UNACCOMPANIED LATINO YOUTH ON THE UNITED STATES – MEXICO

BORDER: A QUALITATIVE STUDY

A Dissertation
by
FRANK ANTHONY RODRIGUEZ

Submitted to the Department of Justice Studies College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology
Prairie View A & M University
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

May 2013

Major Subject: Juvenile Justice

UNACCOMPANIED LATINO YOUTH ON THE UNITED STATES – MEXICO
BORDER: A QUALITATIVE STUDY

A Dissertation
by

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FRANK ANTHONY RODRIGUEZ
Submitted to the Department of Justice Studies College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology
Prairie View A & M University
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

Approved as to style and content by:
_____________________
Harry Adams, Ph.D.
(Chair of Committee)

_____________________
Camile Gibson, Ph.D.
(Member)

______________________
William A. Kritsonis
(Member)

_____________________
Myrna Cintron, Ph.D.
(Head of Department; Member)

______________________
Tamara Brown, Dean
(Dean of College)

______________________
Willie F. Trotty
(Dean of Graduate School)

May 2013
Major Subject: Juvenile Justice
Unaccompanied Latino Youth on the United States – Mexico Border:
A Qualitative Study

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4

Copyright
2012, Frank Anthony Rodriguez
All Rights Reserved

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Abstract
Rodriguez, Frank A., B.S., M.S.,
Prairie View A&M University (April 2013)
Unaccompanied Latino Youth on the United States – Mexico Border:
A Qualitative Study
Chair of Committee: Dr. Harry Adams
This study explores whether a sample of 12 undocumented Latino youth in the United
States are able to overcome obstacles (e.g., racism, discrimination, language barriers, abuse,
poverty, lack of education, violence, stress, fear, etc.) to be, or continue to be, productive
individuals in the United States. These undocumented youth are confronted with barriers that
limit their chances for upward mobility, as evident in their restricted access to higher education,
legal employment, and social services. What may be done to assist these youth to maximize their
potential? Through in-depth interviews with undocumented Latino youth in the Rio Grande
Valley, Texas, area (United States – Mexico Border), the researcher has examined how legal
status shapes the way these undocumented youth perceive their existence in the United States. 12
undocumented individuals have been interviewed. Semi-structured interviews have been
employed to extract participants’ migration and life experiences in the US. As expected many of
these undocumented Latino youth who crossed the US/Mexican border without parents unveiled
encounters in which they have been exploited by human smugglers (coyotes), employers and
others. Due to their status, these interviews have also disclosed how these youths have been
victims of crimes (e.g., abuse, violence, etc.), their motivations, how and why they decided to
migrate and stay in America.

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Dedication
Para mis padres y mis abuelos.
I would like to dedicate this dissertation to my parents and grandparents.
To my father Francisco Rodriguez and mother Alicia Alvarado-Rodriguez for their underlying
love, patronage, and instilment of the importance of a good education; without your influence,
my direction in life may very well have gone astray.
I would also like to thank my grandparents: for the memory of my grandfather Hector
“Chichi” Rodriguez and the memory of my grandmother Antonia “Ama” Rodriguez-Rodriguez.
Ama, thank you for the love, support, and understanding you gave me as an infant and a graduate
student.
To my grandparents: in loving memory of my grandmother Maria Esther AlvaradoDelgado. Finally, I would like to dedicate this Dissertation to my grandfather Erasmo Alvarado,
Sr., a true legend of the life of an undocumented immigrant who was able to overcome the
obstacle of migrating to the US and attaining the American dream for the most important thing in
life - family.

Acknowledgements
First and foremost, I would like to thank my committee chair, Dr. Harry Adams, and my
committee members Dr. Myrna Cintron, Dr. Camille Gibson, and Dr. William Kritsonis, for their
guidance and support throughout the course of this research. Thanks also to Dr. Jonathan

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Sorensen, who started off as my Committee Chair, as he too gave me the inspiration and desire to
go back to school and earn my Master’s Degree, then to be able to proceed to my Ph.D. These
individuals have all served as role models and mentors. Without their guidance, I would not have
been able to complete such a substantial undertaking.
Thanks also to my friends and colleagues and the Juvenile Justice Department faculty and
staff for making my time at Prairie View A&M University and at The University of Texas – Pan
American a great experience. I also want to extend my gratitude to my younger brother Dr. John
Jacob Rodriguez for his patience and support during my perpetual time in graduate school.
I also owe a great debt to the 12 unaccompanied participants who took their time to share
their trials and tribulations as undocumented immigrants, and who are here in search of the
American dream.
Finally, I would like to thank Victoria Ysabelle “Belle” Sepulveda for your love, support,
and trust in my abilities for this endeavor.

Table of Contents
Page
Copyright........................................................................................................................................iii
Abstract...........................................................................................................................................iv

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Dedication........................................................................................................................................v
Acknowledgements........................................................................................................................vi
Chapter 1..........................................................................................................................................1
Introduction......................................................................................................................................1
Demographics of Undocumented Youth and their Families............................................................3
Immigration Policies Affecting the Influx of Latin American Migrants.........................................6
Reprieve and Current Immigration Reform...................................................................................10
Unaccompanied Children..............................................................................................................12
Statement of the Problem...............................................................................................................13
Research Questions........................................................................................................................17
Organization of the Study..............................................................................................................18
Chapter 2........................................................................................................................................19
Literature Review..........................................................................................................................19
Theoretical Background.................................................................................................................20
Social Disorganization...................................................................................................................20
Social Cognitive Career Theory....................................................................................................23
Conflict Theory and Immigration..................................................................................................27
Anomie – Strain Theory................................................................................................................30
Empirical Studies...........................................................................................................................33
Poverty and Other Social Issues....................................................................................................33
Education.......................................................................................................................................36
Career Development......................................................................................................................41
Attitudes toward Immigration and Crime......................................................................................43
Racism, Discrimination, and Abuse...............................................................................................47
Scant Knowledge on Undocumented Youth..................................................................................50
Chapter 3........................................................................................................................................53
Method...........................................................................................................................................53

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The Researcher..............................................................................................................................55
The Participants.............................................................................................................................56
Data Collection and Procedure......................................................................................................59
Analysis.........................................................................................................................................63
Limitations of the Study................................................................................................................65
Expected Findings.........................................................................................................................66
Chapter 4........................................................................................................................................67
Unaccompanied Latino Youth on the US/Mexican Border...........................................................67
5 Unaccompanied Honduran Youth...............................................................................................68
Marvin’s Background Information:........................................................................................68
Table 1: Profiled Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth.....................................................................69
Marvin’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences.................................................70
Marvin’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information:........................................72
Bryan’s Background Information:............................................................................. 73
Bryan’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences:.................................................75
Bryan’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information:.........................................77
Cowboy’s Background Information:..........................................................................79
Cowboy’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences:..............................................80
Cowboy’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information:.......................................82
Morris’s Background Information:........................................................................... 83
Morris’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences:................................................85
Morris’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information:........................................86
Joey’s Migration and Border Crossing Experience:.....................................................88
Joey’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information:...........................................88
7 Unaccompanied Mexican Youth.................................................................................................90
Bobby’s Background Information:........................................................................... 90
Bobby’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences..................................................91
Bobby’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information..........................................91

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Victor’s Background Information.............................................................................. 92
Victor’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences..................................................93
Victor’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information..........................................94
Marco’s Background Information............................................................................. 96
Marco’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences..................................................98
Marco’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information..........................................99
Christopher’s Background Information...................................................................100
Christopher’s Migration and Border Crossing Experience:........................................101
Christopher’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information................................101
Henry’s Background Information...........................................................................102
Henry’s Migration and Border Crossing Experience:................................................103
Henry’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information........................................104
Dynamo’s Background Information........................................................................105
Dynamo’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences:............................................107
Dynamo’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information.....................................109
Dan’s Background Information.............................................................................. 110
Dan’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences:..................................................111
Dan’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information...........................................111
Theoretical Connections..............................................................................................................113
Chapter Summary........................................................................................................................117
Chapter 5......................................................................................................................................119
Discussion and Policy Recommendations...................................................................................119
Victims or Perpetrators?..............................................................................................................121
Children/Youth in an Adult Immigration System........................................................................122
The Rights of Unaccompanied Alien Juveniles...........................................................................125
Attitudes Toward Immigration and Crime...................................................................................127
Correlation Among Immigration and the US Economy..............................................................131
Dreaming for the Full Potential of Undocumented Students.......................................................133
Conclusion...................................................................................................................................134
References....................................................................................................................................136

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Appendix A..................................................................................................................................160
Informed Consent........................................................................................................................160
Appendix B..................................................................................................................................163
Demographic Questionnaire........................................................................................................163
Appendix C..................................................................................................................................164
Interview......................................................................................................................................164
Appendix D..................................................................................................................................167
Preliminary Code List..................................................................................................................167
Appendix E..................................................................................................................................168
Code List And Related Question Assignment.............................................................................168
Vita...............................................................................................................................................169

Chapter 1
Introduction
The purpose of Chapter 1 is to illustrate the history and demographics of undocumented
youth and their families, immigration policies, and the lack of information pertaining to
unaccompanied alien youth. This will provide the reader with a better understanding of why
there are high numbers of undocumented youth of Latin descent, specifically Mexico, residing in
the United States. Immigration policies and amendments affecting millions of immigrants will
also be delineated to relay the limitations of legal migration for those who desire to leave their
native home in hope of a better life. Experiencing trauma, fear of deportation, employment
abuse, and other negative consequences of being in the U.S. illegally, unaccompanied youth still

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continue to migrate to America. Interviewing youth without parents or guardians on the
U.S./Mexico border may help shed some knowledge on the subject matter pertaining to
unaccompanied alien youth.
With the exception of Native Americans, all United States citizens have been connected
to immigration. Some are descendants of immigrants or immigrants themselves. It is imperative
to acknowledge perceptions of newly arrived immigrants in the United States; Latino immigrant
youth are no exception. It is important that undocumented immigrant youth are recognized and
embraced as the benefits of immigration is what this country was built on (Farnam, 2005). Over
time, the total of new immigrant arrivals both illegal and legal has reached historic proportions
with little signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, undocumented immigration in the United States
was concentrated in a few gateway states, but now the undocumented immigration population
has spread throughout the entire United States, and this has contributed to the nationalization of
this debated issue. Immigration is no longer a border – state issue, it is a national concern. Of the
approximately 12 million unauthorized immigrants in this country, 40% have overstayed their
visa date, entered fraudulently, or failed to depart, and 60% of these undocumented immigrants
crossed the U.S. – Mexican border illegally (LeMay, 2007).
The United States immigration system is especially difficult for children to navigate.
Advocates commonly argue that this difficulty stems largely from the poor fit of a system
designed for adults in light of the reality of the child immigrant experience. As a result,
advocates have traditionally focused their efforts on modifying the law to include recognition of
children as subjects, rather than objects, of immigration law. Such efforts resulted in changes to
both detention policy and substantive immigration law as they relate to a subset of child
immigrants known as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC).

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The migration of unaccompanied immigrant children to the United States presents
extraordinary challenges for children's rights advocates, governments, and, most importantly,
undocumented children themselves. Many of these undocumented children may experience a
very complex web of constructions of childhood, children's rights, systems, and laws. The
influential years of childhood will be impacted with the experiences and perceptions constructed
during the process of migration and, potentially, deportation. Nevertheless, they engage with this
complex web of constructions of childhood, different realities of children's rights, laws that
protect or punish, and systems that are sensitive to them, ignore them, abuse them or expel them.
Among the approximately one million individuals who are apprehended while crossing
the United States border each year, there are nearly 100,000 unaccompanied children. Since
2003, unaccompanied minors who are subject to removal proceedings are under the care and
custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), within the Department of Unaccompanied
Children Services (DUCS). These offices are under the authority of the Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS). While the ORR has existed since 1980, the creation of DUCS and
DHHS are recent developments. Prior to 2003, all aliens subject to custody (both adults and
children) came under the authority of the Department of Justice's Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS). When the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) created the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) and eliminated INS, it significantly reorganized the executive
branch's immigration duties and lines of authority.
There are two principal types of migration to this country that qualify as illegal. First, the
undocumented, better known as the “illegal immigrant,” who enter the United States with no
legal documentation or legal authorization, usually come across the Mexican – U.S. border.
“Wetbacks” is a derogatory term often used to refer to unauthorized immigrants that come across

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the Rio Grande River. Those immigrants who enter the U.S. with a temporary visa (student,
tourist) are valid entries, but often overstay the terms of their visa and go underground, thereby
becoming illegal. Most of these overstayers come from the northern United States – Canadian
border and at many other various ports of entry (seaports, airports) all over the country.
Fraudulent documents are also used by immigrants to enter this country illegally. Immigrants
who are in this country as legal permanent residents and commit a crime and do not leave this
country are also considered illegal aliens (LeMay, 2007).
Demographics of Undocumented Youth and their Families
According to Capps, Leighton, and Fix (2002), United States citizens make up more than
half of the members of the immigrant families included in a survey which was conducted in late
1999 and early 2000. About one-third of the juveniles in immigrant families are native citizens,
and most of them are the U.S.-born children of immigrants (Capps, Leighton, & Fix, 2002).
Immigration has been an important feature throughout the history of the United States. One –
fifth of all school children in kindergarten through high school are children of immigrants,
according to Fix and Passel (2003). While many of these children come with their families,
others come alone, either of their own will seeking jobs, protection, family reunification, or are
smuggled into the U.S. for sweatshop labor or sexual exploitation (National Juvenile Justice
Network, 2006). The exact number of children and youth who attempt to enter the United States,
however, remains unknown.
The growing numbers of immigrant children fall into one of four major categories. These
immigration categories carry different entitlements to benefits, legal rights, and services. Legal
permanent residents (LPR’s or “green card” holders) are non – citizens admitted for permanent
residency and were estimated to be 31%, or 10.5 million, of the immigrant population in 2003

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(Capps, & Passel, 2004). Legal permanent residents may be eligible to become citizens in 3 to 5
years. The second category of immigrants is naturalized citizens, who have become U.S.
citizens. Naturalized citizens were estimated to be 31%, or 10.9 million, of the immigrant
population in the U.S. in 2003. Capps and Passel (2004) have recognized a third category of
immigrants as refugees which make up 7%, or 2.5 million, of the immigrant population in 2003.
There is also a small population of immigrants (3%) who are temporary legal residents such as
students and temporary workers. Individuals who fall in these categories of immigrants will not
be deported. The final category of immigrants are undocumented; these are individuals who enter
the United States illegally (i.e., “border crossing”) or who may have overstayed their visas.
In America today, Latinos are the prevalent marginal ethnic group in the U.S. The U.S.
Census Bureau (2008) defines Latinos/Hispanics as individuals of Mexican, Cuban, Central
American, Puerto Rican and South American origin. According to Lopez and Taylor (2010), the
Latino population in this country grew from 35.3 million in 2000, to more than 46.9 million in
2008. This is greater than the entire population of Canada. Immigrants (foreign – born) or the
children (American – born) of immigrants in the U.S are approximated at 70 million (Suarez –
Orozco & Suarez – Orozco, 2009). As Lollock (2001) indicated, more than half of the
immigrants in the United States come from Latin countries. Nearly 25% of the children in the
United States originated from immigrant families today. The growth of the country’s population
has resulted primarily from the U.S. – born children of immigrants (Hernandez, Denton, &
McCartney, 2007). Hispanic immigrant youth are the fastest growing minority group in the
United States.
Of the 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in 2008, Mexico represents by far the
largest group of undocumented immigrants, with more than 7 million. This estimate of 59% of

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undocumented Mexicans has remained unchanged for the past 30 years. Undocumented
immigrants whom are in the U.S. from other Latin American nations excluding Mexico grew by
over 40% from 1.8 million in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2008 (Passel & Cohn, 2008). Of the 39
million foreign – born individuals in the U.S., 30% of these are undocumented immigrants
(Passel & Cohn, 2008). According to Passel and Cohn (2008), four out of 10 of these
undocumented immigrants have arrived recently arrived within the past decade. Four out of five
undocumented immigrants come from Latin American nations and, as of March 2008, an
estimated 9.6 million of these undocumented immigrants made the U.S. their home.
A large number of immigrant households are composed of mixed – status families in
which a member in the family is undocumented. Almost 30% of young children of immigrants
live in families with one or more undocumented parents, and 81% of young children of
immigrants have a non – citizen parent (Capps, Fix, Ost, Reardon – Anderson, & Passel, 2004).
Almost all (93%) children of immigrants under 6 are United States citizens and 77% of youth
ages 6 to 17 in immigrant families are citizens as well (Capps, Fix, Ost, Reardon – Anderson, &
Passel, 2004). Around 4.5 million U.S. born children, then, have at least one undocumented
parent, while an additional 1 million children are themselves undocumented (American
Immigration Council, 2011; Capps, Castaneda, Chaudry, & Santos, 2007).
Immigration Policies Affecting the Influx of Latin American Migrants
The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 established today’s legal immigration
policy in America. This act has many unexpected effects connected with the current legal
immigration policy; since its passage, there have been numerous amendments that construct the
basis of illegal migration in this nation (Ellis, 2010). In order to fully understand the flow of

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undocumented Latinos from Mexico into the United States, it is necessary to examine the
Bracero Program and its abrupt termination in 1964.
The Bracero Program was a type of guest worker program which allowed employers
from the United States to hire employees from Mexico for a period of nine months of a given
year. The Bracero Program started in 1942 when the United States entered into World War II.
The Bracero Program was initiated in order to alleviate and cope with the severe labor shortages
in agriculture created when millions of U.S. workers left their farming communities for better
paying wartime production jobs in the growing metropolitan areas of America or to serve in the
United States military. After World War II the United States economy continued to grow and the
Bracero Program was expanded by Congress. The Agricultural Act of 1949 codified prior laws
and provisions for temporary workers; the Bracero Program peaked in the 1960s. During the 22
year period while the Bracero Program was active, an estimated 5 million Mexicans participated
in this legal form of migration (LeMay, 2004).
In 1964 the Bracero Program was stopped and replaced as part of an agreement to gain
support for passage of the Immigration Act of 1965. Various political interest groups, including
labor unions and other restrictionist groups, complained that the Bracero Program hurt American
economic interests. The controlled admittance of Mexican farm workers was then replaced by
the flow of undocumented immigrants, most of which are from Mexico. These undocumented
farm workers, for all intents and purposes, were the same individuals who previously
participated in the Bracero Program (LeMay & Barkan, 1999). Various scholars have mapped the
immigration patterns of Mexicans to the U.S. during the period of the Bracero Program
(Andreas, 2000; Calavita, 1992; & Nevins, 2002). This chain – migration pattern has continued

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in the U.S. long after the Bracero Program ended; and today, these migration patterns have
influenced the recent arrival of undocumented Mexican immigrants.
When the Immigration Act of 1965 imposed a limit of 20,000 individuals per country,
thousands of Mexican immigrants who had been migrating to the U.S. for work continued to
come into this country without legal documentation, with the flow of undocumented immigrants
from Mexico continuing to grow to an estimated half – million annually (LeMay, 2007). Finding
a place to work and live was not difficult for these workers because former Bracero program
workers passed on the knowledge to younger relatives and compatriots. Also, businesses and
employers in the U.S. continued to hire these Mexican immigrants after the Bracero Program had
ended. During the years of 1965 until the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act
of 1986 (IRCA), it was legal for employers to hire undocumented Mexican workers, but it was
illegal for Mexican workers to come to the United States with no legal documents (LeMay,
2007).
On October 15, 1986, the House passed the Compromise Conference Bill, the Senate
approved it on October 17, 1986, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on the 6th of
November, 1986. The IRCA had two primary outcomes: 1) undocumented immigrants who were
already in this country were granted amnesty and 2) in order to prevent new undocumented
immigrants from entering the United States, there was an increase in enforcement (Ellis, 2010).
Nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants became United States citizens due to the IRCA, and
most of these individuals today continue to be industrious members of society (Rytina, 2002).
The number of undocumented individuals who entered the U.S. decreased slightly after the
IRCA in 1986 was passed, but this did not last long, and the numbers of undocumented people
rose again, surpassing the numbers of individuals who entered the U.S. during the pre – IRCA

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era (LeMay, 2007). Obviously, the intentions of the IRCA were circumvented, as undocumented
immigration has reached an all-time high (Larson, 2007).
Another effort to minimize the problem of undocumented immigrants entering the United
States was the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996
(Ellis, 2010). This new law criminalized American-owned businesses who hire individuals with
no legal documentation to work in the U.S., and further increased border enforcement and
control while restricting social services to immigrants (Ellis, 2010).
The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in
Washington, D.C. resulted in many changes to immigration policies. On October 8, 2001
President George W. Bush issued an executive order which established the Office of Homeland
Security and the Homeland Security Council within the Executive Office of the President
(Relyea, 2003). By October 26, 2001 the USA Patriot Act was signed into law (Torr, 2004). The
USA Patriot Act (an acronym for the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) gave the U.S. Attorney
General and the Justice Department the authority to restrict the civil liberties of U.S. citizens.
The Act provides for the deportation of aliens who publicly endorse terrorist activity, gives the
national government expanded powers to monitor students and resident aliens, and allows for the
detention and expeditious removal of undocumented individuals suspected in having links to
terrorist groups (LeMay, 2007).
House Judiciary Chairman Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R – WI) advocated for a
law that forbids states from issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. His argument
was that because some of the terrorists in 9/11 attacks were allowed access on aircraft by
utilizing driver’s licenses as proof of identification, all undocumented individuals should be

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denied them. This new law is called the Real ID Act, which includes provisions to build a fence
along the United States – Mexican border and waiving various environmental policies and
recommendations. The Bush administration supported this bill, while Democrats saw this as an
effort to impose immigration constraints. Supporters of the bill addressed suggestions of the
September 11 Commission, acknowledging reasonable policies to strengthen border security
(Torr, 2004). Proponents maintain that it will better protect America from future terrorist attacks
from individuals who are undocumented or here illegally. This act gives military and local law
enforcement agencies the power to stop illegal entrants and requires business owners to show
proof of their employees’ legal status (Orner, 2008). It also approved construction of a 700 mile –
long fence along the border in Texas. Its stipulations also turn an estimated 11 million individuals
into felons. Students who are here on a visa and suddenly drop courses become felons, as well as
foreign laborers here on H visas who are suddenly laid off or fired (Orner, 2008).
According to Hagan, Eschbach, and Rodriguez (2008), the majority of persons deported
from the United States today are poor Latin American immigrants who were removed for non –
criminal reasons. As such, the 2001-USA PATRIOT Act restricted judicial discretion and limited
judicial review in deportation cases. Laws such as the USA PATRIOT Act made it easier for
undocumented individuals to be deported, as well as, making it more difficult for these
individuals to ever enter the United States with proper documentation (Hagan, Eschbach, &
Rodriguez, 2008). Among the 208,151 persons deported from the United States in fiscal year
2005, an estimated 69% were from Mexico, followed by an additional 16% from the Central
American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala (Hagan, Eschbach, & Rodriguez,
2008).

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Reprieve and Current Immigration Reform
On Friday, June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama broadcasted in the Rose Garden of
the White House a reprieve that would temporarily halt the deportation of undocumented youth.
This reprieve was to be effective immediately. This executive action by the president used
existing lawful authority to make the comprehensive policy adjustment, which could
momentarily benefit more than 800,000 young people. President Obama did not consult with
Congress, where Republicans have normally opposed procedures to assist undocumented
immigrants. These youth will be allowed to remain in the US without fear of deportation for at
least 2 years. This is not a permanent fix although, it clears the way for undocumented
immigrants to come out of the shadows, obtain a driver’s license and work legally. Also, this
policy may be revoked under a new administration. The president explained that,
It is the right thing to do for the American people and here’s why, these young
people are going to make extraordinary contributions and are already making
contributions to our society. I’ve got a young person who is serving in our
military, protecting us and our freedom. The notion that in some ways we would
treat them as expendable makes no sense.
In order to be eligible for this program, undocumented immigrants would have to have
been in the US before the age of 16 and would have to have lived in the US for at least 5
consecutive years. They would also have to be enrolled in school or have a high school diploma,
a GED or have served in the military. Cannot be older than 30 and will need a clean criminal
record. This policy shared some resemblance to the DREAM Act, which in 2010 did not get
approved in the US Senate.
This was a great step forward in the reform of immigration policy in our country. One of
the participants in this study has already taken advantage of this presidential reprieve. While

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communicating back and forth with some of the participants in this study, Bryath communicated
to me on February 8, 2013, as he explains in his own English words:
It is an amazing paper! I was moved by the stories my fellow Hispanics have gone
through. I thank you for sharing this important piece of work with me. I know that
you will do great! And perhaps one day you can help me with my research. Have
a great weekend and wish you the best. Just so you know I have already gotten
some type of documentation that allows me to work here on the US and I am
extremely happy and now I feel free!.. If you need anything please do let me
know.
So, the adjustment of the reprieve has certainly freed individuals who may have been
essentially enslaved for many years.
Though, the most current agenda on immigration reform was announced by President
Barack Obama on February 12, 2013 at his State of the Union Address. The president declared
new reform measures that will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and
their families. President Obama explained that we have to make sure that the US remains a place
where everybody who is willing to work hard has a chance to get ahead. The president
acknowledged that when we harness the talents and ingenuity of determined, optimistic
immigrants it makes our economy stronger. The president reiterated in wanting “a responsible
pathway to earned citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, although there were no
specifications as to how many of the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants will be
affected by this.
Unaccompanied Children
In the United States and other developed countries, the majority of unaccompanied
children have historically arrived through planned resettlement programs. Since the beginning of
World War II, the United States has administered several such programs for children. Examples
include the evacuation of British children in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, the evacuation of

13

more than 14,000 Cuban children in the wake of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, and the
evacuation of more than 2,500 Vietnamese children in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War
(“Operation Babylift”). However, the phenomenon of unaccompanied children arriving outside
of planned resettlement programs went largely unnoticed, and consequently unmeasured, until
quite recently (Steinbock, 2006).
In the 1980s, unaccompanied children began to arrive in the United States in increasing
numbers, many of them fleeing civil wars in Central America and the resulting hardships. In
response, several government agencies began to develop rough data systems to track these
children. Today, the most commonly cited source of information about unaccompanied children
in the United States is the statistical database maintained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement
(ORR), which assumed custodial authority of unaccompanied children in 2003, pursuant to the
Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA; Byrne, 2008). ORR statistics show that 7,000 to 9,000
unaccompanied children have been referred to the ORR from the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) each year since 2005. This figure does not include the large number of Mexican
children who choose to be “voluntarily returned” to Mexico at the U.S. border, and thus never
enter ORR custody.
In 2006, approximately 85% of children in ORR custody came from El Salvador,
Guatemala, or Honduras. According to Bhabha and Schmidt (2006), most entered the United
States by way of the Mexican border, traveling by foot, train, or motor vehicle. As some
observers have pointed out, though, ORR statistics do not paint a complete portrait of the
migration of unaccompanied children. For one, they are not comprehensive; each government
agency that comes into contact with unaccompanied children keeps its own records. For
example, ORR statistics do not include those children who are apprehended by the DHS but

