Roberto Gonzales is a qualitative sociologist whose research focuses on the ways in which legal and educational institutions shape the everyday experiences of poor, minority, and immigrant youth along the life course. He is recognized as one of the nations leading experts on undocumented immigrant youth and young adults. Over the last decade he has been engaged in critical inquiry regarding what happens to undocumented immigrant children as they make transitions to adolescence and young adulthood. His West Coast Undocumented Young Adults Research Project in Los Angeles and Seattle has collected in-depth qualitative data on over 300 undocumented young adults who have lived in the U.S. since childhood. This research has helped scholars, policymakers, and educators gain a better understanding of their educational trajectories, how they come of age, and how a segment of these young people engages in civic and political activity. He is currently engaged in two projects aimed at better understanding the effects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program: the National UnDACAmented Research Project, a longitudinal study to assess the effects of widened access among undocumented immigrant young adults; and a companion study to assess DACA implementation in schools and community based organizations. He is also carrying out a comparative study of immigrant youth in the U.S. and the UK. His work is being supported by MacArthur, Irvine, and Heising-Simons Foundations.
Gonzales serves on the editorial board of Social Problems and the City of Chicago Office of New Americans Advisory Board. In addition to top social science journals, his work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, The Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, and NPR. He is currently completing a book manuscript based on his 10 year study of undocumented young adults in Los Angeles. Prior to his faculty position at the Harvard, Gonzales was on faculty at the University of Chicago and the University of Washington. He received a B.A. from Colorado College, an M.A. at the University of Chicago, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California - Irvine.