LA Social Science is proud to present four research papers written by UCLA students in their Winter 2021 Sociology course, “Immigration and the Media,” taught by Dr. Cecilia Menjivar. Dr. Menjivar’s introduction, excerpts of the students’ excellent papers, corresponding download links, and short bios of the twelve amazing UCLA students are included below.

Introduction by Professor Cecilia Menjivar:

I have been teaching this class, “Immigration and the Media” in the Department of Sociology at UCLA for the past three years, with the goal of sharpening my students’ critical skills by immersing them in the systematic examination of the role of media in immigration debates. Through a deep reading of research produced by sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, communication studies scholars, and historians, we examine how immigration has come to be a ‘hot button’ issue; whether this has been the case historically; what role does the social context play; how migration crises are constructed; the link between media depictions of immigrants and policy decisions; how opinions about immigrant groups and immigration are formed; and what consequences all this has for immigrants, for the public, and US society in general. The class follows a seminar format and active participation is required. In addition, students have a series of essays, class presentations of research, and other assignments to complete.

I had always taught this 3-hour per week class in person, but with our switch to remote teaching due to the pandemic, I taught this class through Zoom in the Winter 2021 quarter. This seminar has always been dynamic; students usually engage in lively, respectful discussions. I was a bit concerned that I would lose this critical component of the class in a virtual format. I needed to find a way to create a sense of connection for the students when everyone was in a different physical location, not anchored in place. So I decided to have them work in small groups for a final project where they could put to use the material they were learning in class. This was the first time in teaching this class when I would have group work for the final project. It was a resounding success. I have been blown away by the students’ collaborative spirit, dedication to produce the best research projects under difficult circumstances, and the novel ideas they came up with for their research projects. The papers showcased here are the students’ final projects. Under my direction, each team produced original research; designed their studies; used analytical frameworks learned in class in their work; drew from the relevant literature in the field to inform the questions they asked and to illuminate their findings; collected and analyzed original data from print and broadcast media; and contributed new knowledge to our understandings of the connections among media depictions, policy climate, politics, and immigration debates.

My Sociology 191 class on “Immigration and the Media” deserve a huge congratulations for their effort, diligence, and for the research they produced. I am extremely proud and applaud each one of them for their perseverance and dedication, especially in the face of many pandemic-related challenges.

I would like to extend a big thanks to Dean Darnell Hunt, Drs. Ana-Christina Ramón and Celia Lacayo for the wonderful opportunity to publish my students’ papers on the LA Social Science website.


The Myth Of The Criminal Alien: Newspaper Media

by Pedro Henrique Borges, Julaina Juarez and Andres Torres

The media’s framing of Latin/Central American immigration through forced removal centers a criminalized lens that perpetuates historically patterned processes of criminalization that violently impact the lived experiences of immigrants in the U.S. As highlighted in the patterns of media framing demonstrated throughout the six passages analyzed in this piece followed by two randomized passages from each The Hill, CNN, and FOX News, traditional mass media commonly frames immigration through crime while diversifying its strategies in each of the newspapers analyzed in this piece.

To read this research paper, click HERE.

A Comparison of Spanish and English Broadcast News: The Portrayal of Immigration During the 2020 Presidential Election Cycle 

By Tiffany Nguyen, Stephanie Pitassi, Veronica De Santos Quezada and Vanessa Valdez Cruz

In the analysis of ABC News, terms such as ”illegal,” ”alien,” or “criminal” did not reoccur in the negative articles as they did in most of the Univision articles. Even the 6 negative portrayals that we found were not framed as strongly as some of the Univision media pieces, or even other outlets such as Fox News, where the “protection and prevention,” “economic strain,” and/or “Latino threat” frame/narrative are repeatedly utilized. Unlike ABC news portrayal of immigrants as victims of violent hate-crimes and mistreatment by ICE through a human interest frame, Univision News portrayed ICE — through a number of quotes and tweets — as a safety force to end “illegal” immigration and eliminate sanctuary cities nearing the November 2020 election. Though they did provide tips and information on what to do if encountering ICE, the quotes and tweets were never conceptualized.

To read this research paper, click HERE.

Immigration in Late Night Talk Shows: A Qualitative Analysis 

By Federico Trudu, Elena Usui, Swan Ye Htut

Our findings demonstrate that across more “political” (“The Daily Show” and “The Late Show”) and less “political” (“The Tonight Show”) late night talk shows, there is a common thread of negative associations with immigrants and issues of immigration, particularly reinforcing crime and threat narratives on specific groups of immigrants, such as unauthorized ones. However, it is important to note that the quantity of material that covered immigration was higher in the more “political” shows, thus giving us insight about the role played by political comedy in setting the agenda for immigration.