14

never referred to the ORR (Byrne, 2008). Researchers’ efforts to obtain data about children
apprehended by the DHS have thus far been unsuccessful. Another problem concerns the fact
that most government statistics, whether from the ORR or other agencies, have had little to say
about unaccompanied children who do not come into contact with the authorities.
Statement of the Problem
There are several reasons why individuals migrate to the U.S. without proper
authorization. Success, political unrest, and economic adversity in one’s country are the primary
reasons for migrating to the U.S. (Sullivan & Rehm, 2005). Many choose to immigrate because
of the financial or political situation in their own country has left them with no other choice
(Keely, 2001). Furthermore, since many families are poor in their own countries, the decision to
migrate is due to financial necessity. These poor undocumented individuals migrate with their
families to the United States in search of better wages, increased job opportunities, universal
schooling, and the promise of a better life for their children (Jennissen, 2007; Segal & Mayadas,
2005).
Crossing the U.S. – Mexican border illegally is traumatic for many of these immigrants
seeking a better life (Smith, 1996). Many undocumented immigrants become lost or lose their
children who were accompanying them; some die of dehydration or hypothermia in desert areas
(Hagan, 1998). Several deadly incidents have occurred, but one stands out. A U.S. citizen
smuggler was transporting seventy four undocumented individuals to Houston, Texas in an 18wheeler, charging each $7,000, when the cooling system in the rear of the truck went out
(Kamau, 2005). With temperatures in the trailer reaching an estimated 173 degrees, 19 deaths
occurred, including a five year old boy, making this smuggling attempt the deadliest in U.S.
history. According to Kamau more than 420 individuals perished coming across the United

15

States-Mexican border in 2005, breaking the record high of 383 deaths in 2000. Solis (2003)
details widespread violence against women and children who state they have been sexually
abused in their attempt to cross the border. Undocumented youth claim their aggressors range
from border bandits and smugglers to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officers
(Solis, 2003). Young undocumented youth may not know what to do if they are or become
victims of a wide range of criminal acts against them.
Immigration experiences serve to define most Hispanics who live in this country (SuarezOrozco & Gaytan, 2009; U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). The immigration experience has many
stressors that affect immigrant youth in different ways (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001; Suarez-Orozco
& Suarez-Orozco, 2001; Zhou, 1997). Three central emotional concerns for undocumented youth
are fear of deportation, loneliness, and depression (Dozier, 1993). Fear of deportation is so
central to undocumented youth’s experiences that it influences every aspect of their lives (Perez,
Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortez, 2010).
Undocumented immigrants have no legal right to exist within the geographic boundaries
of the United States, regardless of educational or occupational participation (McGuire &
Georges, 2003). Fear is the dominant notion in the daily lives of most undocumented youth
living in this country. Undocumented youth actively manage this fear and many develop ways to
live with it and cope with it. According to Negron-Gonzalez (2009), the most fundamental fear is
the fear of being “discovered,” a fear that comes with the embarrassment accompanied with the
stigma of being undocumented, as well as the possibility of being exposed through deportation.
Fear of deportation is primary among the litany of fears which raises anxiety about family
separation and the fate of siblings in mixed-status families. If it occurs, deportation results in a

16

return to more difficult economic, personal, or familial dynamics that initially motivated their
migration.
As more immigrants relocate to different areas of the United States, it is imperative for
educators, health service providers, researchers, and policymakers to become familiar with their
needs and contributions to society, especially those of immigrant youth (Coronado, 2008). It has
been a challenge to understand the psychological and emotional effects of individuals who are
not legally authorized to be in this country, which includes the fear of believing or trusting in
others, as well as the misery linked with the occurrence of existing in the shadows (Sullivan &
Rehm, 2005). Isolation and marginalization (fueled by family member separation), sadness,
depression, and the experience of being outsiders in their own ethnic and cultural communities
due to their legal status, are only a few dilemmas undocumented immigrants face after arriving in
the U.S. Stigmatization, resulting from media stories of how unauthorized immigrants take
advantage of American education and job opportunities, serve to wear away their self-worth,
often leading to depression. Leading secret lives for a lengthy time will result in the persistence
of feeling terrorized, trapped, and fearful, leading to a devaluation of others and themselves,
shame, and low self-esteem (Ellis, 2010).
Workplace abuse, minimal legal protection, and constant fear of being separated from
family through deportation are a few of the concerns of undocumented youth (Chavez, 1997;
Orner, 2008). An era of increased governmental and private attacks against immigrants makes
the reality of living without authorization in this country even more complicated. Undocumented
youth also face identity concerns, challenging socioeconomic and environmental conditions,
vulnerability to trauma, victimization, stress, substance abuse disorders, depression and other
psychiatric disorders, and multiple barriers to obtaining needed treatment (Flores & Kaplan,

17

2009). A qualitative study conducted by Solis (2003) revealed how Mexican youth are largely
susceptible to violence and crime due to their undocumented status, language barriers, poverty,
and ethnic – racial membership.
Immigrant adolescents typically live in communities debilitated with poverty. Living in
these communities exposes these youth to delinquent peers, drug abuse, brutality, and crime
(Berman, Kurtines, Silverman, & Serafini, 1996). Juveniles may be at high risk if exposed to
unlawful behavior, as children. An exposure of high frequency and intensity of criminality in
young Hispanic children may lead them to be delinquent. Hartjen and Priyadarsinsi (2003) assert
that being with delinquent peers, lacking proper or effective social control, and lacking selfcontrol, are the main reasons for delinquent behavior everywhere and among all people.
Santisteban, Coatsworth, Briones, and Szapocznik (2006) found that parents’ retention of
Hispanic cultural practices is protective against deteriorations in family functioning and against
adolescent behavior problems, yet unaccompanied youth are not subject to these same social
controls.
Among the approximately 1,000,000 individuals who are apprehended while crossing the
United States border each year, nearly 100,000 are unaccompanied children. Undocumented
immigrant children and U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants are the fastest growing
segment of the population, accounting for 20% of all U.S. children. Undocumented children
experience a web of complexities associated with the constructs of childhood, children's rights,
institutions, and law. Undocumented Latino immigrant youth in the United States experience
many lifelong challenges that threaten their well-being in the future. The challenge for these
youth may be exacerbated for those arriving in the United States with no adult supervision.

18

Research Questions
Even facing myriad obstacles, undocumented youth do not seem to be thwarted from
immigrating. So what seems to be the motivational factor that continues to push undocumented
immigrant youth to the U.S.? The reason(s) these youth left their homes and traveled hundreds
of miles to the U.S. raises some one of the most important questions this research is attempting
to answer. Beyond this, the study will document victimization experienced by the youth both
during their journey and once settled in the U.S. What types of obstacles have the youth
encountered in the educational and work arenas? What are the effects of poverty on the way that
the youth have lived through and survived? What types of discrimination, exploitation, and
abuses have these youth experienced? What are their prior, current, and future fears and
aspirations? In sum, the study will document how these youth have responded to the strains and
stressors that arise from their undocumented status.
While scant literature exists on first and second generation immigrants, there is especially
a lack of research on the recent arrival of undocumented immigrant youth and much less on
unaccompanied youth. Attention to social development among undocumented immigrant youth
is missing and much needed, given the ongoing national political debate about immigration,
citizenship, and what it means to be “American” (Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortez,
2010). This study thus tries to fill a salient knowledge gap. It is also an attempt to describe the
circumstances of undocumented youth living in the U.S. without parents or guardians.
Organization of the Study
Chapter 2 will present an overview of the literature on undocumented alien youth, and
Chapter 3 presents the methodology, research design and analysis plans for the proposed study.

19

Chapter 4 will describe the study’s findings, and Chapter 5 will offer research and policy
suggestions based on the findings.

Chapter 2
Literature Review
In recent years, fully half of all immigrants entering this country have come from Latin
American nations (Ko & Perreira, 2010; Lollock, 2001). Marotta and Garcia, (2003) established
that in today’s America the majority of Latinos are either foreign born or were raised by parents
who are foreign. Ramirez and de la Cruz, (2003) have also found that Latinos are a young
population, with three – fourths of this ethnic group 18 years and older and the rest 17 years or
younger. Compared to Whites, Latino youth have a tendency to exhibit more behavioral
problems (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999), higher numbers of educational disappointment (Greene &
Forster, 2003), and higher rates of alcohol and illegal drug abuse (Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, 2002). Furthermore, Mexican – Americans represent one of the fastest growing
Latino/Latina ethnic groups in the United States, but they remain underrepresented at all levels
of education (Constantine & Baron, 1997; Flores & O’Brien, 2002; U.S. Bureau of the Census,
2000).
Many undocumented Latinos are ambitious and eager to seek a better life, even if it
means leaving their homes and loved ones behind. Yet, workplace abuse, working illegally,
minimal legal protection, and constant fear of being separated from family through deportation
plague undocumented people (Chavez, 1997; Orner, 2008). An era of increased governmental
and private attacks against immigrants make the reality of living without authorization in this
country even more complicated. Undocumented youth also face identity concerns, challenging

20

socioeconomic and environmental conditions, vulnerability to trauma, stress, substance abuse
disorders, depression, and other psychiatric disorders, and multiple barriers to obtaining needed
treatment (Flores & Kaplan, 2009). Newly arriving Latino immigrants are an important ethnic
group in need of study (Phinney, 2003; Ryder, Alden, & Paulhus, 2000).Yet, very little is known
about their experiences, especially those of undetected unaccompanied youth.
The first section of this chapter will discuss the relevance of social disorganization,
social cognitive career theories (SCCT), conflict, and strain theories in helping to understand
high rates of delinquent behavior, lack of career attainment, and low academic achievements
among Latino immigrant youth. This will provide a context for interpreting the experiences of
undocumented immigrant youth of Latin descent. The second section will explicate more specific
barriers to career development, educational achievement, and generally conforming behavior.
Theoretical Background
Social Disorganization
Shaw and McKay’s (1942) distinguished book Juvenile Delinquency in Urban Areas,
studied how delinquency among youth was shaped by the interaction with others in the same
community. Not all communities are the same. In communities sharing similar values and
attitudes, social control is articulated in institutions and voluntary associations that perpetuate
and protect these values. Alternately, places with high poverty rates and consistent social change
allow for conventional institutions to weaken and nurture a value system supportive of crime.
Immigrant parents and adults living in disorganized inner – city communities attempt to inculcate
children with moral values. At the same time, they must compete with a variety of criminal
influences, including other adult criminals, gangs, and ongoing illegal enterprises that are usually
not found in organized communities. It is difficult to displace these influences once delinquent

21

traditions take hold. They are passed on from one generation to the next, usually through
relations in community peer groups. This is especially true for immigrant parents who may not
be well adjusted to the values and norms in the United States.
Shaw and McKay recognized that there is a direct relationship between conditions
existing in local neighborhoods differential rates of criminals and delinquents. Neighborhoods
with low crime rates have social and economic characteristics which differentiate them from
neighborhoods with high crime rates. The existence of a system of values that support criminal
behavior becomes an important factor in shaping individual life patterns. It is assumed that
property violations occur more frequently where the outlook of enhancing one’s social status
outweighs the chances for loss of prestige in the competitive struggle. Material goods so
essential to status in our society are acquired through criminal activity in a system that increases
rather than decreases one’s prestige. Shaw and McKay concluded that the relationship of poverty
to delinquency in urban areas is produced by the connection between poverty, residential
instability, and ethnic diversity. This urban population dynamic does not exist in small towns and
rural areas; outside the city, the populations of poorer communities are more stable than average,
not less. Thus, it was Shaw and McKay’s contention that it is not poverty, per se, but an
association of poverty with other deleterious factors that weakens systems of social relationships
in a community, thereby producing social disorganization. Social disorganization and related
theories are appropriate starting points for developing general and crime-specific explanations
across community settings.
Current versions of social disorganization theory assume that strong networks of social
relationships help to prevent crime and delinquency (Kornhauser, 1978; Bursik and Grasmick,
1993; Sampson and Groves, 1989). When most community or neighborhood members are

22

acquainted and on good terms with one another, a substantial portion of the adult population has
the potential to influence each child. The larger the network of acquaintances, the greater the
community's capacity for informal surveillance, as residents are easily distinguished from
outsiders. Supervision from good acquaintances will be positive when youth behave
unacceptably and overall for shaping children's values and interests. According to current
theorists, community characteristics, such as poverty and ethnic diversity, lead to higher
delinquency rates because they interfere with community members' abilities to work together
(Kornhauser, 1978; Bursik and Grasmick, 1993; Sampson and Groves, 1989).
Conveniently, researchers measured the structural antecedents of disorganization (e.g.,
low SES, racial heterogeneity, residential mobility) because of the availability of census data,
and assumed that the unmeasured intervening processes associated with social disorganization
existed. Liberal criminologists have criticized social disorganization theory as being racist. Since
members of racial minority groups tend to disproportionately occupy communities specified by
social disorganization theory as problematic, calling these neighborhoods “disorganized” (a term
that scholars felt was value – laden) amounted to a violation of political correctness.
Nonetheless, researchers continued to build on the theory. Sampson (1986) noticed the
importance of how social disorganization theory relates to control theory and routine
activity/lifestyle theory. Sampson measured the percentage of residents who were married,
divorced, or separated, and the percentage of female – headed households. Sampson’s analysis
revealed that family structure variables each had an effect on crime rates, something that Shaw
and McKay had overlooked in previous studies.
Immigration may be nerve-racking for adults, but even more so for children. Making a
decision to leave one’s country is not an easy task. Things become much more difficult when

23

language differences and entry into the American system that has morals or ethics unlike the ones
from their native country, the hardship can seem demoralizing. Immigrants’ primary source of
support is left back as they enter a world that is much more different than the places these
immigrants came from (Breton, 1999). Once immigrants arrive in the United States they tend to
acquire feelings of being powerless and alone. According to Pantin, Schwartz, Sullivan,
Coatsworth, and Scapocznic (2003), immigrants of Latino descent usually inhabit impoverished
communities, creating economic stress that exacerbates feelings of helplessness and isolation.
Just as in urban areas, systems of relationships are relevant to crime and delinquency in small
towns and rural communities.
Cultural incompatibilities are sometimes created by the dissimilarity in traditions and
customs among Latino immigrant youth and their parents. Latino youth are a group persuaded by
the contact of acculturation of American ways. The routine of life in America is very different
than the countries from which these immigrant youth came from. Obedience and respect are
critical components of adolescent – parent relationships in most Latin countries (Santiseban,
Muir – Malcolm, Mitrani, & Szapocnik, 2002). The communities and extended families in most
Latin countries automatically provide cooperative support to their neighbors and friends, and
everyone looks over youth’s school performance and activities.
Social Cognitive Career Theory
Ginzberg, Ginsburg, Axelrad and Herman Theory (1951) propose that it is the
developmental path that leads to career choice. Through this process, the child’s preferred
activities identify future career choices. Beginning in the preteen years and continuing through
high school, the young person further defines their interests in, capacity for, and values of, an
occupational choice. According to Ginzburg et al. (1951), the realistic stage, spanning from mid

24

– adolescence through young adulthood, has three sub – stages: exploration, crystallization and
specification. In the crystallization stage, an occupational choice is made. This is followed by the
specification stage, where in the individual pursues the educational experiences required to
achieve his career goal. The theory is somewhat outdated and does not fit every adolescent’s
career choice process.
Donald Super’s Theory of Vocational Choice (1954) is a lifespan vocational-choice
theory that has six life and career development stages. These six stages are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Crystallization, ages 14 – 18
Specification, ages 18 – 21
Implementation, ages 21 – 24
Stabilization, ages 24 – 35
Consolidation, age 35, and
Readiness for retirement, age 55.

One of Super’s (1954) greatest contributions to career development has been his
emphasis on the role self - concept development plays. Super recognized that the self – concept
changes and develops throughout people’s lives as a result of experience. People successively
refine their self – concepts over time, and application to the world of work creates adaptation in
their career choice. Although Super’s Theory of Vocational Choice theory provides a foundation
for interpreting much of the professional work force, its research has omitted women, people of
color and the poor. With a changing work force and nature of work, the theory has been called
into question.
Holland’s career typology (1959) is grounded in what he calls modal personal orientation,
or a development process established through heredity and the individual’s life history of
reacting to environmental demands. More simply put, individuals are attracted to a particular
occupation that meets their personal needs and provides them satisfaction. Thus, historical and
modern conditions may force undocumented immigrants to gravitate towards occupations that

25

may not meet all their needs. Simply put, many undocumented workers are not necessarily
acquiring occupations that provide satisfaction as relevant in their denial for legal employment.
Shinnar (2007) conducted a qualitative study on the barriers and facilitators of career
development of recent Mexican immigrants. According to her findings, individual – level
variables (such as personal characteristics and personal goals), group – level factors (such as
cultural values, immigration status, and discrimination), and contextual factors (such as job
security) were significant in influencing the perceptions of career development processes among
her interviewees. Factors identified in Shinnar’s study point to a theoretical framework that can
be useful in understanding the career development processes of immigrant youth, and the social
cognition career theory (SCCT) by Lent, Brown, and Hackett (1994). Their theory has been used
in understanding the career development process of diverse groups within the United States
(Ward & Bingham, 1997). Its emphasis on the role of individual and contextual factors is
especially applicable to understanding the distinct patterns of career development of immigrant
youth.
The SCCT grew out of Albert Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory, and attempts to
address issues of culture, gender, genetic endowment, social context and unexpected life events
that may interact with and supersede the effects of career – related choices (Lent et al., 1987).
The SCCT focuses on the connection among self – efficacy, outcome expectations and personal
goals that influence an individual’s career choice. One is likely to develop goals that involve
continuing involvement in that activity/endeavor. Through an evolutionary process beginning in
early childhood and continuing throughout adulthood, one narrows the scope to successful
endeavors to focus on and form a career goal/choice (Savickas & Lent, 1994). What is critical to
success in this process is the extent to which one views the endeavor/activity as offering success

26

valued compensation (Stitt – Gohdes, 1997). Contextual factors come into play by influencing
the individual’s perception of the probability of success. If the person perceives few barriers, the
likelihood of success reinforces the career choice, but if the barriers are viewed as significant
there is a weaker interest and choice actions. By adolescence, most people have a sense of their
competence at a vast array of performance areas, along with convictions about the likely
outcomes of a career. Through a process of intervening learning experiences that further shape
one’s abilities and impacts self – efficacy and outcome beliefs, one’s vocational interests, choices
and performances are shaped and reshaped (Savickas & Lent, 1994). The SCCT differs from the
majority of existing career theories in its dynamic nature. Through its focus upon the role of the
self – system and the individual’s beliefs, the inherent influence of the social and economic
contexts are addressed.
Employment difficulties significantly contribute to immigrants’ mental health and other
related factors. Securing employment, economic hardship and job demands were identified as
major stressors contributing to mental illness among Latino immigrants (Finch, Catalano,
Novaco, & Vega, 2003). Work and family strain has also been found to negatively affect
Mexican immigrant youth, resulting in elevated levels of depression and anxiety (Grzywacz,
Quandt, Arcur, & Marin, 2005). These mental health difficulties in turn become a barrier in the
career development processes of immigrant youth. Career scholarship and practice in psychology
have been rooted in the commitment to social justice, providing adequate and fulfilling
employment to those who are not assured access to positive work environments (Swanson &
Gore, 2000). Yet again, career counseling can become a liberating tool for Latino immigrant
youth who can also experience the personal satisfaction of developing their career paths and
reaching their career dreams. The combination of a multidimensional focus, parent

27

empowerment, and culturally appropriate intervention activities may help to minimize any risk
linked to differential acculturation, economic difficulty, and immigration, vis-à-vis Latino/Latina
immigrant youth. Accordingly, intervening will help to reduce the likelihood of poor academic
achievement, high delinquency rates, and substance abuse in this population.
Work can be extremely beneficial and empowering for people who are struggling in a
new country (Yakushko, 2006). Employment can aid the process of adjustment and help
individuals make roots in the new country. Working decreases the isolation that many feel and
may contribute to building a new social network. It may also provide an opportunity for new
friendships, as well as an opportunity to learn more about the culture, including facilitating
English language skills. For many immigrant youth, developing a positive career path in the
United States would signify that their migration was indeed successful.
Conflict Theory and Immigration
Conflict theory identifies individuals who selectively decide, in the first place, what
behavior should be singled out for disapproval (Kubrin, Stucky, & Krohn, 2009). Conflict
theories posit that inequality in power and material wellbeing creates conditions that lead to
street crime and corporate crime. Conflict theory has long stressed the roles of group threat,
subordination, and powerlessness in explaining crime and its control in America (Chambliss &
Seidman 1971; Quinney 1970; Turk 1969). Capitalism and its market economy are especially
criminogenic because they create vast inequality that impoverishes many. Exploitative and
coercive relationships in the workplace, family, and justice system are favorable to criminal
involvement.
Many of the problems affecting Hispanic/Latino immigrant children arise within the
social and economic dynamics of globalization and transitional migration, as well as anti-

28

immigrant policies and regulations. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the United States
government passed several legislative acts to control the population growth of immigrants
(Sanders, 2006). The Immigration Act of 1965 made immigration more equitable by allowing for
almost equal numbers of aliens from all areas of the globe to enter the U. S. (Keely, 2001).
However, according to Sanders (2006), this reduced the number allowed from Latin America,
creating an influx of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, as well as South and Central
America, seeking a safe haven from civil strife, poverty, and political persecution.
There is a major concern with social inequality. Individuals who have control over
resources decide what behaviors are defined as crimes (Kubrin et. al., 2009). Law is a significant
part of the struggle in society between the powerful and the powerless. Largely resulting from
high rates of unemployment, the Immigration Act of 1996 eliminated the tide of entry of
undocumented immigrants from Mexico by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and
adding more perimeter security fencing (Barkan, 1997). In order for the powerful to maintain
their position as elites, the powerful use law to control the powerless, enacting legislation that
supports their interests by designating as criminal any behavior that may threaten the elite
(Kubrin et. al., 2009). Therefore, the role of the state in a capitalist society is to preserve the
interests and well-being of the ruling class.
A review conducted by Crutchfield, Fernandes, and Martinez (2010) confirmed that racial
and ethnic disparities exist in both the American juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.
Though, the overrepresentation of both African Americans and Latinos in prisons is supported to
a degree by higher levels of involvement in crime by people from these two ethnic groups, racial
disparities reinforce the belief by many in Black and Brown communities that fair rules of play

29

do not apply to people of color when they are involved in the criminal or juvenile justice system
(Crutchfield et. al., 2010).
The federal government has passed several laws to deny benefits to these undocumented
immigrants, and now states have done the same by passing amendments to deny undocumented
families access to several social services. A common argument is that economic restructuring and
reduced opportunities in middle – level jobs have limited immigrants’ opportunities for economic
mobility (Hirschman, 2001; Portes & Zhou, 1993). Others have stated that continuing, and even
heightened racism and hostility toward nonwhite immigrants, means that skin color will
ultimately shape incorporation patterns (Waters, 1999).
Lamn and Immohoff (1985) have noted that immigrants are often viewed as inherently
criminal. The perceived danger involves the invocation of the theme of “immigrant criminality”
(Lamn & Immhoff, 1985). These authors have also supported the notion by generalizing
observations that undocumented immigrants are by definition “criminal.” Hence, ordinary
Mexican youth are seen as nothing more than thugs and criminals ready to commit delinquent
acts at the blink of an eye through the lens of the majority in the U.S.
Brown (2009) discloses how the punitive exercise of state power can be joined to its
more benevolent assertions (e.g., determining juvenile culpability and those amenable to
treatment). This reinforces the stability of “peculiar institutions” within the exercise of U.S. state
power. Such critical theory, research, and findings, have the potential to assist policymakers as
well as sociologists in developing improved theories and practices linking education and criminal
justice, which are two increasingly connected public institutions, for better, in a changing
American society.

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Anomie – Strain Theory
Anomie and strain theories posit that crime occurs from pressures of society rather than
from biological and psychological factors (Kubrin, Stucky, & Krohn, 2009). “Anomie and strain
theories argue that people commit crime because of pressure and strain” (Kurbin, et al., p.107).
Historically, Durkheim (1893) insisted on the primacy of groups and social organizations in
understanding human behavior and explained anomie in the in the context of suicide specifically,
but also crime, by extension, in the context of broader social changes. When society’s twin
abilities to serve as a regulatory mechanism and clarifier of norms break down, individuals who
are self-motivated and who have greedy tendencies become uncontrolled, leading to a state of
anomie, or “normlessness.” Societies in such anomic states experience increases in many social
problems, including suicide and crime.
Merton (1968) applied Durkheim’s concept of anomie to America, highlighting specific
features of American society and individual responses to anomie. Merton explained that
anomie/strain results from a discrepancy between societal goals and legitimate means available
to achieve them. He assumed that frustration arises when lower-class people realize that the
American Dream is a false promise. This same false promise is also experienced in Latin
countries where there is also a discrepancy between societal goals and legitimate means available
to achieve them. Merton saw human appetites as strongly influenced by culture, which tells us
what things we should desire and how much we should desire them. Merton note that the social
structure prevents some individuals from becoming economically successful, which can cause
some of these individuals to experience pressure resulting in a strain that may lead to criminal
behavior. When young individuals from third world countries experience pressure, the resulting
strain may lead them to leave their native lands and become “illegal aliens” in order to seek the

31

American dream. Merton’s theory stipulates that society encourages everyone to pursue the goal
of monetary success, but place little or no emphasis on legitimate norms for achieving such
success. Therefore, if a young person from an impoverished country does not have the legitimate
means to be successful, then he/she may venture to the US in order to pursue success, even if the
means are illegal. As in America, many of these Latin cultures emphasize success and wealth.
Hence, crossing borders illegally to obtain wealth and success is a primary reason why
undocumented youth come here.
Anomie, for Durkheim, referred to the failure of society to regulate or constrain the ends or
goals of human desire. Merton, on the other hand, was more concerned with social regulation of
the means people use to obtain material goals. First, Merton perceived a “strain toward anomie”
in the relative lack of cultural emphasis on institutional norms—the established rules of the game
—that regulates the legitimate means for obtaining success in American society. Second,
structural blockages that limit access to legitimate means for many members of American society
also contribute to its anomic tendencies. Under such conditions, behavior tends to be governed
solely by considerations of expediency or effectiveness in obtaining the goal, rather than by a
concern with whether or not the behavior conforms to institutional norms. Hence, youth with no
means to meet their needs will consider illegitimate responses as expedient. This chronic
discrepancy between cultural promises and structural realities not only undermines social support
for institutional norms but also promotes violations of those norms. Blocked in their pursuit of
economic success, many members of society are forced to adapt in deviant ways to this
frustrating environmental condition. Merton presented an analytical five-fold typology of
individual adaptations to the discrepancy between culture and social structure in American
society.

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1. Conformity- is the most popular form of response. It involves accepting both the cultural goal
of success and the use of legitimate means of working towards that goal. Presumably most of us
choose this response.
2. Innovation- is largely found among lower-class people, who reject the use of legal means in
favor of illegal ones in their attempt to achieve high success goals that they have learned to
accept. This form of deviant response is the central subject of strain theory.
3. Ritualism- is common among lower-middle class people who lower their aspirations or
abandon high success goals so that they can more easily realize their aspirations. But in their
attempted to realize these modest aspirations, they ritualistically abide by the institutional norm
of toiling as conscientious, loyal workers. They tend to be proud of their hard, honest work,
while struggling on their modest incomes.
4. Retreatism- is a withdrawal from society into the shell of one's self. The retreatist does not
care about success, nor does he care to work, and s/he often drops out of school and turns to
drugs in response.
5. Rebellion- involves rejecting the prevailing social expectation that we work hard in the socalled rat race to reach goals of great success. The rebel also attempts to overthrow the existing
system and put in its place a new one with new goals and a new way of reaching those goals.
The undocumented immigrant youth is typically thought of as an innovator, but may also
be thought of as a rebel in their own country. He/she attempts to overthrow the constraints of the
existing system by migrating to a place with new goals and a new way of reaching those goals.
In later work (1966), Merton uses the term nonconformity to contrast rebellion to other forms of
deviant behavior that are “aberrant.” The nonconforming rebel is not secretive as are other
aberrant deviants, and is not merely engaging in behavior that violates the institutional norms of

33

society. The rebel publicly acknowledges his or her intention to change those norms and the
social structure that they support in the interests of building a better, more just society. Merton
implies that rebellion is most characteristic of “members of a rising class” (1957: 157) who
become inspired by political ideologies that “locate the source of large-scale frustrations in the
social structure and portray an alternative structure which would not, presumably, give rise to
frustration of the deserving” (1957: 156).
Empirical Studies
Poverty and Other Social Issues
The immigration experience for undocumented youth in itself can be a life threatening
crisis. The initial act of leaving one’s own country and entering the United States can be
dangerous for undocumented immigrants, as well as for asylum seekers and refugees, with many
immigrants experiencing violence, robbery, and sexual assault during the immigration process
(Solis, 2003). Immigration may result in children being separated from parents and their siblings
for extended periods of time (Garcia, 2001). Depression and anxiety are stressors associated with
the initial stage of migration, while individuals who experience significant trauma during
immigration may develop symptoms of post – traumatic stress disorder (Smart & Smart, 1995).
Many if not most undocumented immigrants have to deal with these stressors, but the worst of
all stressors may be the levels of poverty that children of immigrant families must endure.
Poverty among all children has been known to spur social problems that have been linked
to several developmental and schooling problems (Glick & White 2003) and poor socioeconomic
outcomes in adulthood (Lichter, 1997; McLanahan & Sandefur, 1994; Stier & Tienda 2001).
Young children of undocumented immigrants are less likely to receive public benefits. An
explanation for low participation in government assistance is that many undocumented parents

34

are ineligible for TANF and food stamps because they are either undocumented or recent legal
immigrants, even though their children may be eligible for these benefits (Capps, Fix, Ost,
Reardon – Anderson, & Passel, 2004). Another reason may be the undocumented parent’s fear of
being reported to immigration authorities.
Both the foreign – born and U.S. – born children of immigrants are the fastest – growing
segment of the U. S. population under age 18 and have constituted 20% of the school – aged
population (Van Hook & Fix, 2000). Over a quarter of young children in immigrant families are
poor, compared with a fifth of American families (Capps, Fix, Ost, Reardon – Anderson, &
Passel, 2004). Children in immigrant families are considerably more likely to be uninsured, to be
reported in fair or poor health, and to lack a usual place where they can get preventive health
care (Capps et. al., 2004).
There is a need for child welfare service providers to understand the special needs of
immigrant families (Chahine &Van Straaten, 2005; Pine & Drachman, 2005). It has been
suggested that service providers also have to consider how to utilize the unique positive
attributes that immigrant families possess in order to formulate effective service plans that reduce
risk to children and ensure safety (Dettlaff, Earner, & Phillips, 2009).
Larger flows of immigration increased the proportions of undocumented individuals from
Mexico and Latin America. Because many of these types of undocumented immigrants arrive
with little or no skills, education, or economic resources, it has to an increase in immigrant child
poverty (Van Hook, Brown, & Kwenda, 2004). Another reason for high poverty rates are the low
wages of parents and the low labor force participation among undocumented women (Capps et
al., 2004).

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It is essential to comprehend that the decision to come to the United States legally or
illegally is hardly a choice. Most individuals, whether from Mexico, South America or anywhere
else in the world, choose to immigrate because the financial situation in their own countries has
become unbearable (Partida, 1996). According to Partida, in Mexico, out of every hundred
people who apply for a resident visa, two or three are able to obtain such documentation, and
they do so only after demonstrating that they have money enough to not be a burden to their new
host country, and patience enough to wait for months or years until all the paper work is in
compliance and filed accordingly. Those who are not able to obtain a legal visa, along with so
many more that do not even bother to apply, choose to make the trip, usually after some financial
crisis has occurred, suddenly, abruptly and illegally.
Poverty among undocumented children may also be linked to shifts in racial/ethnic
composition, heightened racial/ethnic discrimination, and the backlash against immigrants in the
United States. Persistent and growing racial discrimination today hinders undocumented
immigrants from incorporating socially and economically, unlike immigrants during the earlier
half of the twentieth century (Portes & Zhou, 1993; Waters, 1999).
The current trends in immigrant child poverty may be viewed as a change in the U.S.
receiving contact that makes it more difficult for immigrants today than for similar immigrants in
the past to lift their families out of poverty (Van Hook, Brown, & Kwenda, 2004). Poverty trends
may be more closely linked to changes in immigrants’ human capital and demographic
characteristics, such as declines in immigrant educational attainments and U. S. labor market
experience (Borjas, 1990), and increases in family size and single parenthood (Singley &
Landale 1998), than to changes in the U.S. context. Negative child outcomes are usually
associated with poverty.

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Other factors that may influence Latino delinquency include socio – cultural differences,
the youthfulness of the Latino population, lower levels of educational achievement, and low
levels of income compared to other groups (Cintron, 2006; Martinez, 2007; Perez – McClusky,
2002). Overall, the Latino population is young, and on average, achieves lower levels of
educational attainment and income compared to other groups (Unites States Census Bureau,
2007). Non – Latino Whites are less likely to live in poverty than Hispanic/Latinos.
As a result, working immigrant families are twice as likely to have incomes below 200%
of the federal poverty level. Overall, 52% of children of immigrants live below the poverty level,
compared with one – third of the children of native parents (Capps et al., 2004). Furthermore,
Therrien and Ramirez (2000) have found that while Latino children represent about 16% of all
children in the United States, they make up more than 29% of all children living in poverty.
Immigrants, who have less education on average, also have lower average household income.
Education
Scholars have argued that the sluggish economy in the US has made it more difficult for
new arrivals, many of whom start out with low levels of education, to work their way up the job
ladder (Portes & Zhou, 1993; Zhou & Bankston, 1998). The expectations of increases in
undocumented child poverty are likely associated with decline in the education, experience, and
skill levels of immigrant parents. Furthermore, data from the 2002 national Survey of America’s
Families indicate that 29% of children of immigrants have parents with less than a high school
education compared to 8% of children of natives, while 58% of children of immigrants have at
least one parent with limited English proficiency (Capps, Fix, Ost, Reardon – Anderson, &
Passel, 2004). As a result, according to Therrien and Ramirez (2000), more than two out of five
Latinos have not graduated from high school.

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The proportion of students in U.S. schools who are children of immigrants doubled from
1980 – 1997, from 10% to 20% (Morse, 2002). In the 1990s alone there was an increase of about
1 million immigrant students in schools (Gonzalez, 2005). One-fifth of all school children in
kindergarten through high school are children of immigrants (Fix and Passel, 2003). Therefore, it
is imperative that teachers receive proper education on how to interact with and be culturally
sensitive to youth who come from these minority groups. In the schools, discrimination of any
type can cause irreparable harm to educating disenfranchised groups of minority students
(Gibson, 2004).
In addition to race/ethnicity, student socioeconomic status is a factor for social
stratification in the U.S., and therefore is also important for examining segregated schools. This
may be a particularly important factor since racial/ethnic minorities still have lower average
socioeconomic statuses than Whites (Wells, 2007). Many Latinos may experience a “triple
segregation” by ethnicity, language, and socioeconomic status (Orfield & Lee, 2007). Those who
are undocumented can add a fourth factor into the mix.
Glenn (1992) stated that “immigrant and other linguistic minority children will be
educated effectively only in schools in which teachers are integrated, students are integrated, and
the school’s goals are integrated.” As noted by Powell (2005), “true integration is transformative
rather than assimilative”. This educational transformation requires understanding that integrated
schools prepare all students, immigrant and non – immigrant, White and students of color, to be
better members of our increasingly multicultural society (Wells, 2009).
Latino Immigrant adolescents of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican descent tend to
attend low SES schools; and schools attended by these Latino children of immigrants have more
problem behaviors and larger class sizes than schools attended by all other ethnic groups (Pong

38

& Hao, 2007). The racial integration of schools and the education of immigrant children in our
society are intertwined goals grounded in the notion that education best serves all students and
the entire society when students all get high – quality education. Wells (2009) points out that this
assertion is predicated on the idea that such an education prepares students to take part in our
diverse, pluralistic world, and is best accomplished in an educational system that does not
segregate or isolate students based on race, ethnicity, language, legal status, or other irrelevant
individual characteristics. As explicitly stated in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), separate is
inherently unequal.
In Plyler v Doe (1982), the court ruled that undocumented immigrant students have the
right to a free and equal education without discrimination based on their legal documentation
status. This ruling was based on the notion that the education of all students is in the public
interest, not just in the interest of those individual students. The Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
ruling, which dealt with higher education rather than K – 12, affirmed the notion that maintaining
a diverse student population was a compelling reason for race – conscious admissions. Quoting
Plyler, the 2003 Court wrote that an integrated educational system “is pivotal to ‘sustaining our
political and cultural heritage’ with a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society”
(Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003).
One area in which undocumented immigrant children often find it difficult to assimilate is
in school. Researchers have pointed out the school context as a source of inequality between
immigrant groups, and between immigrant and native students (Portes & Hao, 2004; Portes &
MacLeod, 1996). That learning styles and methods of processing information differ from culture
to culture is well documented in the professional literature (Partida, 1996). Yet, according to
Partida, immigrant children are taught and expected to process information in the same manner

39

as their “Anglo” counterpart. Many children who are unable to assimilate the changes in learning
styles are unable to catch up to their classmates. As a result, they are often incorrectly placed in
“specialized” classes diagnosed with attention deficit disorders (ADD), behavior learning
disorder (BLD), or emotionally learning disabled (ELD).
In New York City, for example, foreign – born elementary and secondary students that
are segregated from non – immigrants and foreign – born minorities tend to be more racially
isolated than their non – immigrant peers (Ellen, O’Regan, Schwartz, & Stiefel, 2008). In many
areas, schools have become more segregated by race/ethnicity, even as neighborhoods
desegregate (Reardon & Yun, 2001). The negative effects of educational isolation could
encourage one to look at the dominant geographical patterns of immigration as an impetus for
more efforts toward desegregation and integration, rather than a justification for the status quo
(Wells, 2009).
School districts need to test ways in order to increase access for immigrant students to
non – isolating environments. According to Wells (2009), schools must be creative in such
efforts, perhaps partnering with other schools that have different student compositions, creating
programs to purposefully integrate immigrants and non – immigrants, even in somewhat
segregated schools, or by taking the issue to the political arena and discussing district zoning and
related issues. Such reforms must take into account immigrant students’ race/ethnicity and
socioeconomic status to ensure that they have equal access to the general curriculum alongside
non – immigrants and White students from which they are currently segregated (Arias, Faltis, &
Cohen, 2007).
Myers (2007) demonstrates that as baby boomers age and retire, causing potential
problems with the present social security system, housing markets, and the economy in general, a

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vibrant immigrant population can be part of the solution as immigrants move up in employment
ranks and buy houses. Through Myers assessment, it is clear that a well-educated immigrant
population, which has the means for productive work in the American economy, will benefit our
nation’s economic crisis. A well-educated productive workforce begins with a high quality
education for all, not a system that is segregated and isolating for a crucial component of the
population.
It is estimated that 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each
year (UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, 2007). Many undocumented students are
honor students, athletes, student leaders, and aspiring professionals who want to have great
paying jobs with benefits. Because of their immigration status, though, the majority of these
young people are unable to access higher education. Even if they do, they are not legally able to
obtain employment upon graduation. Only about 5 and 10% of undocumented high school
graduates go to college, due to the fact of immigration policy barriers toward higher education
and their exemption from the legal workforce in the U.S. (Gonzales, 2007).
Denying undocumented students, most of whom are Latino/Latina, the opportunity to go
to college and join the skilled workforce sends the wrong message to Hispanics about the value
of a college education and the value that U.S. society places on their education, both at a time
when raising the educational attainment of the Latino/a population is increasingly important to
the nation’s economic health. If immigration policy is changed to give these undocumented
students the opportunity to be American citizens, then they may receive additional education and
move into higher and better paying jobs. This in turn would allow undocumented students who
work to contribute to the tax base and they will have additional resources to invest in our
economy.

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According to Gonzales (2007), the 10 states which, since 2001, have passed laws
allowing undocumented students who graduate from in-state high schools to qualify for in-state
college tuition have not experienced a large invasion of new immigrant students that “displaces”
native-born students or added financial burdens on their educational systems. Moreover, these
new polices have a tendency to increase school revenues by bringing in tuition from students
who otherwise would not be in college. In our public schools, educators and parents encourage
our students to aspire, yet immigration polity denies undocumented students the opportunity to
share in the “American Dream.”
Career Development
Current world changes have accounted for unprecedented movements of individuals
across the world in search of better life opportunities and conditions, especially employment
opportunities (Marsella & Ring, 2003). Census Bureau reports show that approximately three out
of four immigrants who are foreign-born have immigrated to the United States since 1980
(Larsen, 2004). The majority of immigrants who come from Latin nations seek employment after
their relocation to the United States (Schmidley, 2001). Information about the career
development and career transition issues of immigrants and refugees remains limited, yet career
counseling to these populations can be one of the most significant contributors to their positive
transition into a new culture (Yakushko, 2006). Moreover, immigrant youth are not likely to seek
to transition and adjust to their new living and work environments, but many of them view their
relocation as an opportunity to develop their career potential (Yakushko, Backhaus, Watson,
Ngaruiya, & Gonzalez, 2008).
Immigrants face unemployment, underemployment, and disqualification of their
previously held professional credentials (Berger, 2004). Immigrants are also less likely to obtain

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employment in their former occupation, and are often forced to work in the lowest levels of the
U.S. occupational ladder (Yakushko, 2006). Foner (2001), who interviewed immigrants residing
in New York City, found that majority experienced a loss of professional status upon
immigrating, from being a scientist, a teacher, or a clerical worker to working as a domestic aid.
Additionally, immigrants are disproportionately employed in physically demanding jobs and in
industries where there is substantial potential for injury (Center for Workforce Success, 2007).
Earnings for immigrant youth are typically low, and income is frequently directed toward
supporting families left at home (Larsen, 2004). Although employers cite lack of English skills as
the primary reason for low – level, dead – end jobs for many young immigrants, most work sites
do not facilitate language training. Moreover, many immigrants report financial pressure and
work at multiple sites for extended hours to support their families, which does not leave them
time to gain proficiency in English (Yakushko, 2006).
The key reason for migration is to search for adequate employment and hope for
opportunities to develop occupationally. However, recent immigrants and refugees face multiple
obstacles in their career development in the United States. Career development concerns of these
individuals are important to explore, in part because recent studies suggest that the economic and
sociopolitical pressures have many negative outcomes for immigrants even after lengthy periods
of time in the United States (Portes & Rumbaut, 2006).
Career development in the United States has paralleled other factors critical to the
nation’s growth. Just within the past few years, the career selection strategies selected by school
counselors have been called into question. The impact that career development has upon a young
person is long – term and inestimable. For it is through the process of career development that an
individual fashions a work identity (Tiedeman & O’Hara, 1963). However, in today’s world,

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“fashioning a work identity” may well be translated into “fashioning an identity.” In the
American culture, individuals are what they do. More frequently people are asked “What do you
do? Rather than “Who are you?” For the young Latino immigrant, this decision is critical in
determining the outcome of their lives.
Attitudes toward Immigration and Crime
A misperception that foreign born, especially illegal, immigrants are responsible for
higher crime rate is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is fueled by media anecdotes
and popular myth (Rumbaut & Ewing, 2007). Immigrant adolescents living in impoverished
communities are usually exposed to greater amounts of peer and drug abuse, violence, and crime
(Berman, Kurtines, Silverman, & Serafini, 1996). Juveniles are at high risk if exposed to
unlawful behavior as children. An exposure of high frequency and intensity of criminality in
young Latino children may lead them to be delinquent. Hartjen and Priyadarsinsi (2003) assert
that differential association with criminal peers, not having proper or effective societal controls,
or not having enough self-control, may be reasons for delinquency everywhere and among all
people. Santisteban, Coatsworth, Briones, and Szapocznik, (2006) has found that when parents
retain their Hispanic cultural practices it is positive alongside family performance and helps in
reducing adolescent delinquency. As Martinez and Lee (2000) concluded: “The major finding of
a century of research on immigration and crime is that … immigrants nearly always exhibit
lower crime rates than native groups” (p. 496).
Ousey and Kubrin (2009) acknowledged the macro-level relationship between
immigration and crime, identifying important gaps. These researchers noticed that despite the
fact that immigration is a macro-level social process that unfolds over time, longitudinal macrolevel research on the immigration-crime nexus is virtually non-existant. Moreover, while several

44

theoretical perspectives posit sound reasons why diachronic changes in immigration could result
in higher or lower crime rates, little is known about the reality of these arguments. To address
these issues, Ousey and Kubrin investigated the longitudinal relationship between immigration
and violent crime across U.S. cities, and provided the first empirical assessment of theoretical
perspectives that offer explanations of that relationship. Their findings support the argument that
immigration lowers violent crime rates by bolstering intact (two-parent) family structures.
Immigrants have been found (more often) to be victims, more often than perpetrators, of
crimes. The legacy of immigration can often be characterized as one of struggle, discrimination,
and violence (Rodriguez, 2007). According to Rodriguez (2007) the plight of immigration,
especially for non – Europeans, has been extremely difficult. Rodriguez (2007) has argued that
immigrants are also seen as the major contributors to the breakdown of the United States’
morality, unity, and stability. Inherently, Mexican youth may not be readily accepted by the
general public. Instead, they may be seen as outcasts who are nothing more than ordinary
criminals.
Another study conducted by Wilson (2001) hypothesized that Americans’ perception of
threatened group interests increases their opposition to policies benefiting immigrants. The
hypothesis is drawn from group threat theory, which holds that a dominant group’s hostility to a
subordinate group is a response to a perceived threat posed by subordinates to the dominant
group’s interest. Studies of White Americans’ attitudes toward policies and programs benefiting
African Americans generally support this claim. However, studies of Americans’ immigration
policy attitudes have to date yielded mixed results. Their study, using data from the 1994 General
Social Survey to test the hypothesis drawn from group threat theory, found that Americans’

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perception of threatened group interests influenced their opposition to policies benefiting
immigrants.
Wilson’s findings help extend previous studies in several ways: by addressing policy
views toward undocumented immigrants as well as legal immigrants, by considering a broader
range of group threats, and by distinguishing group threat from threat to self-interest. Findings
show that Americans’ perceptions of threats to their economic and cultural interests may exert
appreciable influences on their policy preferences, and that these influences are independent of
self-interest, anti-immigrant prejudice, conservatism, and economic outlook. Implications are
drawn for immigration policy reform and for the general applicability of group threat theory.
An exceptional study conducted by Esses, Dovidio, Jackson, and Armstrong (2011)
explored the bases and dynamics of attitudes toward immigration and immigrants in Canada and
the United States. Importantly, this article also considered the role of both perceived competition
for resources and group identity in determining attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in
North America. The authors provide background information on immigration policies and levels
of immigration to Canada and the United States. Following an overview of their theoretical
perspective, they then described the research that was conducted in Canada and the United States
indicating that perceived zero-sum competition between groups, whether situationally induced or
a function of chronic belief in zero-sum relations among groups is strongly implicated in
negative immigration attitudes (Esses, et. al., 2011). Additionally, the authors describe recent
attempts to improve attitudes toward immigrants and immigration through the targeting of zerosum beliefs and through manipulations of the inclusiveness of national identity.
High levels of worldwide migration paired with increasingly negative attitudes toward
immigrants and immigration in host countries indicate that it is crucial to gain an understanding

46

of the bases of these attitudes. Esses, Jackson, and Armstrong (1998) discuss one determinant of
negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration: perceived competition for resources.
Esses, Jackson, and Armstrong (1998) present an instrumental model of group conflict, which
suggests that competition for resources, and attempts to remove this competition, are important
determinants of intergroup attitudes and behavior. The authors then review relevant research on
perceived competition and attitudes toward immigrants and immigration. They conclude by
discussing the implications of this research for attempts to alleviate tension between immigrants
and members of host populations, for a more general model of group conflict.
Although few controversies in our political environment are as contentious as the current
debate over immigration policy, the research on public opinion toward immigration is quite
limited. In particular, little is known about the contextual determinants of opinions on
immigration issues. Hood and Morris (1995) address this issue by investigating the impact of
migrant context on Anglo opinions toward immigration. They found that Anglo support for
increased immigration is directly related to the size of the documented migrant population.
Conversely, as the relative size of the undocumented migrant population increases, Anglo
support for increased immigration decreases. Hood and Morris (1995) conclude with a
discussion of the relevance of their findings for the study of immigration opinion, in particular,
and the study of intergroup relations, more generally. These results have an important implication
for the future direction of Anglo opinion toward immigration policy. To the extent that the
balance between documented and undocumented migrants favors undocumented migrants, a
likely result of an especially restrictive legal immigration policy, then Anglo opinion will tend
toward increasing conservatism on the immigration issue.

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Increased restriction of legal immigration, if it has any effect on undocumented
migration, is likely to generate an increase in the level of undocumented immigration. Combined
with a reduction in legal immigration, a result of the conjectured change in immigration
requirements, the relative size of the undocumented population will increase at the expense of
the documented population (Hood & Morris, 1995). Under these conditions, the inverse
relationship between undocumented migrant context and public opinion implies a growing
conservatism toward legalized immigration.
Racism, Discrimination, and Abuse
Individuals who oppose any type of legalization contend that it will increase the flow of
illegal immigration, ignite population growth, place more stress on the economy, hurt the
overcrowded and under budgeted public schools, and further deplete the water shortage in the
Southwest (LeMay, 2007). These opponents contend that undocumented immigrants come to the
U.S. to exploit our public healthcare and our public welfare system. Critics have noted that U.S.
citizens have the burden of paying many of the bills for the undocumented individuals, from
hospital bills for their babies, burying their dead, to surgical and emergency medical care. Other
anti – immigrant sentiments concern the ideas of theft and the scarcity of resources. “They’re
taking our jobs,” “they are bleeding the system dry,” and “they take advantage of the services”
are three of the most common refrains of this popular discourse (Negron – Gonzalez, 2009).
According to Kamau (2005), emergency rooms and hospitals have had to close their doors due to
the high numbers of individuals with no insurance and the undocumented. Accordingly this
population often experiences prejudice, racism, and a status of a lower class as members of a
“pariah” group, who take advantage of American resources without any contribution to its
resource pool (Sullivan & Rehm). Usually, these “pariah” groups are used as scapegoats for the

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problems that exist in our nation. Undocumented youth are faced with more pervasive
experiences of exploitation, vulnerability, and hardships and sometimes are discriminated against
by documented individuals in their own cultural communities (Chavez, 1991; Luttinger & Chen,
2008). Anti – immigrant activists have been successful at equating “illegal” with “criminal,”
therefore casting all undocumented people as criminals, despite the fact that many of them are
well – respected, hardworking community members, professionals, or honor – roll students
(Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortes, 2009).
This reality of abuse fostered by discriminatory immigration laws and economic relations
force undocumented youth to enter an illegal underground culture of violence later reinforced by
labor abuse and even racial or physical maltreatment (Solis, 2003). Furthermore, undocumented
youth face constant institutional and societal exclusion and rejection due to their undocumented
status (Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortes, 2009). This does not mean that the abuser
is always of the majority group. Many times the perpetrator who abuse undocumented youth are
of the same ethnic group and or national origin. Undocumented youth are faced with more
pervasive experiences of exploitation, vulnerability, and hardships and sometimes are
discriminated against by documented individuals in their own cultural communities (Chavez,
1991; Luttinger & Chen, 2008). Employed undocumented immigrants are often exploited and
made vulnerable by employers, who give uncertain and lower wages. Lower employment status
in the secondary job market will also increase the psychological stress among this group (Ellis,
2010).
Discrimination will affect the acculturation experiences of an individual as well as an
entire group (Yeh, Kim, Pituc, & Atkins, 2008). Exposure to racism can lead to feelings of
invisibility which precipitate feelings of helplessness, resulting in low self – esteem and

49

ultimately the loss of cultural identity (Yeh, Kim, Pituc, & Atkins, 2008). Critically, these
marginalized individuals and groups are excluded from participating in society with respect to
educational and political rights or medical care; and these undocumented individuals are less
likely to acculturate to American culture and suffer from greater levels of acculturative stress
(Williams & Berry, 1991). Marginalized individuals exposed to discrimination may explore
racial and ethnic identity (Ponterotto & Park – Taylor, 2007). Undocumented youth face several
discriminatory encounters both as a group and at the individual level (Luttinger & Chen, 2008).
Research has indicated the importance for members of stigmatized groups to formulate a
positive outlook towards their ethnic and racial group as a positive sense of ethnic identity may
serve a protective or buffering role (Perreira, Harris, & Lee, 2006). Identification and a sense of
connection towards one’s racial or ethnic group, as well as, the maintenance of a critical
consciousness regarding discrimination, is required (Quintana, 2007). These discriminatory
experiences may also affect positive feelings among one’s ethnic or racial culture, therefore
stunting ethnic identity development, as well as limiting achievements and aspirations (Yeh et al.,
2003).
What specific hardships and obstacles do undocumented Latino youth face as they try to
successfully (albeit illegally) immigrate into the U.S.? How exactly do these hardships and
obstacles limit their life-chances and hurt their prospects for eventual adult success? What
specific current U.S. immigration policies and laws cause, or at least exacerbate, these hardships
and obstacles? How will the denial of basic rights to due process, processed in an immigration
system constructed for adults, and lack of ability to speak English, hurt these children and their
likelihood of ever having a fair chance for justice? What specific changes or additions to these

50

policies and laws and to their legal status, should be made, in order to help, rather than hurt,
these children and their life prospects?
Scant Knowledge on Undocumented Youth
Most undocumented Latino immigrants enter the United States by way of the Mexican
border, traveling by foot, train, or motor vehicles (Bhabha & Schmidt, 2006). As some observers
have pointed out, though, ORR statistics do not paint a complete portrait of the migration of
unaccompanied children. Each government agency that comes into contact with unaccompanied
children keeps its own records. For example, ORR statistics do not include those children who
are apprehended by the DHS but never referred to the ORR (Byrne, 2008). Researchers’ efforts
to obtain data about children apprehended by the DHS have thus far been unsuccessful. Another
problem concerns the fact that most government statistics—whether from the ORR or other
agencies—have had little to say about unaccompanied children who do not come into contact
with the authorities.
This problem is not unique to the United States. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many
countries noted an increase in the migration of unaccompanied children, and subsequently began
to study the phenomenon. However, most of these studies focused on child asylum seekers who
had come into contact with the authorities (Maloney, 2002). Many observers have since cited the
need for research that would take into account unaccompanied children who do not come into
contact with the authorities, thus providing more reliable information about who these children
are, where they are living, from where they come, and why they traveled. It will truly be a unique
experience to interview this unique unauthorized population. Many researchers do not have
access to undetected immigrant youth due to the numerous dilemmas throughout the course of
research (Ko & Perreira, 2010; Chavez, 2009).

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Research on issues related to undocumented immigrants is normally in the fields of
anthropology, sociology, public policy and nursing (Aroian, 1993; Chavez, 1998; Seif, 2004;
Sullivan & Rehm, 2005). In 1998 the American Psychological Association developed the APA
Resolution on Immigrant Children, Youth and Families, making this official notice among this
professional society, highlighting psychological repercussions of documented immigrants
including trauma, stress, and the negative effects of their acculturation experiences (APA, 1998).
A multifaceted examination of the educational performance and the social, cultural, and
psychological adaptation of children of immigrants conducted by The Children of Immigrants
Longitudinal Study (CILS) is considered to be the largest study of its kind in the U.S. (Rumbaut,
2000; Portes & Rumbaut, 2001). As its primary finding, the CILS study noted that more than
90% of the children of undocumented immigrants live in households where English was not the
primary language, putting them at a cultural disadvantage (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001; Rumbaut,
2000).
Undocumented immigrant children and the U.S. – born children of undocumented
immigrants is the fastest growing segment of the United States child – age population, which
makes up 20% of all United States children. Furthermore, higher birth rates among
undocumented parents and the continuous flow of migration will continue to increase, both legal
and illegal (Sullivan & Rehm, 2005). “Immigrant stock,” first generation, foreign – born
individuals and second – generation, American – born individuals with at least one parent born in
a foreign nation, now exceed an estimated 60 million (Sullivan & Rehm, 2005).
There is still a gap in the literature regarding the life experiences of undocumented youth
as they experience similar problems of legal documented immigrant youth but are much more
limited in respect to mobility, healthcare access, occupations, and education (Sullivan & Rehm,

52

2005). Accordingly, this study will use qualitative methods for the purposes of analyzing these
problems and of giving a voice to the unknown experiences of undocumented youth in the
United States who are without parents or guardians. The methodology for completing this
proposed study is described in Chapter 3.

Chapter 3
Method
This chapter provides a description of the methodology and research design used in this
study. Scholars and researchers have not addressed the gap in the literature when considering the
experiences of unaccompanied alien youth as they experience the acculturative stressors similar
to authorized immigrants, in addition to limited occupational, educational, health care access,
adult supervision, and mobility (Sullivan & Rehm, 2005).
This study relied on qualitative methods for the purpose of giving a voice to the
experiences of undocumented youth who migrated to the United States without parents or
guardians. Qualitative research methods are preferred in this study over quantitative methods due
the nature of the questions and details sought. A qualitative approach was suitable in
understanding the experiences of a group of people or an individual person from the perspective
of those who have actually lived through it. This study has contributed to the limited knowledge
supplied by available research utilizing a phenomenological approach to understand and explore
the distinctive and shared experiences of undocumented youth, paying particular consideration to
their distress, problems, and needs (Wertz, 2005).
The compilation of official statistics on unaccompanied youth should allow for
quantitative analysis and appropriation of funds for immigration reform efforts and services to

53

unaccompanied youth. Unfortunately, since August 2006 the Office of Refugee Resettlement
(ORR) under the US Department of Health and Services (DHHS) stopped providing data on
unaccompanied youth under their supervision (Bernat & Winkeller, 2010; Gozdiak & Bump,
2008). Before August 2006, researchers were allowed some non-identifiable data on
unaccompanied youth, including their ethnicity/nationality, date of birth and age at the time of
detection, gender, and marital status (Bernat & Winkeller, 2010; Gozdiak & Bump, 2008).
Information on prosecution is also confidential. Therefore, in attempt to capture the reality of the
life experiences of unaccompanied youth on the U.S./Mexican border, a qualitative methodology
was necessary for this clandestine group.
Exploring numerous personal and individual obstacles may be accomplished through
qualitative research; this will allow capturing the multiple realities that exist for undocumented
individuals (Ponterotto, 2005). This qualitative research approach also allowed for phenomena to
emerge from the participants. Strauss and Corbin (1998) have demonstrated how qualitative
methods are preferable for research involving issues in the exploratory phases of research.
This study has explored how effective undocumented youth on the United States–Mexico
border are at overcoming obstacles (racism, discrimination, language barriers, oppressive laws,
poverty, lack of education, stress, etc.) to become productive individuals in our society. Even
facing myriad obstacles, these undocumented youth do not seem to be thwarted from
immigrating. As more immigrants relocate to different areas of the United States, it is imperative
for educators, health service providers, researchers, and policymakers to become familiar with
their needs and contributions to society, especially those of immigrant youth (Coronado, 2008).
Social justice aims are a motivational factor for using grounded theory in this research
(Marrow, 2005). The grounded theory approach is not only a “methodological exemplar,” but it

54

is may also be utilized to facilitate mental health counseling and advocacy (Fassinger, 2005). The
understanding of critical existing issues, with regard to issues of documentation status on
personal identity and career development of undocumented youth, has allowed the researcher to
distribute this knowledge to others. The distribution of these findings will also assist those
responsible for policy formulation, educational and career advancement, and counseling, as well
as anybody who may be concerned with the plight of, or otherwise work with, undocumented
immigrant youth. Grounded theory has the ability to impact therapeutic relationships on a micro
level. Essentially, by developing a greater depth of understanding of the issues relating to
unaccompanied alien youth, the results of grounded theory research will reach policymakers who
have the power of real change.
Children come to the United States for various reasons. Among the approximately one
million individuals who are apprehended while crossing the United States border each year, there
are nearly one hundred thousand unaccompanied children. These undocumented youth are
confronted with barriers that limit their chances for upward mobility, as evident in their restricted
access to higher education and legal employment. What may be done to assist these youth to
maximize their potential? Through in–depth interviews with unaccompanied alien Latino youth
from the Rio Grande Valley, Texas area, the researcher has examined how legal standing shapes
the way these undocumented youth perceive their status in the United States. Given the
researcher’s experiences with this rare population, he has been able to access various networks
and develop a trust among the participants to conduct interviews in order to obtain narratives
from these undetected Latino youth.

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The Researcher
Establishing a paradigmatic view is imperative when conducting qualitative research due
to the nature of its subjectivity. A research team or a single researcher may conduct qualitative
inquiries (Fassinger, 2005). Prior expectations and the principles of the researcher cannot be
separated from the process of research in many qualitative approaches (Ponterotto, 2005). The
researcher has been responsible for conducting all interviews in addition to selecting and
recruiting each of the participants. As a result, the researche bracketed his biases before starting
the research process.
The researcher grew up with many undocumented family members in the Rio Grande
Valley, Texas, which both colors his perspective, and also allows for a deep understanding of the
struggles experienced by marginalized individuals hoping to succeed on the U.S.-Mexican
Border. The researcher is a Latino male, Mexican/American doctoral student in Juvenile Justice
who is aware of his naturalized privilege of being a citizen of the United States of America.
Growing up with undocumented grandparents and numerous undocumented aunts, uncles and
cousins in the Rio Grande Valley has allowed the researcher to view, first-hand, some of the
struggles mixed-status families go through while existing with the terror of possible deportation.
The Participants
The influential years of childhood may be impacted by the experiences and perceptions
constructed during the process of migration and the potential for or actual occurrence of,
deportation. Undocumented Latino immigrant youth in the United States experience many
lifelong challenges that threaten their well-being in the future, whether detected or not. The
challenge for these youth is exacerbated for those arriving in the United States with no adult
supervision. Due to limited access of this surreptitious population, the following characteristics

56

will be relied on the selection of the participants: being undetected; under the age of 21 when
first arrived on U.S. territory; unmarried when first arrived to the U.S.; and, with no adult
supervision when crossing the US/Mexican border. 12 participants have been interviewed. The
reason for choosing this particular sub-population of undetected immigrants is due to their
potential eligibility to qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS was created by
the Immigration Act of 1990, which provides certain immigrant youth the opportunity to obtain
legal citizenship. In order to be classified as a SIJS, the petitioner must not be older than 21
years, must not be unmarried, remain under the custody of a juvenile court until SIJS process is
complete, not with parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and returning to his/her native
country is not in the youth’s best interest (Byrne, 2008). According to Byrne (2008) no child can
be denied SIJS because of “age,” as long as the petitioner was less than 21 years of age at the
time of application. This may have been the only time these participants could have had the
opportunity to permanently and lawfully apply for U.S. citizenship after living the in the country
for 5 years. Unfortunately, at the time of the interview, many of the participants may have
exceeded their 21st birthday. Nevertheless, it should be known that youth who come from Mexico
do not qualify as a SIJS. As long as these youth remain in the U.S. with no immigration status,
they may not obtain legal employment or apply for college loans or other benefits, and they will
remain susceptible to exploitation and victimization (Bronstein & Montgomery, 2011).
12 undocumented immigrant youths without parents during migration to the Rio Grande
Valley, Texas, area (United States – Mexico Border), have been recruited through snowball
sampling (Cornelius, 1982). Snowballing is the technique whereby participants refer others
within the same social network that matches the inclusion criteria that are willing to participate.
It is vital that participants speak freely without fear or intimidation with the researcher.

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Qualitative research such as this one, which exhausted in-depth interviews with such clandestine
population, uses purposive sampling instead of random sampling. Previously established
relationships with undocumented individuals allowed the researcher an opportunity to encourage
this clandestine population to recommend other participants who meet the inclusion criteria.
Based on the sensitive and risky issue of being undocumented, snowballing is suitable for this
population, and it has been utilized in other studies of undocumented immigrants (Chavez, 2009,
Chavez, 1991; 1994; Ellis, 2010).
It was expected that most of the participants would be male given the literature and
statistics on detected immigrant youth. As such, all of the participants were male. As mentioned
above, the participants were undetected at the time of the interviews. Therefore, the
demographics related to gender were not equivalent to those of undocumented immigrants that
have been detected. ORR statistics do not paint a complete portrait of the migration of
unaccompanied children. Each government agency that comes into contact with unaccompanied
children keeps its own records. ORR statistics do not include those children who are
apprehended by the DHS but never referred to the ORR (Byrne, 2008). Researchers’ efforts to
obtain data about children apprehended by the DHS have thus far been unsuccessful. Another
problem concerns the fact that most government statistics—whether from the ORR or other
agencies—have had little to say about unaccompanied children who do not come into contact
with the authorities.
This problem is not unique to the United States. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many
countries noted an increase in the migration of unaccompanied children, and subsequently began
to study the phenomenon. However, most of these studies focused on child asylum seekers who
had come into contact with the authorities (Maloney, 2002). Many observers have since cited the

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need for research that would take into account unaccompanied children who do not come into
contact with the authorities, thus providing more reliable information about how many
unaccompanied children arrive in a given country each year, who these children are, where they
are living, where they come from, and why they migrated.
Data Collection and Procedure
This research was accomplished according to the ethical guidelines and standards of
practice of Prairie View A&M University Institutional Review Board. In addition, preventive
measures were implemented to decrease the possibility of jeopardizing participants’ identity as
unaccompanied youth become uncovered. Pseudonyms, for instance, were given to all
participants in this study by the researcher. Also, there is no identifiable information in the
documents connected to analyses. These and other preventive measures are essential, and were
employed to guarantee that participants in this research will not be at risk with the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services. The researcher was responsible for conducting all
interviews, in addition to selecting and recruiting participants. Participants were asked to contact
the researcher directly, and all third party contacts were not included in conversations held with
the participant to maintain confidentiality.
As participants communicated with the researcher, the researchers explained the purpose
of the study as well as answered any questions the participants had. At that point participants
were also asked if they preferred their interviews in Spanish or in English. All interview
questionnaires were translated into Spanish to meet each participant’s preference. To ensure that
all participants match the inclusion criteria, a demographic form was completed and submitted to
the researcher before interviews began.

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Numerous stages are involved when utilizing guidelines for grounded theory research, as
well as simultaneous data collection and analysis (Fassinger, 2005). Interview location is very
important because it has to be a place that the youth feel the most comfortable to talk about their
unaccompanied experiences. Each participant was allowed to choose their own location.
Location of interviews will not be disclosed to ensure confidentiality. Audio taping was used
during each of the interviews. As stated above, all participants were assigned pseudonyms
provided by the researcher during all stages of the research. Interviews will rangeed from 90
to120 minutes. Transcriptions were also completed by the researcher for accuracy on all
audiotapes. Before interviews began, the participants were asked if they may be audio recorded
during the interview process. Participants were also informed that all files will be deleted as soon
as the research was completed. After completion of the interview, transcriptions were sent to all
participants, who were encouraged to make any additions, appropriate changes, or deletions to
any of the response they want omitted from the analyses. It is the hope of the researcher that all
12 participants will continue to be in contact even after the study is complete. When available,
analyses were conducted using the edited account of the transcriptions. All analyses included
participant elaborations, modifications, comments, and suggestions.
The method of collecting data was based mainly on interviews, in line with acquiring a
qualitative understanding of unaccompanied youths’ experiences. In order to acquire an in-depth
understanding of the experiences of these youth, a semi-structured interview process was
employed by the researcher, as experiences of these youth may not be obtained by conducting
other methods. Interviewing these youth permitted the researcher to elucidate details that may
have been unnoticed in the course of other methods. To gather demographic data and other
essential correlated information, a questionnaire was included prior to the interview.

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Semi-structured interviews will be employed to extract participants’ experiences as
unaccompanied youth in the U.S. Questions included feelings about participating in this study,
and the impact their legal status has had in terms of being victims of crime and labor abuse,
border crossing experiences, and future aspirations. Most of the questions were adapted from the
psychological and sociological literature on immigrants and undocumented youth. Utilizing
open–ended questions through in–depth interviews has been the appropriate methodology for
carrying out research among undocumented immigrants who are difficult to define or sample
through normative resources (Chavez, 1991; Cornelius, 1982; McGuire & Georges, 2003).
In order to ensure that answers from participants were truthful and honest, the researcher
did his best to probe where necessary and report all responses he received from the interview in
an accurate manner. There is no way in guaranteeing that all data being obtained is ingenuous.
The researcher conducted additional investigations where necessary to confirm concerned
information. The semi-structured interview process allowed the researcher to measure responses
and transcribe, with clarification, questions during the dialogue. The semi-structured interview
also ensured that all participants were asked the same questions in the same order during the
interview process. Yet, the informal structure of the interviews helped achieve the purpose of the
research, which is a phenomenological approach to gain information from the participants.
The unaccompanied youth being asked to participate in this study were asked to review
the consent form and ask any questions prior to beginning the interviews. Explanations in
Spanish were provided by the researcher to clarify the purpose of the research and answer any
additional questions they might have had. Knowing the participants language (Spanish) has
immense benefits in terms of rapport and understanding. Being bilingual allows for a higher
comfort level among research participants, and the bond facilitated the collection of additional

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textured and richer data. The reason is that most of the participants were bilingual, which often
resulted in code switching (in a sentence some words will be in Spanish and others in English)
during the semi-structured interviews. Participants were likely to feel more at ease
communicating their perspective on particular themes in Spanish and others in English. When all
interviews were completed, the researcher transcribed and translated the Spanish conference into
English. The translations and transcriptions were then verified and reviewed by the researcher. In
order to assure the highest level of comfort for the participant and the researcher, confidentiality
was protected, and the participants have been made aware of this. Furthermore, the researcher
gained trust among this clandestine group by letting them know that he has undocumented
friends and was raised in a mixed-status family, which ensured the highest degree of accuracy in
information obtained.
Even facing myriad obstacles, undocumented youth do not seem to be thwarted from
immigrating. So what seems to be the motivational factor that continues to draw undocumented
immigrant youth to the U.S.? The reason(s) these youth left their homes and traveled hundreds
of miles to the U.S. raises some of the most important questions this research is attempting to
answer. Beyond this, the study has documented victimization experienced by the youth both
during their journey and once settled in the U.S. What types of obstacles have the youth
encountered in the educational and work arenas? What are the effects of poverty on the way that
the youth have lived and survived? What types of discrimination and exploitation have the youth
experienced? What are their prior, current, and future fears and aspirations? In sum, the study has
documented how these youth have responded to the strains and stressors that arise from their
undocumented status.

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Analysis
The interviews were transcribed, coded, and examined for patterns and themes in the
responses. Data analysis may be approached by a variety of methods, according to Corbin’s
(2008) explanation of analysis in grounded theory research. An aim of this study was for the
researcher to articulate to the reader the unaccompanied youths’ dialogue through his immersion
in the recorded interviews and transcriptions. Miles and Huberman (1994) suggest that the
analysis process begins throughout the data collection period of the research. Qualitative content
analysis allows the researcher to comprehend social reality in a subjective but scientific manner
(Zhang & Wildemuth, 2009). The researcher has seeked to comprehend the meaning of each
section of the interview, and the connection to each other section and to the entire meeting. This
phase of the research was repeated in each subsequent phase of interviews and transcriptions.
The primary coder was also the researcher, as he revised and translated all revised
interview notes and recordings. Grounded theory research and analysis starts with the first
interview or original data collection (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). In accordance with Fassinger
(2005), this phase of data analysis is described as open coding. The researcher took notes during
the recorded interviews while surveying the participant. The researcher was sensitive and
listened devotedly to the participant. Upon completing the data collection, all revised transcripts
were translated into English.
After all translations were completed, revised, and entered into Microsoft Word 2010, the
transcriptions were then uploaded into ATLAS.ti Version 7.0 for additional analysis (Muhr,
1997). During this phase of the analysis, the researcher read each transcript separately in order to
capture meaning and main ideas. The researcher has produced labels to capture the essence of
each interview component, and then compare and contrast all transcripts and audio recordings. In

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the final phase, the researcher has reviewed the data and cluster comparable thoughts collectively
into themes and codes representative of each premise (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Based on the
coding list constructed by the researcher (see Appendices D and E), he then has coded transcripts
using ATLAS.ti Version 7.0.
In order to identify other emerging themes, a constant comparison method was utilized,
with all transcripts being re-read and re-translated into English to ensure consistent coding of the
emerging themes. After the conclusion of coding, the researcher has created domain charts that
mapped ideas and the interrelationships among concepts. In this phase of the research the
ATLAS.ti Version 7.0 assisted in categorizing and recognizing major themes revealed throughout
analysis of the recorded interview (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). This chart has helped the researcher
to assess uncharacteristic results that did not fit the pattern identified for most of the participants.
This procedure was identical with each interview, and was repeated until categories were clearly
elucidated and there was the emergence of no new data. .
The occurrence of saturation put this research in its final stage of analysis. This phase of
the research involved the generation of a theory illustrating the interrelationship among themes
and codes. The discovery of thick description was completed throughout the research process,
and is an essential undertaking for the qualitative researcher (Ponterotto, 2006). All participants’
illustrations were quoted in the results. The integration of descriptive data from the surveys with
the qualitative data has been displayed in certain tables and figures where appropriate. The
researcher has been obligated to comprehend and present an understandable representation of the
participants contained in the circumstances of their culture and interview setting in order to
identify the underlying meaning of the participant’s words. Thick description allowed the
researcher to make “thick” explanations, eventually resulting in “thick” meaning. This allowed

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the reader to understand the perspective of the youth being interviewed, as though the
experiences of these unaccompanied youth happened to the readers themselves. The descriptive
data has helped provide a sense of how salient and characteristic a particular participant’s
experience is while migrating, border crossing, and living on the US/Mexican border.
Limitations of the Study
Though this research has a number of strengths, it also has limitations that suggest further
research to improve the understanding of the migration experience and its effects on
unaccompanied youth development. First, this qualitative research focused on unaccompanied
youth on the U.S./Mexican border. Unfortunately, many of these youth will migrate to other parts
of the U.S., and future contact with these youth may not be practical. Second, the majority of
youth participating in this qualitative research were of Mexican and Honduran origin, low socioeconomic status families who migrated principally for monetary reasons. The experiences of
immigrants who migrate for educational reasons, who have significant socio-economic
resources, or who come to the U.S. in response to political violence and civil strife may be
different from those of the participants in this study (Zuniga, 2002). Additional exploration needs
to be done to understand the experiences of these significant subsets of undocumented immigrant
youth, and the way these experiences shape their development. Third, this study has been
completed on the U.S/Mexican border (Rio Grande Valley), Texas at one point in time. This
study will not be able to observe the process of these youths’ changes over time or in comparison
to other unaccompanied youth throughout the United States. To develop a more comprehensive
understanding of unaccompanied youth and their transitions in the U.S. more transnational and
comparative longitudinal data are needed.

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Expected Findings
As it were expected many of these unaccompanied Latino youth disclosed encounters in
which they have been exploited by employers, human smugglers (coyotes), and others. Due to
their status, interviews also disclosed whether these youths have been victims or perpetrators of
crime, and why these youths chose to leave their homeland and venture hundreds of miles to the
U.S. As expected all the participants in this study fled their native homes due to the stressors and
strains caused by poverty. None of the undetected youth were expected to be enrolled in school,
but only to be working in low-paying jobs. This research proved different as some of the
participants are in school and even in college. The researcher also disclosed whether or not these
youth are hoping to stay permanently on the U.S./Mexican border, travel to other parts of the
U.S., or travel back to their native countries.
Chapter 4
Unaccompanied Latino Youth on the US/Mexican Border
This chapter will disclose the findings on the experiences of 12 unaccompanied youth
which trekked across the US/Mexican border. The transcripts were analyzed according to the
process and procedures detailed in chapter 3. Details about these undetected youth’s experiences
while migrating to the US/Mexican border, border crossing experiences, as well as, the strains
and struggles that accompany these youths while living in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas will be
revealed. The hopes, motivation and envisage of these youth will similarly be disclosed. Themes
that emerged from in-depth interviews with these 12 unaccompanied youth who participated in
this research will be further analyzed using Atlas.ti 7.0 Version in this chapter.

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Participant narratives and detailed descriptions about why, when, and how these youth
came to the US/Mexico border and crossed into the United States will be provided. Most of these
now young adults navigate their lives on a day to day basis without legal documentation,
minimal education, and minimal work experience. Despite their undocumented status, minimal
support from outside sources (e.g., parents, government support,) and multiple barriers (e.g.,
language barrier, lack of occupational opportunities, minimal education), these undocumented
youth demonstrate high levels of resiliency by continuing to seek employment and attempt to
better their lives while living on the US/Mexican border (Rio Grande Valley, Texas).
The categories that materialized from the data are presented in a descriptive narrative
style in order to framework the context of the grounded theory. In order to provide thick
description of the emerging theory, participant’s responses were comprised in the presentation of
categories. This chapter reveals the themes that emerged and were discovered from the narratives
of the 12 participants. Primary outcomes produced key obstacles and motivations for participants
while migrating and living on the US/Mexican border. Conversely, in-depth analysis concluded
that the migration and border crossing experiences impacted these youth in becoming more
resilient and responsible individuals.
This chapter has been organized in three categories. The first, category will provide
demographic details and background information concerning each of the 12 respondents who
qualified for this study. Therefore, describing each of the 12 participants (see Table 1).
Background Information, will be the first category, and this will show emphases on their
individual backgrounds include country of origin, age of arrival, current age, level of education,
and familial. The second, Migration and Border Crossing Experiences, will provide details of
their migration experiences and border crossings. The final, category, Post-crossing, Social

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Experiences and Information, will illustrate social experiences, work experiences, socio
economic, living situations, uses of alcohol or drugs, and future aspirations and motivations in
order to help paint a better picture of each respondent in hand. The next section will start with 5
of the participants that originated from Honduras. This section will end with the remaining 7
participants that originated from Mexico. Pseudonyms have been utilized in order to maintain
anonymity.
5 Unaccompanied Honduran Youth
Marvin’s Background Information: Marvin has a 6th grade education and is the oldest of
two siblings, a brother and a sister which still live in Honduras. Marvin explains that there was a
time in his life when he was happy in Honduras.
There was a time when I was happy with my parents in Honduras. One time my mom
hurt my father when I was about ten years old and I am the oldest sibling. The betrayal of
my mom towards my father casued a lot of fights, disfunction, seperations, and after all
this our mom prefered to abandon us. She left and we never heard from here again. I did
not want to hear from her, anyway.

Table 1: Profiled Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth
Age
Pseudonym Now,
as of
2012
Marvin**
18

Detected
by US
Border
Patrol
No

Country
of Origin

Age of
Arrival

Honduras

Bryan

No

Honduras

20

Level of
Education

Acquired
Human
Smuggler

14

Victim
of Crime
and/or
Violence
Yes

5th grade

$600

10

Yes

College

$3,500

th

Cowboy

16

No

Honduras

12

Yes

9 grade

No

Morris*

21

No

Honduras

18

Yes

6th grade

$800

Joey*

21

Yes

Honduras

13

Yes

th

$800

th

6 grade

Bobby

23

No

Mexico

16

Yes

5 grade

$350

Henry
Dynamo

25
22

No
Yes

Mexico
Mexico

16
13

Yes
Yes

2nd grade
College

$350
No

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Dan
24
No
Mexico
17
Yes
5th grade
$800
Marco
33
No
Mexico
15
Yes
College
$Yes
Christopher 25
No
Mexico
19
No
8th grade
$350/$450
th
Victor
27
Yes
Mexico
19
No
6 grade
$250
*Note: Morris & Joey are brothers. **Note: Marvin is first cousins with Morris & Joey.

He states that in Honduras it has been economically tough. His father told him to come to the US
to study. At the age of 14 he first came to the United States in attempt to unite with his father in
Kansas City, Kansas. Marvin was migrating with his cousin, cousin’s wife, and their 8 year old
son. His uncle, aunt, and cousin were captured before making it to the US/Mexican border.
In Escobedo Guanajuato, we were roughly 30 imigrants resting on a field when
the soldiers, federal agents, and immigration officials surounded us. My cousin
told me to run, as he said, “I am staying here, I can not run I have my wife and
son.” My cousin told a boy about 16 years old from Guatemala to run with me
and try to escape. So, I ran and fell a couple of times due to the loose dirt, but I
got up each time and kept running. I saw many people getting caught and I saw
one man alone at a distance so, I ran towards his direction and he got in front of
me. I ran to the left then he moved to his right so, I ran as fast as I could to the
right and I was able to escape. After escaping I came back and spoke to some
coyotes (human smugglers) who told me that all the people were captured and I
was the only one who escaped.
Marvin was lucky to escape and continue his venture alone to the US/Mexican border. Now, at
the age of 18, he is working at a mechanic shop from Monday thru Saturday. On Sundays he
works at a local flea market and sells, cell phones and cell phone accessories.
Marvin’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences. It took Marvin two months to get
from Honduras to the US. In his journey he was locked up for some time with coyotes (human
smugglers) and was kidnapped for a few days in Mexico by gang members. In Mexico on the
vestia (rain), Zetas (gang members of both Mexican and Honduran descent) got him off the train
thinking he was a coyote (human smuggler), because he was with his uncle, aunt, and eight year
old nephew.

