January 29, 2016

Roberto G. Gonzales

Harvard Book Store welcomes Assistant Professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Education ROBERTO G. GONZALES for a discussion of his book Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America.


About Lives in Limbo

Over two million of the nation’s eleven million undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States since childhood. Due to a broken immigration system, they grow up to uncertain futures. In Lives in Limbo, Roberto G. Gonzales introduces us to two groups: the college-goers, like Ricardo, who had good grades and a strong network of community support that propelled him to college and DREAM Act organizing but still landed in a factory job a few short years after graduation, and the early-exiters, like Gabriel, who failed to make meaningful connections in high school and started navigating dead-end jobs, immigration checkpoints, and a world narrowly circumscribed by legal limitations. This vivid ethnography explores why highly educated undocumented youth share similar work and life outcomes with their less-educated peers, despite the fact that higher education is touted as the path to integration and success in America. Mining the results of an extraordinary twelve-year study that followed 150 undocumented young adults in Los Angeles, Lives in Limbo exposes the failures of a system that integrates children into K-12 schools but ultimately denies them the rewards of their labor.


"Superb. . . . An important examination of the devastating consequences of 'illegality' on our young people." —Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her  

Lives in Limbo is one of the most important books in immigration studies of the past decade. The moving and heartbreaking narratives of struggle, support, and heroism in this book should be read by every American.” —Hirokazu Yoshikawa, author of Immigrants Raising Citizens: Undocumented Parents and Their Young Children

About Author(s)

Roberto G. Gonzales is Assistant Professor of Education at Harvard University. His research focuses on the factors that promote and impede the educational progress of immigrant and Latino students. His academic work has been featured in theNew York TimesWashington PostLA Times, Wall Street JournalLa OpinionTIME, CNN and NPR. In 2014 he was awarded the American Sociological Association Award for Public Sociology in International Migration.