To read this research paper, click HERE.

The Rise of the Myths of Immigration Due to Increased Coverage of Negative Depictions of Immigrants in the Media During Trump’s Presidency

By Camille Lent and Katelyn King

Former President Trump’s potent, non-factual, negative statements about immigration fueled a wave of anti-immigration framing that spread even to more neutral and liberal news sources over the years of his presidency. The results of our research show that even non-conservative media sources use language that is consistent with anti-immigration sentiments. However, in general there are more subtle terms used in both neutral and liberal sources compared to blatantly negative terms.

To read this research paper, click HERE.

AUTHOR BIOS (in alphabetical order):

Pedro Henrique Borges:

Pedro Henrique Borges is a first-generation immigrant from São Paulo, Brazil. He completed a BA in Sociology with full honors through the McNair Scholars initiative followed by the Sociology Honors program. Pedro is currently completing his MA in Latin American Studies as a Departmental Scholar. In the future, Pedro plans to briefly transition away from academia into market-based research, with hopes of pursuing a PhD in Sociology.


Veronica De Santos Quezada

Veronica De Santos Quezada is a current undergraduate student of Sociology with a Spanish minor at the University of California Los Angeles. Her research interests rest under the lens of Critical Race Theory with a focus on gender rights.

Twitter: @dsantosveronica



Julaina Juarez

Julaina Juarez is a San Bernardino native, finishing her fourth year at UCLA with a major in Sociology and a double minor in Chicanx and Central American Studies and Education. She plans to become a high school counselor, supporting communities of color through a social justice and abolitionist centered approach, and hopes to one day pursue her doctoral degree.

Katelyn King

My major is Pre-International Development, and I am a third-year junior student at UCLA. I am fascinated by the global world, economy, and politics. So, I am excited to see where that will take me in the future.

Camille Lent

My name is Camille Lent, and I am a second-year Sociology major studying at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduation, I plan on continuing my education by applying to law school, with an emphasis in social justice law and human rights.




Tiffany Nguyen

Tiffany Nguyen is a third-year transfer student at UCLA studying Sociology and Public Affairs. As a student in a family of refugees, she hopes to pursue a career in immigration research.



Stephanie Pitassi

As a fourth-year Global Studies student, I’m about to graduate in the next two months! I plan to take a year off and do some volunteer work, hopefully internationally, and spend some time doing things I love that I haven’t been able to do much of the past 4 years. After my gap year, I plan to go to law school or pursue a masters degree abroad in international relations. I have a year to decide, and to let the pandemic quiet down, and I’m eager to see what the future holds.



Andres Torres

My name is Andres Torres, and I am a 3rd-year Sociology major on a pre-med track. I hope to serve in an underserved community like my own in the future.



Federico Trudu

My name is Federico Trudu. I am a fourth year international student from Italy. I am majoring in Political Science with a minor in International Migration Studies. I seek to continue my studies on migration in graduate school.





Elena Usui

Elena Usui is a graduating fourth-year student at UCLA, studying Global Studies and Gender Studies. She hopes to work in international human rights law or policy in order to expand sex education and resource accessibility to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.





Vanessa Valdez Cruz

Vanessa Valdez Cruz is a second-year transfer student from East Los Angeles College. She will be graduating from UCLA in summer 2021 with a major in sociology and double minor in Chicana/o  and Central American Studies and Education Studies. Vanessa is currently conducting research that critiques and analyzes education policy and social factors that shape the experiences of students of color. She will be applying to graduate school to become a policy maker and continue advocating for and centering communities of color.

Twitter: @__vannne

Swan Ye Htut

My name is Swan Ye Htut, and I am a 4th-year Global Studies and Sociology double-major. Currently, I am working on a Global Studies senior thesis on how the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests affected the local, national, and global identities of youth. I hope to pursue a PhD in Sociology and become a university professor.




As Summer 2021 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA Summer Courses are open to BOTH UCLA Students and NON-UCLA Students. All Summer 2021 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

The UCLA Communication Department is offering “Integrated Marketing Communications” (Comm 148) course with Professor Celia Feramisco. The course will be offered during Summer Session C on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:15pm to 5:20pm. Register HERE or enroll HERE today!