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They got us off the train with macheties and firearms. They through us on the
floor with our hands on our heads. I did not want to lay on the floor. I was asked
to lay on the floor, but I did not do as they asked and they left me alone. Later, the
Zetas took us to a room and I saw a lot of blood and it scared me. They were
butchering a hog and I felt better. The hog was to be used to feed other people
that were locked up. After that we were transported to another location where the
main boss was at. The head boss was young, very young about 18 years old. The
18 year old boss kept asking us if we had money or someone who can come get
us. We kept telling him “no.” He told us we can leave the next day on the train
and he allowed us to leave.
Another problem they had in attemptint to get onto another box cart was that it was full
of people. People in a second cart were members of the mala salvatrucha (MS-13) and mala 18
gang members. So, they asked the gang members if they could get on with them. The gang
members (MS-13, mala 18) asked us if we were Mexican, but we told them no we are Honduran.
So, they were allowed to enter on to the box cart. Note that MS-13 and mala 18 (comprised of
Salvadorians and Honduran) gang members are rivals to the Zetas (comprised of Mexicans).
Later, the Zetas gang members stopped the train. The zetas got all the people off
the train and most of the people just took off running. We tried to run, but could
not. We were mixed in the box cart with many salvatrucha and mala 18 gang
members. The salvatruchas and mala 18 gang members told us not to get off the
train but to duck down. Each gang member had either a “cuerno de chivo” (AK47), machete, and other firearms. The zetas pointed down at us into the box cart
with their weapons. Gang members began to sware at each other. The zetas
told the salvatruchas and mala 18 “nos vale” (we do not care for your life).
Salvatruchas and mala 18 members replied in the same manner. We thru ourselves
to the floor of the box cart waiting for both gangs to begin shooting each other.
The zeta’s decided to leave instead of having an all out battle. The salvatruchas
stayed on the box cart with us. If it was not for the salvatruchas I do not know
what the outcome would have been. There were around 15 zeta gang members
and more salvatruchas. Around 25 salvatruchas in two different box carts.
Later, on his trip he called his father to send money so, he could pay a coyote to put him on a bus
to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico (border town). A coyote provided him wiht false documents to
help him elude Mexican immigration. Marvin got lucky as he was able to lower a baseball cap

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down in fron of his face and pretended he was asleep and immigration officers did not question
him.
Upon arriving in Reynosa his father sent him more money. This money was to pay
another coyote to cross the Rio Grande River onto the United States. Crossing the Rio Grande
River was no problem. As they used inflatable tubes to float to the US side. They walked a litttle
through a wooded area full of mesquite and cactus. In the front was a coyote and another man,
making sure there were no US immigration officers. The coyote later got a call from the man
who was in front and the coyote told us to get out of there. The US immigration officers were
around them.
We all started running back through a small path in the woods. There was no other
wait out. We heard a noise and a man who yeld, “Do not run!” In our group there
were little children from El Salvador two who were about 8 and 9 years old, two
females from El Salvador and other Mexicans. We all took off running like crazy
people ripping through the forest with our arms, there were thorns all over. I did
not know how many people they captured or how many got away. I took off
running and there was a street and I ran into an immigration vehicle, so I ran back
into the woods. I crawled on the floor for about an hour. I found a place to rest.
Knowing only that I was laying on an aunt pile. Many aunts got into my clothes
and they bit me. Later, I crawled back near a street and I saw many dogs and
immigration officials who were wearing reflective uniforms. I saw the reflections
when cars passed.
After being completely exhausted Marvin fell asleep under a tiny tree. When he woke up the next
day he began walking again and ran into a man.
This man was painting a door so, I asked him for some water because, I was very
thirsty. The man said, “of course, what is wrong child?” I told him that the
immigration had been chasing me and I am trying to escape from them. The man
asked if I had somebody to call. I told him, “yes.” I then called my father’s friend
who lives in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The man was very nice. He gave me
some more water, tacos, and freedom fries. In about an hour a friend of my
father’s showed up. I thanked the painter for helping me. The man who picked me
up asked what had happend to me. I explained to him that the immigration
officers caught the coyotes and many other people. We then got to a house and
there was three cousins of mine, plus a couple of friends who were from back
home.

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Marvin’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Currently, Marvin lives
alone and most of the time his living situation is that he is not living in one specific location. For
now he is renting a trailer. His current boss told him that if he can find a trailer home the boss
would help him pay for it and let him put the trailer on the boss’s property. An older man stole
$300 from him but he did not report the theft as he feared in getting detected. Marvin is adamant
that he has never used drugs or alcohol nor committed a crime. He was has been asked about
three times to become a gang member. “I was in a public school here for a short time and that is
where I was asked.” He truthfully believes there is much more suffering here than what he
thought. A question that I asked each participant was to explain when was the last time you
cried?
Last night. Because of many probems. It is hard to have a ride to work. I am
trying to work, but it is hard to get around. I got very sentimental with all the
preasure so, I just started crying about all the problems. Before, I was a happier
person. For the last three years I have been crying and crying a lot. I have had a
very bad life lately and this has made me a more serious person. I have no
documents here and life is hard without them. I have suffered hunger here so, that
suffering is the same.
He has never neded medical attention while in here. He also eplains that his employers have
treated real good. His girlfriend helped him find his current job. He misses his family very much
and wishes they were here with him. Communication has also changed as he hardly talks to
them. “I want to keep communicating with them so that the love and care will not get lost.”
Another question asked was: What are your thoughts according to the immigration reform
policies President Obama has proposed?
I heard there may be some type of permission for immigrants who do not get in
trouble and go to school. The problem is that if someone did not arrive before a
certain time or not at a certain age what will happen to them? Thank God, for
those who do have this opportunity to fix their immigration papers.

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He wishes he can change is poverty and have his family closer. Marvin wants to go back to
Honduras but, only when he has some money saved in order not to arrive inthe same situation.
He would love to become a US citizen. “My biggest fear is for me to be detected and for
immigration to deport me back to Honduras.” He wants to get his family out of poverty and
work a lot for progress. “I keep thinking like this in order to continue forward.”
Bryan’s Background Information: The entire interview with Bryan was conducted in
English. He is originally from El Progresso, Honduran Department of Yoro. Migrating at the age
of 10 years old, Bryan is the youngest of the 12 participants, and has been living alone since the
age of 17. He comes from a broken home as his biological father was an alcoholic and used
drugs.
I remember my mom telling me that when I was about 6 months old that he
litteraly threw me to the floor. My mom told me I did not breath for about 3
minutes and that I turned purple. My mom had the opportunity to come to the US
so, she did. My dad is now in prison. My mom now has a work permit and may
come back and forth freely. I have had close family members pass away and I
cannot go see them. For me there is no looking back I am an American. I cannot
even speak Spanish wright. There is no home for me there. If I get deported all I
will think about is how to get home.
Bryan’s mom was already in the US while Bryan was being cared for by his grandmother. In
Honduras, Bryan worked with his grandma in her bakery. He had to be up at 6:00AM to help in
the bakery. “That was just a pain. I do not bet beat up anymore. My grandma would beat me with
a stick.” He was alway an honor student while in Honduras and was even picked to see the
president of Honduras. At 10 years old Bryan kept pleading to his mom that he should be in the
US with her.
My mother was young about 17 years old and left me when I was 2 years as she
saw there was no future for her in Honduras. So, she came to the US. In Honduras
when you get to the 6th grade you have to pay for you own education. We did not
have the money
and my mom was not making that money in the US either.

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So, it was a lost cost for me to stay in Honduras. So, at ten years old I told my
mom if there was a way I can go to the US. I asked her there is nothing I can do
here in Honduras is there any way that I can go over there. I was excited to start
my adventure in the US. I have heard of horror stories of people having there legs
cut off becuase of the train and others getting killed and raped. I was afraid. I did
not know what to expect.
Bryan has been living in the Rio Grande Valley since 2003, while growing up in Deep
South Texas he as been able to graduate from high school and is getting ready to graduate from
college. In High school he excelled in athletic sports, varsity cross country and qualified in state
several times. Though, he could not travel north as there is a United States Border Patrol Interior
Checkpoint. These inspection stations are located between 25 and 75 miles north of the Mexican
border and focuses to help deter illegal immigration. So, that held him back. He has president of
his student council, member of the national honor society, and has been in AP (advanced
placement) ever since he can remember. “I alway try to be the best that I can.” Now he is in
college, has been involved in several honor societies, leadership programs on campus, been in
the student government association, member of a fraternity, and serves as a Greek council
president.
That means I oversee all the fraternities and sororities here on campus. As well as
dealing with administration, community leaders, and anything with the Greek
community in the UT system. Though, I cannot attend UT system meeting twice a
month. The university will not be liable if immigration were to come to those
meetings. The campus is free zone immigration cannot come on campus.
Tell me about the last time you cried?
This past weekend. I realized that life is short and we need to live to the fullest. I
reallized that a lot of opportunties that I have been offered I had to turn down. I
could not get them for not having proper documentation. I had to turn down many
scholarships, the coca cola scholarship, the Bill Gates scholarship (my entire
college was to be paid), Brown University offered me a scholarship too.

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Bryan now works at a restaurant near his college in order to pay for his books and college
tuitions. Bryan fears that he will not have money to pay his tuition or books each semester or if
they are going to decide to request for papers as he is walking in a public street.
Bryan’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: At the age of 10, Bryan’s
grandmother took him to Guatemala City, Guatemala and from there a coyote took him to
Chiapas, Mexico. From Chiapas he headed to Vera Cruz, MX. and from Vera Cruz that same
coyote contacted another person to take him to Matamoros (border town), Tamaulipas, MX.
In Matamoros we walked at night. It was me and two adult men strangers. I was
scared and did not know what to expect. I know one man was carrying a gun and
the other man had a knife. I had my backpack and in that back pack I had my
Hondurian birthceritificate, clothes and water. One man checked my back pack
and he took out my birthcertificate and told me we can get in more trouble than
what we already are if, we get caught with Honduran papers.
One of the men was carrying a plastice bag and he placed the birthcertificate in it. The
coyote explained that they were going to swim for about 30 – 40 minutes.
We started walking at about 9:00AM and around 10:00AM we saw sand dooms.
We would hear one or two cars pass and we would then lie on the sand for about
ten minutes. One time we heard a car coming and the car beeped about 5 or 6
times. A man said, “Oh that’s it.” We then started running towards the road. It
was about a 10 or 15 minute run till we got to the car.
The men drove for a while to a small town where there were few houses made of clay and
mud with no light or electrity. The words that were used by Bryan, “We used candles for light.
From where I was staying at you could see a bunch of boats and people fishing on the horizon.
We were near the water you could smell it. I tried walking there, but the men told me not to get
out of the house that they had me in.” That night the coyotes left Bryan alone. Bryan was alone
and said it was so hot that he could not sleep. He began to cry as he thought the men had left him
there. Maybe it would have been best if the men did indeed abandon Bryan at this point.

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They came back at 6 in the morning. When they came back one of them laid in
my bed. He was around 25 years old and tall. I asked him what are you doing. He
said, “just lay there, this is my bed and I am sharing it with you.” I thought
nothing of it. Next thing I know he was touching me. He raped me. The man
raped me when I was there. I could just think of the moment, that I was going to
get out of there and just leave to be with my mom. I was ten, I couldn’t do
anything, I couldn’t run, I was small. So, I just cried and tried to take a shower but
there was not enough water. Whatever, the next day he was like, “you ready?”
“Lets go.”
The next day they drove again for about two hours to get to another beach. The next day
he said, “we are going to walk about sixteen hours today.” They used inflatable beds to cross the
Rio Grande River. The coyote kept touching Bryan and kept telling him, “you got me wright?”
At this time Bryan was quiet, because this man could do anything he wants at anytime. They
walked more and now they were on US territory.
My feet were covered with blisters. I had black sox and I felt the skin of my feet
get stuck to the bottom of my sox. Finally, a road came and one of the men told
me we were only
going to walk about two more hours. It was around 4:00 in
the morning. The dirt was so dry it had cracks. The men said, “we can sleep now.”
They said, “it was going to get cold.” So, they slept next to each other. They told
me to lay between them but, I did not want to do that. I told them no I am not
sleepy I will just stay here. I laid about thirty feet away from them. I was cold and
could not sleep that night.
Later, they started walking again. Bryan thinks it was South Padre Island or Port Isabel,
TX. As they kept walking they saw many sand dooms. They wounded up in a park and the men
started washing themselves. They had clean clothes in order to change. They walked through a
trailer park and wounded up at a trailer house. In Bryan’s words, “The man who raped me
apparently had a sister living there. I said, “hi.” They called my mom and told her they were
going to charge an extra $500 dollars for having my Honduran birthcertificate. They charged my
mom a total of $3,500.00 dollars from Chiapas to the US.” Bryan’s moms friends came to pick
him up. Bryan’s moms friend husband drove Bryan to their house.

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I felt safer there because there was a man with his wife and daughter. I took a
shower at his house. He told me to lay down and as I have not eaten since I left
Chiapas. It was about three days with only water. I remember lying on a bed and I
past out. The next thing I remember is waking up with my mom there. I got home
and I never told my mom. I could never keep track. Those guys could be anybody
and could just make up names. It is hard I am scard for life. What happened to me
I am not going to sit around the past I will just move on. I have been able to move
on and move forward. I cannot do anything about it. I hope nothing good happens
to those people.
Bryan never plans to go back to Honduras. When asked how he identifies himself
culturally/ethnically, he adimately states that he is an American. “I am an American.”
Bryan’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: As stated before Bryan has
been living on his own since he was 17 years old. His mother is remarried and has 3 children
from her new marriage. Bryan admits he has tried marijuana once and as used alcohol. Though,
he has stopped drinking due to his position in college. He has also had a moving violation and
states he had to pay $493 that same night due to police not allowing him to leave without
identification. This incident and other experiences have allowed Bryan to understand how his
status affects his daily life. “I can say I have been hiding from the law. I do all things that an
American can do. It has been a great life. It has been a blessing. My closest friends do not even
know I am undocumented. They think so highly of me and if they know who I am they will not
think of me the same.” Although, Bryan has experienced some attrocities while getting to the
US, he continues to be ambitous, couragous, aspires to be an important figure in life and feels he
has a good future here.
I use the universities for doctors. I am not afraid to go out. I think I am so
outgoing because I am not afraid of getting caught. I hope I can get my way out of
it one day if I have too, again. I am not afraid of going to the movies, to the clubs.
The fraternity has opened doors for me. In the begining it was different because I
was not use to the culture. Once I started getting acquainted with the culture and
knew what was going on, what were popular things what was not right. Right now
there is no difference between the people that were born here and me. We are all
on the same playing field. Of course they do have an advantage because they do

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have papers. Communicating with them now is just the same like if we were born
in the same place. Yes we are undocumented but, I believe I have taken myself out
of that mentality. I made myself believe that I am an American. It is the power of
the mind. You tell yourself something that you can do and you will accomplish
that. Some people are stuck in the past where I am not going to learn English I am
not going to go to school. All I am here for is to work but, they do not know
nothing more that what is out there. I broke that chain. I know there is more out
there. I want to be a chancellor.
Bryan believes that his past experiences have impacted the person he has become today
and would not change anyghing. He litterally came from nothing to becoming a promising
scholar who appreciates everything he has. “I have become a more caring but yet a rightful
person.” “If I have a meal for the day that is better than what I could have had in Honduras.” He
is hungry for learning and wants to be the best he can be. His educational experience in the US
has met all of his expectations though, he thought he would never be wearing Wall-Mart clothes.
When I was over there (Honduras) I worked hard but I always had the best
brands. When I came here I was wearing Wall-Mart clothes and buying things
from garage sales. I was wow, “America is this,” “ I never thought there was poor
people here.” I thought everybody was well off. There are actually poor people
dying of hunger in America. I did not expect to see that.
His first job was horrible and this the first time he realized he was an illegal as his
emloyer made him feel he was one. “They yelled at me, cussed at me and not pay me the proper
hours. I was a waiter. They treaedt me like if I was a slave wihtout the whiping.” His second
employment was much better at another restaurant. They helped him with his class schedule and
treat him good. He found this job on craigslist and it was also close to his college. Bryan has also
found support through his ex-girlfriend who just text him. She said, “You’re unstopable just take
is easy whatever it is you are going threw your strong and you can do it all.” When asked if there
is anything we have not covered in this interview that he felt was important for me or others to
know?

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I feel that once you get in school you need to get involved. Get into school and
being involved will take you further than those students who do not get involved.
You feel like you belong somewhere. I remember meeting a gentleman the junior
year of my high school. He had something to do with undocumented students. I
saw him again, about a week ago and I had told him I was going to go to school, I
told him I was going to join a fraternity, I told him I was going to have this G.P.A.
He asked me about all I had told him I was going to do I and told him I
accomplished all. The man just broke into tears to know what I have done. I only
knew the man for a day but he told me that meeting people like me makes his job
all worth it.
Bryans thoughts, according to the immigration reform policies President Obama has
proposed are that they are going to give a lot of opportunities for students to have hope.
The students that are in high school now that are 15 and 16 years old that are able
to apply for this is going to give them more hope to continue on and be better and
give back to the society. To become the future lawyers, surgeons, professors,
everything. We are smart people. We have no limits it is just the beginning of
more things to come. If we have our family support, teachers and professors
support we will have no limits. It is like a new era. In 2020 there should be a
population of 80% Latinos. Imagine if you empower those people to be the next
leaders the next generation where we are gonna go. This country is going to be
even greater. If you make people believe that they are worth it and they they are
American they will just keep on going.
Cowboy’s Background Information: The enire interview with Cowboy was conducted in English.
He was born in Kimistan,
Santa Barbara, Honduras. Cowboy is not 16 years old and is in the 9th grade in a US
public high school. At the age of 12 he decided to come alone to the US. His father was already
in the US, undocuemented, as well. When Cowboy did make it alive and well to the US/Mexican
border, his father was able to pick up Cowboy near the McAllen International Airport, USA.
Though, Cowboy’s father was soon deported and Cowboy had to fend for himself without
supervision.
Cowboy now seems to be happy, likes movies and school. “I like school and I like work,
but school comes first.” He says that his mom and dad would fight a lot in Honduras and they

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seperated. He also admits that his mom really did not like him. Although, when asked when was
the last time he cried he stated that it was a long time ago. “I miss my mom and grandma. My
grandma died in Honduras and I could not go see her. I have not cried lately.” He now lives with
his step mother, a ½ brother and a ½ sister in a one bedroom trailer home. Cowboy left his mom
a sister and a brother behind in Honduras, as well.
Cowboy’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: As mentioned before, Cowboy is
now 16 years old, is in high school, and migrated from Kimistan, Santa Barbara, Honduras to the
Rio Grande Valley, Texas, alone when he was 12 years old.
I came to the US when I was 12 years old. When I came thru Guatemala some
men told
me I had to pay money so, they can cross me over a river called
Aguas Calientes. But, another man offered me a free ride on a bus. This man
dropped me off near a lake and I slept there over night. The next day I was able to
get a ride in car and I traveled thru some very scarry mountains. I arrived at
another location where there was another river. I then crossed another river in
Mexico. I slept under some trees. There were some orchards with fruit and a river
where cows would drink. I was able to drink water from those rivers.
Cowboy was able to make it from Honduras thru Guatemala without having to pay any
money and unscaved. Although, he had did not sleep in a fancy hotel or bed for that matter he
still managed to make it thru the night. But, this was just the begining of his venture to the
US/Mexican border.
Then I got on the train people call “La Bestia” (the beast). The train arrived
around six in the afternoon. People had to pay to get on. But I had very little
money so, I had to run and jump on the train. I had 100 pesos ($10US dollars) to
eat on my travel. Coyotes who were on the train took it from me anyway. The
train broke down along the way. So, I got on another train.
It is commonly known by the people who atttempt to migrate in these southern countries
the dangers that come when trying to get on these box carts. “La Bestia” or The beast is what the
people call these trains. These trains and the human smugglers who ride them have taken many

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immigrant lives. The next train Cowboy got on was full of dry concrete which made it difficult
for him to breath.
This train had dry concrete on it and I looked like a monkey. I was completely
white with the concret. I could not breath. I was on this train for a day. Then I had
to catch another train in Vera Cruz, MX. I took the wrong train. I used around 6
trains in all. A total of 24 days traveling on these trains. In order for me to eat I
had to beg people who were on the trains for food. I begged Mexicans and people
in small towns for food and money.
Cowboy does admit that there were some very nice people along the way. “One night I
was very cold and a teacher gave me a jacket in San Luis, Potose, Mexico.” Though, his trip did
not come without its obstacles, frightening moments, and suffering.
The train went into tunnels and I was very scared, I was fixating. There was a
place in Mexico that is called “Las Pilas” where I worked for a week. Some men
told me to stay there, becuase I was too young to be traveling. I then traveled to
Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico (border town).
In Reynosa he stayed in a church called the house for immigrants for about a week.
“Zetas (drug cartel) came to the house of immigrants to look for a lady and many people took off
running.” Cowboy also stated that while he was in Reynosa, a man offered him keys to a truck.
He was a Zeta and I did not want anything with him. I met a very poor man at the
Rio Grande River who crosses people. He helped me cross on a tube tire. After I
crossed the river and in the US I noticed I forgot my water in Mexico. In the US
side there were several border patrol agents. I was dying of thirst. It rained a little
and I started licking leaves. I picked up trash and plastic to lick for water.
It is not unusual for many immigrants to die along their trip from dehidration. Cowboy
was lucky that it started raining and he was able to lick the water off leaves and trash along the
way. He even returned to the Rio Grande River in order to drink more water. Now that he was in
the US he had to figure a way to elude border patrol agents. “I could not come out of the woods
because the immigration officers were on the border.” Cowboy was there for 2 days starring at
immigration officers. “I returned to the Rio Grande River to drink water.” Later, there was a

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storm and he then walked to Mcallen, Texas. “I walked in canals and it was hard, becuase my
shoes were getting stuck in the mud.” There was an abandoned house on 23rd street in McAllen,
Texas and he was able to sleep there. “I then called a friend of my dad’s in Mcallen and he
picked me up near the airport.”
Cowboy’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: It seems that now at the age of 16
nothing is more important to Cowboy than his education. He explains that life has been good and
bad for him since he has been in the US. He explains that the good thing is that he is going to
school and has made many friends and has good teachers. “My teacher told me that even though
I am an undocumented immigrant I can be successful. My teacher at Sauceda Middle School in
Donna, Texas told me this.” Cowboy feels that school has changed him. “In Honduras there were
no rules. I know here I need to be good or I will be punished.” He explains that he has good
teacher that show him how to be good. “The best part about being here is going to school.”
In general, what has life been like for you since coming to the United States?
Life has been good and bad. The good thing is that I went to school and met
friends and good teachers. The bad part is that my dad got deported and I was
abused by my boss. I had to stay with the man who kept abusing me. I was kicked
by my boss with his boots. He would also hit me with a belt on the back. He
would call me a wet back.
Cowboy had no choice but to stay with the man who kept abusing him. Now, he insists
that he likes his new boss. “He is very nice and pays me $30 a day. I help him feed farm
animals” He is glad he came from Honduras. “I just want to serve this country, because I like the
US. I want to be in the Army, the US Army.” Cowboy has been asked at school if he would join a
gang, but he told them “no”. His family supports him in being in the US, as he has a better
future now. Cowboy cannot believe he would live in a house with air conditioning, nor go to
school. He got to see the ocean, a train, and thought he would never see a T.V.

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Life here is not similar at all compared to Honduras. Here I have to take care of
myself from immigration officers. Here I have T.V., light, work, A.C., and food. It
is very hot here. In Honduras there are mountains and the nature there is much
nicer. Too much mesquite here. I think it is fun going to school and get to see
movies at home. First, thing I do is homework. My friends take me to the movies.
I just follow all the laws.
Cowboy hopes that one day he will have legal documentation and does not have to travel
on a train when he visits Honduras. “I want to travel on a plane.” What are your thoughts
according to the immigration reform polices President Obama has proposed? “I think it is a good
law so we can graduate from high school and go to college. With out this law it would be too
difficult.”
Morris’s Background Information: Morris is from El Nispero, Cucuyagua, Copan, Honduras, and
he came to the US at the age of 18. Morris’s brother Joey is younger but, was already in the US
before Morris began his journey. Joey paied $800 to a coyote to help Morris cross the Rio
Grande River when Morris made it to the US/Mexican border. Morris is also first cousins with
Marvin who came to the US later. Morris is now 21 years old and has a 6th grade education from
Honduras. He now lives with another Honduran and three other Mexicans. All 5 live in a three
bedroom trailer with one bathroom. Morris left a brother and sister along with his parents in
Honduras. “My parents are in Honduras and they are happy. They are still married and take care
of each other. I am in the US to try and help my family in Honduras. When you work you get
paid a little money and I get to send a little money to Honduras.” Morris’s parents hope that he
can continue helping them in Honduras by conintuing to send them money. One day they hope to
buy a few cows and build a house in Honduras. Morris wishes he can become an American
citizen go to school and learn English. Morris says that he is a good person and has never done
bad things. Though, he admits that he has drank beer in Mexico and smoked marijuana in the US
but, never did drugs in Honduras. When this interview took place, Morris’s brother Joey had

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been deported by the US immigration and Morris and his family in Honduras have not heard of
Joey in about 3 – 4 months.
My brother is lost and I found out he was deported. My brothers wife called me
and told me the immigration took him to Reynosa, Mexico Since then he has been
lost. It has already been about 3-4 months since we heard from him.
Although, Joey is from Honduras he was deported to Reynosa, Mexico. A few months
later, Joey did come back to the Rio Grande Valley. I was able to interview Joey via telephone
interview. Joey told US immigration officers that he was Mexican in order to be deported on the
US/Mexican border, Reynosa, Mexico. Joey lied to immigration officers because, he did not
want to go all the way back to Honduras to only come back to his home in the US.
Morris is ill as he gets epilepsy attacks on a regular basis. Tell me about how you get
groceries, entertainment, help from the doctor when you need it?
I have had help before. Many people have taken me to the hospital before for my
epilepsy. I had an epilepsy attack today. It really hurts I got scratches from that
today. I did not go to the hospital today. I do not have medicine for the epilepsy
attacks either. The doctors at the hospital have treated me good before.
Morris states that life has been good for him in the US. Although, there has been times
when he has had no money for rent or food. “It is hard getting work. I do whatever is available
cut yards, anything. Any little work there is I will do it.” One time a man told him that he was
going to kill Morris but Morris never told him anything. “The police here are more trustworthy.
The police is much diffent than Honduras.”
Morris’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: Morris began he journey from
Honduras with a friend that was 26 years old. Though, his friend decided to go back when they
reached San Luis, Potosi, Mexico, as his friend kept crying for his own children, parents, and
wife.

