Migration Dialogues Speaker Series: Andrea Gómez Cervantes, PhD

Illegality in the Heartland

Andrea Gómez Cervantes, PhD | Wake Forest University


Illegality in the Heartland examines the consequences of an amplified immigration enforcement with a local limited healthcare infrastructure that combine to reproduce legal violence manifesting on Latin American immigrants’ health, access to care, and community participation. Dr. Gómez Cervantes presents data from interviews and focus groups conducted in Kansas between 2016 to 2019. Fear and anxiety about the deportation of themselves and their family members generate apprehension about contacting medical institutions, driving, and spending time in public spaces. But accessing care is also gendered. As a result, these circumstances coalesce in women’s lives to block access to medical care and undermine women’s roles in their communities. Following gendered expectations, women turn to their informal networks to seek health care for their families. In the context that the enforcement regime has created, these ties can turn exploitative. Dr. Gómez Cervantes will also discuss how the immigration regime has created arduous health disparities and mistrust of institutions, persistent during the pandemic that have led to Latinos facing some of the highest rates of COVID-19 impacts.


Dr. Gómez Cervantes is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Wake Forest University. Her research interests include immigration, immigration policies, race/ethnicity, gender, Latina/x/os, and families. Dr. Gómez Cervantes is a University of California President’s Fellow, a Ford Fellow, and an American Sociological Association Minority Fellow. Her research has received support from the National Science Foundation.


Noon March 17, 2021