Cause and Effect

Anna Sampaio ’92 and E. Gary Spitko take on bias in immigration, policing, and the workplace.

Cause and Effect
After immigration: For her next book project, Anna Sampaio is tackling Latina political participation and activism in the United States. Photo by Getty Images

In 2002 Anna Sampaio ’92 got a letter from the ACLU informing her they had come across Colorado police files classifying her a “criminal extremist.” Her offense? Working with a coalition in Chiapas, Mexico, run by a 72-year-old Franciscan nun: putting on workshops, hosting panels, arranging speakers. For this, Sampaio was said to be intent on overthrowing the government. “Franciscan nuns can be pretty badass,” Sampaio says. “But they’re not anarchist revolutionaries.” Sampaio, an associate professor and chair for the department of ethnic studies, survived professionally.

But the discovery made her wonder: What would happen to a Latina without her credentials? So she wrote Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants: Race, Gender, and Immigration Politics in the Age of Security (Temple University Press), which chronicles 30 years of U.S. immigration policy. One finding: People of color are consistently viewed as criminals without cause.

“The idea that [immigrants] need to be apprehended, incarcerated, even deported, because they present this threat is completely a discourse of fiction.” Fixing the perception will take “more than just one comprehensive piece of immigration legislation.”

Robin Shahar's Antigay Bias in Role-Model Occupations book

Models and Mentors

Robin Shahar graduated near the top of Emory Law. After a summer clerkship with the Georgia attorney general’s office, she was offered a job following graduation.

But when the A.G. learned that Shahar—who is female—planned to marry another woman, the offer was rescinded.

Shahar sued. She lost, won one appeal, lost another appeal, and the Supreme Court declined to review her case.

In Antigay Bias in Role-Model Occupations, E. Gary Spitko, Presidential Professor of Ethics and the Common Good at SCU’s School of Law, examines the impact of cases like Shahar’s—specifically, how employment discrimination systematically eliminates role models from certain fields and caps expectations in those fields.

“For the straight person as well, the lack of such gay pioneering role models hems in the concept of what it means to be gay,” Spitko says. He uses data and demographic research together with personal anecdotes to trace the trajectory of employment stereotypes, biases, and discrimination.

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