Rita’s research focuses on Migration and Mobility Studies, Race and Ethnicity, and Urban Sociology. Rita is interested in understanding barriers to political, economic, and social inclusion experienced by immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities in the US. Rita is a member of the Hawaii Sanctuary Team. Rita has also assisted immigrants as they navigate the political asylum process in Hawaii. Rita has helped draft local legislation to aid immigrants, organized naturalization workshops, and planned public educational panels focused on immigration.
In the News
Explores how immigration is framed in public discourses in Hawaii, a place often conceptualized as a 'racial paradise,' through an examination of Letters to the Editor. Reveals that, although historical forms of immigration are often celebrated, more recent forms are frequently denigrated due to its supposed role in worsening social and economic conditions. Reflects the anti-immigrant sentiment found in other parts of the US.
Examines the impact of voter identification laws on electoral participation in the US from 2000-2016, using large-scale social survey data. Shows that voter ID laws have a negative impact on all racial and ethnic groups, especially Latinos.
Focuses on how residents of public housing in Hawaii view immigrants from Micronesia, a geographic region of Oceania. Draws on in-depth interviews with an ethnically diverse sample of public housing residents. Shows how residents stigmatize Micronesian community members, especially as they were viewed as gaining unfair access to a limited supply of affordable housing units.