Undocumented Youth Activist Consciousness on the Legal Violence of Waiting: ‘We are immigrants and not saints’

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Andrews Room 2203 SS&H

Presenter: Lizbeth De La Cruz Santana, PhD Candidate, Spanish and Portuguese, UC Davis

Discussant: Alaa Abdelfattah (Economics)


Considering a growing population of childhood arrivals in their countries of origin over the past two decades, this study draws from the Humanizing Deportation archive and outlines the arguments presented by undocumented activists to inquire about the ethical and policy implications of alleviating a selective group of US childhood arrivals from deportation while creating a criminalized, illegalized and deported other. In their narratives, Karla Estrada, 221a. “The Resistance is Collective,” 221b. “Scars of Family Separation” and America Hernandez, 249. “Thriving in Solitude” theorize and voice their knowledge of undocumented life rooted in their activism and analyze the social neglect and institutional discrimination faced by childhood arrivals who do not necessarily fit the DREAMer narrative. Through theory building, I center the arguments presented in the selected narratives. A prominent argument proposes that deportation is not necessarily repatriation but rather a punitive displacement that disregards a population who migrated as children and has become social citizens by attending school, learning the language, and participating in the culture. Hence, they may have greater ties to the destination country than their country of origin, an attachment that may be nearly nonexistent if they migrated as infants or never returned to visit. The paper ends with a discussion of careful consideration of creating categories of deserving vs. undeserving childhood arrivals and advocates for careful consideration of all childhood arrivals cases, specifically those who have faced deportation.

Lunch will be provided

Funding graciously provided by UC Davis Gifford Center for Population Studies.

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