Gerardo Sandoval honored for paper on cross-border networks

UO professor Gerardo Francisco Sandoval has been named the 2014 winner of the prestigious Chester Rapkin Award for best article from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

Sandoval examined the lives of migrant workers from a rural Guatemalan village who were promised employment in Postville, Iowa. The article, “Shadow Transnationalism: Cross-Border Networks and Planning Challenges of Transnational Unauthorized Immigrant Communities," was published last year in the Journal of Planning Education and Research.

Sandoval is an associate professor in the UO Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management and associate director of Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies. He examined documents and investigated businesses making questionable promises to lure immigrants to work at a Postville meatpacking plant.

Without any funding for his research, Sandoval conducted a case study of transnational networks between El Rosario, Guatemala, and Postville. His article shows how employers and state officials who support unauthorized immigration force migrant workers into the shadows of society.

According to Sandoval’s paper, employers encouraged recruitment and settlement immigrant workers to create a source of low-wage labor that also benefitted the state, which collected payroll taxes and Social Security benefits even though the workers were not in the country legally.

“Sandoval illustrates concretely how these most vulnerable immigrants engage in networks and practices that allow them to remain out of official sight even as their presence is unofficially recognized and impacts many aspects of town life,” said Subhro Guhathakurta, coeditor of the journal, in announcing the award.

Sandoval’s paper examines important public policy issues relevant to planners. Unauthorized migrant workers shape labor and housing markets and local community culture and are present throughout the United States, the paper says, despite living in the shadows. Sandoval’s paper explores how planners can implement policies that can reduce migrants’ vulnerability.

The annual award carries a cash grant supported by an endowment at the University of Illinois Foundation in Urbana. 

―By Corinne Boyer, Public Affairs Communications intern