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Civic Engagement Patterns of Undocumented Mexican Students

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This study examined the civic engagement of undocumented Mexican students. Civic engagement was defined as providing a social service, activism, tutoring, and functionary work. Survey data results (n = 126) suggest that despite high feelings of rejection because of their undocumented status, part-time employment, and household responsibilities, 90% of respondents had been civically engaged. Females and students with higher academic achievement and extracurricular participation demonstrated higher civic engagement whereas older students were more likely to have participated in activism. Policy implications of undocumented Latino college student civic engagement are discussed.
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Journal of Hispanic Higher
http://jhh.sagepub.com/content/9/3/245
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1538192710371007
2010 9: 245Journal of Hispanic Higher Education
William Perez, Roberta Espinoza, Karina Ramos, Heidi Coronado and Richard Cortes
Civic Engagement Patterns of Undocumented Mexican Students
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DOI: 10.1177/1538192710371007
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Civic Engagement Patterns
of Undocumented
Mexican Students
William Perez1, Roberta Espinoza2,
Karina Ramos3, Heidi Coronado1,
and Richard Cortes4
Abstract
This study examined the civic engagement of undocumented Mexican students. Civic
engagement was defined as providing a social service, activism, tutoring, and functionary
work. Survey data results (n = 126) suggest that despite high feelings of rejection because
of their undocumented status, part-time employment, and household responsibilities,
90% of respondents had been civically engaged. Females and students with higher aca-
demic achievement and extracurricular participation demonstrated higher civic engage-
ment whereas older students were more likely to have participated in activism. Policy
implications of undocumented Latino college student civic engagement are discussed.
Resumen
Este estudio examina el compromiso cívico de estudiantes mexicanos indocumentados.
Compromiso cívico se definió como la provisión de servicio social, activismo, tutoría
y, trabajo funcional. Resultados obtenidos de cuestionarios (n = 126) sugirieron que a
pesar de sentimientos altos de rechazo debido a su estado de indocumentados, empleo
de tiempo parcial, y responsabilidades caseras, el 90% de los participantes se habían
comprometido cívicamente. Mujeres y estudiantes con logros académicos más altos y
participación extra curricular demostraron compromise cívico más alto mientras que
estudiantes de mayor edad participaban más en activismo. Implicaciones estratégicas para
el compromiso cívico de estudiantes universitarios Latinos indocumentados se discuten.
1Claremont Graduate University, Los Angeles, CA, USA
2California State University, Fullerton, CA, USA
3University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA
4Glendale Community College, Glendale, CA, USA
Corresponding Author:
William Perez, 3946 Tracy Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90027, USA
Email: william.perez@cgu.edu
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246 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
Keywords
civic engagement, undocumented, immigrant, Latina/o, higher education, Dream Act
Although much has been written on immigrants and civic engagement, most of this
research is primarily focused on adult naturalized and native-born Latino citizens
(DeSipio, 1996; Ramakrishnan & Espenshade, 2001; Sierra, Carrillo, DeSipio, & Jones-
Correa, 2000). This article examined the civic engagement of undocumented Latino
young adults in the United States. According to Passel and Cohn (2009), there were
1.7 million undocumented youth between the ages 18 and 24 living in the United States
in 2008. Latinos represent approximately 78% of this undocumented population. Whereas
58% of U.S.-born 18- to 24-year-olds are enrolled in college, have been enrolled in
college, or have a college degree, the figure is only 26% for undocumented young adults
of the same age (Passel & Cohn, 2009). Not only do these students endure the same
stressors and risk factors as other Latino immigrant youth, they also face constant insti-
tutional and societal exclusion and rejection because of their undocumented status (Perez,
Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortes, 2009). They are not eligible for most scholar-
ships, do not qualify for any form of government sponsored financial assistance, cannot
obtain a driver’s license, are legally barred from formal employment, and may be deported
at any time. Undocumented students initially received legal access to public education
as a result of the 1982 Supreme Court case of Plyler vs. Doe. The Court ruled that
undocumented children must be provided access to a free public education because citi-
zens and/or potential citizens cannot achieve any meaningful degree of individual equality
without it, and that they should not forfeit their education because of their parents’ deci-
sion to immigrate illegally. Although the United States Supreme Court mandates that
undocumented children in public schools be accepted as students, because of current
immigration policies, they are not accepted as citizens. This puts them in an extremely
difficult situation, particularly when they reach college age. How are they responding?
Do they resent American society? Or do they find hope and embrace their role in Ameri-
can civic society? Is it possible for undocumented immigrant young adults to participate
in American civic life, even as they remain “officially” outside the polity as noncitizens?
Relatively little is known about undocumented youths’ civic engagement. The present
study aimed to examine the civic engagement patterns of undocumented high school,
community college, university students, as well as recent college graduates.
Civic Engagement
Consistent with the research on civic engagement (Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1997;
Nolin, Chaney, Chapman, & Chandler, 1997; Youniss, Mclellan, & Mazer, 2001), in
this study civic engagement was defined as providing a social service, activism, tutor-
ing, and functionary work. Social service activities entail interaction with people in
need such as visiting, feeding, or caring for the homeless, poor, sick, elderly, or handi-
capped. Activism activities are those focused on a particular social issue or cause such
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Perez et al. 247
as the environment, a political party, human rights, or other causes that do not entail
direct interaction with the needy. Tutoring involves coaching kids, providing volunteer
child care, or academic assistance to students struggling academically. Finally, func-
tionary work activities are those that entail cleaning/maintenance work or organizing/
administrative work, such as cleaning up a public beach.
Research on civic engagement shows that families, educational institutions, and
organizations all play an important role in influencing youth to be civically engaged
(Andolina, Jenkins, Zukin, & Keeter, 2003; Kelly, 2004; Metz & Youniss, 2003; Torney-
Purta, 2002; Youniss et al., 2002). Parents and family members play an important role
by setting examples. The literature shows that when parents, siblings, and extended
family are civically engaged, youth are more likely to develop civic competence (Youniss
et al., 2002). Similarly, minority and majority youth who come from homes where at
least one family member has volunteered are more likely to be involved by joining a
club, an organization, wearing buttons, or volunteering, compared with youth who come
from homes where no one volunteers (Andolina et al., 2003; Kelly, 2004).
Like family influences, educational institutions also play a central role in fostering
an interest in civic engagement (Andolina et al., 2003). Research has found that when
schools help organize volunteer opportunities, and make community service a graduation
requirement, students are more likely to continue to be civically engaged after gradua-
tion. The types of clubs they have available for students to join are also predictive of
later civic engagement. Furthermore, when students are members of political organiza-
tions on campus, they are more likely to be civically engaged after graduation compared
with students who never joined political clubs (Andolina et al., 2003; Torney-Purta,
2002; Youniss et al., 2002).
