Skip to main content



Undocumented Migration

Roberto G Gonzales, Nando Sigona, Martha C Franco

ISBN: 978-1-509-53180-6 September 2019 Polity 192 Pages



Undocumented migration is a global and yet elusive phenomenon. Despite contemporary efforts to patrol national borders and mass deportation programs, it remains firmly placed at the top of the political agenda in many countries where it receives hostile media coverage and generates fierce debate. However, as this much-needed book makes clear, unauthorized movement should not be confused or crudely assimilated with the social reality of growing numbers of large, settled populations lacking full citizenship and experiencing precarious lives.

From the journeys migrants take to the lives they seek on arrival and beyond, Undocumented Migration provides a comparative view of how this phenomenon plays out, looking in particular at the United States and Europe. Drawing on their extensive expertise, the authors breathe life into the various issues and debates surrounding migration, including the experiences and voices of migrants themselves, to offer a critical analysis of a hidden and too often misrepresented population.


Chapter 1: Who Are Undocumented Immigrants?
Chapter 2: Theorizing the Lived Experience of Migrant Illegality
Chapter 3: Geographies of Undocumented Migration
Chapter 4: Immigration Enforcement, Detention, and Deportation
Chapter 5: Undocumented Status and Social Mobility
Chapter 6: Families and Children
Chapter 7: Challenging Exclusion
"This lucid and cogent book is a most welcome addition to the growing literature on migration. It applies a sharp and sophisticated lens to the multiple processes by which migrants are made 'illegal,' challenging prevailing simplifications that depict illegal or undocumented migrants as culpable violators of legitimate border controls. With deft writing and a wonderfully broad span that stretches from national and international migration governance structures to the experiences of people affected by different forms of migration, the authors introduce the reader to some of the most challenging and urgent political and social problems of our time."
Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University, and author of Can We Solve the Migration Crisis?

"Drawing on examples from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, Undocumented Migration offers a rare comparative examination of undocumented migration and illegality. It is recommended reading for anyone interested in learning about one of the most important global population movements of our time."
Leo R. Chavez, University of California, Irvine, and author of The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation