‘Til Deportation Do Us Part: The Effect Of U.S. Immigration Law On Mixed-Status Couples’ Experience of Citizenship


immigration, deportation, US immigration law, citizenship


Beginning with the first U.S. immigration laws enacted in the late nineteenth century and continuing through the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act and other landmark immigration policies of the twentieth century, preserving family unity and facilitating the reunification of families have been central tenets of American immigration policy (Colon-Navarro 2007). Historically, this focus on maintaining and restoring family unity enabled American citizens’ undocumented immigrant spouses to easily adjust to legal status. But after the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), the goal of discouraging illegal immigration trumped the goal of family unity, resulting in a series of laws that have increased barriers for many mixed citizenship families to safely and legally reside in the U.S. (Gimpel and Edwards 1999). In this study, I examine how these immigration laws have impacted the citizenship experience of U.S. citizens in mixed-citizenship marriages and the implications of those experiences for future immigration policy and theorizing about citizenship.

Original Publication Citation

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

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Within and Beyond Citizenship




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor