Isabel Martinez

Isabel Martinez

Isabel Martinez
Associate Professor
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B.A.   -    Sociology, Rice University
M.A.   -   Educational Policy, Practice and Foundation, University of Colorado at Boulder
Ph.D.  -  Sociology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University


Dr. Martinez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American and Latinx Studies.  Trained in Sociology and Education, her research focuses on unaccompanied Latin American teenagers, past and present. She is the founding director of U-LAMP, the Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project, a research and service project that focuses on providing academic, social and legal support to recently arrived immigrant minors in removal proceedings. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Fellowship, the John Jay Distinguished Teaching award, the John Jay Distinguished Service to Students award, the 2020 and 2015 Kwando Kinshasa Excellence in Mentoring Award and the 2018 New York State Youth Leadership Council Outstanding Educator award. Her manuscript, Becoming Transnational Youth Workers: Independent Mexican Teenage Migrants and Pathways of Survival and Social Mobility (Rutgers University Press 2019) highlights findings from a study examining the life courses of unaccompanied, out-of-school Mexican immigrant youths living in New York City.  She has articles and book chapters in other scholarly works including Protecting Migrant Children: In Search of Best Practice (Elgar 2018), Latino Studies and Journal of Latinos and Education. She is currently developing an edited book project with her colleagues from three additional Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) (Dr. Irma V. Montelongo (UTEP), Dr. Nicholas D. Natividad (NMSU) and Dr. Angel D. Nieves (SDSU) tentatively titled Beyond Digital Fronteras: Rehumanizing Latinx Education that focuses on the use of digital tools in HSI and Latinx Studies classrooms. She is a founding member of John Jay College of Criminal Justice's Immigrant Student Success Center, the first immigrant student center in CUNY and in New York City.


Languages spoken/fluent in

Spanish; English

Scholarly Work

Martinez, I. (2019) Becoming Transnational Youth Workers: Pathways of Survival and Social Mobility. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Martínez, I. (2019) Becoming American, Staying Mexican: Negotiating Assimilation in an Ambivalent Global City. In P. Sanchez, Hernández Zamora, G. and G. Ramirez (Eds.), In search of hope and home:  Mexican immigrants in the trinational NAFTA context.  New York:  Peter Lang Publishing. (Forthcoming).

Martinez, I. (2018) Why They Leave: Latin American Immigrant Youths and their quest for survival. In M. Crock and L.B. Benson (Eds.) Protecting Migrant Children: In Seach of Best Practice (54-74), (Northampton, MA: Elgar Publishing).

Montelongo, I. and I. Martínez. (2018). Decolonizing the classroom: Latina/os and Chicana/os Speaking and Learning from the Margins. In G. Nuñez and A.Gonzalez, Community Engagement and High Impact Practices in Higher Education, Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing,

Martinez, I. (2016). Miseducating Latina Researchers: Challenges and Consequences in the Field. Latino Studies, 14, 4, 533-544.

Martinez, I.  (2016)  Supporting Two Households: Mexican Immigrant Youth and their absences from U.S. Schools. Journal of Latinos and Education, 15, 3, 229-243.







Area of Expertise

Most requested topics by media


Faculty Expertise: topics/keywords

Unaccompanied Latin American youths

Latin American Immigrant Youths

Mexican Migration

Central American migration

In The Media


Kirby, Jen. Interviewed, June 23, 2018., 500 migrant kids have been reunited with their parents. More than 1000 are still caught in the system.

Rendon, Pedro, March 7, 2018, Coverage of Talk, “Immigrant Youths in New York City,” Mexico City, End of DACA could mean loss of $8.6 billion in US taxes, 

La Prensa, March 7, 2018, Coverage of Talk, “Immigrant Youths in New York City,” Mexico City, End of DACA could mean loss of $8.6 billion in US taxes,

Robbins, Liz. Interviewed, September 22, 2017. The New York Times, Back and Forth on DACA leaves young immigrants just dangling,

Gonzalez, Sarah. Interviewed, September 5, 2017. WNYC. Local Students, Colleges React to the end of DACA,

Kenworthy, Jos. Interviewed, November 25, 2016, Christian Science Monitor, What Universities are doing to protect their undocumented students,

Conde, Arturo. Interviewed. February 26, 2016. NBC News. Don’t Forget: Art Collective Calls Attention to Mexico Missing Students,

Bogado, Aura. September 19, 2014. Colorlines. How an East Harlem Bookstore is getting 1500 books to migrant kids.

Diaz, Shelley.  July 24, 2014. “East Harlem Book Drive Launches Book Drive to Aid Unaccompanied Child Immigrants” School Library Journal. Article discusses service project and U-LAMP partnership.

Olvera, Monica.  July 10, 2014. “Book Drive Gives Immigrant Kids Chance to Dream.” NBC Latino. Article discussed service project and U-LAMP partnership.