Personal Benefits of Civic Engagement
There are many benefits for being civically engaged, besides the benefits that service
has on society as a whole. Civic engagement can act as a protector for risky behaviors.
Research has shown that youth civic engagement is positively correlated with good
attendance, higher grade point average (GPA), higher self-esteem, higher academic
self-efficacy, involvement in extracurricular activities, and motivation to learn (Eccles
& Barber, 1999). Additionally, civic engagement has the power to influence career
aspirations and further political involvement (Balsano, 2005).
Immigrant Youth and Civic Engagement
Although there is an increasing body of research on immigrant youth, attention to civic
development and engagement is missing and is much needed given the ongoing national
political debate about immigration, citizenship, and what it means to be “American.”
On virtually a daily basis, American news media features stories about immigrants’
civil rights and responsibilities, and the nature of their commitment to the United States
and American values. There has also been an increase in news stories about immigrants
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248 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
entering into the public debate through various forms of civic engagement, ranging from
public marches to local community projects to student walkouts. The civic potential of
young immigrants became evident in early 2006 when rallies were held across the United
States in support of immigration policy reform that was sympathetic to immigrants.
Students held rallies or walked out of school to express their support for immigrant
workers and the need for immigration reform (Bada, Fox, & Selee, 2006). Whereas the
recent immigration policy reform debate in Congress has focused on economic, security,
and legal issues, the debate has largely ignored the civic engagement of immigrant youth.
In one of the few studies to examine immigrant youth civic engagement, Stepick,
Stepick, and Labissiere (2008) find that 80% of first-generation, 90% of 1.5 generation,
89% of second-generation college freshman in South Florida volunteered or had done
community service in the past 12 months compared with 87% of nonimmigrant students.
The rates for the 1.5 and second-generation students was higher than the 82.6% reported
for freshman nationwide in 2001 (Sax, Lindholm, Astin, Korn, & Mahoney, 2001).
Even the first-generation immigrants compare favorably with the approximately 75%
of high school seniors nationwide who did volunteer or community service in high
school (Lopez, 2003).
On the other hand, Lopez and Marcelo (2008) find that among young adults between
the age of 15 to –25 years, unadjusted for demographic factors, when compared on a
wide range of civic engagement measures, immigrant youth in their sample were less
engaged than the children of immigrants or natives. However, many of the differences
observed between immigrant youth and natives were mitigated after controlling for
demographic factors, suggesting that differences in engagement are explained by fac-
tors such as socioeconomic background. The authors also suggest that civic engagement
differences may reflect structural barriers to engagement that young immigrants face
more than a desire not to get involved.
Finally, in her ethnographic study, Jensen (2008) notes that some immigrant young
adults are motivated to tutor, help others, and take part in politics out of concern with
the needs and accomplishments of their immigrant and cultural communities, as well as
with the representation and respect afforded these communities within the larger polity.
The immigrant adolescents she interviewed were more civically engaged at the com-
munity than political level. The 88% participation rate among the adolescents she inter-
viewed was higher than the 75% of high school seniors who reported community service
or volunteering within the past 12 months in a recent national survey (Lopez, 2003).
Undocumented Immigrant Students
Although literature exists on first- and second-generation immigrants, there is a lack
of research on the undocumented immigrant student population. In one of only a hand-
ful of studies, Dozier (1993) found three central emotional concerns for undocumented
college students: fear of deportation, loneliness, and depression. Dozier found that fear
of deportation was so central to undocumented students’ experiences, it influenced
almost every aspect of their lives. Some students reported being afraid of going to
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Perez et al. 249
hospitals because they worried that their immigration status would be questioned.
Because their legal status made it impossible to obtain work authorization, they were
sometimes forced to stay in bad work conditions because they feared not being able to
find another job. Additionally, undocumented students were often reluctant to develop
close emotional relationships with others for fear of their undocumented status being
discovered.
In another qualitative study focusing on undocumented female Mexican college
students, Munoz (2008) reports that all respondents reported frustration, helplessness,
shame, and fear because of their undocumented status, but they also reported being
highly involved on campus in extracurricular activities as a way to feel a sense of belong-
ing. Gonzalez, Plata, Garcia, Torres, & Urrieta’s (2003) ethnographic research also
highlights the negative impact of undocumented status on students’ academic achieve-
ment. For example, a young woman who grew up in a household with three other siblings
and a single mother recalls participating in various extracurricular activities while main-
taining a stellar 4.38 grade point average until she found out she was undocumented.
Afterwards, she discontinued most of her activities, dropped her Honors and AP courses,
and her GPA fell to 2.5.
Oliverez’s (2006) qualitative research with Latino undocumented high school seniors
finds that most lived in small crowded apartments where they could not find a quiet
space to study. In all, 60% of her participants lived in crowded homes with six or more
people, and 90% lived in single or studio apartments where everyone slept in the same
room. Many students reported not having enough time or being too busy to complete
their school work because they held jobs that sometimes left them too tired to focus on
school. Sixty percent reported working after school or on the weekends between 16 and
40 hours per week. All students reported being frustrated by the restrictions they encoun-
tered because of their undocumented status. Similar to Munoz (2008), 40% chose to be
proactive by engaging in community service or mentoring activities to help undocumented
youth like themselves.
Civic Development of Undocumented Students
By virtue of the extensive civic development efforts of schools, both formal and infor-
mal, undocumented students adopt an American social and political identity prompting
them to act and behave according to the democratic and civic ideals they learn in school.
Their adherence to American democratic values has been nurtured for years by teachers,
extracurricular activities, and the social studies curriculum (Hess, 2005; Ochoa-Becker,
1996; Thornton, 1991). However, as they approach the transition from secondary
education to higher education, their legal dilemma comes to the forefront as the Plyler
decision no longer guarantees their educational access once they complete high school.
As a result of their legal limbo, some youth might develop a weak affection for a system
where they feel treated like an outsider and may disengage completely from civic action
because of their feelings of marginalization. Others may become engaged in collective
action with other undocumented youth who share in their sense of disenfranchisement
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250 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
(Flanagan & Gallay, 1995). Such collective efforts have the potential to build a sense
of personal efficacy, a belief that social change is possible and that their actions can have
an impact on the political process (Campbell, Gurin, & Miller, 1954). Because most, if
not all, undocumented Latino youth aspire for citizenship, and there are many in the
process of becoming citizens, they may be likely to participate in various forms of civic
engagement, even if their status prevents them from participating in some activities.
The findings from the few studies focusing on undocumented Latino youth suggest
that while both documented and undocumented immigrant Latino youth face similar
educational and psychological risks, undocumented youth’s precarious legal status
translates into additional risks. The effects of legal marginalization on civic engagement,
however, have not been studied.
The present study is the first to examine civic engagement of undocumented youth.
