UCLA Latino Policy Studies Research Projects 2005-2006

Constructing the Criminal Alien: A Historical Framework for Analyzing Border Vigilantes at the Turn of the 21st Century

Principal Investigator: Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Assistant Professor, UCLA Department of History
This research project explores the historical roots of the panic and anxiety surrounding undocumented Mexican immigration in the late twentieth-century. In particular, Professor Hernandez examines the development of a public discourse regarding undocumented Mexican immigrants as criminals after the United States Border Patrol's Operation Wetback campaign of 1954. The study of the rise of the discourse of the criminal alien is embedded within an analysis of the expanding incarceration rates for immigrants since the intensification of the War on Drugs in the mid-1980s and the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Within this context, the vigilante movement, such as the "Minutemen Project," emerges as one response to the failures of the American state to deliver upon its promises to contain the activities of the populations that it increasingly criminalized in the late twentieth-century, particularly the poor, transient, and racialized. As part of this research on vigilantism in general since 1954, Professor Hernandez will incorporate the expanded Minutemen projects of 2005 and include an analysis of how the War on terror has nationalized the fear of criminal aliens.

Internet Health Care Access in the Latino Community

Principal Investigator: Dr. Paolo Prolo, Assistant Researcher, UCLA School of Dentistry
This project will test the hypothesis that the web can serve the health needs of the Spanish-speaking communities of Los Angeles County . Working with organizations that serve the under-insured or non-health insured populations the project will implement surveys and focus group meetings regarding the internet use for health information and health priorities. The rationale for the study rests on the awareness that information is needed in order to plan and provide better service to the Latino community. Preliminary work with the health service organizations found that none of the volunteers serving uninsured Latinos knew if their clients had access to the internet, although the clients may access the web in some indirect way, through libraries and schools, and mostly through their school-attending children. Dr. Prolo anticipates that this project will develop and establish a quality, evidence-based, bilingual web page that addresses the health needs of the Latino uninsured population. This will provide either a direct service to users who have internet access or be a resource center for community organizations.

Having It All: Chicana Education Doctoral Students' Familial and Professorial Aspirations

Principal Investigator: Maria Rebeca Burciaga, PhD Candidate, UCLA Graduate School of Education
Advisor: Daniel Solorzano, Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education, Director, UC/ACCORD
In 2000, only 5% of all doctoral degrees received by women were awarded to Latinas, and between 1980-2000, 39% of all doctorates earned by Chicanas were in the field of Education. This research seeks to understand the personal, political, and intellectual experiences of Chicana doctoral students that influence their desire to pursue their aspirations that may include seeking positions as professors. Without a better understanding of these personal and professional experiences, college and universities across the country lack the ability to increase the representation of and attract Latina professors to their campuses. This research includes a quantitative exploration of a national data base, utilizing quantitative data from the survey of Earned Doctorates (NORC: 1980-2000), to provide an overview of Chicana doctoral student demographic characteristics and postgraduate plans for the past 21 years in comparison to their female peers. The research is also a qualitative case study that examines how 15 Chicana/Latina graduate students' personal and professional experiences while in an Education doctoral programs impact their aspirations and decisions to continue on to the professoriate. With a focus on the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, and class, the study explores Latina students' experiences as they create and maintain aspirations, maneuver through graduate programs, and begin to make decisions about their future work as well as their personal lives. The research methods include focus groups, individual interviews, and participatory data analysis.


MacArthur Park : Rethinking Attachments to Place in a Culturally Diverse and Transnational Environment

Principal Investigator: Kelly D. Main, PhD candidate, UCLA Department of Urban Planning
Advisor: Leobardo Estrada, Associate Professor, UCLA Department of Urban Planning
The objective of this research is a case study of the physical and social context of MacArthur Park (Downtown Los Angeles), a culturally diverse landscape. The study explores the emotional relationships to place experienced by Mexican immigrants who use the park and the symbolic and otherwise meaningful nature of the local physical environment. Ms. Main plans to study this population using a mixture of qualitative methods-in-depth interviews with individuals and focus groups, on-site observation, and documentary and audio-visual materials research.