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The Foley Institute Coffee & Politics Series



The (de)Americanization of Latino Youth

Watch the presentation here

Washington State University Alumni Maria Chavez returned to her Alma Mater October 27, 2015, to discuss her work on Latina youth. Chavez has written several books on the topic including Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth. Immigration is one of the most pressing issues in American Politics today. Immigration, especially when it is outside the law, can have detrimental effects on family development and child welfare.

Often times children of undocumented immigrants are unaware they too are undocumented. Children of undocumented immigrants have to face several challenges including the constant fear of deportation and an inability to receive any type of identification necessary for many daily functions in American society. Chavez pointed out the fact that it is not an immigration problem, it is a legislation problem.

There has been a lack of effective legislation on immigration in the U.S. which has led to several other issues including an addiction to undocumented labor. The 1992 Supreme Court case determine that undocumented immigrants deserved constitutional rights and protection that included access to public education. In 2001 the Dreamers act was passed, that specifically related to undocumented minors that were brought here during childhood by their parents. The Dreamers Act legalizes children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. under the age of 16. Despite this progress deportation rates remain high and 40% of “Dreamers”’ do not graduate from high school and a majority are unable to attend college. Latina Youth live in fear of deportation of family members even after their own legalization. Negative images of undocumented immigrants in the media also contribute to a skewed portrayal of these immigrants throughout society.