The course will examine key concepts and methods in marketing communications in both traditional and digital media. Development and execution of communications strategies, with primary emphasis on consumer insight, branding, market segmentation and positioning, message strategy, promotion, and execution of marketing communications through appropriate media technologies.

As Summer 2021 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA Summer Courses are open to BOTH UCLA Students and NON-UCLA Students. All Summer 2021 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

The UCLA Communication Department is offering “Inside Hollywood” (Comm 166) course with Professor Steven Peterson. The course will be offered during Summer Session A on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:45am to 12:50pm. Register HERE or enroll HERE today!

Inside Hollywood is for those interested in learning about or pursuing a career in the Entertainment Industry in Los Angeles. Through both practical and academic readings, lectures, as well as visiting guests, students will investigate the past, present, and future of screen entertainment and the social psychological foundations of successful storytelling. Weekly visiting lectures from industry professionals provide compelling insights and first hand advice about creativity, business, and the rapidly changing industry.

Assignments involve a short literature review exercise and the careful analysis of motivations behind production using specific film, TV, and streaming examples. For the final project, students assume the role of production executives for their own creative visions by leveraging their new understanding of the industry to develop marketable film, TV, and streaming ideas for today’s entertainment landscape, and pitch their ideas to the class.

As summer 2021 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA Summer Courses are open to BOTH UCLA Students and NON-UCLA Students. All Summer 2021 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

The Department of Geography has amazing courses this summer. Check out the courses listed below. For more information, please email Jenée Misraje (SAO) at Register/enroll HERE Today!

UCLA History faculty have been doing amazing work. The following are some recent honors they have received.

Professor Brenda Stevenson has been appointed the inaugural Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair in Women’s History at St John’s College, Oxford University. Dr. Stevenson’s work explores the intersections of gender, race and politics, putting women – and particularly women of color – at the center of accounts of political and social developments. She will serve from November 2021 to June 2023.

When asked about this appointment, Dr. Maggie Snowling, President of St. John’s College, said,

I am delighted to welcome Brenda Stevenson to St. John’s as the inaugural Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair in Women’s History. This appointment is a wonderful culmination to our year-long celebration of ’40 Years of Women’, which has marked the 40th year since the first admission of female students in 1979. Marking the contribution of women to the life of the College, past and present, is key to the understanding of our own history and ethos, and is integral to our continued commitment to broadening equality, diversity and inclusivity. Professor Stevenson will be joining an intellectually stimulating and egalitarian community, with a very strong tradition in history and a powerful commitment to its future.

To learn more about this inaugural appointment and about Dr. Stevenson, click HERE.

Professor Stephen Aron will become President and CEO of the Autry Museum of the American West on July 1, 2021, upon his retirement from UCLA. Dr. Aron has been a member of the history department faculty since 1996, and for many of those years served concurrently as Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the American West and then Chair of Western History at the Autry Museum. Dr. Aron said: “I’ve spent more than three decades researching and writing about the confluences and confrontations of peoples and cultures that shaped the history of North American frontiers and borderlands, but it was my time at the Autry that truly transformed how I think and teach about the American West. At the Autry, I learned the power of arts and objects, the joy of collaborations, and the imperative of public history. I’m so honored now to rejoin the Autry family, and I’m excited to embrace the challenge of making our museum matter more to more people.”


Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez was named to the Pulitzer Prize Board. She is also one of eight UCLA faculty recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. Dr. Lytle Hernandez was awarded a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which said her research on “the intersecting histories of race, mass incarceration, immigration, and cross-border politics is deepening our understanding of how imprisonment has been used as a mechanism for social control in the United States.”




Professor Muriel McClendon won the Distinguished Teaching Award for Senate Faculty and received the added honor of the “Eby Award for the Art of Teaching,” in light of her contribution to learning at UCLA and in a number of domains.




Assistant Professor Hollian Wint was awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) faculty fellowship, to further her work on Mobile Households: The Intimate Economies of Obligation Across the Indian Ocean, c. 1860-1960. ACLS invites research proposals from scholars in all disciplines of the humanities and related social sciences. The fellowship helps academics devote their full time to their major piece of scholarly work, which can take the form of a monograph, articles, digital publication(s), critical edition, or other scholarly resources. To learn more about this fellowship, click HERE.


Associate Professor Katherine Marino has been awarded a Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship. This major fellowship, bestowed by the Trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is described as follows: “Serious interdisciplinary research often requires established scholar-teachers to pursue formal substantive and methodological training in addition to the PhD. New Directions Fellowships assist faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. The program is intended to enable scholars in the humanities to work on problems that interest them most, at an appropriately advanced level of sophistication. In addition to facilitating the work of individual faculty members, these awards should benefit scholarship in the humanities more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research.” Dr. Marino will take the fellowship in 2022-23 and will pursue advanced training through UCLA law school toward her new project.

As summer 2021 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA Summer Courses are open to BOTH UCLA Students and NON-UCLA Students. All Summer 2021 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

The UCLA Communication Department is offering “Careers in Communication” (Comm 188) course with Professor Kerri Johnson featuring guest lectures with some of the department’s star alumni. The course will be offered during session XA from June 21-July 9, 2021 (3 week course) on Tuesdays / Thursdays 4-5:50pm. It is a 1 unit Pass / No Pass course. Register HERE or enroll HERE today!

Just one day after a Minnesota jury took the unusual step of convicting a white police officer for the hyper-mediated, brutal killing of an unarmed Black man, police officers shot and killed another unarmed Black man in North Carolina. And these events had followed the shooting death of yet another unarmed Black man the week before — less than 10 miles from where the killer of George Floyd was on trial. Such is the reality of race and policing in America.

Our nation now finds itself at a critical juncture with respect to its enduring history of white supremacy and related struggles with police brutality. Social movements like Black Lives Matter and DIVEST/INVEST recently have surged to the forefront of our consciousness, demanding that we respect the sanctity of Black (and brown) life by fundamentally rethinking how we invest in public safety in America.

Here in the UCLA Division of Social Sciences, we are committed to advancing this conversation. We are dedicated to supporting research that helps us to better understand the structural factors underlying the great social justice issues of our time, such as our struggles with race and policing. Embedded in the #1 public university located in one of the most diverse cities in the world, we are ideally positioned to address the critical issues facing our communities. Through the work of our world-class faculty and our students — who will become the leaders of tomorrow – we strive to be a leading agent for change across the nation and around the world. Our voice matters.

Movements for Social Justice motivate many of the division’s researchers to gain a better understanding of the forces that shape the world. LA Social Science is pleased to share this video highlighting two such researchers, Drs. Kelly Lytle Hernandez and Abel Valenzuela, and the important, action-oriented research they are leading in the social sciences.

As a public institution, our work is ultimately in service of the diverse communities we represent. By engaging LA, we are changing the world.

UCLA Big Data and Politics Seminar Series

Legislative Communication and Power:

Measuring Leadership in the U.S. House

of Representatives from Social Media

Daniel Ebanks

ABD, California Institue of Technology

R. Michael Alvarez

Professor, California Institute of Technology


Hao Yan (Facebook)

Sanmay Das (GMU)

Betsy Sinclair (WUSTL)

Friday, April 30, 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM PT

Zoom Link:

Abstract:  Who leads and who follows in Congress? By leveraging the Twitter accounts of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, this paper develops a new understanding of House leadership power using innovative natural language processing methods. Formal theoretic work on congressional leadership suggests a tension in legislative party members’ policy stances as they balance between a coordination problem and an information problem. When their coordination problem is more pressing, the model predicts that legislative members will follow their party leaders’ policy positions. But when the information problem is more acute, party members coordinate and effectively give their leaders direction for the party’s agenda. We test these hypotheses with novel and dynamic policy influence measurements. Specifically, we exploit the network structure of retweets to derive measures of House leadership centrality within each party. We then employ Joint Sentiment Topic modeling to quantify the discussion space for House members on Twitter. Our results partially support the theoretical insights. For policies where there is an information problem, House leaders do not generally initiate policy discussion on Twitter, although they do so more often than rankandfile members. Moreover, increases in House leaders’ propensity to discuss a sentimenttopic results in meaningful increases in rankandfile members’ propensities to discuss those same sentimenttopics. In line with the theoretical prediction, we also find that as the barriers to coordination in policy stances within a party increases, House party leaders hold more central and arguably more powerful roles within their party. Nonetheless, in contrast both to the theoretical predictions as well as to the existing scholarship on House congressional leadership, we find that rankandfile members exert influence over House party leaders, and moreover that rankandfile influence is larger in magnitude than that of House party leadership.

Pictured here (from left to right): Dr. Randall Akee, Dr. Stephanie Russo Carroll, and Dr. Chandra Ford

Dr. Randall Akee along with Dr. Stephanie Russo Carroll, and Dr. Chandra Ford, guest-edited a special issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ), entitled, “COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples: Impact of and Response to the Pandemic.” This is notable given that the special issue is led by American Indian scholars and researchers on COVID-19 and racism, and the AICRJ is published by the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. Please access the special issue HERE. This is the first issue of a two-special issue companion.


