Theses Doctoral

Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic: Exploring the Role of Activism in DACAmented Latinas/os/xs’ Thwarted Transition into Adulthood

Hernandez, Elizabeth

Given the growing population of undocumented Latina/o/x immigrants who came to the United States as children, there is a need for research that explores the risk and protective factors of their experiences growing up in the United States. As they transition through adolescence, they emerge as adults in a very different world. No longer protected from deportation, they must take more serious risks with employment. Without access to federal financial aid, they face the reality that they may never be able to utilize their college education in the United States. Against these odds, and with the temporary protection of DACA, an increasing number of undocumented childhood arrivals are civically engaged in the immigrant rights movement. Employing a qualitative method based on constructivist and feminist frameworks called Consensual Qualitative Research, this study sought to explore the impact of activism in Latina/o/x DACAmented immigrants’ thwarted transition to adulthood, highlighting the ways in which Latina/o/x cultural values mitigate the impact of activism. The sample consisted of 12 Latina/o/x DACAmented activists, eight women and four men, ages 18-32, from Mexico (n = 10), Guatemala (n = 1), and Dominican Republic (n = 1). The findings in this study not only suggested that protective migration factors, DACA-related privileges, and strong coping skills contributed to Latina/o/x DACAmented immigrants’ decision to become activists, but they also noted that activism has been a protective factor in and of itself. The results also showed the ways in which Latina/o/x cultural values helped them make sense of their unique experiences and were consistent with the values within their activist communities. Existing clinical recommendations, resources, and research methods were highlighted as ways in which mental health providers can apply these findings in their clinical, training, and research practice.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Miville, Marie L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 1, 2018