How to Legalize Immigrants?: the Case of Mercosur
Research on How Countries Can Collaborate to Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants
My research analyzes how developing countries in South America use Mercosur, a regional trade agreement, to resolve undocumented migration in a manner that protects immigrants’ rights without compromising national security. In 2002, Mercosur passed the Residency Agreements, which gives nationals of affiliated countries the ability to relocate, obtain legal residency, and access civil, economic, cultural, and social rights. Mercosur does not have the legal capacity to enforce this policy. Yet, by 2014 nine out of twelve South American countries affiliated with Mercosur had included the Residency Agreements in their national migration policy.
This project analyzes the process that led to the national implementation of the agreements in those six countries in order to identify the actors and factors that facilitated or hindered the agreement’s adaptation as national legislation. I conducted 130 in-depth interviews, created a regional and national migration policy database, and compiled an economic growth and trade indicators database for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
These findings are essential for understanding the national impact of Mercosur’s migration instruments. Moreover, the findings will inform approximately 28 other regional organizations across the world that passed regional migration policies. This project expands our understanding of how regional migration policy can serve as a tool to reform national immigration law. This project will also identify new models and strategies for addressing unauthorized migration that can inform policymakers and advocates around the world.
Deisy Del Real
International Migration Scholar
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Southern California (USC), 2021
Turnpanjian Post-Doctoral Fellow in Civil Society and Social Change
The University of Southern California Dornsife Equity Research Institute (ERI), formally known as USC PERE and CSII, 2020
Provost Postdoctoral Fellowship
PhD in Sociology
University of California-Los Angeles, 2019
Visiting Doctoral Scholar
Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani
Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2016
Masters of Arts in Sociology
University of California-Los Angeles, 2013
Bachelors of Arts in Sociology
Grinnell College, 2007
Undocumented Immigrants in the United States
Research on the Impact of Undocumented Status on Interpersonal Relationships and Psychological Well Being
This research focuses on how undocumented immigration status in the United States impacts the relationships between family members and friends. I analyze how immigration enforcement, welfare, and citizenship laws unevenly distribute legal resources among mixed-status relatives and friends who are either citizens, legal residents, or undocumented immigrants. I analyze how this uneven distribution of legal resources--or rights, protections, and benefits--impacts interpersonal relationships and the psychological well being of young adults.
I draw on 52 interviews with young adults between the ages of 18 and 36. Thirty of the young adults are undocumented and twenty two were born in the United States, but had at least one undocumented parent growing up.
International Sociological Association, Migration Studies (RC31), Best Article Award (2021)
American Sociological Association Sociology of Law Graduate Student Paper Award (2018)
American Sociological Association International Migration Sections’s Aristide Zolberg Student Scholar Award (2018), Honorable Mention
Del Real, Deisy. Accepted and Forthcoming.'"They See Us like Trash": The Impact of Mexican Illegality Stigma on the Psychological Well-Being of Undocumented Young Adults,' Advances in Medical Sociology, Immigration and Health 19.
Abstract, There is a conflation of Mexican origin with the category “undocumented immigrant” that targets and stigmatizes undocumented Mexicans—I call this Mexican illegality stigma. I assess whether Mexican illegality stigma negatively affects the psychological well-being of Mexican-Origin individuals in the U.S., distinguishing between undocumented Mexicans and citizen Mexican Americans. I draw from the stress process model and 52 in-depth interviews—30 with undocumented young adults from Mexico and 22 with U.S.-born young adults of Mexican descent—to evaluate how undocumented Mexicans and citizen Mexican Americans experience Mexican illegality stigma and to determine if it affects the psychological well-being of undocumented Mexicans in a distinct manner. I found that all respondents experienced social rejection and discrimination when they were assumed or perceived as undocumented Mexicans. While few of the U.S.-born respondents were affected by these incidents, most undocumented young adults found these incidents stressful because they were humiliating, excluded them from valuable resources and opportunities, and forced them to incur financial burden (e.g., unfair fines), which disrupted their transition to adulthood processes such as parenthood and labor market advancement. This study found evidence that Mexican illegality stigma is a stressor and source of distress for undocumented young adults from Mexico. As opposition to undocumented immigration from Mexico intensifies, the hostile context may further strain the psychological well-being of undocumented Mexicans.
