This study uses the Survey of Income and Program Participation to infer the legal status of Mexican and Central American immigrant youth and to investigate its relationship with educational attainment. We assess differences by legal status in high school graduation and college enrollment, decompose differences in college enrollment into the probability of high school graduation and the probability of high school graduates’ enrollment in college and estimate the contributions of personal and family background characteristics to such differences. Results show that undocumented students are less likely than documented students to both graduate from high school and enroll in college, and differences in college enrollment cannot be explained by family background characteristics. We conclude that legal status is a critical axis of stratification for Latinos.


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pp. 1475-1498
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