Macías-Rojas received her PhD in Sociology from The University of California, Berkeley. She is an Associate Professor in Sociology and Latin American and Latin Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her first book, From Deportation to Prison: The Politics of Immigration Enforcement in Post-Civil Rights America (NYU Press, October 2016), draws on over a decade of archival and ethnographic research on the US-Mexico border to examine how immigration enforcement became one of the leading charges sending people to prison. It is one of the first book-length monographs to analyze the socio-political origins of the punitive turn in immigration control, foregrounding the understudied role of race, civil rights, and mass incarceration in transforming the immigration system. From Deportation to Prison won the 2017 Oliver Cromwell Cox Book award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities.
As a research affiliate with the Binational Migration Institute, the sociologist Patrisia Macías-Rojas has launched an ethnographic revisit of fieldwork undertaken twenty years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, when the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was reorganized under what we know today as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Since the creation of DHS, there has been no systematic longitudinal study of the transformation of border security, much less the consistent and divergent factors contributing to barriers to mobility and access to justice for residents living in US-Mexico Border communities. This critical gap in the research occludes our understanding of how communities living in securitized zones themselves experience and understand the transformation of border security. Macias-Rojas is currently conducting fieldwork on access to civil justice in three border communities in Southern Arizona.