It addressed the following two questions: (a) What are the civic engagement patterns of
undocumented youths? and (b) How does undocumented and low socioeconomic status
affect Latino youth’s civic engagement? Consistent with previous literature on ethnic
minority youth (Yates & Youniss, 1996), it was hypothesized that greater feelings of
rejection and marginalization because of their undocumented status would be associated
with lower levels of civic engagement. It was also hypothesized that greater obligations
outside of school such as part-time employment during school and greater levels of
household responsibilities would be associated with lower levels of civic engagement
(Stepick & Stepick, 2002).
Method
Participants
One hundred and twenty-six undocumented Latino high school seniors, community
college, university students, and recent college graduates participated in the study. The
average age of participants was 20.44 (SD = 2.40) years. Females comprised 63% of the
sample. The male-to-female ratio in this study is similar to the national college enroll-
ment rates for Latinos. Hurtado, Saenz, Santos, and Cabrera (2008), for example, reported
that of all Latinos enrolled in college in 2006, 61% were female, and more specifically,
Mexican students had a female ratio of 63%. The high school group in this study was
gender balanced with 50% female. Table 1 indicates that the mean age when participants
immigrated to the United States was 7.28 (SD = 4.37) years old. All participants were
born in México. Similar to the overall estimated immigrant and undocumented popula-
tion (Passel, 2003), the majority of participants resided in either California or Texas,
accounting for 73% and 18% of the sample, respectively. The remaining 9% resided in
various other states including Virginia, New York, Washington D.C., Georgia, Missouri,
and Washington.
The mean years of education for respondent mothers was 8.30 (SD = 4.34) years
whereas respondent fathers had a mean educational attainment of 9.85 (SD = 4.51) years.
Participants also reported high levels of part-time employment during school with 62%
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reporting working during high school and 88% in college. For the overall sample, students
worked 12.84 (SD = 12.95) hours per week during high school. In college, the average
number of hours worked per week increased to 25.63 (SD = 17.12). An examination of
the 62% and 88% of students who reported working during high school or college,
respectively, reveals that the average number of hours worked per week is much higher
at 21.38 (SD = 9.45) in high school and 30.04 (SD = 14.93) in college. Thus, the students
who did work during high school and college, worked very long hours. In addition to
part-time employment, students also reported having various responsibilities at homelike
caring for their younger siblings and helping the family with shopping. Results from a
3-item, 5-point likert scale of household responsibility from 1 (never) to 5 (almost every
day, a = .72) indicates that on average, participants had household responsibilities “once
in a while” (M = 2.88, SD = 1.12). Despite these time commitments outside school, all
respondents reported high academic achievement levels with an overall high school
grade point average (GPA) of 3.48 (SD = .55) and a college GPA of 3.16 (SD = .48).
Procedure
Students were selected from a convenience sample recruited using e-mail and flyer adver-
tisements to various Latino student organizations. Information flyers were also passed out
in several high school and college classrooms. Participants were also asked to forward our
information to other students that met our study criteria of being undocumented. The
Table 1. Background and Psychosocial Variables
Male (n = 46) Female (n = 76) Total (N = 122)
M (SD) M (SD) M (SD)
Age 20.32 (2.60) 20.45 (2.33) 20.44 (2.40)
Immigration age 7.50 (5.16) 7.15 (3.88) 7.28 (4.37)
Mother’s years of schooling 8.08 (4.30) 8.73 (4.39) 8.30 (4.34)
Father’s years of schooling 9.27 (4.44) 10.22 (4.54) 9.85 (4.51)
Household responsibilitiesa 2.87 (1.08) 2.88 (1.14) 2.88 (1.12)
Hours worked/work in high school 14.29 (12.41) 12.16 (13.28) 12.84 (12.95)
Hours worked/work in college 29.49 (19.27) 23.41 (15.50) 25.63 (17.12)
High school GPA 3.41 (.66) 3.52 (.49) 3.48 (.55)
College GPA 3.13 (.45) 3.18 (.50) 3.16 (.48)
Rejection due to statusb 4.33 (1.65) 4.14 (1.52) 4.21 (1.56)
Note: GPA = grade point average. Variables not sharing a subscript are significantly different from each
other at the .05 level within the school category columns. There were no significant sex differences
across all background variables.
a. Scale for household responsibilities ranged from 5 (almost every day), 4 (once or twice a week), 3 (once in
a while), 2 (almost never), 1 (never).
b. Scale for rejection because of status ranged from 7 (always), 6 (almost always), 5 (often), 4 (sometimes),
3 (seldom), 2 (almost never), 1 (never).
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252 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
recruitment flyers and e-mails invited students to participate in a research study that focused
on “the educational experiences of undocumented students.” This is the only detail that
participants received regarding the purpose of the study during recruitment. After the
completion of the survey, students were debriefed about the purpose of the study and were
provided the opportunity to ask additional questions. E-mail and printed flyer announce-
ments contained a link to an online survey hosted by Surveymonkey.com that took approxi-
mately 45 minutes to complete. The online survey did not collect names, e-mails, school
names, or any other identifying information to protect the identity of participants.
The first part of the online survey consisted of open-ended questions that asked
participants to list their academic achievements, civic engagement experiences, extracur-
ricular activities, leadership positions, and enrollment in advanced level academic courses.
The second part of the survey consisted of school background and demographic infor-
mation. The third and final part of the online questionnaire consisted of various likert-type
style, self-reported questions designed to assess perceived societal rejection because of
undocumented status and responsibilities at home.
Measures
Based on the civic engagement literature (Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1997; Nolin
et al., 1997; Youniss et al., 2001), we operationalized four main civic engagement
indicators: (a) providing a social service, (b) activism, (c) tutoring, and (d) functionary
work. Following is a description of the measures used in the online survey.
Total civic engagement. In four separate open-ended format questions, students were
asked the following, “Please list any volunteer or community service activities during
elementary school/middle school/high school/college.” Open-ended responses were then
coded into one of the four civic engagement categories described below. After all civic
engagement activities that students listed were coded into one of the four categories,
counts for each category were summed to create a total civic engagement score.
Social service. Open-ended responses that indicated having performed volunteer or
community service work that required interaction with people in need were coded as
social service for each distinct activity. For example, if a respondent reported volunteer
work in a homeless shelter feeding the homeless, poor, sick and also reported volunteer
at a convalescent home caring for the elderly or handicapped, she or he received a score
of 2 on the social service index.
Activism. Open-ended responses that indicated having engaged in activities focused
on a particular social issue or cause such as the environment, a political party, human
rights, or other causes that did not entail direct interaction with the needy were coded
and counted as activism. For example, if a respondent reported two separate activities,
one focused on immigrant rights and a different one focused on environmental justice
the respondent received a score of 2 on the activism index.
Tutoring. Tutoring was defined as coaching, child care, or academic assistance. For
example, volunteer work that entailed tutoring students on academic subjects or provid-
ing free child care through an educational or community-based organization was coded
as tutoring.
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Functionary work. This category was defined as having participated in community
service or volunteer activities that entailed cleaning/maintenance work or organizing/
administrative work. An example of functionary work is cleaning up a public area such
as a beach.
Extracurricular activities. Students were asked to list all the school-sponsored extracur-
ricular activities during K-16. Extracurricular participation was defined as participation
in the following activities: student council, sports, band/music/choir, drama/theater,
newspaper/magazine/yearbook, cultural dance, clubs, YMCA/YWCA, Boys/Girls Club.
After the extracurricular activities were coded, they were counted and summed to create
a total extracurricular participation score.
Leadership position. Students were asked to list leadership positions held during K-16.
Leadership positions were defined as having held the following positions: student
council officer, sports captain, club officer, band chair, yearbook/newspaper editor,
student club officer. After the leadership positions were coded, they were counted and
summed to create a total leadership positions score.
GPA. The GPA variable was calculated by asking students to report their overall high
school GPA on a standard 4.0 scale. Previous research that included Latino high school
students (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, & Fraleigh, 1987) has found a strong
correlation, .76, between self-reported grades and official grades.
School awards. Students were asked in an open-ended format to list all awards they
received in high school. An academic award was defined by student of the month award,
honor roll, attendance award, spelling bee/writing/poetry contest award, subject award
(i.e. science award), school sports award, band/music/choir award, community service
award, citizenship award for good behavior, or student of the year award. After the
awards were coded, they were counted and summed to create a total awards score.
High school/college employment. Students were asked, “How many hours per week
did you work in high school/college?”
Rejection because of undocumented status scale. This scale was composed of 3 state-
ments such as “Because of my undocumented background I feel that I am not wanted
in this country.” Participants responded using a 7-point likert-type scale ranging from
1 (never) to 7 (always) with higher scores indicated high feelings of alienation. The scale
had a high Cronbach’s a of .89.
Family responsibilities. The family responsibilities scale was composed of three items
such as, “When you were growing up, how often did you get your brothers or sisters
ready for school?” Participants responded using a 5-point likert-type scale from 1
(never) to 5(almost every day) The scale had a Cronbach’s a of .72.
Results
Descriptive Statistics
Civic engagement. Table 2 reports the percentage of respondents who had participated
in the various forms of civic engagement in elementary school, middle school, high
school, college, and a cumulative tally that sums up civic engagement from elementary
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254 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
school until the time of the survey. Results indicate that in elementary school, 38%
were civically engaged. In middle school, civic engagement rates increased to 41%. In
high school, 73% participated in some form of civic engagement with 34% reporting
spending more than 40 hours per year doing volunteer work. More specifically, 7%
provided social services, 3% were involved in activism, 29% tutored, and 55% performed
functionary work. Overall 86% of all respondents also participated in extracurricular
activities during high school. Chi-square analyses revealed that in high school, female
students engaged in tutoring activities at higher rates than their male counterparts,
c2(1) = 7.14, p < .05. In college, 55% participated in some form of civic engagement
with 28% reporting spending more than 40 hours per year doing volunteer work. More
specifically, 8% provided social services, 18% were involved in activism, 20% tutored,
and 39% performed functionary work. Overall, 55% of all respondents also participated
in extracurricular activities during high school. Chi-square analyses revealed that in
college, female students engaged in overall civic engagement c
2
(1) = 5.26, p < .05,
providing a social service, c2(1) = 7.73, p < .05 and tutoring at higher rates than their
male counterparts, c2(1) = 4.95, p < .05.
In all, 89% of students had participated in some form of civic engagement during
K-16. Furthermore, 15% had provided social services, 20% had been involved in activ-
ism, 53% had tutored, and 78% had done some type of functionary work. Overall,
extracurricular participation rates during the formal schooling years was 95%. A chi-
square analysis by gender indicated higher K-16 rates of providing a social service,
c2(1) = 6.16, p < .05, and tutoring, c2(1) = 6.38, p < .05 for females (see Table 2).
Participants versus nonparticipants. A comparison of civic engagement participants
versus nonparticipants revealed higher extracurricular participation for students that
Table 2. Civic Engagement Rates During High School, College, and Lifetime
Elementary Middle High
School School School College Lifetime
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
Volunteered 7 8 2 11 28 39 20 35
41+ hrs/year
Civic 37 38 44 37 63 77 44* 65 85 92
engagement
Social service 0 4 4 1 4 10 0* 15 6* 24
Political 0 1 2 1 2 4 13 23 15 25
activism
Tutoring 17 23 17 15 17* 41 11* 28 41* 65
Functionary 24 23 26 24 52 58 35 42 78 77
work
Extracurricular 54 54 61 63 83 89 50 60 93 97
activities
*Gender differences are significantly different at the .05 level.
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Perez et al. 255
had volunteered, t(124) = 3.16, p < .05, as well as higher levels of academic performance,
t(124) = 2.25, p < .05, higher number of academic awards, t(124) = 2.86, p < .05, and
higher number of leadership positions, t(124) = 4.19, p < .05. Although students that
had participated in some form of civic engagement reported higher levels of societal
rejection because of their undocumented status, the difference only approached signifi-
cance, t(124) = 1.95, p < .10. Social service participants had higher levels of extracur-
ricular participation, t(124) = 2.03, p < .05, higher levels of academic awards, t(124) =
4.06, p < .05, and higher number of leadership positions, t(124) = 2.10, p < .05, than
students that had not provided social services. Similarly, activism participants had
higher levels of extracurricular activities, t(124) = 3.05, p < .05, academic awards,
t(124) = 4.91, p < .05, and higher sense of societal rejection because of their undocu-
mented status, t(124) = 2.01, p < .05, compared with those that had not engaged in
political activism. Tutoring participants had significantly higher GPA’s, t(123) = 2.52,
p < .05, higher number of academic awards, t(124) = 3.41, p < .05, and leadership
positions, t(124) = 2.00, p < .05, than students that had not been involved in tutoring
activities. Finally, students who had performed functionary duties had higher number
of academic awards, t(124) = 2.41, p < .05, had higher levels of extracurricular activi-
ties, t(124) = 3.16, p < .05, and a higher number of leadership positions, t(224) = 3.12,
p < .05. To summarize, contrary to our initial hypotheses, working longer hours during
school, greater household responsibilities, and higher feelings of rejection because of
undocumented status are not associated with lower civic engagement. In fact, students
who reported participating in political activism reported higher levels of societal rejec-
tion because of their undocumented status. Overall, results indicate that students who
reported the highest level of extracurricular participation, higher academic achievement,
and higher number of leadership positions had higher civic engagement rates (see Table 3).
