Leisy Abrego

Associate Professor

Contact Information

Email    abrego@ucla.edu
Office  Bunche 7357
Phone  (310) 206-9414
Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, Professor Leisy Abrego is a member of the first large wave of Salvadoran immigrants who arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1980s.

Trained as a sociologist, her research and teaching interests—inspired in great part by her family’s experiences in the US—are in Central American immigration, Latina/o families, and the inequalities created by gender and by U.S. immigration policies.

Currently, Abrego is in the process of writing her first book manuscript, which highlights the role of gender and legal status in determining the well-being of Salvadoran transnational families separated by migration. Her early work examines how immigration and educational policies shape the educational trajectories of undocumented students. These projects won Best Graduate Student Paper Awards from the Sociology of Law and the Latina/o Sociology sections of the American Sociological Association. More recently, her work explores how different subsectors of Latino immigrants internalize immigration policies differently and how this shapes their willingness to make claims in this country. 

She received a B.A. in Spanish from Pomona College in 1997 and a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA in 2008. From 2008 to 2010, she was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Irvine.


Ph. D., Sociology, University of California at Los Angeles, 2008.
M. A., Sociology, University of California at Los Angeles, 2002.
B. A., Spanish, Pomona College, 1997, Cum Laude

Selected Publications

Abrego, Leisy. 2011. “Legal Consciousness of Undocumented Latinos: Fear and Stigma as Barriers to Claims Making for First and 1.5 Generation Immigrants.” Law & Society Review. 45(2): 337-369.

Abrego, Leisy and Cecilia Menjívar. 2011. “Immigrant Latina Mothers as Targets of Legal Violence.” International Journal of Sociology of the Family. 37(1): 9-26.

Abrego, Leisy. 2011. “Review of Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and their Children, by Joanna Dreby.” Journal of Marriage and Family 73(2): 523-524.

Abrego, Leisy and Roberto Gonzales. 2010. “Blocked Paths, Uncertain Futures: The Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Prospects of Undocumented Latino Youth.” Journal of Education of Students Placed at Risk 15(1): 144-157.

Abrego, Leisy. 2009. “Rethinking El Salvador’s Transnational Families.” Special Issue “A New Day in El Salvador: The FMLN Victory and the Road Ahead.” NACLA Report on the Americas 42(6).

Abrego, Leisy. 2009. “Economic Well-Being in Salvadoran Transnational Families: How Gender Affects Remittance Practices.” Journal of Marriage and Family 71: 1070-1085.

Menjívar, Cecilia and Leisy Abrego. 2009. “Parents and Children across Borders: Legal Instability and Intergenerational Relations in Guatemalan and Salvadoran Families.” Pp. 160-189 in Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America. Nancy Foner (Editor). New York: New York University Press.

Abrego, Leisy. 2008. “Legitimacy, Social Identity, and the Mobilization of Law: The Effects of Assembly Bill 540 on Undocumented Students in California.” Law & Social Inquiry 33(3): 709-734.

Abrego, Leisy. 2006. “‘I can’t go to college because I don’t have papers’: Incorporation Patterns of Latino Undocumented Youth.” Latino Studies 4(3): 212-231. (Lead article)


Complex consequences of U. S. immigration laws; Central American migration; Immigrant and Transnational Families; Gender; Latino undocumented youth