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I was coming with a friend of mine. But when we got to San Luis, Potosi,
Mexico, he was very worried for his wife, his children and parents. He was
around 26 years old and he kept crying for his family. My friend decided to go
back to Honduras. I almost went back to Honduras, but my brother was in the US,
so I kept traveling north till I got to Reynosa, Mexico.
Morris was a victim of gangs in Mexico and this made his trip even longer as he had to
work along the way in order to make money to fund the rest of his trip.
I did stay in San Luis for several days selling newspapers trying to make money
to get to
the US. I worked with a Mexican there for about three days. The
man I worked for paid for my bus ticket to get to the border of Mexico and the
US. He helped me because the money I had was taken from me by Zetas. Most of
my trip was on train and walking. I would stay in the woods to sleep. It took me
about three months to get from Honduras to the US.
Morris’s troubles did not end when he reached Reynosa, Mexico, US/Mexican border.
When asked when was the last time he cried he responded with: “It was when the Zetas captured
me in Reynosa, Mexico. We were about 20 people. We were in a small room locked up for about
a week. I was crying there and they would not feed us only give us water.” Morris had to call his
brother in the US to send money. Joey sent Morris $800 and Morris was then released and
crossed over the Rio Grande River to the US.
Morris’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Morris feels much better
here. It is ok, to live day by day. It is good to live. He insists that here you do not have to kill
yourself when you work. “Here you can earn a little money and send some of it back home. Here
you see dollars and the money in Honduras you hardly see money.” Morris looks for work at all
places, asking at homes, to cut yards, paint a house, or anything. Morris explains that overall his
employers have treated him good. “Sometimes they get mad at me and others are nice.” One time
an employer did not pay Morris for a weeks work. “I was working for a man and he did not pay
me for a weeks work.” How much were you supposed to get paid? “$40 a day.” Morris says that
his relationship with family members has changed a lot since he arrived in the US. “I feel much

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better as my parents call me a lot and I tell them I am happy. I left them all in Honduras and my
family stayed home so that I can help them.” Morris states he has had a lot of good and bad
experiences and that his actual experience in the US differed from the expectation prior to
coming here. “It is not the same as I thought. I thought everything was going to be good. I
thought there was going to be a lot of work. It is much harder.” As mentioned before Morris says
that the haredest part about being in the US is that sometimes there is no money for rent or food.
He hopes that one day he can go back to Honduras because he misses his family. Morris’s
biggest fear is to be deported. “The fear I have is the immigration. When I see them I have a lot
of fear and do not know what to do because they can deport me at anytime.” What a re your
thoughts according to the immigration reform policies President Obama has proposed? “What I
heard in the news is that they want to help unducumented people to get a permission. Maybe so
that we can work.”
Joey’s Background Information: The interview with Joey was conducted via telephone from
Erie, Pennsylvania due to his deportation during the time I tried looking for him in the Rio
Grande Valley. As mentioned above Joey is the younger brother of Morris and a first cousin to
Marvin. Also, as mentioned above Joey had been recently deported to Mexi-Cali, Mexico.
Although, Joey is from Quimistan, Santa Barbara, Honduras, he lied to US immigration officials
about his original place of birth. Joey did this in order to be deported on the US/Mexican border
so, he would not have to travel all the way from Honduras to his new home (Rio Grande Valley).
The reason why Joey was detected was because, his common law wife reported him to police for
domestic violence. Have you ever been detected by US immigration?
Yes, after the domestic charges. I spent 2 months in a county jail. I then spent one
week in immigration prison. Then I was deported to Mexi-Cali, Mexico. It took
me approximately 6 – 7 months to get back to the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. I did

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not even hit her, we were only arguing. I did not touch her. The police took me in
for arguing.”
The last time Joey cried was when he was locked up for the domestic charges.
Joey also had an interest to come back quickly as his older brother Morris is ill (epileptic) and is
in the Rio Grande Valley Texas. Morris was much younger than his older brother when he first
came to the US. Joey was only 13 years old when he first set foot on US territory. Now, Joey is
21 years old and has a 6th grade education from Honduras. Joey has two brothers and one sister.
As mentioned Joey’s brother Morris is now in the US, as well. Also, as mentioned before Joey’s
and Morris’s parents are still togethe. Their mom was about 14 or 15 years old when his parents
first met. Thier father works as a farm worker in the fields. “I am a worker, working is the only
thing my father has taught me all my life, work.” Joey now lives with his brother, his common
law wife, and his common law wife’s mohter. Joey has been asked to join gangs both in the US
and in Honduras. “I told them I did not want to join. He also insists that he does not drink beer
nor use drugs and if you could change anything, he would love to be here legally. He would also
love to become a US citizen. He would love to one day go back to Honduras but, only till he has
legal documentation in order to see his parents.
Joey’s Migration and Border Crossing Experience: As mentioned above Joey has been
deported before. Now he is back in the US. This means that he has the experience of crossing the
Rio Grande River twice. The deportation did not keep him away from his current home for too
long. The first time he trekked from Honduras he was only 13 years old. He traveled from
Honduras with 4 of his cousins. He paid a coyote $800 dollars to get him here. Though, he did
not have to look far to acquire a coyote. His own cousin is a human smuggler and charged him
the $800 to get him to the US, the first time. “When I first came to the US it was with four

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cousins. One of my cousins is a coyote (human smuggler) and he charged me $800 US dollars.
We had to swim across the Rio Grande River.” The second time he crossed the Rio Grande River,
he had to work for other human smugglers in order for him to be repatriated with his new home
and brother.
This last time that I was deported. I had to help coyotes (human smugglers) cross
people from Mexio to the Rio Grande Valley, TX in order for them to let me cross.
I had to help smuggle 12 undocumented immigrants across the Rio Grande River.
I was the look out person. I was sent up front to scout for US border patrol
agents.
As, Joey had no money he had to do this in order to get back home the coyotes control
the border.
Joey’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Joey’s actual experience in the
US differed from the expectation he had prior to coming here. “To be here undocumented is the
worst part about being here. People would say that here you would earn money real easy. It is
not that way.” His experiences has impacted the person he has become. “I am afraid to get
deported, again.” He is more catious and suspicious of people. “Before I was with my parents.
Now I am alone. I have to pay for light water and rent.” Although, he says life has changed
slowy for the better for them since they came from Honduras.
The days are the same. I work every day. It is not all the same. It is better here.
In Honduras you earn very little money. In Honduras we work from 7:00am till
3:00pm for 100 pesos ($5US). Here we get paid more money. Here what we
make in one day is what we make in a week in Honduras. In Honduras we are
treated bad. Work in the fields is the same than in Honduras. In some places they
rush me to work.
Joey is determined to work as he goes out to see where he can find work. He goes out to
cut yards. “We go from house to house and ask if people need their lawns cut. When I was
cutting a man’s yard he was complementing me and my brother. Telling us that we always do a

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good job and that he was going to continue to hire us.” Joey insists that the economy is the best
thing he likes about being here.
The foods are differnt. The food in Honduras seems to be tastier for us. The food
here does not give me an appitite. I would eat three meals a day in Honduras. At
7:00am my mom would fix us breakfast and by 11:00 or 12:00, again. The last
meal would be served around 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening. Here, I eat only once a
day.
Joey has also been a victim of exploitation.
I paid a man $1500 in payments for a pickup truck. When I gave him the
last payment he came up with an excuse that the truck was taken from him. I
could not report him to the police because, I was afraid to get deported, again.
Joey says that he goes to the park and plays soccer with other undocumented individuals.
These are other people he can communicate with and says he has never had to go see a Dr. while
in the US. His family hopes that one day they can be documented. “They hope we can become
somebody in the US one day.” What are your thughts according to the immigration reform
policies President Obama has proposed? “I heard Obama was going to help people’s immigration
status. I am happy for that.”
7 Unaccompanied Mexican Youth
Bobby’s Background Information: Bobby is from Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, has a 5th
grade education and he first set foot on US territory at the age of 16. He is now 23 years old has
3 brothers and 2 sisters which are all back in Mexico. Though, he does have 3 cousins living in
the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. He was invited to the US by a male cousin of his. “I wanted to try
my luck to have a better future.” He describes himself as a sincere individual who works hard
and is not lazy. He also stated that he is here to progress for his family. His parents work for
themselves on a farm in Veracruz. He admits that he does not know the drug. “I have seen it but
not tried it. I drink beer when possible.” Bobby states, that he has not committed any crimes

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while in the US. Though, he did get a ticket for no license and he paid for it. Bobby now lives
with his common law wife, a son and daughter which both were born in the US. The last time
Bobby cried was about two years ago due to problems with his common law wife. His day to day
life is to go out and look for work in order to sustain his family and be a good example for his
son and daughter.
If I do not have work I will look for other ways to get food and money. I have
gone fishing in a river. Some fish I keep for my family and the other fish I sell. I
never sit with my arms crossed always looking to better myself.
He also states that his employment experiences get better evey day. “I get to learn more
every day. When I first came here I did not know much about construction. Now, I have learned a
lot about construction.” His children recieve government help thru meicaid. The children have
this due to their citizenship. In general, what has life been like for you since coming to the
United States?
It is not always good. We have had hard times because we are not from here. It is
hard to find a job that is secure to sustain the family. One is not from here and we
do not have the liberty to be at work or anywhere comfortably always afraid of
the border patrol. Before I used to be alone and now I have a family. I now
communicate a lot with my wife. The decisions I make are not only for me, they
are for my entire family. We live much better economically. For my children
becuase they have a better future in their lives because they have school. It is a
better life here for my children.
Bobby’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: Unfortunately, very little was
discovered on the migration and border crossing experiences of Bobby. Though, as mentioned
above he was only 16 years old when he first crossed into US territory. He did acquire a coyote
and paid him $350. He did leave his entire family in Veracruz, Mexico, his parents, 3 brothers,
and 2 sisters. He was invited to the US by a male cousin of his. “I wanted to try my luck to have
a better future.” He also mentioned that he is here to progress and help his family and that his
wife has always supported his decisions.

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Bobby’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Since being here Bobby says
that different people help him look for work. “A lot has changed since I first came here. The
communication with my family back home is minimal because of the cost. My responsibility has
been to send money to my family in Mexico.” Bobby seems to be an extremely responsible
individual who has made a decent life for himself even though he has no citizenship and no legal
right to have a job in the United States. “I am much different than when I first came here. I am
much more responsible I work for my family. The government here is giving them school. I hope
they get college and as a father I want to support that.”
How has your actual experience in the United States differed (if at all) from the
expectation you had prior to coming here? “It was not the same. It was different than what I was
told. An experience that was hard. I did not know anybody the people who were going to help me
left. I had to live on my own and find work.” Bobby would love to travel up north to look for
more work and be able to buy a house. “Being here undocumented. We can not travel to
Houston, because of no papers we can not advance.” What about life in the United States is
similar to life in your home country?
The Hispanic people treat me good. Here in the Rio Gande Valley, Texas there are
a lot of Hispanics and it makes me feel as if I am in Mexico, with all the similar
traditions. there are some that treat you good and others treat you bad. There is
racism because, I do not have papers people will not give me work. About two
years ago I had a boss that did not treat us the best. But, since then I have worked
on my own remodeling and construction. People recommend me to other people
and their family members. They see my work and I give business cards away.
Bobby understands that his undocumented status is different than those who come from Central
America. “If they get deported many times they get killed.” He has a lot of hope if he gets a visa
to work it would change his life for the better. What are your thoughts according to the
immigration reform policies President Obama has proposed? “He proposed this for the students.

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It is a major sign, maybe those of us who do have an education maybe one day we may get a
visa.” Bobby has also been a victim of burglary.
Some people came into my house and tossed clothes all over the place and borke
many things. It was strange they did not take the t.v., stereo, or jewelry, as if they
were looking for something. The window in the house was broken. I did not call
the police because, I fear they will deport me.
Bobby plans to go back to Mexico only to visit as he states that he is coming back.
Victor’s Background Information: Is one of 2 participants who first stepped on to US territory at
the age of 19. He is also from Vera Cruz, Mexico, and has a 6th grade education from there, as
well. His father was a medical doctor and is now diceased and his mother is now terminally ill in
Mexico.
My father was from Puebla and my mother is from Vera Cruz. My father was a
doctor and he was a very good man. He passed in 1988 and my mom was alone
with 4 brothers. She would sell things to try and make ends meet. Now I try to
send my family a little money to help them out. My mom is now sick and she is
alone. She has diabeties and is very skinny. My grandma is also ill.
Victor has 2 brothers and 2 sisters and amdits he is the only family member here and lives
alone. Though, the first time he came to the US he was accampanied by his half brother and
brother in-law who where all captured by US immigration officers. In a matter of days he
acquired a coyote and crossed the Rio Grand River, again. This second time he crossed with his
half brother and a cousin who lives in Reynosa, Mexico (US/Mexico border town). Victor is now
alone in the US and is eager to work in the cold, hot, weekends, and/or in the fields and
construction. He dedicates himself to work and not to get into problems.
I dedicate myself to work not to get into problems. That is what I come for, to
work. If I could I would every day. Without documentation it is hard, you do not
have a steady job, some weeks there is work and other weeks you do not work.
You have to be looking for work every day. It does not matter if it is Saturday or
Sunday, if it rains or if it is cold or too hot. I work to pay for rent, water, light, and
food. I am not afraid of work. Whatever opportunity presents itself, working in

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the fields, construction, in whatever. Not to get into problems I am alone here so, I
have no one to help me.
Victor also admits that he has never smoked but, tried cocaine over eight years ago. He
now drinks once in a while and states that he has never comitted a crime in the US nor has been
invlolved with gangs.
I try to be a better person every day. I try to be good, not to get in trouble, no
gangs, here the police is stricter. Without papers I can get locked up, they send
you to Mexico. If I get sent back to Mexico I might come back if I can pay
someone.
As mentioned above Victor has been caught by US immigration but, that did not keep
him from searching for his American dream.
Victor’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: Victor took a bus too Reynosa,
Mexico from Vera Cruz, Mexico. As a Mexican citizen he can freely travel through Mexico. The
first time he crossed the Rio Grande River with his half-brother and they ran into immigration
officers. They then were booked and deported back to Mexico.
I crossed the Rio Grande River with my half brother and cousin. We crossed the
military road. The fields were empty and clean. I ran into immigration. We turned
ourselves in to immigation officers. We had no knives, guns, weapons, nor drugs.
All we had was the clothes we were dressed in. We did not run, we turned
ourselves in. It was an anglo officer. He then questioned us and then arrested us
and placed us in the back of his truck.
Though, Victor has a good story explaining how his life and the life of other are
threatened in the hands of border patrol.
He was there for a long time parked next to the field. He then took off very fast in
the truck. He was going as fast as he could and we were in the back. He was
chasing a car that had seven people in it. We were bouncing all over the back of
the truck. I thought we were going to flip over a few time. I was afraid we were
going to die. He then stopped the car and there was seven people.

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Victor is lucky to have family in the border area in order to assist him after he was
deported.
They kept us all night and took our fingerprints and photos. They locked us up in
a room and then took us to the bridge of Reynosa, MX. So, we went to my half
brothers house in Reynosa. We stayed with my half brother for about a week. We
found somebody that would charge us $250 to cross us to the US. He crossed us
over the Rio Grande River and took us to Pharr, Texas.
It seems that Victor had his mind set to come to the US no matter what it took. Even if it
meant his life.
Victor’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Once back in the US Victor
was able to find a place to stay and work.
I met a man who my half brother worked for in construction and he let us stay
with another man that he knew. This other man was ill. He was always angry and
smoked marijuana. We lived with him for about two months in a one person
trailer. The man would throw jewelry, plates, and the micro-wave when he would
get angry. We then moved out and started buying things little by little. We baught
a tank of gas for cooking. We had to cook becuase buying food everyday is too
expensive. We were never afraid of work so, we work wherever they would hire
us. I now work for a man who rents out tables, chairs, moon jumps, and water
slides. He trusts me now and lets me use his truck to work.
Victor states that in the US you work and earn more money than in Mexico for the same work.
He also claims that sometimes it is hard, because you can not find work and you do not have a
place to work and people do not wait for the rent.
You have to work no matter what. It is hard. People talk about the American
dream, but it is not true. It is hard to find a good stable job. Here it is easier to
have a better life, have more things, everything in Mexico is more expensive. If
you have a good job here you can have a car and good clothes.
He also mentioned that sometimes he needs to change work because work is not stable.
“Sometimes you do not have stable funds to make expenses. The hardest part is that there is no
steady income.” He wishes he can work legally, become a US citizen, and not have the fear of
possibly being deported at any time. How have you been trated by your employer?

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They have treated me good. Once in a while there is one who will not pay you,
but it has been a long time. One man had me working from 4:00AM till 10:00PM.
He owed me around $250 for working with concrete and he never paid me. You
need to go out and wherever you see people working you ask if they have work. If
people are working out in the fields you go out and ask if you can work with
them.
Victor says that he wants to be here for work but, on the other hand he would like to be in
Mexico with his family. “It is because I need to look for work to help out my family in Mexico.
My only responsiblilty is to send them money and I also have responsibilties here. I pay rent,
light, water, and food, alone.” He would like to go home one day.
It is too dangerous to go because they can kill you at any time. It has been not as
bad as some people that are raped, are robbed, beaten, or drown in the river
because they can not swim. Others die on the train.
Victor thanks God because he has never gotten sick. “When I have pains I go to the store
and buy pill for the pain or fever.” Victor has never gone to the Dr. He also states that the only
people he communicates well with are those who speak Spanish. He does not communicate well
with English speakers but tries. He also says that you can live better here than in Mexico. Victor
relationship with his family has changed a lot. “It changes because over there they miss you and
you are not there, can not not call them because it costs too much to call every day.” The last
time he cried was 2 years ago. “I started thinking about wanting to be with my family in Mexico
and I can not.” His family with fear because Victor is alone. They tell him to take care of himself
and not to get into problems. His biggest fear is getting stopped by the police and getting
deported to Mexico. “Getting locked up and sent to Mexico when you are working but, have no
money.”
A real good man has told Victor that if he ever needs money for rent or food to ask him
with confidence.

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I live day by day. Where I used to live it is greener and here it is like a desert. In
Mexico you can walk at all times and here you need a car. The stores here are too
far from each other and in Mexico everything is closer.
Victor also claims that the immigration reform polices President Obama has proposed is
good for the people who want to work and not get into problems.
Marco’s Background Information: Of the 12 participants in this study Marco is the only one who
is now an Ameican Citizen. All stories are significant but, this one shows what can happen if
undocumented individuals are given a chance. They will rise out of the shadows and become
“free.” My interview with Marco was all in English. Marco first came to the US alone when he
was 15 years old and is now 33 years old. “I am glad I was born in Mexico. In Mexico you grow
fast. At eight years old I was working even though they would take care of me. I had to do my
part as part of the family. Now I am the adult and maintain the family household.”
Marco was able to become an American citizen due to his marriage to an American.
Marco now has a son in high school, another in elementary, and recently had a daughter about 3
months ago. He also states that he has never used drugs before but, drinks occasionally.
Though, this was not what his father in-law had invisioned for his daughter. His father inlaw would not dare allow his daughter marry an undocumented immigrant. This has a small twist
to it has his father in-law was once an undocuemnted immigrant youth, as well. It is factual to
say that his father in-law became a US citizen while serving in the Army at Vietnam as a military
police officer. Marco was able to become a US citizen while he served as a humble husband for
the love of his wife. “My wife told me se loved me. Last night.” At the end they both Marco and
his father in-law achieved their dreams of becoming American citizens in different ways.
Marco knew that he has wanted to go to college ever since he was little. When he finally
graduated from a US high school he really wanted to go to college. “But I could not go to college

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there was no assistance. I got lucky that my in laws helped me.” If Marco did not marry and stay
here he had plans in going back to Mexico to study.
Marco has since graduated from high school and has a bachelors degree in Mathematics
and Spanish. Marco is now a varsity soccer coach and teaches math.
I do not think the job that I have I call it work. I have a lot of fun. I teach
mathematics which is one of my best subjects and I coach soccer which is my
number one sport. Thank God now my oldest son will be in the high school with
me next year. Before I was an undocumented alien I had a lot of jobs. I worked at
a water park and picking watermelons.
Marco has never asked the US government for anything since he has been here. He left
his mom and grandparents behind in his original home of Vera Cruz, Mexico. His parents are
divorced and his mother now lives in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Marco’s first journey to the
US was with his cousin who was 16 years old at that time. Marco’s mom paid a coyote to get
him accross to the US . Marco seems to be family oriented and has plenty of faith.
I am a guy who likes to do things right. Never try to take advantage of any body
and at the same time I do not like people to take advantage of me. Family oriented
one-hundred percent. Love God. I know without Him we are nobody. God is
number one in my life, then my wife and kids. Money is not everything it is just
material things that comes and goes. Everything that I do I like to do it right and I
like to be number one. I am very competitive. I am honest and a hard worker.
When asked how he identifies himself culturally/ethnically he states:
It is a difficult question to answer. It is hard for me to explain, it is a tough
question for people who have lived here over ten year. I have lived here over 20
years. I say Mexican/American I don’t know. It is very tough to answer. As
Mexicans we are very proud of being Mexican, but at the same time I know that
America has a lot more opportunities. I want you to understand one thing, I love
this country and if I have to fight for this country I will fight for this country. But,
the inner side of me I know I am Mexican I am from Mexico.
Marco has gone to Mexico several times illegally when he was in high school. “I did

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cross to party with my high school friends. It was very dangerous.” Marco was able to elude
detection as he kept telling immigration officials he was an American and was born in the US.
Marco’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: As mentioned above Marco first
came to
the US when he was only 15 years old. He first came with his older cousin who was 16 years old
at the time. His mom kept telling him to go to the US but, Marco did not want to go. Finally,
Marco’s cousin was able to entice him with soccer. Marco and his cousin then began their
journey to the US.
I came through the Rio Grande River with my cousin. And other people I met just
the day before. I came through the river man, swimming. I crossed with two
groups. My group swam accross first. I found out later that in the second group a
girl was raped. The girls were innocent. They just wanted to come over here for a
better life. Somebody then picked us up close to the river and took us to my aunts
house.
Marco was lucky to have relatives already living in the US, as this made his transition
less problematic. Marco lived with his aunt until he soon found steady employment while being
able to go to school.
Marco’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: As mentioned above Marco
did not want to come to the US. It took his cousin to finally entice Marco with the sport of
soccer. Marco was living a good life in Mexico and believed he had no reason to come to
America. In general, what has life been like for you since coming to the United States?
I would say very good. But I want you to understand I did not have a tough life in
Mexico. My mom and dad got a divorce. I did not want to come to the US. It was
becuase my cousing convinced me. He told me that in the US where I am
studying they have soccer teams and we travel. They give us soccer shoes, they
give us shorts, and they take us out to eat like a professional team. I said, really
man.
When I was in Mexico I used to drive my grandpas car to school. I would work
for my grandpa. The most difficult thing was to be away from my mom. I wanted

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my mom to come back to Mexico. My mom told me to come to the US, becuase
God has a plan for you. I still remember one thing is that my cousin told me about
the soccer team and the other is that my mom told me that God has a plan for us. I
trusted my mom so, I came. I then went to high school, joined the soccer team,
and I loved it. So, that is the reason I honestly stayed. I met my wife and we
married and the story continues.
Marco says that here in the US it is much better and he would go back to Mexico, but
only to visit not to live there. “Only to visit and have fun.” He insists that here there are more
opportunities. “If you do not want to better off yourself here, where else?” He claims that the US
is a country of opportunities. How does your quality of life in the United States compare with
your quality of life you had in your home country?
Here, for me now, it is a lot better. But my life was much better in Mexico when I
first came here. When I first came to the United States I came illegally, I had
nothing. Not even a car to go to the store. I did not know what I was doing here I
wanted to go back to Mexico. In Mexico I would eat meat every day. But now that
I went to school and met my wife. I do not depend on anybody.
Marco also mentioned that only one person has treated him badly. This employer did not
treat him appropriatly. “He took advantage of me and would not pay me the hours I worked.”
Marco always found work. Marco always knew learning English was very important for his
future no matter what. The best part about being here for Marco is everything, now that he has a
family and was able to go to school.
I have always thought the US is a place for opportunities. Since I thought I could
not go to college because of my situation I said, “well I am going to learn as much
English as possible.” So, If I ever go back to Mexico I can use the English. I
always think and stay possitive. Since I have had the opportunity to go to school
and become the man I am now, now my goal is to stay humble. I know I am
being an example for my children, so they can understand..
Marco hated the teasing in school but he would ignore them. He wishes he could have
come at an earlier age to be able to compete with other students. He would have liked to be in the
top 10% of his class to have his college paid for.

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Now, Marco says that he and his wife have the same goals for the future. “I hope I get my
master’s degree.” Marco and his wife pay close attention to their children, try to make the right
choices, and form a healthy family. His udocumented experiences have taught him to be humble
and a responsible role model for his children. Leaving Mexico was very hard as he left his
friends and family. He does not miss anybody in Mexico. His mom now lives in the US and his
granparents are deseased. “My family has always been nice to me. I have no complaints.” Tell
me about the last time you cried? “When my daughter was born. This was about three months
ago. It was a different feeling it was happiness. I was crying becuase I was happy and I was
blessed.”
Christopher’s Background Information: Christopher is 1 of the 2 participants that came to the US
at the age of 19 and is now 25 years old. He is from Vera Cruz, Mexico and has an 8th grade
education from there. He left his mom and dad behind with three brothers. “My parents are fine
and would love for me to visit one day. They are seperated and have been seperated since I was a
young child.” One of Christopher’s brothers is living undocumented in Atlanta, Georgia. He also
says that 4 years ago his grandma died and that was the last time he remembers crying. “I could
not go to Mexico to her funeral.” Chrisopher has crossed the Rio Grande River onto US territory
twice. The first time Christopher came to the US he was accompanied by a friend who was 17
years old at the time. He acquired a coyote each time and paid $350 the first time and $450 the
second time he crossed. “I am a person that comes for a dream, to work, to make something of
this life. I am here to have a better life.” He admits that he drinks alcohal but, has never used
drugs. Christopher now has his own family in the US. “I live with my wife and daughter. My
daughter was born here in the US and is one years old.”