Analysis of Variance
The next set of analyses examined the relationship between background characteristics,
school participation, academic achievement, perceptions of social exclusion, and civic
engagement. Students were divided into three groups based on their levels of overall
civic engagement: no civic engagement, low civic engagement, and high civic engage-
ment. Results indicate that in all, students who did not report any civic engagement had
lower rates of extracurricular activity participation, F(2, 109) = 11.46, p < .05; lower
GPA, F(2, 109) = 4.99, p < .05; lower number of academic awards, F(2, 109) = 15.21,
p < .05; and lower number of leadership positions, F(2, 109) = 18.99, p < .05, than
students with high civic engagement. Furthermore, students with low civic engagement
had lower extracurricular activity participation, lower academic awards, and lower
leadership positions than high civic engagement students (see Table 4).
Civic engagement clusters. The last analysis examined the relationship between par-
ticipation in different types of civic engagement and academic and psychosocial out-
comes. Participants were divided into four clusters, those who had not been involved
in any type of civic engagement, those who had only been involved in one type of civic
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Table 3. Civic Engagement Participation by Demographic, Academic, and Psychosocial Characteristics
Civic Engagement Social Service Political Activism Tutoring Functionary Work
Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No
M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD) M (SD)
Hrs worked 17.82 14.71 16.25 17.47 18.41 16.98 17.23 17.34 18.14 15.44
during (13.38) (13.36) (12.22) (13.61) (13.62) (13.36) (13.06) (13.70) (13.03) (14.09)
school
Family 2.89 2.83 3.19 2.82 2.92 2.86 3.01 2.78 2.88 2.86
responsibilities (1.17) (.85) (1.26) (1.09) (1.10) (1.13) (1.18) (1.07) (1.18) (.98)
Extracurricular 2.92a 1.73b 3.44a 2.59b 3.56a 2.48b 2.98 2.51 3.02a 2.05b
participation (1.68) (1.20) (1.95) (1.59) (1.53) (1.64) (1.82) (1.53) (1.66) (1.50)
GPA 3.41a 3.18b 3.45 3.36 3.37 3.37 3.48a 3.28b 3.41 3.27
(.43) (.46) (.32) (.46) (.38) (.46) (.42) (.44) (.41) (.52)
Rejection 4.34* 3.62 4.50 4.16m 4.76a 4.06b 4.40 4.07 4.35 3.90
because (1.47) (1.86) (1.22) (1.62) (1.25) (1.61) (1.40) (1.66) (1.45) (1.77)
of status
Academic 2.68a 1.59b 3.89a 2.26b 3.78a 2.14b 3.06a 2.07b 2.73a 1.98b
awards (1.70) (1.22) (1.84) (1.53) (1.76) (1.47) (1.86) (1.39) (1.69) (1.53)
Leadership 1.58a .41b 1.94a 1.28b 1.67 1.29 1.63a 1.18b 1.60a .88b
position (1.25) (.80) (1.30) (1.24) (1.14) (1.29) (1.26) (1.24) (1.25) (1.16)
Note: GPA = grade point average. Civic engagement category columns not sharing a superscript are statistically different at the .05 level.
*p < .10.
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Table 4. Civic Engagement Levels by Demographic, Academic, and Psychosocial Characteristics
No Civic Low Civic High Civic Total
Engagement (n = 22) Engagement (n = 44) Engagement (n = 46) (n = 112)
Hrs worked during school 14.71a (13.36) 18.30a (15.20) 18.64a (13.61) 17.76 (13.63)
Family responsibilities 2.83a (.85) 2.81a (1.13) 2.95a (1.20) 2.87 (1.10)
Extracurricular participation 1.73a (1.20) 2.41a (1.45) 3.50b (1.74) 2.72 (1.67)
GPA 3.18a (.46) 3.35a,b (.51) 3.51b (.28) 3.38 (.43)
Rejection because of status 3.62a (1.86) 4.33a (1.62) 4.45a (1.42) 4.24 (1.61)
Academic awards 1.59a (1.22) 2.00a (1.41) 3.43b (1.71) 2.51 (1.69)
Leadership position .41a (.80) 1.16b (1.03) 2.11b (1.30) 1.40b (1.28)
Note: GPA = grade point average. Civic engagement category columns not sharing a superscript are statistically different at the .05 level.
*p < .10.
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258 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
engagement, (e.g., tutoring), those who had been involved in two types of civic engage-
ment (e.g. tutoring, social service), and those who had been involved in at least three or
more civic engagement types (e.g. tutoring, social service, activism). Students did not
differ in the number of hours worked per week during school, or family responsibility
levels. Students who engaged in two or more types of civic engagement activities had
greater levels of extracurricular participation than those that had no civic engagement
participation, F(3, 122) = 6.84, p < .05. Also, students with two types of civic engagement
activities had higher GPA’s than those with no civic engagement, F(3, 122) = 2.31, p < .05.
The cluster groups did not differ in feelings of societal rejection because of undocu-
mented status. Students with two or more types of civic engagement activities reported
higher levels of academic awards than those with no civic engagement, F(3, 122) = 12.56,
p < .05. Finally, students with one or more civic engagement activity had higher leader-
ship experience levels than those with no civic engagement, F(3, 122) = 7.04, p < .05.
To summarize, our study found high levels of civic engagement among undocumented
youth. Eighty-nine percent of participants reported at least one civic engagement activity
during K-16. The most frequent type of civic engagement was functionary work, fol-
lowed by tutoring, activism, and providing social services, respectively. Overall, civic
engagement and extracurricular participation rates decrease in college compared with
high school levels. Although there is a decrease in tutoring and functionary work, college
students are more involved in political activism and providing social services compared
with high school rates. Students who had participated in some form of civic engagement
had significantly higher GPA’s than nonparticipants. Female students reported higher
levels of overall civic engagement, social service, and tutoring activities. T-test analyses
also revealed that participants who reported any type of civic engagement, and more
specifically activism, providing social services, and functionary work also had higher
levels of overall extracurricular participation.
Our initial hypotheses regarding the relationship between sense of rejection, part-
time employment, household responsibilities, and civic engagement were not supported.
Sense of rejection and part-time employment during school were not associated with
lower civic engagement. Higher levels of family responsibilities, part-time employment
and sense of rejection because of undocumented status did not dissuade students from
becoming civically engaged.
