This study examines how Mexican-origin women construct and navigate racialized identities in a postindustrial northern border community during a period of prolonged restrictive immigration and immigrant policies, and it considers mechanisms by which responses to racialization may shape health. This grounded theory analysis involves interviews with 48 Mexican-origin women in Detroit, Michigan, who identified as being in the first, 1.5, or second immigrant generation. In response to institutions and institutional agents using racializing markers to assess their legal status and policing access to health-promoting resources, women engaged in a range of strategies to resist being constructed as an “other.” Women used the same racializing markers or symbols of (il)legality that had been used against them as a malleable set of resources to resist processes of racialization and to form, preserve, and affirm their identities. These responses include constructing an authorized immigrant identity, engaging in immigration advocacy, and resisting stigmatizing labels. These strategies may have different implications for health over time. Findings indicate the importance of addressing policies that promulgate or exacerbate racialization of Mexican-origin communities and other communities who experience growth through migration. Such policies include creating pathways to legalization and access to resources that have been invoked in racialization processes, such as state-issued driver's licenses.

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