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Latina/o Studies and Writing in Law (ENGL105i Law)

Latina/o Studies is a vibrant field that intersects with many disciplines. The intersections between Latina/o Studies and law are rich, and there are many underexplored avenues for scholars to pursue. Latina/o/x activists, scholars, lawyers, and policy-makers have shaped (and continue to shape) the legal and political landscapes of the U.S., making Latina/o/x Studies and Writing in Law a natural pairing. Increasingly, politicians and policy-makers have come to recognize the political power of Latina/o/x voters, while Latina/o/x activists continue to bring attention to the formative influence of Latina/o/x contributions to the country’s sociopolitical and cultural landscapes.

However,  these progressive strides are shadowed by a recent increase in nativist rhetoric and anti-immigration policies, both proposed and enacted. As a result, there is an unprecedented  need for lawyers and policy-makers who understand the complex issues affecting Latina/o/x populations. As an English 105i Law instructor, you have the opportunity to engage students with these pressing political and legal issues by incorporating content from Latina/o/x Studies. 

This page is designed to introduce you to some of the topics at the crossroads of Latina/o Studies and law and provide you with ideas and guidance to help you design a law unit. This page also includes a sample Unit Assignment. Instructors may directly incorporate the sample unit assignment into their syllabi, but the assignments are also designed so that instructors can easily modify and adjust the sample to align with their goals for the unit.

What Are Some of the Major Topics at the Intersection of Latina/o Studies and Law That My Class Might Explore?
  • Latina/o/x contributions to social and political change, including the Chicano Movement and the Chicana Feminist Movement 
  • Intersections of Latina/o/x critical race theory and legal scholarship
  • Equitable access to education
  • Federal and/or local immigration policy including:
  • Migrant detention centers, US/Mexico border militarization, and deportation
  • Citizenship and naturalization
  • State and local law enforcement partnerships with ICE (ex. Secure Communities Program)
  • Political/legal rhetoric surrounding undocumented immigration
  • Latina/o/x voting rights and voter ID laws
  • Racial profiling and the criminalization of Latina/o/x groups
  • Language discrimination
  • Latina/o/x workers’ rights
  • Housing discrimination/segregation
  • Income inequality
  • Food insecurity
As an Instructor, What Can I Incorporate Into a Law-Based Latina/o Studies Unit?

A useful starting point for instructors is to consider where their own expertise might intersect with Latina/o Studies, and then conduct supplementary research to help build your assignment. For example, if you specialize in the health humanities, you might consider designing a unit assignment that centers on Latina/o/x access to healthcare.

Current events and community-based resources can also be a useful starting place for generating ideas. Familiarize yourself with ongoing legal and political issues in your community and research their intersections with Latina/o/x populations. You might also consider crafting projects tied to local communities, or asking your students to think about their own hometowns. The Latina/o Studies Program Staff are available for consultation as you embark on creating or modifying a unit assignment.

When Designing Your Unit, You Might Consider Consulting the Following Resources: When Creating Your Unit, You May Also Want to Consider Incorporating the Following Lessons Into Your Schedule:
  • An introduction to Latina/o Studies
  • An introduction to various forms of legal and/or legislative writing, and a brief history of Latina/o/x contributions to legal and/or legislative writing and policy formation
  • A discussion of the history of the U.S. legal and/or legislative system and the ways these systems have negatively impacted (and continues to negatively impact) communities of color, including Latina/o/x populations, due to structural racism and implicit bias
  • A discussion of decolonial methodologies within these fields and examples of applications of these methodologies. This could include a discussion of Latina/o/x grassroots organizing practices and/or prison abolition and open borders movements.
What Types of Unit Assignments Lend Themselves Well to Latina/o Studies?

There is no limit to the types of units one can create that incorporate Latina/o Studies. The Sample Unit Assignment includes a policy brief, but can be easily modified to incorporate other mediums. Other final projects could include:

  • A case brief
  • An appellate brief
  • A bill analysis
  • A request for proposal (RFP)
  • An informational pamphlet
Sample Unit Assignment

In this assignment, students prepare a Policy Brief on an issue related to Latina/o/x communities in NC. Their research begins with identifying a relevant issue, followed by the creation of a PEST chart to assess policy options, and culminating in a complete policy brief.

            Note: this sample unit project is broad in scope, but could easily be modified to focus on a narrower subfield.

LSP Writing in Law Sample Unit Assignment (PDF version)

LSP Writing in Law Sample Unit Assignment (MS Word version)

Student Template for Feeder 2—PEST chart (PDF version)

Student Template for Feeder 2—PEST chart (MS Word version)

For more sample unit assignments, click here to see what some of our Latina/o Studies Teaching Award Recipients have done.


The following resources may be helpful to consult when building your course:

  1. Ortiz, Paul. An African American and Latinx History of the United States. Beacon Press, 2018.
  2. Gutiérrez-Jones, Carl. Rethinking the Borderlands: Between Chicano Culture and Legal Discourse. University of California Press, 1995.
  3. Rosales, Francisco A. Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Arte Público Press, 1996.
  4. Levy, Jacques E, Cesar Chavez, Fred Ross, and Jacqueline M. Levy. Cesar Chavez: Autobiography of La Causa. University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
  5. Soltero, Carlos R. Latinos and American Law: Landmark Supreme Court Cases. University of Texas Press, 2006. 
  6. Gonzales, Alfonso. Reform Without Justice: Latino Migrant Politics and the Homeland Security State. Oxford University Press, 2014.
  7. Heine, Bennett et al. “”Aguantamos”: Limits to Latino Migrant Farmworker Agency in North Carolina Labor Camps.” Human organization vol. 76,3 (2017): 240-250. 
  8. Latino Civil Rights Timeline, 1903 to 2006.” (Teaching Tolerance)
  9. Secure Communities: A Fact Sheet.” (American Immigration Council)
  10. Brooke, Carol, and Clermont Ripley. “Know Your Rights: Immigrant Workers’ Rights.” (North Carolina Justice Center)
  11. Moreno, Eric. “Latinos Still Face Housing Segregation.” (Salud America!)
  12. Teaching Resources – LatCrit.” (LatCrit)
  13. Implicit Bias Toolbox.” (American Bar Association)
  14. Nunez, Elissa. “How Redistricting Could Dampen The Political Power of Latinos.” (NBC News)
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