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Christopher’s Migration and Border Crossing Experience:. As mentioned above
Christopher has crossed the Rio Grande River onto US territory twice. Each time he crossed he
acquired a coyote and paid $350 the first time and $450 the second time.
I came to the Reynosa, MX border on a bus. In Reynosa I paid a coyote $350. I
swam across the Rio Grande River with the coyote and six other people. One of
the persons was my friend who came with me from Vera Cruz. My friend was
about 17 years old at the time.
Unfortunately, Christopher did not give much detail of his travel to the US/Mexican
border and crossing experience. Though, he did acknowledge of other who travel from further
locations and their dangers. “It is harder for others. Some have to cross more than one country.
They have to travel on the bestia (train).” This does not mean that he and others who are closer to
the US border have it easy.
Christopher’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Christopher mentioned
that ever he has been in the US his employers have treated him good. “My boss told me that I am
a worker who is dedicated and likes to work.” He also stated that there are more job
ooportunities here although, it is difficult to find work withut a vehicle. His friends help him find
work.
Christopher thought, before he came to the US that there was going to be a lot of work, but there
was not as much work as he thought.
At least there is enough to sustain my family. Now I have a responsibility which is
my new family. It has changed a lot. Now it is much different. I am now
supporting a family and a ways need a job. I am more responsible and need to
take care of my family. Sometimes we do not have money for the doctor. I will
not go, but when my wife is ill we try to save money to take her.
Christopher says that he only communicated with people who speak Spanish. His daily
routine includes having fear of immigration. He believes that if he gets deported he can come

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back fairly easy. “One day if I have proper documentation to come back I will go to Mexico to
visit my parents. I have a family and daughter so, I can not leave.”
Christopher tries to communicate with his family in Mexico on a monthy bases. “It is
expensive, so we limit our communications.” He also stated that the best part about being in the
US is work and you live a little better than in Mexico. Not being with his parents is the worse. “I
would love to have my parents here.” What are your thoughts according to the immigration
reform policies President Obama has proposed?
It is good. Many of us are here undocumented. We are trying to make a better life
and it is good that they may have a chance to do this. It will be much better for
this country too. Maybe, one day even those of us who are not in school may have
a way to get legal documentation.
Henry’s Background Information: Henry is from Chiapas, Mexico and was 16 years old when he
first came to the US. He is now 25 years old and with a 2nd grade education from Mexico. Henry
left behind both of his parents, 4 brothers, and 2 sisters.
I did not have a close relationship with them. My father was always working. In
Mexico at the age of 9 and 10 years old I was already working. We would
communicate at the table when we would eat. We did not communicate we were
always working.
Henry now has his own family. His wife is also undocumented from Vera Cruz, Mexico.
He and his wife now have a son and a daughter that were born in the US. “There are more
opportunities here for my children.” Henry also mentioned that he is blessed for having two
children and has always done everything for them and will continue to do so.
I am a sincere person. I like to work. I have my family now. I have my wife and
two children. My daughter is 6 years and my son is 4years old. They were both
born here in the US. My wife is from Vera Cruz, Mexico and she is also
undocumented. I live with my wife and two children. I rent a trailer with 2
bedrooms and a bath. I pay $350 dollars a month.
Henry’s wife has supported all along, even when he once had a vehicle stolen. Henry

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stated that the last time he cried was when his car was stolen. He did report the vehicle stolen to
local police, but was afraid to pick up the police report. His biggest fear is to be detected and
deported.
I had my car stolen. I reported it and the police never contacted me again. I was
afraid if the police will deport me. I did not want to pick up the report. Every day
when I go out I go out thinking about God and hoping that I will not get caught.
So, that I may get home safe to see my family again. I pray so that immigration
will not catch me. Every day because I am afraid they are going to catch me.
Henry also supports his family in Mexico and sends them money when he can. He insists
on being afraid of being deported. “If I leave who will sustain my family? My family does not
have a future without me.” He has never tried drugs nor knows what drugs are. He use to drink
alcohal but does not drink anymore.
Henry’s Migration and Border Crossing Experience: The first time he crossed to US
territory he contracted a coyote for $350. Actually, there were a total of 17 people who
contracted this coyote at the same time. The coyote did not feed the people as they were waiting
to get crossed to the US for over 3 weeks. The coyote abandoned the people and many went back
to Mexico or got caught by US immigration.
The first time I came to the US I contracted a coyote. We were a total of 17
people. We were in Reynosa or Matamoros, Mexico. They had us there for about
3-4 weeks. They would not give us food. Sometimes on the last week they would
give us one meal a day. After we crossed the river the coyote was to call
somebody to pick us up. The coyote never returned. Many people went back to
Mexico. Many others got caught by “La Migra” (border patrol). Thank God we
made it.
He was later able to notify his relatives in Mexico that he had made it safe and sound on
US territory. He was also able to contact a friend in the US who helped him stabalize himself.
I was able to eventually call my house in Mexico. They gave me a phone number
of a friend called, Rebecca. In Port Isabel, Texas a lady lent me her phone. I then
communicated with Rebecca the lady our family knew in the US. She lived in
Edinburg, Texas and gave us a helping hand to find work. I quickly found work to

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stabalize myself. That is where my routine for work started. I have worked as a
painter, a yard man, cement, block and tile, anything that was work I would do.
Henry’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Henry states that in Mexico
you have to work to live day by day and in the US you earn a little more and the money goes
further. His employers have always treated him good and he enjoys learning more every day.
Henry finds employment by people who see him work. “Sometimes I find stable work and
sometimes I go for about 3 days without work.” He now has more responsibilities and life has
changed a lot for him since he first came to the US. This same responsibility has made him a
sincere individual.
I have more responsibilities now. I have my children. It has changed a lot. The
responsilities are different. In Mexico I was not the person who sustaned the
home. But I did feel I had an obligation to help my parents. It is different here. I
am the father here. I have to be responible for my children and my wife. Now I
am sustaining them. I have always been responsible but now I am even more
responsible for my family. I never thought I was going to be able to sustain my
family. The responsibility for my family has kept me sincere. I always knew
reality. I knew you have to work every day to make money. I thought I was not
going to be able to sustain my family. But I could.
Henry would change whatever he could for the best future for his children. “There are
more opportunities here for my children.” He wishes he could have a stable job. “I wake up at
7:00 go to work. I go home and play with the children for a while. I go to sleep and then next
day I do the same thing.” Henry has minimal contact with people who do not speak Spanish
since he does not speak English. “The hardest part about living in the United States is that I can
not go out with liberty. I can not go anywhere without thinking I could get deported.” If it were
possible he would love to become a US citizen to maybe go to Mexico only to visit. Henry
believes in his family and they believe in him and he works day to day because his family
supports him. He also believes he is fortunate as other undocumented immigrants have to cross a

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rough river and the desert. “I feel fortunate because I make it up to here.” What are your thoughts
according to the immigration reform policies President Obama has proposed?
I believe it is good. Everybody comes here with the thought of making a better
life. It is good for the students to have stability and get a visa to be here without
having the fear of being reported. They will not have the fear I have. I am afraid
to go out. If they take advantage they will have documentation to be here legally.
Dynamo’s Background Information: The entire interview with Dynamo was conducted in
English. Dynamo was 13 years old when he first came to the US with his entire family. His
parents, 2 brothers and 2 sisters are all here with him now. All of his family members are
undocumented. His parents are still together and work in the fields to make a living. “Seeing my
parents working hard in the fields is the worst part about being here.” He and his entire family (a
total of 7) live in a 3 bedroom mobile home with one bathroom. This mobile home looks
dilapitated.
Although, he crossed with his family the first time, Dynamo was deported at the age of
14 and his older brother went to get him in Reynosa, Mexico. “My brother was undocumented
too but he promised my mom and dad he was going to get me. My brother is my hero.” Dynamo
was detected while he was selling ice cream from neighborhood to neighborhood in a van with
his 16 year old undocumented friend. An undercover police officer stopped and detained the ice
cream truck for suspicion of selling drugs. Dynamo insists that he and his friend would only sell
ice cream and did not know what the police officer was talking about. “It was trajic as I got
arrested and deported for selling icecream. My friend was a soccer player like me. He did not
drink nor did drugs. I never saw him again.” He also insists that he has never used drugs or
alcohol. Dynamo feels he was a victim of abuse and police brutality.
An under cover cop stopped and arrested me. Had me in the police car for more
than ½ an hour without A.C. I thought I was going to die. I was 14 years old. My
friend Jose was 16 years old and I never heard from him after that day. I was with

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my friend going from neighborhood to neighborhood selling ice cream. The under
cover police told us that some one called him and told him we were selling drugs
instead of ice cream. We were not. We would only sell icecream. The police
looked like a Mexican. He asked us where are the drugs and we did not know
what he was talking about.
In the Rio Grande Valley temperatures in the summer are not unusually over 100 degrees
fahrenheit so, it is not unusual to here Dynamo say that he felt he was going to die. There are
laws set in place that do not allow animals to be left in these types of conditions. Although,
Dynamo and his friend did not have any drugs he was reported to the Department of Homeland
Security. Since, he did not have legal documentation border patrol agents were notified and
Dynamo was deported.
There were two police men and only one spoke. He put us in the under cover car
and left us in there for more than half an hour without AC. I think it was at least
100 degrees. Police then asked me for documentation. I did not have papers.
Police told me that he already called border patrol and they are coming for you. A
gringo border patrol came for us. The gringo said, “Ninos yo no quero hacer
esto.” (“Children I do not want to do this.”) It is my job and the police already
reported you to the border stations. He told us that he did not know why the police
did this with you. They do not know why the police called immigration since I
was in school and did nothing.
Dynamo has since graduated from a Texas public high school and has recently dropped
out of college for lack of funds. He is a Jr. In college but had to withdraw in order to help sustain
his family. If he could change anything he would go back to college. He would also love to one
day be a soccer coach, a Spanish teacher, and a US citizen.
I was going to play with the Houston Dynamo minor league soccer team but, they
let me go because I did not have papers. I also got a scholarship to play soccer in
Tyler, TX. I got scared to go but, one of my friends did not care and he went. He
was a soccer player too. He got his bachelors degree in four years. He is
undocumented like me and I am very proud of him. He has not gotten a job but he
married a citizen and he is getting his papers now.
Dynamo’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: As mentioned above no drugs
were found on Dynamo nor his friend when they were working from an ice cream truck driving

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from neighborhood to neighborhood attempting to make a living selling ice cream at the age of
14 and 16. Several US immigration officials treated Dynamo well and were reluctant to have him
deported. Some of these officials under the Department of Homeland Security even had a
discrepancy as to how they should handle the case. Unfortunately it is not up to them to decide in
most of these cases as they have to comply by what the current laws are. Dynamo could not let
his parents know where he was due to their legal status.
US immigration treated me good. Immigration officials then told me to call
someone. They told me that if I have someone to pick me up they would let me
go. My friend he just got deported to Mexico. I called my aunt as she was the only
citizen I knew at the time. She denied me and I got deported to Mexico. I started
crying. A lady Mexican border agent asked me why I was crying. I told her I was
only selling icecream. She asked how old I was and I told her I was 14 yrs. old.
She then said, “Don’t tell me it was a damb Mexican who reported you?” I told
her, “yes.” She then said, “ why do we want to eat each other and look at you, you
are only a child.” She then started to argue with her Sergeant to let me go. But, he
said he could not because it was the law. The immigration officer who transported
me, the female border agent, and her sergeant did not want me deported. They
knew I had not committed any crimes. Another officer who took me to Reynosa
was also upset for having to deport me. They then deported me to Reynosa,
Mexico.
Although, the US immigration and border patrol agents who were in contact with
Dynamo did not feel it was right what done to Dynamo, they did their duty. Dynamo was
transported to Reynosa, Mexico. Immigration officials in Reynosa did not treat Dynamo as well
as the immigration officials in the US. Remember, Dynamo’s home and family are in the US.
The only thing on Dynamo’s mind is to be back home in the US with his loved one’s.
Mexican immigration treated me bad. After being deported I could not make calls
to the US. I wanted to call my mom and tell her that I was not being bad. I then
had to cross back to the US on my own. I was taken to the DIF (It is a place where
they take minors who have been deported to Mexico) . I was able to borrow a cell
phone and I called my mom and told her what happened. I was fed at the DIF and
there were many other children from many other countries.

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As mentioned above Dynamo’s parents are unducumented and could not cross
international bounderies to get their son. Dynamo’s brother had to cross from the US to Mexico
undocumented on a floating device on the Rio Grande River. Dynamo and his brother then
attempted to acquire a coyote, but he got drunk. During this crossing back to the US Dynamo
stated that he saw a body in the water.
My brother had to come to Mexico illegally then he helped me cross back to the
US thru the river. We were going to pay a coyote $500 but he got drunk and we
crossed on our own. We swam across in our underwear. When we crossed the
river I saw dead people. I think I saw a dead body on the river. We walked for
about a day.
It took Dynamo about a week to get back to the US from the day he was arrested and
reported to the Department of Homeland Security. When people are deported they usually do not
have money for food or shelter thus, they go hungry for long periods at a time.
We were vey hungry and we found a field with melons and started to eat. They the
best tasting melons ever. We walked into a Aziz gas station and a man asked us,
“why are you all wet?” The first thought in my head was to tell him we were
fishing. We then called my dad and thank God he picked us up. It was a total of
about a week from when the police arrested me to when my dad picked us up. My
brother was undocumented too but he promised my mom and dad he was going to
get me. My brother is my hero.
Dynamo and his brother are lucky to be alive and well with their parents as many
undocumented youth and adults alike meet their fait attemptin to cross the US/Mexico border.
Dynamo’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: As mentioned above
Dynamo has his now has his family in the US. Though, all of his family members are
undocumented. Dynamo states that life in the US is much different than life in Mexico.
Here in the US you have more opportunities to have a better future. “Para ir a
delante” “Go forward”. It is good to live here. If you work you are going to have
something here. Eat a lot better. Go to restaurants here every weekend. In Mexico
you never go. You eat bean every day. You do not have good shoes either. In
Mexico you do not buy the shoes that you like. You wear the shoes that your dad
buys for you. Here you can work and buy good shoes, jeans, and shirts. If you do

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not work well you are not going to die of hunger because the government here
will help you.
Dynamo stated that he is now a more humble person as a result of his experiences in the
US. He also feers every time he goes out and only goes to work and a local McDondalds. He did
not expect life in the US would be the way it is before he moved here.
I did not expect it to be like this. I thought is was going to be the same as Mexico.
Life is different. Opportunities if, you work in McDonald’s you can make money.
That is if you have papers. If you work in the field you can make it here. My dad
is 56 years old and he works in the fields with my mom. Its hard. It broke my
heart seeing my parents work all day and just get the minimum.
Though, he is glad to be here and would not do anything differently. Dynamo’s older
brother will go to the fields and ask people if they can work in the fields with them.
The best part of being in the US is being able to go to college. I have to work and
go to school on my own.Without being a documented person. They help you. I got
out of college becuase I have to help my parents with the bills, food, and water. I
pay the bills in the house. I have worked in the fields and they do not give you a
break when the sun is really hot. They are hurrying us up and do not slow down
when we pick squash. We just work all day from 7AM – 8PM.
Dynamo is lucky to have never neede medical help and he thanks God for that. If he
breaks a bone he know he would have to go to a hospital. He interacts pretty well with just about
anybody as he is truly bilingual and speaks English and Spanish fluently. He as gotten a moving
violation at one point in his life and he paid $300 for the ticket. His girlfriend is proud of him for
being Mexican and getting a high school diploma and because he was in college. “She is proud
of me and she is a citizen.” When asked how does his experience compare to the experience of
other undocumented immigrant he states that:
I consider myself in the middle not in the hardest part. I do not have it the hardest.
Like the Central Americans. They are the ones that suffer more than us. They
suffer the most. They say that when they come over here they are willing to die.
When they come from Guatemala, Salvador and Honduras there is a lot of
poverty.

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Dynamo plans to never go back to Mexico and hopes to one day become and American
citizen. He also feels that President Obama has done a good thing when it comes to the new
immigration reform policies he is trying to pass. “He is froming this country in a good way.”
Dan’s Background Information: Dan is from Chiapas, Mexico and has a 5th grade education
from there. Dan came to the US when he was 17 years old left his father, grandparents, 2 sisters,
and 1 brother (diseased after being in the US for 6 months). Dan mentioned that he never knew
his mother as she left the family when he was around 5 years old. His father works on a farm and
it was Dan’s decision to come to the US in order to help the family financially. Dan is now 25
years old and has no family member here with him in the US. “I am a person that likes to work. I
am a good person I have not committed any crimes. I dedicated myself to my work. I do not like
to look for trouble as I am not from here.” Tell me about the last time you cried?
It was when I first came to the US. I missed my family and after 6 months after
being in the US my younger brother died. My father told me to stay in the US
and to help the family with whatever money I can send them. I would like to help
my family more. If I knew things were going to be this hard here I would have
rather stayed in Mexico.
Dan now lives with a female friend. “Vivo con una amiga.” He also noted that he does
not use drugs and only drinks in rare occasions.
Dan’s Migration and Border Crossing Experiences: As stated above Dan made the
decision for to come to the US on his own. He left 2 sisters and a brother along with his father in
Mexico. 6 months after Dan was in the US his brother past away. This devastated the family and
Dan’s father told Dan to stay in the US the help the family financially by sending money to
Mexico. In order for Dan to cross onto US territory he had to pay a total of $800.
It was my decision to come to the US. My dad did not know I was going to come.
I got a bus in Chiapas and took it to Sonora, Mexico. At that time we had

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problems but after a month later we crossed. The streets were covered with
military personel and would not let people pass. In Sonora I paid a coyote $400
and when we crossed to the US I paid another $400.
People are going further and further towards the desert in order to avoing immigration
personnel. Many people have died trying to cross the desert. “It was all desert. Some people had
swollen feet and blisters and in the 3rd day we ran out of water. We found puddles of water to fill
our canteans. We walked for a total of five days.” Dan was accompanied with two friends and the
coyote who crossed them.
Dan’s Post-crossing Social Experiences and Information: Dan’s day to day living
includes work, going out, buying necesities, and trying to help his family in Mexico.
At first it was hard because you could not work in any place. I had to look for
friends to help me find work. I look for work in the newspaper or I ask friends.
Sometimes I go out and look for work I ask people in their homes or factories. In
Mexico, I also worked since I was 11 years old so, I new what it took to be
responsible. I pay the rent, food, water, and all the basics. The way people would
tell me sounded like it was going to be easier to find work. But in reality it is very
difficult to find work. It is hard.
Dan articulated that “the way I think has changed. In Mexico things are easier as I am in
my country. Here you need to be more dedicated to your life.” His experiences have impacted
him to become more responsible. “You need to do things right and not wrong or things may
become more difficult.” His relationshiop with his family member have also changed as he
mentioned that he does not have time to call Mexcio or they do not answer. “It was not too long
ago that my grandma passed away and it is expensive to buy calling cards.”
Before his grandmother past away she and Dan’s father wanted him to return. Dan’s
father wants him to save up money to open up a business in Mexico. He has no plans to go back
now but maybe later in the future. He insists that here you have a bettter life. That things are
difficult but you get to know new people and work is better. Though, he stated that the harderst

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part about being here is the fear when he goes out to work or certain places. “It is hard to go out
with fear that the police is out to get you.” Neverthe less, Dan says that he has no fear, as long
has he is behaving nothing will happen. He also says that Mexico is different as you get paid
very little there and things are more expensive. “Here life is better you live a little better here.”
When asked how does he compare will other undocumented immigrants he stated that is
the same for all.
Work is necessary becuase we have no help from other people or the government.
You have to work and take care of your health because if you get sick you can not
work. I go out and purchase my foods. I have not gone to the Dr. I only buy over
the counter medications. I do not go see the Dr.
Dan also stated that for the most part his employer have treated him good and they have
mutual respect. Though, he has also been a victim of labor exploitation.
The only bad experience is when I did not get paid.” “Yes, worked fo ra man in
cement and he did not pay me for a weeks work worth $350.” The boss with who
I work with now. He says I am a good worker.
Dan would also like to bemome an American citizen, so he could work. “I may be able to
get a car and a job or house, land.” He also stated that it is hard to interact with his peers, but
knows it is good as he meets new people.
When asked if ther is anything he felt is important for me (others) to know he mentioned:
Many times some people treat you or think of you as a bad person only because
we are undocumented. Some people here look down at you because we were not
born or have the studies of those who are here.
He also feels that the immigration reform policies President Obama proposed is good for
the people that are good. “It would help many people who are here.”
Theoretical Connections
As mentioned in chapter 2 of the sub-section of the social disorganization theory
migration may be nerve-racking for adults, but even more so for children. It is not an easy task in

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making the decision to leave one’s home land and family. The adversity may seem demoralizing
much more difficult when these youth do not know the English language and an American
system that has morals or ethics unlike the ones from their native country. These unaccompanied
youth enter a world that is much more different than where they came from and their principal
source of support is left back in their native homes (Breton, 1999). Once immigrants arrive in the
United States they may acquire feelings of being powerless and alone. According to Pantin,
Schwartz, Sullivan, Coatsworth, and Scapocznic (2003), immigrants of Latino descent usually
inhabit impoverished communities, creating economic stress that exacerbates feelings of
helplessness and isolation. Just as in urban areas, systems of relationships are relevant to crime
and delinquency in small towns and rural communities.
Though, the youth in this study did not stay in isolation forever and eventually created
meaningful relationships, as most of these youth now have either wives, close friends, and/or
children of their own, now. Thus, these meaningful relationships have deterred them from crime
and delinquency. As such, these youth have obligations and responsibilities for the future of their
lives and new loved ones. As Marco declared that, “ I always think and staypossitive. Since I
have had the opportunity to go to school and become the man I am now, now my goal is to stay
humble. I know I am being an example for my children, so they can understand.” Now that
Marco has his family he has been able to conseptualize how imoportant it is to be a good
example and role model for his own children and wife.
Cultural incompatibilities are sometimes created by the dissimilarity in traditions and
customs among Latino immigrant youth and their parents. Latino youth are a group persuaded by
the contact of acculturation of American ways. The routine of life in America is very different
than the countries from which these immigrant youth came from. In many Latin countries

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conformity and respect are serious components of juvenile – parent affairs (Santiseban, Muir –
Malcolm, Mitrani, & Szapocnik, 2002). The communities and extended families in most Latin
countries automatically provide cooperative support to their neighbors and friends, and everyone
looks over youth’s school performance and activities.
Nevertheless, it was Shaw and McKay’s (1942) contention that it is not poverty, per se,
but an association of poverty with other deleterious factors that weakens systems of common
associations in a community, thereby producing social disorganization. On the other hand,
current descriptions of social disorganization theory assume that strong networks of social
relationships help to prevent crime and delinquency (Kornhauser, 1978; Bursik and Grasmick,
1993; Sampson and Groves, 1989). When most community or neighborhood members are
acquainted and on good terms with one another, a considerable portion of the mature population
will have an influence on the youth. Cowboy was 16 years old at the time of the interview I had
with him and he said, “I think it is fun going to school and get to see movies at home. First, thing
I do is homework. My friends take me to the movies. I just follow all the laws.”
Bobby describes how his strong connection and loving relationship with his wife and
family have sustained him to conform, as he explained that before he used to be alone and now
he has a family. “I now communicate a lot with my wife. The decisions I make are not only for
me, they are for my entire family.”
It has also been mentioned that employment worries considerably contribute to
immigrants’ mental health and other associated factors. According to Finch, Catalano, Novaco,
and Vega (2003) securing employment, economic hardship and job demands were acknowledged
as key stressors contributing to mental illness among Latino immigrants. Occupational dilemmas
have been found to negatively affect Mexican immigrant youth, resulting in elevated levels of

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depression and anxiety (Grzywacz, Quandt, Arcur, & Marin, 2005). Marvin explains that he
wants to work but he continues to feel the pressure and has been suffering for the past 3 years.
It is hard to have a ride to work. I am trying to work, but it is hard to get around. I
got very sentimental with all the preasure so, I just started crying about all the
problems. Before, I was a happier person. For the last three years I have been
crying and crying a lot. I have had a very bad life lately and this has made me a
more serious person. I have no documents here and life is hard without them.
These mental health difficulties in turn become an obstacle in the career development
processes of immigrant youth. Career scholarship and practice in psychology have been rooted in
the commitment to social justice, providing adequate and fulfilling employment to those who are
not assured access to positive work environments (Swanson & Gore, 2000). Professional
counseling may be a liberating tool for Latino immigrant youth who can also experience the
personal satisfaction of developing their career paths and reaching their career dreams.
Accordingly, intervening will help to decrease the likelihood of poor academic achievement,
high delinquency rates, and substance abuse among undocumented immigrant youth.
Work can be extremely beneficial and empowering for people who are struggling in a
new country (Yakushko, 2006). Employment can aid the process of adjustment and help
individuals make roots in the new country. Working decreases the isolation that many feel and
may contribute to building a new social network. It may also provide an opportunity for new
friendships, as well as an opportunity to learn more about the culture, including facilitating
English language skills. For many immigrant youth, developing a positive career path in the
United States would signify that their migration was indeed successful.
Bryan disclosed to the researcher that now he has a legal document that will allow him to
work in the US without the fear of deportation. Bryan was able to get this documents as a result
from the reprieve President Obama past with his executive powers on June 15, 2012. Bryan

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stated that, “Just so you know I have already gotten some type of documentation that allows me
to work here on the US and I am extremely happy and now I feel free!” This document, this
reprieve, this executive power has freed many of these undocumented youth from the hardships
associated with not having a legal channel for employment.
Merton (1968) was concerned with social regulation of the means people use to obtain
material goals. First, Merton perceived a “strain toward anomie” in the relative lack of cultural
emphasis on institutional norms—the established rules of the game—that regulates the legitimate
means for obtaining success in American society. Second, structural blockages that limit access
to legitimate means for many members of American society also contribute to its anomic
tendencies. Allowing these undocumented youth to have a legitimate access for success will
minimize any contributions of anomic tendencies.
Nevertheless, undocumented youth with no means to meet their employment needs will
consider illegitimate responses as practical. Blocked in their pursuit of economic success, many
of these undocumented youth are forced to adapt in uncharacteristic ways to this frustrating
environmental condition. Cowboy stated that when his father got deported he had no choice but
to stay and work with a man who continued to abuse him. “... my dad got deported and I was
abused by my boss. I had to stay with the man who kept abusing me. I was kicked by my boss
with his boots. He would also hit me with a belt on the back. He would call me a wet back.”
Dynamo explains that he has worked in the fields and they do not give him a break when the sun
is really hot. “They are hurrying us up and do not slow down when we pick squash. We just work
all day from 7AM – 8PM.”
Thus, to have the social regulation of being undocumented lifted for these youth will be
an emancipation for the ages.

