Immigrant Inclusion & Racial Justice

December 2009

By Jody Agius Vallejo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California

Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).

The dawn of the new millennium has been rife with controversy over the context of the new immigration, especially the growing proportion of America’s population with Mexican roots. Because Mexicans comprise the largest proportion of immigrants and are typically low-wage labor migrants, the “browning” of America has led scholars, politicians and the American public to increasingly postulate about how immigrants and their children will incorporate into American society. Absent from the dominant narrative of nativists are reflections on successful middle-class Mexican Americans.

In The Mexican Origin Middle Class in Los Angeles, Jody Agius Vallejo examined an understudied population, the Mexican-origin middle class, and argued that scholarly research and media depictions are biased towards the downwardly mobile, greatly contributing to the idea that the Mexican-origin population is monolithic in terms of class, education, income and occupation. Thus, the various paths of incorporation that Mexican immigrants and their children may follow into the middle class are reflected inaccurately.


About the author

Jody Agius Vallejo is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California and a CSII Affiliated Scholar. She specializes in immigration and immigrant integration, race/ethnicity and the Mexican-origin population.

Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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