI’s Educational Equity Standing Committee for AB 540 and Undocumented Students. Currently, she is working on a project with a team of undergraduate students to assess the resources provided to undocumented UC students and make recommendations for their improvement.

Dr. Enriquez is former Ford Foundation Predoctoral (2008) and Dissertation (2013) Fellow, and UCI Chancellor’s ADVANCE Postdoctoral Fellow (2014). Her research and work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, American Sociological Association, UC Institute for Mexico and the United States, UCI ADVANCE Program, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and the UCLA Institute for American Cultures.


Because Enriquez’s work explores the inequalities present in gender, race and sexuality, CSW invited her to speak at “Coming Out As…,” a colloquium on how the phrase “coming out” has expanded, migrated, and been re-purposed by various marginalized groups, such as transgender individuals, undocumented immigrants, or the plural marriage rights movement. Part of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Research and Equity Committee initiative, which is supported by the Office of Interdisciplinary and Cross Campus Affairs, and hosted by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and the Williams Institute, the colloquium will also feature Laura E. Enriquez, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at UC Irvine and a former student of Saguy’s, and Nicole Iturriaga, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at UCLA.; and Kristen Schilt, who received her Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA and who is now an associate professor at the University of Chicago. James A. Schultz, an emeritus professor at UCLA, will be respondent. It takes place on February 8, from 2 to 5 at the Charles E Young Research Library, room 11360. Cosponsors are the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA Library, LGBT Studies IDP, LBGT Resource Center,  and the Sociology Gender Working Group.


Photo of Laura Enriquez courtesy of UC Irvine.