Barrera, Jorge, Fernando Gómez, and Deisy Del Real. 2016. “Intervenciones de Participantes del Seminario Internacional en la Sesión Extraordinaria de la Junta Departamental de San José.” Observatorio de Políticas Publicas de Derechos Humanos en el Mercosur 3(3): 27-34.
Del Real, Deisy. 2015. "A Century of Jinetes." Featured Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow Biography.
Del Real, Deisy, Dan Ichinose, Victoria Wilson, Karin Wang, Marita Etcubanez, Terry Ao-Minnis and Olivia Chow. 2011. "A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States, 2011." The Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Los Angeles, CA: U.S. The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.
Awards, Grants, & Fellowships
Latin American Studies Association (LASA), International Migration Section, Best Article Award (first place), 2021
International Sociological Association, Migration Studies (RC31), Best Article Award, 2021
Charles E. & Sue K. Young Graduate Award, 2018
The highest honor given to graduate students by the UCLA College Deans for exemplary academic achievement, research, and service to the campus and community (only recipient in the social sciences; one of four across UCLA)
American Sociological Association, Sociology of Law Section, Winner of the Graduate Student Paper Award, 2018
American Sociological Association, International Migration Section, Honorable Mention for the Aristide Zolberg Student Scholar Award, 2018
Center for Engaged Scholarship Fellowship, 2018
Dissertation Year Fellowship, UCLA, 2018
Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Honorable Mention, 2018
UCLA Sociology Department’s Board of Visitors Graduate Student Fieldwork Award, 2017
UCLA Center for Mexican Studies Tutoring Program Award, 2017
Funded by the Mexican Foreign Ministry's Institute for Mexicans Abroad and Parents Alliance
International Studies Association-West, Emerging Scholars Forum Award, 2017
National Science Foundation Sociology Program’s Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award, 2017-2018
Project: Why do Most South American Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, 2012-2016
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, 2011-2012
The Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship, UCLA, 2011 & 2017
UCLA Graduate Division Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Grantee, 2012
Project: "The Psychological Wellbeing of Undocumented Young Adults"
The Posse Foundation, Grinnell Posse One Full Tuition Scholarship, 2003-2007
The Posse Foundation, Summer Grant, 2006
Project: College Preparatory Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Grinnell College’s Career Center, Private Grant, 2006
Project: College Preparatory Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Grinnell College, Private Grant, 2005
Project: Internship at the Embassy of Chile in Washington, D.C
The Posse Foundation, Summer Internship Grant, 2005
Project: Internship at the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles
Grinnell Career Center, Summer Internship Grant, 2005
Project: Documenting the Undocumented Film
Babson College, Posse Scholarship, 2005
Project: Babson Business Edge Summer Program
“How did the South American Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur,” American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Canada, August 2017, Regular Session Presenter.
"Migrants and Global Labor Markets," American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Canada, August 2017, Regular Session Discussant.
“What Happens When Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur’s Residency Agreements,” International Studies Association CISS/IDSS at the University of Bologna, June 2017. Presenter.
“Diasporas, Refugees and the Challenges of Integration,” International Studies Association CISS/IDSS at the University of Bologna, June 2017, Discussant.
“What Happens When Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur’s Residency Agreements,” International Meeting on Law and Society in Mexico City, June 2017, Presenter.
“Why And How did the South American Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur,” UCLA Political Sociology and the Global South Student Conference: Interdisciplinary Insights from the Global South, May 2017, Presenter.
“Why And How did the South American Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur,” UCLA Going Global Conference: Collaborative Visions for a Sustainable Future UCLA, April 2017, Presenter.
"Why And How did the South American Countries Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants and Give Them Rights?: The Case of Mercosur,” Global Politics of Migration and Refuge, Grinnell College, September 2016, Invited Presenter.
