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Caitlin Patler


  • Ph.D., Sociology, UCLA
  • M.A., Sociology, UCLA
  • B.A., Sociology and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA


Caitlin Patler, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Davis. She is a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Poverty Research, the Migration Research Cluster, the Social Control Cluster, and the Human Rights Program.

Prior to joining the UC Davis faculty, Dr. Patler was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the UC Irvine Department of Criminology, Law and Society. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, a Ford Foundation Diversity Fellow, and a UCLA Center for the Study of Women Paula Stone Legal Research Fellow. She received her M.A. in Sociology and her B.A. with College Honors in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA.

Dr. Patler is on Research Leave until Fall 2020.

Research Focus

Dr. Patler’s research addresses the origins and social reproduction of inequality in the United States, with a particular focus on laws, legal systems, and legal statuses as drivers of inequality. Most of her research focuses on immigrants in the United States and their experiences in a range of legal, institutional, and social contexts, and across a variety of socioeconomic and health outcomes.

Dr. Patler implements multiple methodologies to answer research questions, most commonly working with original survey and in-depth interview data, but also with population-level survey data and administrative data. Dr. Patler is currently conducting research on: 1) immigration detention, deportation, and the intersections of immigration and criminal law, 2) the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and 3) legally vulnerable workers.

Dr. Patler has received multiple grants and awards for her research, including grants from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Sociological Initiatives Foundation, and the American Sociological Association. Most recently, Dr. Patler received the 2019 Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Perspectives Award (the  highest honor for articles from the PSA) for her paper, “To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.” In 2018, she received the Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award from the ASA Latina/o Sociology Section for her paper (co-authored with Whitney L. Pirtle) for, “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?”.

Selected Publications

Patler, Caitlin, Erin Hamilton, Kelsey Meagher,* and Robin Savinar.* 2019. “Uncertainty about DACA May Undermine its Positive Impact on Health for Recipients and their Children.”Health Affairs. 38(5): 738-745.

  • Health Affairs Featured Article

Hamilton, Erin, Caitlin Patler, and Jo Haile. 2019. “Growing up without Status: The Integration of Unauthorized Children and Children of Unauthorized Parents.” Sociology Compass. Online first.

Patler, Caitlin, Jeffrey O. Sacha, and Nicholas Branic. 2019. “The Black Box within a Black Box: Solitary Confinement Practices in a Subset of U.S. Immigrant Detention Facilities.” Journal of Population Research. 35(4): 435-465.

Patler, Caitlin. 2018. “To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.” Sociological Perspectives. 61(6): 857-873.

  • Pacific Sociological Association 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Perspectives Award
  • Editor’s Pick for Volume 61.6 for “quality, relevance, and contribution to the discipline.”

Patler, Caitlin. 2018. “Undocumented Youth Organizations, Anti-Deportation Campaigns, and the Boundaries of Belonging.” Social Problems. 65(1):96-115.

Patler, Caitlin and Whitney N. Laster Pirtle. 2018. “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?” Social Science & Medicine. 199(1):39-48.

Patler, Caitlin. 2017. “Undocumented Disadvantage, Citizen Advantage, or Both? The Comparative Educational Outcomes of Second and 1.5-Generation Latino Young Adults.” International Migration Review. Online first.

Patler, Caitlin and Tanya Golash-Boza. 2017. “The Fiscal and Human Costs of Immigration Detention and Deportation in the United States.” Sociology Compass.

Patler, Caitlin and Nicholas Branic. 2017. “Patterns of Spouse and Child Visitation during Immigration Detention.” RSF: The Russell Sage Journal of the Social Sciences 3(4):18-36.


SOC 4: Immigration and Opportunity

SOC 4H: Immigration and Opportunity with College Honors

SOC 103: Evaluation Research Methods

SOC 195: Crimmigration



  • Hellman Foundation, 2019-2020
  • National Science Foundation, 2018-2021 (with Erin Hamilton)
  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 2018-2019
  • UC-Mexico Initiative Grant, 2018-2019 (with Robert Irwin, Giovanni Peri, and Leticia Saucedo)
  • Sociological Initiatives Foundation, 2018-2020 (in collaboration with Dream Team Los Angeles)
  • Russell Sage Foundation Presidential Award, 2016-2018
  • Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline, supported by the American Sociological Association and the National Science Foundation, 2016
  • University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2014-2016
  • Sociological Initiatives Foundation Action Research Project Grant (with Dream Team Los Angeles), 2014-2016
  • American Sociological Association Sydney S. Spivack Program in in Applied Social Research and Social Policy,  Community Action Research Award, 2013-14
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2009-2014
  • Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship, 2009-2014


2019                      Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Sociological PerspectivesAward (for Patler, Caitlin. 2018.“To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.”Sociological Perspectives. 61(6) 857-873).From the award letter: “[the article] stood out for the smart, timely, and important questions posed, robust data, and overall excellent sociological analysis.”

2018                      American Sociological Association Latina/o Sociology Section Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award (for “Patler, Caitlin and Whitney L. Pirtle. “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?” Social Science & Medicine.199(1):39-48.

2017                      UC Davis Diversity & Inclusion Initiative Award for: “Building Bridges and Brave Spaces: Towards Documenting and Integrating Undocumented Voices at UC Davis”

2015                      UC Irvine ADVANCE Program for Equity and Diversity Career Development Award