Deportations, Forced Repatriation and Transnational Schooling in Mexico
Sarah Gallo

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



The Ohio State University

Primary Discipline

Second Language Learning/Bilingual Education
Today’s “deportation regime” in the United States, in which undocumented immigrants are increasingly targeted and deported for minor infractions (De Genova, 2010), has resulted in unprecedented deportations of foreign-born people (Lopez et al., 2011). This includes an estimated annual deportation of 90,000 Mexican parents with U.S.-citizen children. Little is known about the ways repatriated students within a context of heightened deportations navigate schooling in Mexico (González, 2011; see Perez, 2015 and Kleyn, 2015 for important exceptions). This ethnographic study seeks to contribute to this pressing and understudied issue through an exploration of how repatriated primary school students and classroom teachers in Mexico navigate transnational schooling experiences during routine pedagogical interactions. By repatriated I mean those students who have previously lived in Mexico as well as those born in the U.S. to Mexican-origin parents, who themselves have never lived in their parents’ home country. By forced repatriation I seek to focus on the ways that current immigration policies force immigrant families with undocumented members into difficult decisions regarding family separation or repatriation.Through this study I will be able to extend my previous work on undocumented status and bilingual language and literacy learning in the U.S. by following young students affected by deportations into their Mexican schools. I will unearth the complex educational realities in primary school classrooms for students impacted by family deportations, which will provide insights on the binational educational consequences of immigration policies, how family documentation status shapes young children’s educational trajectories, and how to better support educators to pedagogically leverage the range of educational resources of their diverse students. Through this project I will extend my inquiries in ways that are responsive to the concerns and educational resources of undocumented immigrant families navigating the realities of immigration practices today and to educators on both sides of the border seeking to better support transnational students. This research is significant because it will illustrate the nuanced ways that deportation-based immigration policies shape young children’s educational realities across geopolitical borders.
About Sarah Gallo
Sarah Gallo is an assistant professor of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. As an anthropologist of education who conducts ethnographic research across Latin@ immigrant children’s schools, homes, and communities, she critically engages in promoting school-based learning that better recognizes and builds upon young children’s mobile and heterogeneous resources. This includes the traditional and innovative bilingual language and literacy skills that are rarely recognized in their monolingual classrooms and knowledges that they develop related to their immigration experiences. Rather than positioning these educational resources as unwelcome or dangerous for learning, she seeks to bring attention to the ways that we can productively contribute to policies, educational practices, and teacher preparation that recognize bilingualism and immigration experiences—including undocumented status—as axes of difference that must be supported for effective and equitable schooling. Her research has been published in top tier education journals, such as the American Educational Research Journal and Harvard Educational Review. Dr. Gallo holds a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.

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