Edited by Roberto G. Gonzales (Graduate School of Education, Harvard University) and Steven Raphael (Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley)

Roughly one-third of the foreign-born population residing in the United States is unauthorized, totaling nearly twelve million individuals. In the absence of sweeping changes in federal immigration law, various policies in the United States effectively relegate the unauthorized to a secondary status, with labor market opportunities limited to low-wage jobs and informal employment and binding restrictions to social mobility for both adults and children. However, while tighter border enforcement has made it more likely for undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States once here, the current period has been marked by record levels of deportations. High deportation levels, aggressive prosecution for immigration violations in federal courts, and increasing cooperation between local and federal authorities in enforcing immigration law have likely pushed undocumented immigrants further out on the margins of their communities and isolated them from many formal public institutions. And in the absence of federal immigration reform, states and municipalities have been left to craft their own proposed solutions. Taken together, current policies and practices have shaped the everyday experiences and a range of outcomes of a relatively large and settled population of undocumented immigrants. However, these individuals do not live in isolation, and these practices have also had ripple effects on their citizen spouses and children, legal resident relatives, native-born, co-ethnics, and their neighbors and co-workers.

In this special issue of RSF we will assemble an interdisciplinary team of researchers employing a wide range of methodologies to explore the effects of federal, state, and local policy on the experience of illegality in the United States in its multiple domains. In particular, the authors will investigate the effects of illegality on various pathways to social mobility and the barriers created by this status to full civic participation in the country’s institutions.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.

Anticipated Timeline

Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g., tables, figures, pictures, etc.) no later than 5 PM EST on May 15, 2015 to:

All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. The journal issue is being edited by Roberto G. Gonzales, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, and Steven Raphael, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the special issue.

A conference will take place at RSF in New York City on October 2, 2015. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due on September 9, 2015, a month prior to the conference) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts. The papers will then be sent out to two additional scholars for formal peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers. The full and final issue will be published in the late 2016. Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.