Discussion
This article investigated the extent to which undocumented youth are civically active in
the United States. Few studies have focused on civic participation with respect to non-
citizens, largely ignoring the role of the noncitizen. In particular, we have focused on
civic activities such as providing social services, working for a cause, political activism,
tutoring, and functionary work. By analyzing these measures of civic engagement, we
find that undocumented Latino youth have high rates of civic participation. Although
previous studies have examined the role of traditional demographic factors in predicting
participation, we isolated factors such as extracurricular participation, academic
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Table 5. Civic Engagement Clusters by Demographic, Academic, and Psychosocial Characteristics
Three or
One Civic Two Civic More Civic
No Civic Engagement Engagement Engagement
Engagement Category Categories Categories
(n = 22) (n = 52) (n = 31) (n = 21) Total
Hrs worked during school 14.71a (13.36) 17.26a (13.72) 18.40a (14.52) 18.36a (11.23) 17.29 (13.38)
Family responsibilities 2.83a (.85) 2.87a (1.17) 2.69a (1.12) 3.25a (1.22) 2.88 (1.12)
Extracurricular participation 1.73a (1.20) 2.46a,b (1.58) 3.23b,c (1.52) 3.62c (1.88) 2.71 (1.67)
GPA 3.18a (.46) 3.36a,b (.44) 3.50b (.47) 3.40a,b (.31) 3.37 (.44)
Rejection because of status 3.62a (1.86) 4.21a (1.57) 4.29a (1.52) 4.75a (1.06) 4.21 m (1.56)
Academic awards 1.59a (1.22) 2.02a,b (1.38) 2.90b (1.54) 4.00c (1.84) 2.49 (1.67)
Leadership position .41a (.80) 1.37b (1.27) 1.77b (1.23) 1.81b (1.21) 1.37 (1.26)
Note: GPA = grade point average. Civic engagement category columns not sharing a superscript are statistically different at the .05 level.
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260 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
performance, and household responsibilities and analyzed their relationship to civic
participation among undocumented Latino youth. With these findings, conventional
notions of minority participation should be revisited with particular attention to immigrant
communities. We find that a majority of noncitizen college-going Latino youth are
participating in American civic life.
Our findings also both expand on and challenge current notions of civic engagement.
The results indicate high levels of civic participation among undocumented students
with 90% of participants reporting civic engagement in the form of providing social
services, activism, tutoring, and functionary work. As a comparison, the NAEP reports
that 58% of 12th-grade students are involved in volunteering in their communities
(National Center for Education Statistics, 1999). Stepick et al. (2008) find that among
first-year college immigrant college students, 80% of first-generation, 90% of 1.5 gen-
eration, and 89% of second-generation volunteered or had done community service in
the past 12 months compared with 87% of nonimmigrant students. The rates were higher
than the 82.6% reported for freshman (Sax et al., 2001) and the 75% of high school
seniors nationwide (Lopez, 2003).
It is not completely surprising that students in our study had higher civic engagement
rates compared with national trends because college and college-going students tend to
be more involved in civic engagement activities (Eccles & Barber, 1999). What is sur-
prising is the fact that their high civic engagement rates are also accompanied by various
obstacles they face because of their socioeconomic and undocumented status that include
working long hours per week during high school and college to pay for school and
personal expenses, and in many cases, helping out their families with a variety of house-
hold responsibilities.
Because of the Plyer decision, undocumented students are politically socialized
through the educational system and other civic institutions to become actively engaged
“citizens.” The undocumented Latino youth in our study appear to embrace their role
as contributing civic participants. Despite their social marginalization, undocumented
Latino students in this study demonstrated a strong commitment to civic engagement.
Rather than become completely dejected, hopeless, and apathetic, they invest time and
effort in community service, volunteerism, and activism.
So what can be expected in the future of undocumented college students who dem-
onstrate high levels of civic engagement as young adults if they were to become legal-
ized? Research consistently shows that youth who are civically involved continue to do
so as adults. Ladewig and Thomas (1987) found that membership in organizations during
youth predicts membership and leadership in community organizations into adulthood.
McAdam (1988) and Fendrich (1993) report that individuals who participated in civil
rights activities as adolescents during the 1960s continued to be politically active both
at the local and national levels 25 years later. Furthermore, participating in high school
government has been linked with political participation in adulthood (Hanks & Eckland,
1978; Otto, 1976; Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). Thus, these findings suggests
that because service has been a formative experience for undocumented students in our
study, they will most likely continue to assume leadership positions in their community
and remain civically active throughout their lives.
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Perez et al. 261
Design and Sampling Considerations
This research is limited in several respects. Although we have adjusted for some factors
that may explain differences between civic engagement participants and nonparticipants,
students chose whether to participate in civic engagement activities, and as such, selec-
tion effects not considered in this study may influence the findings. For example, support
from parents appears to influence the decision to participate and to stay involved in
after-school activities (Csikszentmihalyi, Rathunde, & Whalen, 1993; Fletcher, Elder,
& Mekos, 2000). The peer group also plays a role (e.g., Coleman, 1961; Eder, Evans,
Parker, 1995; Hultzman, 1995). In addition, the correlational nature of the study prevents
us from drawing causal conclusions regarding developmental antecedents and civic
engagement outcomes. More longitudinal studies are required to establish the develop-
mental pathways to citizenship and volunteering competencies to more fully understand
the role of their antecedents.
Future research is needed to examine how these and various other individual factors
actually moderate associations underlying development of civic engagement. If a central
goal in a democratic state is for all citizens to feel invested and engaged in the politics
and well-being of society, researchers need to shed more light on how factors such as
poverty, legal marginalization, and discrimination influence development of civic
participation. In this age of globalization, when traditional conceptions of the nation-
state and national identification are changing rapidly, identifying the factors that deter-
mine or contribute to a person’s identification and allegiance to a given state or society
(or alternatives) is crucial (Stepick & Stepick, 2002). Despite its limitations, results of
this study add to the small but growing knowledge about key precursors of civic engage-
ment among undocumented students. A deeper understanding of developmental path-
ways to civic engagement has the potential not only to illuminate long-held conceptual
models about the development of competence in the context of society but also to inform
efforts by societies and communities to encourage and shape the active participation
of their citizens.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that despite ongoing concerns about their legal status, participants
in this study reported high levels of civic engagement. Nevertheless, the long-term civic
benefit to American society is uncertain because of their legal status. The United States
government does not recognize undocumented immigrant youth as formal members of
society regardless of their various civic contributions and academic accomplishments.
Despite recently introduced federal legislation know as the Dream Act to legalize high
achieving and civically engaged undocumented youth, current negative public opinion
regarding immigration continues to put these model citizens in the shadows with few
prospects to fully realize their potential as civic leaders.
This study challenges simplistic characterizations of undocumented students as “law
breakers,” and instead, presents a more nuanced way of considering the various ways
undocumented youth contribute to American society. Our results also suggest that
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262 Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 9(3)
research on Latino youth’s civic involvement should not be limited to just legal citizens
but instead should include large enough samples of foreign-born respondents, including
noncitizens, to fully examine the scope of civic participation among all Latinos. We should
not lose sight of the noncitizen immigrant population in America, because as our data
suggest, they make important contributions to our society and are active participants
in social and political life.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication
of this.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.
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Bios
William Perez, PhD, is an assistant professor of education at Claremont Graduate University.
His program of research focuses on immigrant adolescent social development (e.g., ethnic identity
development, self-esteem, acculturation), academic achievement, Hispanic education, and child
and adolescent well-being.
