Sexuality, Migration, and the Shifting Line between Legal and Illegal Status

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter analyzes the status distinctions as outcomes of contingent, changing relations of power, including sexuality as it intersects with hierarchies of race, gender, class, and geopolitics. It historicizes how and why unauthorized migration occurs, in relation to larger structural factors. The chapter explores how same-sex migrant partners remain shut out from accessing legal status on the basis of their relationship with a US citizen or resident, with the result that they must consciously labor to become legal through other means. The struggle to secure recognition of same-sex couples under immigration law provides a lens for understanding where and how sexuality fits into these dynamics of il/legalization. The chapter concludes by asking how the campaign for recognition of same-sex couples might be reframed to undermine the production of the il/legal distinction, understood as an outcome of multiple relations of power and inequality that include but are not restricted to sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnequal Sisters
Subtitle of host publicationA Revolutionary Reader in U.S. Women’s History: Fifth Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781000781663
ISBN (Print)9780367514723
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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