Nicol M. Valdez

Nicol M. Valdez


The Elusive Dream: (Mexican) Americans and the Failed Promise of America

Dissertation Review Committee


I am a PhD candidate in Sociology and a Paul F. Lazarsfeld fellow at Columbia University. My primary focus centers around American stratification, immigration and poverty, with an emphasis on undocumented status.

I received my BA in Sociology and International Studies (with a minor in Women and Gender Studies) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

My current book project is titled: The Elusive Dream: (Mexican) Americans and the Failed Promise of America. The book draws from my dissertation research, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. In it, I set out to better understand what it means to be a Mexican America family, documented and undocumented, in the United States. For a year and a half I lived among and interviewed families in the urban center of New York and the suburbs of North Carolina. This research tells of the lives of the hard working poor and how they are managing their lives and their families as the political world around them has transformed their existence as a person from “undocumented” to being, fundamentally “illegal.”

My other research projects explore second-generation outcomes across both Hispanic and Asian immigrant groups, with an emphasis on gender differences. My work on immigration, poverty, and the second-generation has appeared in the American Sociological Review and International Migration Review.


  • M.Phil Sociology, Columbia University, May 2016
  • MA Sociology, Columbia University, May 2014
  • BA, University of Wisconsin, 2011


  • Sociology of Immigration
  • Sociological Theory
  • The Social World