Aspiring Americans: Undocumented Youth Leaders in California

Veronica Terriquez (University of Southern California) and Caitlin Patler

There are approximately 5 million undocumented children and young adults residing in the United States, with 24% (or 1.1 million) living in California alone. Many of these young people are actively seeking access to higher education and a pathway to citizenship so they can fully utilize their talents and credentials to contribute to U.S. society. This research brief highlights the experiences of undocumented young adult leaders who belong to immigrant youth organizations in California. We demonstrate that these are accomplished individuals who are actively involved in their communities. We also show that these young people disproportionately experience economic hardship and challenges to their personal well-being. The brief concludes by recommending policies that can further the economic and social contributions of undocumented youth leaders and others like them.