Becoming Illegal


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Previous studies have shown that noneconomic factors, such as ethical beliefs and trust in legal authority, are important determinants of people’s decision to obey the law. Undocumented migrants are no less complex than other decision-makers. This dissertation develops and tests a decision-making model of undocumented migration that considers not only economic factors, but also normative factors, such as people’s views about the morality of US immigration law, the legitimacy of US authority, and social norms surrounding undocumented migration. As the first study of its kind to treat undocumented migrants as moral, as well as economic, agents, the study promises a new understanding of the causes and dynamics of undocumented migration.