Deisy Del Real

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Deisy Del Real
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email

Research & Practice Areas

International Migration, Sociology of Law (Socio-legal studies), Comparative-Historical Sociology, Political Sociology


Dr. Deisy Del Real is an assistant professor of sociology at the USC. Moreover, from 2022 to 2026, she serves as the appointed delegate of the American Sociological Association (ASA) to the International Sociological Association (ISA, UNESCO). Dr. Del Real completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2019.

Her research broadly examines the social construction of legal immigration systems and how legal immigration contexts, which range from enforcement- to rights-focused, affect immigrants’ lives. Her research lies at the intersection of political sociology, international migration, the sociology of law, medical sociology, comparative-historical sociology, and race and ethnicity.

One study examines how the United States’ restrictive immigration laws affect the lives of undocumented and U.S. born young adults who grew up with undocumented parents. Her article “Toxic Ties: The Reproduction of Legal Violence within Mixed-Status Intimate Partners, Relatives, and Friends,” in International Migration Review won the ISA best paper in migration studies, the ASA Sociology of Law Graduate Student Award and received an honorable mention from the ASA International Migration section. Another publication, “They See Us like Trash“: The Impact of Mexican Illegality Stigma on the Psychological Well-Being of Undocumented Young Adults,’ is published in Advances in Medical Sociology.

In another line of research examines how rights-based immigration legal systems are created and affect immigrants. One study, “Documenting the Undocumented,” identifies how six South American governments designed, ratified, and implemented the Mercosur Residency Agreement, which is the first policy to immigrants’ legal residency status a substantive right. She is currently completing her book manuscript based on archives and 147 interviews with advocates and policymakers in South America.

Moreover, a new project examines the implementation of the Mercosur Residency Agreement by comparing the legal residency acquisition experiences of over 160 Venezuelan immigrants and refugees who settled in Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. Her 2022 JEMS article, “Seemingly Inclusive Liminal Legality: the fragility and illegality production of Colombia’s legalization programmes for Venezuelan migrants,” shows that Colombia’s regularization programs for Venezuelans merely provide recipients with liminal legality that leaves them vulnerable to becoming undocumented. Conversely, the most vulnerable Venezuelans are excluded from these liminal legalization programs and left in illegality. This article won the 2021 best article award for the Latin American Studies Association’s International Migration Section.

Her research projects have been supported by the National Science Foundation (twice), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the PD Soros Foundation, among several other organizations. Further, Dr. Del Real regularly provides expert consultancy and runs workshops for governments, universities, and organizations. For instance, she provided expert testimony before Mercosur—a regional organization like the EU–during their adaptation of the Inter-American Human Rights Court’s Advisory-Opinion 21/14. This advisory opinion specifies how states should protect the human rights of undocumented children and adolescents. As a result of this collaboration, she provided further consultation to the Congress of San Jose, Uruguay, where they voted in favor of passing the Acta 11, which implements this advisory opinion. In 2018, she was awarded the UCLA Charles E. & Sue K. Young Graduate Award for her research and public sociology. This is the highest honor given to one graduate student in social sciences by the UCLA College Deans for exemplary academic achievement, research, and service to the campus and community.

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