Transnational Parenting and Immigration Law: Central Americans in the United States

Cecilia Menjívar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


In recent years, many immigrant-receiving countries have implemented increasingly restrictive policies that include tighter border controls, more temporary worker permits, an increased threat of deportation, and greater restrictions on the ability to acquire permanent residence and to petition for family members. Thus, family separation seems to be built into new immigration policies, and long-term and indefinite separations are not the exception. In this article, I examine the case of the largest Central American immigrant groups: Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans. Many of these immigrants are neither fully 'undocumented' nor 'documented', but often straddle both statuses as a result of having received a series of temporary permits over a period of more than a decade. This legal instability profoundly influences parenting across borders among these immigrants-both the relations between parents and children who are separated, and the links between these immigrant families and the different institutions in the host society. The experiences of Central Americans present a special opportunity to reflect on the effects of current immigration regimes on families separated across borders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-322
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • El Salvador
  • Immigration Policy
  • Legislation
  • Transnational Parenthood
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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