Roberta Espinoza, PhD, is an assistant professor of sociology at California State University,
Fullerton. Her research interests include minority student access to higher education, social and
cultural capital, social networks, and Latinas/os in higher education.
Karina Ramos, MEd, is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at the University of Oregon.
Her research interests include resiliency, academic self-efficacy, and the career development of
Mexican-American students.
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Perez et al. 265
Heidi M. Coronado, MA, is a doctoral student in education at Claremont Graduate University.
Her research interests include immigrant and minority student achievement and educational
access, youth in activism, ethnic identity development, narrative research, and critical
pedagogy.
Richard Cortes, PhD, is a counselor at Glendale Community College. His primary research
interests are focused on social justice counseling issues and the psychological factors of low-
income minority and immigrant college students.
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... Although many youth attend college with the goal of economic success, they also attend with hopes and dreams for their communities that may not be captured by neoliberal definitions of success. These might be reflected in the manner in which they engage in community and home activities (Alcantar, 2014;Littenberg-Tobias & Cohen, 2016;Perez et al., 2010). Civic and home engagement have been shown to be associated with academic success, but the motivations and definitions of success underlying that engagement often do not receive the same investment as neoliberal definitions of success (Perez et al., 2010). ...
... These might be reflected in the manner in which they engage in community and home activities (Alcantar, 2014;Littenberg-Tobias & Cohen, 2016;Perez et al., 2010). Civic and home engagement have been shown to be associated with academic success, but the motivations and definitions of success underlying that engagement often do not receive the same investment as neoliberal definitions of success (Perez et al., 2010). ...
... We, therefore, argue that expanding our notion of success in higher education is crucial for fostering an alignment with students' values and principles, specifically with regard to using their education for social change (Perez et al., 2010). In the short term, the failure of universities to support these understandings of success could result in invisibilizing Latinx students' experiences and justifying budget cuts to supportive academic programming for failure to meet the markers of traditional notions of success. ...
... Moreover, depending upon the state in which an undocumented student resides, they may not be able to qualify for in-state resident tuition (National Immigration Law Center, 2019; Oseguera et al., 2010). To make matters more complicated, undocumented students across state contexts have reported receiving inaccurate or inconsistent information about financial aid possibilities from high school counselors or higher education professionals (Barnhardt et al., 2013;Borjian, 2018;Pérez et al., 2010). This type of misinformation could be remedied if greater attention was paid to policy implementation (Nienhusser, 2014). ...
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There is a range of barriers to postsecondary access and success for undocumented college students in the United States. Considering these barriers, scholars, practitioners, and activists alike have called on institutions of higher education to enhance their capacity to serve, support, and advocate for undocumented students. One way that institutions are responding to this call is by establishing Undocumented Student Resource Centers (USRCs). There is an emerging body of scholarship on the function and importance of USRCs on college campuses in the United States. Yet, there remains a dearth in the literature on the experiences of the higher education professionals committed to coordinating or directing these identity-based centers. This exploratory qualitative study relies on the voices and stories of USRC professionals to understand their self-described roles and responsibilities as well as what keeps them motivated to continue serving, supporting, and advocating for undocumented students.
... At considerable personal risk, these students came out of the shadows to lead a nationwide campaign that took up the cause of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, legislation that would give the Attorney General the authority to block deportation, grant permanent residency to individuals raised in the United States, and ensure that these individuals only have to pay in-state tuition fees to access higher education. In addition to political activism, Perez et al. (2010) have shown how civic participation and the contributions of undocumented youth to US society can emerge in alternative forms: social service, volunteering, and tutoring. ...
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Next generation transnationalism is overwhelmingly perceived as an emotional or non-institutional form of cross-border connectivity. This study takes a fundamentally different approach and attempts to define an institutionalized transnational space for this demographic. Investigating a non-representative sample of Mexican and Salvadoran individuals who are active within cross-border philanthropic and political organizations operating in California and Washington DC, the analysis suggests that next generation institutionalized transnationalism exists and should be taken seriously as a subject of academic interest. This mode of transnational connectivity assumes different forms, conceptualized in this study as 'prominent' and 'non-prominent' transnationalism-the former referring to frequent and essential contributions, and the latter to contributions that were less frequent and less essential to organizational development. In understanding the causes of next generation institutional transnationalism, the study calls for a synthetic appreciation of the factors involved, a blend of structural factors-including personal attributes, socialization, social location, and institutional characteristics-and individual agency. An 'actor-centred' framework was also relevant, acknowledging prevailing structural conditions while remaining sensitive to the subjective contexts in which institutional transnationalism could emerge, and the capacity for individuals to define their own transnational trajectories. The analysis is open to the possibility that transnational organizations will survive beyond the first generation-a possibility largely found to be controlled by the characteristics of institutions and their potential for regeneration. Finally, the analysis contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the relationship between transnationalism and assimilation. The evidence suggests that assimilation and transnationalism proceed simultaneously for the next generation. Sustained connections to the country of origin do not therefore necessarily delay, hold-back, or undermine incorporation.
... These spaces are dedicated to empowering undocumented students with the knowledge needed to thrive in higher education, as well as mobilizing their participation in social movement efforts at the institution and beyond (Hinton, 2015;Seif, 2011;The S.I.N Collective, 2007). Studies have also documented their participation in student and community service organizations (Perez et al., 2010), as well as efforts to advance social justice or address other forms of inequality (Terriquez et al., 2018). In fact, undocumented students in California report civic participation, including organizational membership, at higher rates then national populations of young adults . ...
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Undocumented youth engage in advocacy efforts to improve their social conditions. Deploying an expanded definition of advocacy communication, this study (a) examined the heterogeneity of undocumented collegestudents' advocacy communication by identifying profiles of undocumented college students based on their participation in various advocacy communication strategies and (b) examined how these advocacy profiles are associated with health (i.e. anxiety, depression, and self-rated health). Latent profile analysis of 1277 California undocumented, mostly Latina/o/x, college students identified four profiles. Frequent advocators had lower levels of self-rated health and higher levels of anxiety and depression than infrequent advocators. Media advocators reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than infrequent advocators. Finally, organizational advocators reported lower levels of anxiety than media advocators and frequent advocators. Our study advances research on the relationship between advocacy communication and health. We provide suggestions that university staff and programs can take to support undocumented students' advocacy efforts and health.
... A small number of studies, mostly in social work and sociology, investigate the nature and role of immigrant volunteerism in work integration (George & Chaze, 2009;Handy & Greenspan, 2009;Lee & Pritzker, 2013). These scholars examine the development of different types of networks through volunteerism-in particular 'bonding,' or tight, in-group relationships, vs. 'bridging,' i.e., loose relations to an extensive network outside one's group-and their role in employment outcomes (Couton & Gaudet, 2008;Perez et al., 2010;Sundeen et al., 2007;Witmer Sinha et al., 2011). The key finding of these studies is that individual differences such as legal/migratory status, gender, class, ethnicity/race, and age, among others, influence the nature and quantity of migrants' volunteer work and thus its outcomes and benefits. ...
