Sarah Bronwen Horton

Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver
Chapter Member: Colorado SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Sarah

Horton researches how U.S. labor laws and immigration policies affect immigrant farmworkers by using ethnographic methods, or intensive immersion in immigrant communities and interviews. This methodology gives her an insider’s perspective on how immigrant farmworkers’ strategies for getting health care and employment, as well as the reasons behind farmworkers’ poor health outcomes. Horton has worked with California Rural Legal Assistance and United Farmworkers in California, and with immigrant advocacy organizations in Denver, Colorado.

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

"Undocumented Immigrants Deserve Relief, Too," Sarah Bronwen Horton, The Progressive, January 13, 2021.
"Provide Economic Justice to All Immigrant Families in Third Stimulus Bill," Sarah Bronwen Horton, The Hill, January 11, 2021.
"Guest Post: Provide Colorado’s Immigrant Families Rental Relief," Sarah Bronwen Horton (with Whitney L. Duncan), The Colorado Independent, May 1, 2020.
"Serious Challenges and Potential Solutions for Immigrant Health During COVID-19," Sarah Bronwen Horton (with Whitney L. Duncan), Health Affairs Blog, April 18, 2020.
"Public Charge Provisions Hurt Citizen Children Too," Sarah Bronwen Horton (with Whitney L. Duncan), The Hill, December 9, 2018.
"Immigrant Communities and the Public Charge Rule," Sarah Bronwen Horton (with Whitney L. Duncan and Kristin Yarris), Anthropology News, October 29, 2018.
Guest to discuss identity loans on Public News Service, Sarah Bronwen Horton, December 19, 2016.
"The Hole in Trump’s Wall," Sarah Bronwen Horton, Huffington Post, September 9, 2016.
Interview on employers forcing undocumented employees to work under false identities Sarah Bronwen Horton, Valley Public Radio, July 5, 2016.
Sarah Bronwen Horton quoted on the ghost status of undocumented farmworkers by Ana Campoy, "Immigrant “Ghost Workers” are Lining Their Bosses’ Pockets in a Whole New Way" Quartz, June 30, 2016.
Sarah Bronwen Horton's research on identity masking discussed by "Researcher Finds 'Ghost Workers' Common in Migrant Farm Work," Science Codex, June 28, 2016.
"Rethinking Arizona’s Identity Theft Laws," Sarah Bronwen Horton, Huffington Post, May 23, 2016.
"Equal Overtime Rules Could Save Lives," Sarah Bronwen Horton, San Diego Union Tribune, April 8, 2016.
"A View from the Border," Sarah Bronwen Horton, Denver Post, May 9, 2010.
Sarah Bronwen Horton quoted on access to health care for illegal workers by Kevin Sack, "Illegal Farmworkers Get Health Care in the Shadows" New York Times, May 10, 2008.
"Legal Citizens Are Healthy Citizens," Sarah Bronwen Horton (with Miguel Arias), Fresno Bee, June 11, 2006.


"From ‘Deportability’ to ‘Denounce-ability:’ New Forms of Labor Subordination in an Era of Governing Immigration through Crime" Political and Legal Anthropology Review (forthcoming).

Argues that supervisors in large agribusiness companies avoid federal immigration law by making their undocumented employees work under the documents of others, thereby making them invisible to state and federal authorities. Explains that changes in immigration laws allow such workers to be prosecuted for “identity theft,” which in turn may lead not only to their deportation but to extended bars on their legal re-entry.

"They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields: Injury, Illness, and Illegality among U.S. Farmworkers " (University of California Press, 2016).

Documents in detail how U.S. immigration, labor, health care, disability and food policies converge to lead to premature death among migrant farmworkers - both inside and outside the fields.

"Ghost Workers: The Implications of Governing Immigration through Crime for Migrant Workplaces" Anthropology of Work Review 37, no. 1 (2016): 11-23.

Argues that many employers in agriculture evade labor and immigration laws by forcing farmworkers to work the Social Security cards and green cards or passports of other people, complicating one-sided portrayals of “identity theft” in immigrant-dominated workplaces.

"Debating ‘Medical Citizenship:’ Policies Shaping Immigrants’ Learned Avoidance of the U.S. Health Care System" in Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies in Undocumented Immigration, edited by Lois A. Lorentzen (ABC-CLIO, 2014), 297-320.

Discusses why undocumented immigrants often avoid the U.S. health care system, as well as the way that U.S. policies jeopardize the health of such immigrants’ citizen children.

"Medical Returns: Seeking Healthcare in Mexico" (with Stephanie Cole). Social Science & Medicine 72, no. 11 (2011): 1846-1852.

Explains Mexican immigrants’ dissatisfaction with the U.S. health care system from the perspective of those who seek health care on the border, illustrating the contrast from their experiences with health care in Mexico. 

"Identity Loan: The Moral Economy of Migrant Document Exchange in California’s Central Valley" American Ethnologist 42, no. 1 (2015): 55-67.

Argues that many migrant farmworkers exchange work authorization documents in immigrant communities, and that this practice leads to the disproportionate benefit of legal residents and U.S. citizens.