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One of the few case studies of undocumented immigrants available, this insightful anthropological analysis humanizes a group of people too often reduced to statistics and stereotypes. The hardships of Hispanic migration are conveyed in the immigrants' own voices while the author's voice raises questions about power, stereotypes, settlement, and incorporation into American society.
Leo R. Chavez was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico. His parents moved to the Los Angeles area in the early 1950s. He studied anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, receiving his B.A. in 1974. He then moved to Stanford University and received his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1982. His work on immigration began in 1980, when he was hired as the coordinator of field research at the newly created Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego. For the next three years he was involved in the center's activities, including research that involved interviewing more than 2,000 legal and undocumented Mexican immigrants. From 1984 to 1987, Chavez continued his relationship with the center, but as a research associate, having won a National Science Foundation research grant and a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to continue his research on immigration. Between 1984 and 1986, he was also a research associate with El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Mexico's leading research institute focusing on issues important to the U.S.-Mexico border region. This experience allowed him to see first-hand the Mexican perspective on the migration of Mexicans to the United States. Chavez is currently a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. Chavez has published widely on various aspects of the immigrant experience, including problems in access to health services, domestic group organization, the effects of immigration policy on immigrants lives, and media representations of immigrations and citizens. He also spends a great deal of time addressing public concerns about immigration. He has written numerous opinion articles for newspapers, given many public talks, and assisted in the production of documentaries that have aired on the Public Broadcasting System.