“Can Regional Integration Efforts Open National Borders to Immigrants?: The Case of Mercosur.” Migration Law Class, Grinnell College, February 2016, Invited Guest Lecturer.
‘“They See Us Like Trash,” The Impact of Anti-immigrant Stigma Stress on the Psychological Well-being of Unauthorized Mexican Young Adults,’ Seminar: "How Race Gets Under Our Skin," UCLA, 2015, Invited Guest Lecturer.
‘“They See Us Like Trash,” The Impact of Anti-immigrant Stigma Stress on the Psychological Well-being of Unauthorized Mexican Young Adults,’ The International Symposium on Illegality, Youth, and Belonging Conference, Harvard University, October 2013, Presenter.
‘“They See Us Like Trash,” The Impact of Anti-immigrant Stigma Stress on the Psychological Well-being of Unauthorized Mexican Young Adults,’ Colegio de la Frontera Norte at UCLA Graduate Student Presentations, UCLA, 2013, Presenter.
“Undocumented: Navigating College Life, Opportunities and Psychological Well-being,” Pomona College, 2013. Invited Presenter.
“The Psychological Well-being of Undocumented Mexican Young Adults,” The American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in New York, August 2013, Round Table Presenter.
“Research Overview: Undocumented Youth in the US and Mercosur’s Open Borders and Immigrant Rights Policy.” Seminar: “California Immigration,” Occidental College, 2015, Invited Guest Lecturer.
"The Psychological Well-being of Undocumented Mexican Young Adults: Anti-immigrant Stigma and Migrant Social Networks." We asked for workers and families came: children, youth and families in migration University of California Immigration Conference at UCLA, 2013, Organizer and Presenter.
Academic Consulting on Immigration
The Posse Foundation Liaisons Conference, The Posse Foundation, New York, NY, June, 13 2017. Invited consultant to 57 partnered colleges and univeristies on how to meet the needs of students who are undocumented or have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“Opinión Consultiva OC-21/14: La Condición de los Inmigrantes Indocumentados en los Estados Unidos: Testimonio.” Junta Departamental de San José, Uruguay, September 21, 2015. Invited Academic Consultant. --Acta 11 Internalized the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Advisory Opinion OC-11/14 on the rights of immigrant children in San Jose (Link)
“La Condición de los Inmigrantes Indocumentados en los Estados Unidos.” Seminar: “Niños, niñas y adolecentes migrantes: Derechos, Educación, Cultura y Salud. La Opinión Consultiva OC-21/14 de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos,” MERCOSUR, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguayand the Inter-American Children’s Institute. September 16, 2015. Invited Academic Consultant.
“Fellowships and Undocumented College Students: The Role of College Advisors.” The National Association of Fellowship Advisors 2013 Conference, (Atlanta, Georgia), July 25 & July 26, 2013. Invited Speaker.
Board of Directors Meeting, The Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation, 2014. Consultant on the Admissibility of Students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Other Public Sociology
"Living in Impossible: Navigating an Undocumented Life," Grinnell College, April 29, 2013. Invited Speaker.
“AB540: Life and Health.” The Graduate Student Intern for a Summer Institute’s AB540 Panel. Occidental College, 2013. Invited Presenter and Moderator.
"UndocuTalk," Occidental College, November 30, 2012, Invited Panel Moderator.
"Round table on Deferred Action: current fellows discuss the impact of this ruling on their outreach projects in immigrant communities." Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans Conference 2012, Open Society Institute, October 27, 2012, Panelist.
"Keynote Welcome Honorable Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York," Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans Conference 2012, Open Society Institute, October 26, 2012, Q&A Panelist.
"A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States, 2011," Advancing Justice Conference, San Francisco, October 2011. Invited Speaker.
"Niños, Niñas y
September 22, 2015
Uruguayan Press reports on Deisy's presentation regarding the condition of undocumented youth in the U.S. and how Mercosur could use the Inter-American Human Rights Court's Advisory Opinion 21/14 to protect the human rights of immigrant children and youth.
"The Rise of Being
December 3, 2012
ABC News interviews Deisy regarding the rise of the undocumented youth movement in the United States