In November 2019, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office Civic Memory Working Group convened its first meeting consisting of 40 historians, indigenous elders and scholars, architects, artists, curators, designers, and other civic and cultural leaders. Many of UCLA’s brightest minds were at the table. The charge for those present was to produce a series of recommendations to help Los Angeles engage more productively and honestly with its past, particularly where that past has been whitewashed or buried.

UCLA Members of the Mayor’s Office Civic Memory Working Group:

Advisors to the Working Group:

The Working Group’s report, including a print volume and an accompanying website, was released on April 15, 2021. The report has specific policy recommendations throughout, yet below are 18 key recommendations for moving forward:

The Hollywood Sign in Ruin

Continue and Expand the Conversation

1. Spend the second half of 2021, virtually or in person as the COVID-19 pandemic allows, discussing these recommendations and other materials in this report with a range of Los Angeles communities. These listening sessions should explore, among other subjects, how the City can shift its focus in stewarding civic memory from acting as a gatekeeper to a facilitator, giving fuller voice to community memory and bottom-up representation. Use these sessions to begin to turn the recommendations on this list into policy or built markers of civic memory.

2. Develop programs to train all city employees in civic history and Indigeneity, as they are hired and on an ongoing basis.

Carlos Diniz: A History of Drawing the Future

Increase Access and Share Information

3. Create a new City Historian position, or a three-person council of historians and community elders, on a rotating two-year basis, looking to the City’s Poet Laureate position as a model and potentially drawing from the ranks of college and university history departments and independent scholars.

4. Organize a task force of museum professionals, working artists, historians, Indigenous and other community leaders, and others to explore the creation of a Museum of the City of Los Angeles, with the understanding that this group may recommend instead supporting similar work inside museums and other cultural institutions already established.

5. Complete and publish an audit of the monuments and memorials in Los Angeles on public and publicly accessible land.

6. Broaden the accessibility and impact of the Los Angeles City Archives and Records Center as a basis for new civic memory initiatives.

7. Create a room or other space inside City Hall, open to the public, to celebrate civic memory and the Indigenous history of the site and its surroundings. This room should include both historical records and archives and rotating exhibits and displays related to civic architecture and the history of Los Angeles.

1871 Anti-Chinese Massacre

Recognize Indigenous History

8. Begin the process of adopting an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Policy for the Mayor’s Office and for the City, in close collaboration with the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission (NAIC), as outlined in the summary appearing later in this volume from the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement subcommittee.

9. Create a new, full-time staff position within the Mayor’s Office to serve as official liaison to the NAIC and the broader Indigenous community.

10. Embed historians and Indigenous leaders on a compensated basis in City-led planning efforts, for example the Taylor Yard/G2 Equity Plan for a site along the Los Angeles River. Preserve or Acknowledge the Various Histories Embedded in the Built Environment

11. Take steps to protect the architecture and civic memory of the recent past, beginning with an effort to extend the Department of City Planning’s SurveyLA initiative from 1980 to the year 2000.

12. Strengthen financial and other penalties for the prohibited demolition of significant architecture, particularly residential architecture.

13. Pursue the expansion of Historic-Cultural Monument status to include thematic or non-contiguous designations, for example the Bungalow Court, and to protect the body of work of a single prominent firm or social or cultural movement.

14. Consider a City-led effort to mark and make visible the boundaries of racially exclusive zoning and lending practices in housing, e.g. redlining, or the communities displaced or disfigured by freeway construction.

6710 La Tijera Blvd.

Reconsider Memorials and Difficult Histories

15. Create a garden or series of gardens dedicated to the essential workers of Los Angeles.

16. Arrange specific community-engagement sessions during the remainder of 2021, guided by the recommendations in this report, to solicit ideas for commemorating the 30th anniversary, in 2022, of the 1992 civic unrest in Los Angeles. The goal should be a range of commemorative approaches, rather than a single event or memorial.

17. Work with the leadership of the Chinese American Museum and a range of community groups to develop citywide commemorations, considering both ephemeral and permanent forms, to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Anti-Chinese Massacre on October 24, 2021.

18. Develop strategies to recontextualize outdated or fraught memorials as an alternative to removal—although removal will, in certain cases, remain the best option.

To read the full report, click HERE.