“It’s Like We Are Legally, Illegal”: Latino/a Youth Emphasize Barriers to Higher Education Using Photovoice
Abstract

Abstract:

For a subset of undocumented immigrant youth who came to the United States (US), the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action presents opportunities for advancement. In becoming, “DACA”-mented, youth are afforded certain privileges. However differential implementation of DACA on a state-by-state basis has important ramifications. Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, academic researchers in North Carolina (NC) collaborated with a community-based youth advocacy organization to explore the question, “How does being an undocumented Latino/a affect my aspirations for higher education?” The research question was developed using the qualitative method of photovoice, a systematic research process that uses photography to engage participants in documenting and analyzing issues of concern. After photovoice was completed, a youth photovoice participant and two graduate student researchers conducted an extensive secondary analysis of the photovoice transcripts with support from a faculty researcher. Findings highlight the day-to-day challenges faced by DACA recipient youth unique to NC and provide evidence of how DACA, intended to improve opportunities, actually complicates educational motivations for “DACAmented” Latino/a youth in the state. Thus, this new status category, somewhere between undocumented and US Citizen Latino (i.e., “legally, illegal”), has unique implications for DACA youth working towards fulfilling their higher education ambitions.