... A small number of studies, mostly in social work and sociology, investigate the nature and role of immigrant volunteerism in work integration (George & Chaze, 2009;Handy & Greenspan, 2009;Lee & Pritzker, 2013). These scholars examine the development of different types of networks through volunteerism-in particular 'bonding,' or tight, in-group relationships, vs. 'bridging,' i.e., loose relations to an extensive network outside one's group-and their role in employment outcomes (Couton & Gaudet, 2008;Perez et al., 2010;Sundeen et al., 2007;Witmer Sinha et al., 2011). The key finding of these studies is that individual differences such as legal/migratory status, gender, class, ethnicity/race, and age, among others, influence the nature and quantity of migrants' volunteer work and thus its outcomes and benefits. ...
Chapter
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This introductory chapter discusses qualified immigrants’ (QIs) work integration as a wicked problem, highlighting their underemployment or unemployment despite receiving countries’ reported labor shortages and need for talent. We outline the goals of this book and establish sensemaking as an emerging yet underdeveloped theoretical approach to studying this wicked problem. We begin with some key definitions, provide specific examples from Canada (the primary site of our ongoing fieldwork), and sketch the structure of this book.
... A small number of studies, mostly in social work and sociology, investigate the nature and role of immigrant volunteerism in work integration (George & Chaze, 2009;Handy & Greenspan, 2009;Lee & Pritzker, 2013). These scholars examine the development of different types of networks through volunteerism-in particular 'bonding,' or tight, in-group relationships, vs. 'bridging,' i.e., loose relations to an extensive network outside one's group-and their role in employment outcomes (Couton & Gaudet, 2008;Perez et al., 2010;Sundeen et al., 2007;Witmer Sinha et al., 2011). The key finding of these studies is that individual differences such as legal/migratory status, gender, class, ethnicity/race, and age, among others, influence the nature and quantity of migrants' volunteer work and thus its outcomes and benefits. ...
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Sensemaking—the process through which individuals and organizations give meaning to events or situations—is critical in qualified immigrants’ (QIs’) work integration. In this chapter, we introduce the sensemaking perspective and elaborate on the properties (grounded in identity construction, retrospective, enactive, social, ongoing, focused on and by extracted cues, and driven by plausibility) and levels of sensemaking (individual, interactional, organizational, and institutional) as it relates to the work integration of QIs. This chapter sets the foundation for the deeper exploration of sensemaking processes described in later chapters by providing a brief introduction to the processes and challenges present in each of the levels of sensemaking and their implications for QI work integration.
... A small number of studies, mostly in social work and sociology, investigate the nature and role of immigrant volunteerism in work integration (George & Chaze, 2009;Handy & Greenspan, 2009;Lee & Pritzker, 2013). These scholars examine the development of different types of networks through volunteerism-in particular 'bonding,' or tight, in-group relationships, vs. 'bridging,' i.e., loose relations to an extensive network outside one's group-and their role in employment outcomes (Couton & Gaudet, 2008;Perez et al., 2010;Sundeen et al., 2007;Witmer Sinha et al., 2011). The key finding of these studies is that individual differences such as legal/migratory status, gender, class, ethnicity/race, and age, among others, influence the nature and quantity of migrants' volunteer work and thus its outcomes and benefits. ...
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This concluding chapter reiterates the importance of the multiple levels of sensemaking and different actors to understand QIs’ work integration. We discuss some of the challenges to studying the process of sensemaking and propose some implications for research and practice. We end on a futuristic note with emerging avenues for research.
... A small number of studies, mostly in social work and sociology, investigate the nature and role of immigrant volunteerism in work integration (George & Chaze, 2009;Handy & Greenspan, 2009;Lee & Pritzker, 2013). These scholars examine the development of different types of networks through volunteerism-in particular 'bonding,' or tight, in-group relationships, vs. 'bridging,' i.e., loose relations to an extensive network outside one's group-and their role in employment outcomes (Couton & Gaudet, 2008;Perez et al., 2010;Sundeen et al., 2007;Witmer Sinha et al., 2011). The key finding of these studies is that individual differences such as legal/migratory status, gender, class, ethnicity/race, and age, among others, influence the nature and quantity of migrants' volunteer work and thus its outcomes and benefits. ...
Chapter
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This chapter explores the role of the broader social context in QIs’ work integration and sensemaking of their career options and actions. Sensemaking is ongoing and occurs within a dynamic social environment. The institutional level of sensemaking exposes the relationship between the broader society and individual actions. We discuss narratives of multiculturalism and professional attainment as prevailing master narratives that inform QIs’ and local citizens’ sensemaking of immigration and the influence on immigrants’ work integration. We conclude with a reflection on the relationship between immigration and settler colonialism.
... A small number of studies, mostly in social work and sociology, investigate the nature and role of immigrant volunteerism in work integration (George & Chaze, 2009;Handy & Greenspan, 2009;Lee & Pritzker, 2013). These scholars examine the development of different types of networks through volunteerism-in particular 'bonding,' or tight, in-group relationships, vs. 'bridging,' i.e., loose relations to an extensive network outside one's group-and their role in employment outcomes (Couton & Gaudet, 2008;Perez et al., 2010;Sundeen et al., 2007;Witmer Sinha et al., 2011). The key finding of these studies is that individual differences such as legal/migratory status, gender, class, ethnicity/race, and age, among others, influence the nature and quantity of migrants' volunteer work and thus its outcomes and benefits. ...
Chapter
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This chapter explores the role of organizational level sensemaking in qualified immigrants’ (QIs’) work integration. A sensemaking perspective on organizations uncovers the social processes through which discriminatory practices in workplaces and work-related institutions become acceptable and are maintained over time. We also explore the effect of these practices on QIs’ sensemaking of their work options, experiences, and trajectories. To do this, we identify and examine different organizations involved in QIs’ work integration, the influence of organizational goals, structures, and scripts, and the ways in which organizations can rethink how they facilitate QIs’ successful work integration.
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Executive Summary Unauthorized immigrants living in the United States are more geographically dispersed than in the past and are more likely than either U.S. born residents or legal immigrants to live in a household with a spouse and children. In addition, a growing share of the children of unauthorized immigrant parents—73%—were born in this country and are U.S. citizens. These are among the key findings of a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, which builds on previous work estimating the size and growth of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population. A 2008 report by the Center estimated that 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States; it concluded that the undocumented immigrant population grew rapidly from 1990 to 2006 but has since stabilized. 1 In this new analysis, the Center estimates that the rapid growth of unauthorized immigrant workers also has halted; it finds that there were 8.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force in March 2008.