Jane Lilly Lopez

BA: Stanford University, Urban Studies

MA: University of Oxford, Evidence-Based Social Work

Areas of specialization: immigration, law, citizenship, mixed-status families, policy

What happens when a citizen and non-citizen marry? Migration scholars have long been concerned with immigrant incorporation, and intermarriage between migrants and “natives” has been held as a key step in the assimilation process. But while trends of intermarriage between immigrant and native groups may indicate a blurring of cultural and social lines on a macro-level, the dynamics of those relationships at the familial level and the effects of mixed-citizenship familial status on both citizens and immigrants is less clear. The treatment of these families under the law is equally murky, with citizens’ access to family reunification benefits limited by their non-citizen spouses’ status with regard to immigration law. Through interviews with mixed-citizenship couples, my work explores the ways in which immigration and citizenship laws affect families with mixed-citizenship status. It examines the effects of institutional (dis)approval on outcomes both within and between families and how those outcomes shape individual and familial sense of belonging, social integration, and orientation toward the law. My research seeks to refine theoretical understandings of assimilation, legal consciousness, citizenship, and immigration as they relate to the law and the family.

I am also interested in the role of citizenship obligations in an age of rights. Most media attention around citizenship focuses on rights -- the right to live freely in a country, the right to trial by jury, the right to education, the right to social security and other social welfare benefits -- and access to those rights by both citizens and non-citizens. But citizenship is also composed of obligations, duties citizens must fulfill to the state in order for citizenship to function. In order to guarantee the right to trial by a jury of one’s peers, citizens must serve as jurors; taxes paid by citizens are necessary to fund social welfare programs. Through my research on citizenship obligations, I reassert the relevance of citizenship obligations in understanding the true meaning, function, and value of citizenship as a whole. The findings from my work help explain how citizenship obligations are created, who fulfills them, how they are related to citizenship rights, and their role in sustaining the citizenship regime.


López, Jane Lilly. 2015. "'Impossible Families': Mixed-Citizenship Status Couples and the Law." Law & Policy 37(1-2): 93-118. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/lapo.12032/abstract

Skrentny, John D. and Jane Lilly López. 2013. “Obama’s Immigration Reform: The Triumph of Executive Action.” Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equity 2(1): 62-79.

Montgomery, Paul and Jane Lilly López. 2011. “Systematic Reviews of the Effects of Preparatory Courses on University Entrance Examinations in High School-Age Students.” International Journal of Social Welfare 21(1): 3-12.

López, Jane Lilly. 2017. “Redefining American Families: The Disparate Effects of IIRIRA’s Automatic Bars to Reentry and Sponsorship Requirements on Mixed-Citizenship Couples.” Journal on Migration and Human Security 5(2): 236-251. http://cmsny.org/publications/jmhs-redefining-american-families/

López, Jane Lilly. 2017. “‘Til Deportation Do Us Part: The Effect of U.S. Immigration Law on Mixed-Status Couples’ Experience of Citizenship.” In Nando Sigona and Roberto Gonzales, eds., Within and Beyond Citizenship. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge (BSA Sociological Futures Series).

Graduate Students