My research explores political participation in underresourced, crime-ridden and over-policed Latino communities. What does political participation look like in these communities? How do these communities mobilize, who and what mobilizes them? How and in what way does contact with crime and the criminal justice system shape political participation? To explore these questions, I carry out field research in two public housing facilities in the city of Los Angeles and employ a mixed-method research approach using quantitative and qualitative tools for data collection and analysis: survey, participant observation, elite interviews, and interviews with community residents.
Working alongside local community organizations and community leaders we were able to field and collect 811 Public Housing Community Surveys in Ramona Gardens and Mar Vista Gardens. I have attended numerous community meetings and events, interviewed community residents, local elected officials, local non-profit/governmental organizational leaders, and representatives from local police departments. The data collected has given us the opportunity to create new knowledge that will help us bring the voices and experiences of the marginalized into academic and public spaces. Preliminary research findings show that there is nothing apolitical in these communities.
I plan to expand my research and field the Public Housing Community Survey in other public housing facilities in Los Angeles and other major cities across the U.S.
I have also been able to conduct research in El Salvador that explores how crime rates impact Salvadoran support for democracy. Has democracy continued to consolidate despite the spiraling crime rates? Can democracy prevail and consolidate under such conditions? In 2015, I was an election observer and got to interview key government and civic leaders and observe the 2015 elections for 84 members of the Legislative Assembly, 20 members of the Central American Parliament and 262 mayors and municipal councils. I returned during the summer of 2015 to conduct interviews with civic leaders and have resumed research on El Salvador by joining UCLA’s Center for Oral History as an Oral History Interviewer for the project: Central Americans: Building Institutions and Communities in Los Angeles.