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Chapter Summary
The data analyzed in chapter 4 briefly describes the lives of 12 unaccompanied
immigrant youth who migrated to the Rio Grande Valley, US/Mexican border. The data analysis
yielded three major themes correlated to their familial makeup, migration and border crossing
experiences, and experiences as an unaccompanied youth living on the US/Mexican border. The
three major themes were categorizes as: Theme I. Anomie or high levels of stress which includes
categories of such as, victims of abuse and rape, exploitation, kidnapping, fear, poverty, hunger,
migration and border crossing experiences; Theme II. Highlights their hopes, resiliency,
inspiration, faith, courage and positivity; and Theme III. Consider the US their home and do not
want to return to their native state. Results also illuminated their optimism regardless of their
status and if deported will return to the US as soon as possible. Chapter 5 focuses on the study’s
discussion and policy recommendations.
Chapter 5
Discussion and Policy Recommendations
Since the 1990’s the undocumented population has been progressively increasing in
volume. According to The Urban Institute the estimated undocumented population more than
doubled during the 1990’s and undocumented Mexicans make up approximately 57% of the
total, which are roughly 5.3 million (Passel, Capps, & Fix, 2004). There are many variations
among families who migrate to the U.S. for various reasons as explained with the stories above.
The majority of the immigrants who come from Latin America to seek employment after
their relocation to the United States (Schmidley, 2001). Information about the career
development and career transition issues of immigrants and refugees remains limited; et. career

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counseling to these populations can be one of the most significant contributors to their positive
transition into a new culture (Yakushko, 2006). Moreover, immigrant youth are not likely to
seek to transition and adjust to their new living and work environments, but many of them view
their relocation as an opportunity to develop their career potential (Yakushko, Backhaus, Watson,
Ngaruiya, & Gonzalez, 2008).
Many choose to immigrate because of the financial or political situation in their own
country has left them with no other choice (Keely, 2001). In addition to immigration
experiences, juvenile justice professionals must be aware of the trauma Latino youths might have
suffered in their countries of origin (Cintron, 2006). Furthermore, many families are poor in
their own countries so, the decision to migrate is due to financial necessity. These poor
undocumented individuals migrate with their families to the United States in search of better
wages, increased job opportunities, universal schooling, and the promise of a better life for their
children (Jennissen, 2007; Segal & Mayadas, 2005).
As mentioned above immigrant adults come to the United States for many reasons,
children and youth come unaccompanied to the United States for various reasons, as well.
Sometimes they come by themselves or with parents and other family members; other come to
try and make a better life for themselves. Nevertheless, their reasons for coming to the United
States and leaving their home nations are as different and complex as their elders' - from a need
to escape oppression, to a longing to be united with other family members that may already be in
the U.S., to pursuit of a better life and socioeconomic standards.
Primary data in this research indicates that “unaccompanied children” have very different
stories: some come to the United States to escape war, famine, poverty, or abuse; some come in

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search of family members; and some are brought by adults who intend to exploit them.
Unaccompanied children enter the immigration system by other pathways as well: while some
are apprehended crossing an international border, others live in the United States for months or
years before coming to the attention of federal authorities. Immigrant Latino youth that comes in
contact with U.S. federal authorities are not always processed.
Immigrant youths may be the next Americans that arrived yesterday, are here today, and
hopefully will be triumphant tomorrow. It is in everybody’s best interest that this vulnerable,
rapidly growing population receives the necessary services in order to flourish. Scholars,
researchers, and policymakers need to focus on how to improve access for immigrant youth to
social welfare agencies when necessary. It is unsound to have millions of undocumented youth
living in the shadows of our nation. Currently, Latino/a juveniles represent one of the largest and
fastest – growing immigrant populations in the United States.
When the federal government intensifies immigration enforcement it puts these
undocumented youth at risk of family separation, trauma, and economic hardship. The hardship
in which families and children go through when immigration is enforced may have serious
consequences for all immigrant family members and the communities in which they reside.
Victims or Perpetrators?
Findings propose that undocumented immigrants are extremely susceptible to
victimization due to their undocumented status. Fear of deportation among this population
ultimately serves to further increase their likelihood of victimization. Furthermore, a
misperception that the foreign born, especially undocumented immigrants are responsible for
higher crime rates is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is continuous by media

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anecdote and popular myth (Rumbaut and Ewing, 2007). Though, as Martinez and Lee (2000)
concluded: “The major finding of a century of research on immigration and crime is that …
immigrants nearly always exhibit lower crime rates than native groups” (p. 496). The major
findings in this research suggest that youth exhibit low to no crime rates. As mentioned above,
the youth in this study reinforces the fact that these young Latino youth without adult supervision
are more susceptible to being victims instead of acting as the perpetrator.
Children/Youth in an Adult Immigration System
The literature on unaccompanied children in the United States has identified a handful of
broad concerns. These include a lack of systematic research on the migration of unaccompanied
children; the methods used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to classify
unaccompanied children: repatriation, and reunification with family members; the challenges
that unaccompanied children in federal custody face in applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile
Status (SIJS); and finally, the lack of legal counsel for unaccompanied children. The
consideration that builds in the process of removing these children and their legal rights to
remain in the US will be examined in this section. This section will explore the treatment of
“unaccompanied alien children” who are detained within the U.S. immigration detention system.
Every year in the United States, thousands of noncitizen children who have been
separated from their parents or other legal guardians undergo removal (deportation) proceedings
before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the office within the Department of
Justice that oversees the U.S. immigration courts. Unfortunately, pro bono (volunteer) legal
services for these “unaccompanied children” are in short supply, and very few of these children
have the resources to hire their own legal counsel. As a result, many have no choice but to go

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through the difficult and intimidating experience of appearing in immigration court without legal
representation (Byrne, 2008).
The immigration experience for youth whether they have a green card or are
undocumented can be a sticky issue. Only individuals who are United States citizens may not
get deported, but green card holder and undocumented people run the risk of being sent back to
their home countries from which they came. Immigrant and undocumented youths who enter the
immigration system face great challenges and complex circumstances that they often have to
solve on their own (National Juvenile Justice Network, 2006). Also, according to the National
Juvenile Justice Network (2006) it is impossible to capture all the barriers and risks facing
undocumented youth.
Immigration laws and policies are constantly changing, and to make matters worse
immigration practices differ across jurisdictions and offices. The passage of the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), the Anti – Terrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act (AEDPA), and the USA PATRIOT Act has indeed given rise to the number of
undocumented youth to be deported from the United States, while at the same time eliminating
relief for immigrants with family ties in the U.S., regardless of the severity of the situation.
These enforcement policies which target broad classes of immigrants undermine long –
standing family reunification principles of U.S. immigration policy and pose dire social,
economic, and psychological costs for deportees and their family members both in the United
States and their communities of origin (Hagan, Eschach, & Rodriguez, 2008). Professionals who
come into contact with immigrant youth should provide assistance, guide, and recommend

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immigrant youth on how to obtain legal citizenship in order minimize strain in which may be
associated with their migration.
As Cintron (2006) mentioned juvenile justice professionals must be mindful of the
stresses Latino youths might have suffered in their countries of origin in addition to these
juveniles’ immigration experiences. Many times situations may result in prolonged detention or
deportation for undocumented youth even if they lived most of their lives in the U.S. According
to Hagan, Eschbach, & Rodriguez (2008) family separation as a result of contemporary U.S.
enforcement policy remains an ominous threat to immigrant families throughout the United
States. This may be especially true for U.S. born youth that have no familiarity with the country
or culture to which their parents have been deported. It is also good to remember that even youth
who have been in the U.S. since they were babies can be deported if they are not U.S. citizens.
Furthermore, workplace arrests are an important piece in ICE’s arsenal of deportation
strategies. Aftermaths of recent worksite enforcement raids have confirmed the catastrophic
affect it has on large numbers of children (Capps, Castaneda, Chaudry, & Santos 2007). Whole
communities experience fear, and this fear leads to trauma for children, who experience
symptoms of depression, separation anxiety and, in many cases, post-traumatic stress disorder
(Capps, Castaneda, Chaudry, & Santos 2007).
Though, there is hope for some undocumented juveniles to obtain lawful permanent
citizens of the U.S. by qualifying for the special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS). SIJS may
provide for permanent residency to children who are under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court
and who will not be reunified with their parents due to neglect, abandonment, or abuse
(Kinoshita & Brady 2005). Having difficulties with language barriers, no money, the lack of

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understanding of U.S. federal law and court procedures, makes it nearly impossible to prove their
asylum claim. If deported some youth may face persecution and death based on their beliefs of
political opinion or for being a member of a certain group.
The benefits for applying for special immigrant juvenile status is that it provides
employment authorization and the ability to remain in the U.S., and eventually allow the
juvenile lawful permanent resident status (via a green card; cf. Kinoshita & Brady 2006).
Though, most of the youth that apply do not qualify for many reasons. If an immigration judges
orders the child’s removal, the DHS will be responsible for the returning the child to his or her
home country (Nugent & Schulman, 2006).
The Rights of Unaccompanied Alien Juveniles
Before the early twentieth century, children had very few legal rights. In fact, most legal
codes regarded children as the property of their parents, with no legal identity of their own
(Gates, 2002). That began to change in the early and middle part of the twentieth century, as
children came to be valued as persons in their own right. This cultural shift was particularly
dramatic in the aftermath of World War II, when the suffering of young people attracted
international attention and a movement to establish an international human rights treaty for
children gained momentum (Gates, 2002).
In many respects, the recognition of children’s rights under U.S. law has paralleled
international developments: by the mid to late twentieth century, child protective laws were
widespread, and most U.S. states viewed children as legal persons with individual rights, in
accordance with the best interests’ principle.
Today, the best interests’ principle is the overarching doctrine in U.S. family law
(Dalrymple, 2006). U.S. immigration law, however, represents an important exception to these

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developments: while international law and U.S. family law have both adopted the best interests
principle, authors we surveyed have pointed out that the U.S. Congress, which regulates
immigration policy by enacting immigration laws, has failed to incorporate the best interests
principle into substantive U.S. immigration law (with a handful of exceptions; Thronson, 2002;
Dalrymple, 2006). In fact, substantive asylum law makes no distinction whatsoever between
adults and children (Thronson, 2002; Dalrymple, 2006; Bhabha & Schmidt, 2006).
Unaccompanied alien children are uniquely and dangerously poised when forced to
navigate the adult complex waters of the legal system without the aid of an attorney. Relief in an
immigration court, the enforcement of detention standards, and reunification with family all
hinge on effective legal representation. Despite repeated calls for statutory reform and the
dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied alien children in federal custody, our nation
has taken no action. A child’s right to be heard hearkens to the words and spirit of the United
States Constitution.
Child welfare advocates have made excellent strides in improving detention policy and
immigration law for UACs. However, in order to progressively advance the rights of children in
immigration law generally, and to provide even UACs meaningful enjoyment of the rights that
child welfare advocates obtained for them.
In spite of these concerns, the literature also points to substantial improvements in the
treatment of unaccompanied children in recent years. These include the introduction of
procedural safeguards for children in removal proceedings; the reduction in the use and length of
detention and the general improvement in conditions that accompanied the transfer of
responsibility for the care and custody of unaccompanied children from the now-defunct INS to
the ORR; and an increased awareness of trafficking in children. Many observers believe that the

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proposed Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act would likely result in further
improvements by separating unaccompanied children in federal custody from those with a
juvenile justice conviction, requiring that custodial facilities provide proper services and
requiring that unaccompanied children be provided with legal representation and a guardian ad
litem.
In sum, compiling this review has convinced us that while the existing literature on
unaccompanied children in the United States contains a wealth of useful information, there
remains a need for more nuanced research on these children’s experiences and the issues they
face in immigration court. It is the hope of this document that, as more is learned, decision
makers will be able shape policies and practices that more effectively promote the welfare of
unaccompanied children in the United States.
Attitudes Toward Immigration and Crime
Immigrants have been found to be victims, not the perpetrators, of crimes. The
connections among immigration crime and victimization rates should aid in formulating friendly
policy. According to the findings of Ousey and Kubrin (2009), immigration lowers crime rates
by bolstering intact (two-parent) family structures. Ousey and Kubrin (2009) acknowledged the
macro-level relationship between immigration and crime, and its characterization of important
gaps. These researchers notices that despite the fact that immigration is a macro-level social
process that unfolds over time, longitudinal macro-level research on the immigration-crime
nexus is virtually does not exist. Moreover, while several theoretical perspectives posit sound
reasons why over-time changes in immigration could result in higher or lower crime rates, little
is known about the reality of these arguments. To address these issues, Ousey and Kubrin (2009)
investigated the longitudinal relationship between immigration and violent crime across U.S.

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cities and provide the first empirical assessment of theoretical perspectives that offer
explanations of that relationship. Their findings support the argument that immigration lowers
violent crime rates by bolstering intact (two-parent) family structures.
The legacy of immigration can often be characterized as one of struggle, discrimination,
and violence (Rodriguez, 2007). According to Rodriguez (2007), the plight of immigration,
especially for non – Europeans, has been extremely difficult. Rodriguez (2007) has also noted
that immigrants are also seen as the major contributors to the breakdown of the United States’
morality, unity, and stability. Mexican youth may not always readily be accepted by the general
public with open arms. Instead, they are sometimes seen as outcasts who are nothing more than
ordinary criminals.
In another study conducted by Wilson (2001), it was hypothesized that Americans’
perception of threatened group interests increases their opposition to policies benefiting
immigrants. The hypothesis is drawn from group threat theory, which holds that a dominant
group’s hostility to a subordinate group is a response to a perceived threat posed by subordinates
to the dominant group’s interest. Studies of white Americans’ attitudes toward policies and
programs benefiting African Americans generally support this claim. However, studies of
Americans’ immigration policy attitudes have to date yielded mixed results. This study uses data
from the 1994 General Social Survey to test the hypothesis drawn from group threat theory that
Americans’ perception of threatened group interests increases their opposition to policies
benefiting immigrants (Wilson, 2001).
Wilson’s findings help extend previous studies in several ways: by addressing policy
views toward undocumented immigrants as well as legal immigrants, by considering a broader

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range of group threats, and by distinguishing group threat from threat to self-interest. Findings
show that Americans’ perceptions of threats to their economic and cultural interests may exert
appreciable influences on their policy preferences and that these influences are independent of
self-interest, anti-immigrant prejudice, conservatism, and economic outlook (Wilson, 2001).
Implications are drawn for immigration policy reform and for the general applicability of group
threat theory (Wilson, 2001).
An exceptional study conducted by Esses, Dovidio, Jackson, and Armstrong (2011),
explored the bases and dynamics of attitudes toward immigration and immigrants in Canada and
the United States. Importantly, this article also considers the role of both perceived competition
for resources and group identity in determining attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in
North America. The authors provide background information on immigration policies and levels
of immigration to Canada and the United States. Following an overview of their theoretical
perspective, they then describe the research that was conducted in Canada and the United States
indicating that perceived zero-sum competition between groups, whether situationally induced or
a function of chronic belief in zero-sum relations among groups is strongly implicated in
negative immigration attitudes (Esses, et. al., 2011). Additionally, the authors describe recent
attempts to improve attitudes toward immigrants and immigration through the targeting of zerosum beliefs and through manipulations of the inclusiveness of national identity.
High levels of worldwide migration paired with increasingly negative attitudes toward
immigrants and immigration in host countries indicate that it is crucial to gain an understanding
of the bases of these attitudes. Esses, Jackson, and Armstrong (1998) discuss one determinant of
negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration: perceived competition for resources.
Esses, Jackson, and Armstrong (1998) present an instrumental model of group conflict, which

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suggests that competition for resources, and attempts to remove this competition, are important
determinants of intergroup attitudes and behavior. The authors then review relevant research on
perceived competition and attitudes toward immigrants and immigration. They conclude by
discussing the implications of this research for attempts to alleviate tension between immigrants
and members of host populations, and for a more general model of group conflict.
Although few controversies in our political environment are as contentious as the current
debate over immigration policy, the research on public opinion toward immigration is quite
limited. In particular, little is known about the contextual determinants of opinions on
immigration issues. Hood and Morris (1995) address this issue by investigating the impact of
migrant context on Anglo opinions toward immigration. They found that Anglo support for
increased immigration is directly related to the size of the documented migrant population.
Conversely, as the relative size of the undocumented migrant population increases, Anglo
support for increased immigration decreases. Hood and Morris (1995) conclude with a
discussion of the relevance of their findings for the study of immigration opinion, in particular,
and the study of intergroup relations more generally. These results have an important implication
for the future direction of Anglo opinion toward immigration policy. To the extent that the
balance between documented and undocumented migrants favors undocumented migrants a
likely result of an especially restrictive legal immigration policy then Anglo opinion will tend
toward increasing conservatism on the immigration issue.
As a direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the government
passed the USA PATRIOT Act on October 2001 only a month after the attacks. This further
expanded the categories of immigrants to be targeted by elevating administrative powers to
detain and deport immigrants who are perceived as threats in our country (Hagan, Eschbach, &

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Rodriguez, 2008). The individuals who attacked our nation were not from Hispanic/Latino
descent and they did not cross into the United States from the 2,000 mile border of Mexico.
According to Hagan, Eschbach, and Rodriguez (2008) the majority of persons deported from the
United States today are poor Latin American immigrants who were removed for non – criminal
reasons. Furthermore, among the 208,151 persons deported from the United States in fiscal year
2005, an estimated 69% were from Mexico, followed by an additional 16% from the Central
American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala (Hagan, Eschbach, & Rodriguez,
2008).
Increased restriction of legal immigration, if it has any effect on undocumented
migration, is likely to generate an increase in the level of undocumented immigration. Combined
with a reduction in legal immigration a necessary result of the conjectural change in immigration
requirements the relative size of the undocumented population will increase at the expense of the
documented population (Hood & Morris, 1995). Under these conditions, the inverse relationship
between undocumented migrant context and public opinion implies a growing conservatism
toward legalized immigration.
Correlation Among Immigration and the US Economy
Do immigrants create jobs and businesses, boost wages of native – born workers or do
these immigrants cause unemployment in this nation? There is generally a strong correlation
between economic recession and anti‐immigrant sentiment, and politicians have frequently
scapegoat immigrants rather than address the real issues underlying economic slowdowns and
immigration policy (Benton – Cohen and Cadava, 2010). The American Immigration Council
AIC (2011) clarify if immigrants took jobs away from large numbers of native-born workers, one
would expect to find high unemployment rates in those parts of the country with the largest

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numbers of immigrants—especially immigrants who have come to the United States recently, are
more likely to be unauthorized, and are more willing to work for lower wages than native-born
workers. However, that is not the case. As a matter of fact, empirical research has confirmed
over and over again that there is no correlation among unemployment and immigration (AIC,
2011). To be more precise, immigrants—including the unauthorized—create jobs through their
purchasing power and their entrepreneurship, buying goods and services from U.S. businesses
and creating their own businesses, both of which sustain U.S. jobs. The presence of new
immigrant workers and consumers in an area also spurs the expansion of businesses, which
creates new jobs.
Many Americans argue that undocumented individuals enter the U.S. to work, which
contribute to the tax base (Sanders, 2006). Eduardo Porter (2005) claims that undocumented
immigrants generate some six to seven billion dollars in social security tax revenue and about 1.5
billion dollars in Medicare taxes annually. Porter (2005) fears that these laws will only increase
crime and aggravate public health problems. Children in immigrant households are often
considered at increased risk of maltreatment due to the stress and pressure experienced by the
family resulting from immigration and acculturation (Dettlaff, Earner, and Phillips, 2009).
The data analyzed by a report done by Paral, Wijewardena, and Ewing (2009), indicated
that undocumented immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980’s through the legalization
provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) experienced clear improvement
in their socioeconomic situation. The educational accomplishment of IRCA immigrants
improved considerably, their poverty rates declined considerably, and their home ownership rates
enhanced extremely. Moreover, their real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial

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positions, and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance (Paral, Wijewardena, &
Ewing, 2009).
All in all, the findings suggested by Paral et.al, (2009) support the concept that
legalization of undocumented immigrants can play a significant role in boosting the economy
and lowering socioeconomic disparities. Improving our immigration policies should not be an
obstacle to getting our economy back to what it once was it should be a major part of the
solution.
It may be argued that immigrants help the economy in America by stimulating
investment, boost long term productivity, and not affecting the job market at the expense of
occupations for workers born in this country. Thus, a more comprehensive immigration policy
reform that includes the legalization of undocumented immigrants would fuel our nation’s
economy. Moving immigrants into a legal status contributes to the United States economy.
Allowing legal status will make these new Americans dependent on government welfare and
other state or local assistance. With the opportunity and privilege for becoming American
citizens it is their hope to become better educated, boost American economy, earn higher wages
with benefits, and participate in public political agendas.
Dreaming for the Full Potential of Undocumented Students
Every year, several thousands of undocumented immigrant youth graduate from this
countries high schools and embark on unsure futures. Their inability to legally work and receive
financial aid stalls, detours, and derails their educational and economic trajectories. The
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a federal bill aimed at
providing immigration relief to these young people (Gonzales, 2010). The passage of this bill
would grant many undocumented youth access to legal residency and federal financial aid—thus

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removing legal and economic barriers to higher education and increasing their contributions to
America and the likelihood of upward mobility (Gonzales, 2010).
The proportion of students in U.S. schools who are children of immigrants doubled from
1980 – 1997, from 10% to 20% (Morse, 2002). In the 1990’s alone there was an increase of
about 1 million immigrant students in schools (Gonzalez, 2005). Therefore, it is imperative that
teachers receive proper education on how to interact with and be culturally sensitive to youth
who come from these minority groups. In the schools, discrimination of any type has caused
irreparable harm to educating an otherwise disenfranchised group of minority students (Gibson,
2004).
Conclusion
It may be said that the current political agenda on undocumented individuals in the US
have not substantially included undocumented immigrant children. As mentioned above many of
these children grow up in the US and received much of their primary and secondary education in
the United States. Though, without formulizing immigration policy to legalize their status, they
will not be able to go on to achieve higher education and will not be able to work legally in the
United States. Worse of all they can be deported to places they do not know, as well as, not
knowing the language spoken in many of these places.
Although, nearly 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth have resided in the US for over
five years or longer graduate from American high schools every year. Even though they may
attend most universities and colleges, they do not qualify for most forms of financial aid
(Gonzales, 2007). Many undocumented students are honor students, athletes, student leaders,
and aspiring professionals whom want to have great paying jobs with benefits. Though, because
of their immigration status, the majority of these young people are unable to access higher

132

education and even if they do, they are not legally able to obtain employment upon graduation
(UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, 2007). Only about 5 and 10 percent of
undocumented high – school graduates go to college, due to the fact of immigration policy
barriers toward higher education and their exemption to be part of the legal workforce in the US
(Gonzales, 2007).
This is a waste of hopeful dreams that imposes emotional and economic costs on students
who are undocumented and on American society as a whole. Denying undocumented students,
most of whom are Hispanic, the opportunity to go to college and join the skilled workforce sends
the wrong message to Hispanics about the value of a college education—and the value that U.S.
society places on their education at a time when raising the educational attainment of the
Hispanic population is increasingly important to the nation’s economic health (Gonzales, 2007).
If immigration policy can change to give these undocumented students the opportunity to be
American citizens then they may receive additional education and move into higher and better
paying jobs. This in turn would allow undocumented students who work to contribute to the tax
base and they will have additional resources to invest in our economy.
According to Gonzales (2007) the ten states which, since 2001, have passed laws
allowing undocumented students who graduate from in-state high schools to qualify for in-state
college tuition have not experienced a large invasion of new immigrant students that “displaces”
native-born students or added financial burdens on their educational systems. Better yet, these
new polices have a tendency to increase school revenues by bringing in tuition from students
who otherwise would not be in college (Gonzales, 2007). In our public schools educators and
parents encourage our students to aspire, yet we deny undocumented students the opportunity to

133

share in the “American Dream.” Does the United States really have the desire to waste such a
valuable national resource?
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Appendix A
Informed Consent
Prairie View A&M University
Office of Regulatory Research and Compliance
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
INFORMED CONSENT FORM TEMPLATE 2010
Dialectics of Undocumented Latino Youth without Parents/Guardians on the United States –
Mexico Border
You are invited to be in a research study to describe and understand the perceptions and
experiences of undocumented youth in the United States who are not here with parents or
guardians. You were selected as a possible participant because you appear to fit the requirements
for this study. I ask that you read this form and ask any questions you may have before agreeing
to be in the study.
This study is being conducted by: Frank A. Rodriguez from the Department of Justice Studies in
the College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology at Prairie View A&M University near Houston,
Texas.
Background Information
The purpose of this study is: To describe the circumstances of undocumented youth living in the
U.S. without parents or guardians.
Procedures:
If you agree to be in this study, I will ask you to do the following things: You will be interviewed
for about 30 to 60 minutes about what it is like to be here as an undocumented immigrant
without your parents – how you survive, your plans for the future and your relationship with
your family. I would like to audiotape the interviews to make sure that I do not miss what you
say. I will erase any names or details by which persons might be identified. If this makes you too
uncomfortable, I will simply write down your responses instead.
Risks and Benefits of being in the Study
The study has several risks: First, as an undocumented immigrant it is possible for the
Department of Homeland Security to deport you; Second, my research information could be
subpoenaed by a court, although this risk seems unlikely. Third, you could be charged with an
immigration offense which could affect your status in the United States and if deported, should
you choose to return.
If you become uncomfortable talking during the interview, you make stop talking at any time or
discontinue the study.

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Prairie View A&M University
Office of Regulatory Research and Compliance
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
INFORMED CONSENT FORM TEMPLATE 2010
The benefits to participation are: This study will give a voice to the unknown experiences of
undocumented youth in the United States who are here without parents or guardians. This
information will be made available to specific organizations – churches and charities who have
an interest in assisting persons such as yourself.
Compensation: You will receive: $30 cash for your time and cooperation as a gesture of
appreciation for participating in this study.
Confidentiality:
The records of this study will be kept confidential. In any sort of report that I publish, I will not
include any information that will make it possible to identify you. Research records will be
stored securely and only my faculty advisor and I will have access to the records. Tape
recordings will be in a locked office and kept for 7 years then destroyed.
Voluntary Nature of the Study:
Participation in this study is voluntary. Your decision whether or not to participate will not affect
your current or future relations with Prairie View A&M University. If you decide to participate,
you are free to not answer any question or withdraw at any time without affecting those
relationships.
Contacts and Questions:
The researchers conducting this study is: Frank A. Rodriguez. You may ask any questions you
have now. If you have questions later, you are encouraged to contact him at Prairie View A&M
University, College of Juvenile Justice & Psychology, P.O. Box 519 MS 2600
Prairie View, Texas 77446: cell (956)383-6666, e-mail: frodriguez1@pvamu.edu. Advisor: Dr. C.
Gibson, phone 936 261 523: e-mail cbgibson@pvamu.edu.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this study and would like to talk to someone
other than the researcher(s), you are encouraged to contact Marcia Shelton, PhD,
(mcshelton@pvamu.edu) in the Compliance Office, Office for Research and Development
P.O. Box 519; MS 1200 Prairie View, Texas 77446 Phone 936.261.1588 Fax
936.261.1599.

161

Prairie View A&M University
Office of Regulatory Research and Compliance
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
INFORMED CONSENT FORM TEMPLATE 2010

You will be given a copy of this information to keep for your records.
Statement of Consent:
I have read the above information. I have asked questions and have received answers. I consent
to participate in the study.
Signature:____________________________________________ Date: __________________
Signature of parent or guardian:___________________________ Date: __________________
(If minors are involved)
I agree to be audio-taped.________________________________ Date:___________________
[Signature]
Signature of Investigator:________________________________ Date: _________________

162

Appendix B
Demographic Questionnaire
(1) What country are you from?
(2) When were you born?
(3) What is your gender?
(4) How old were you when you first came to United States?
(5) How old are you now?
(6) How much education do you have?
(7) Which family members did you leave behind in your country of origin?
(8) Do you have any family members here with you?
(9) How many siblings do you have?
(10) How many siblings are here with you?
(11) How do you identify culturally/ethnically?
(12) Did you pay a coyote to smuggle you?
(13) Have you committed a crime while in the U.S.?
If yes, please explain.
(14) Have you been a victim of a crime in the U.S.?
If yes, please explain.
(15) Have you ever been in a gang?
If yes, please explain.
(16) Have you ever been detected by U.S. immigration?
If yes, please explain.

163

Appendix C
Interview
Review time frame for the interview
Review informed consent for taping, obtain pseudonym
Get verbal permission
Begin taping
Repeat informed consent and the fact that the interview is being taped
Obtain taped verbal permission
Instructions
No right or wrong answers
The researcher may ask if there is "anything else" you want to add. That does not mean
that your answer isn't sufficient, I am just checking in before moving on to the next
question.
The first sets of questions are about yourself and personal experiences.
(1) Tell me about yourself?
(2) Please describe how you came to be in the United States from your country of origin?
(3) With whom did you travel to the United States with?
(4) Tell me about your parents?
(5) Tell me about your use of drugs and, or alcohol?
(6) Have you ever been a victim of a crime?
(7) Have you ever committed a crime?
(8) Tell me about the last time you cried?
The next set of questions is about your experience shortly after arriving in the United States.
(9) What is your current living situation? (With whom do you live?)
(10) Tell me about the nicest thing that someone said to you recently?
(11) In general, what has life been like for you since coming to the United States?

164

(12) What about life in the United States is similar to life in your home country?
(13) How is it different or the same?
(14) How does your quality of life in the United States compare with your quality of life you had
in your home country?
(15) Tell me what it is like day to day living in America?
(16) Tell me about how you get groceries, entertainment, help from the doctor when you need it?
(17) What have your employment experiences been like?
(18) How have you been treated by your employer?
(19) How do you find employment (e.g., challenging)? Why?
(20) What has it been like for you to interact with peers who were born in the United States?
(21) Have you ever been asked to join a gang here in the America?
(22) How, if at all, has your relationship with family members changed since your arrival in the
United States?
(23) Please describe any adjustments that were made with family members after periods of
separation.
(24) What roles and responsibilities do you have in your family (that differ from the roles and
responsibilities you had in your country of origin)?
The next set of questions asks for your present reflections on your overall experience in America.
(25) How has your actual experience in the United States differed (if at all) from the expectation
you had prior to coming here?
(26) How have your experiences impacted the person you have become?
(27) How have you changed as a person as a result of your experience in the United States? To
what do you attribute those changes?
(28) What is the best part about being here?
(29) What is the hardest/worst part about being here?
(30) What would you change about your life here if you could change anything?

165

(31) What would you do differently?
(32) How does your experience as an UI compare with the experience of other UIs?
How do you account for the difference?
(33) Have you ever been asked to be in a gang in America?
If yes, please explain.
The final set of questions is about the future.
(34) Do you plan to go back to your native country?
(35) Do you want to become a United States citizen?
(36) In light of your status, what hopes and fears do you have about your future?
(37) What thoughts does your family have about your future?
(38) Is there anything else about your experience that we have not covered in this interview that
you feel is important for me (others) to know?
(39) Is there any of the question you would like for me to repeat?

166

Appendix D

Preliminary Code List

Racism – RSM
Discrimination – DISC
Fear – FR
Stress – STRS
Abuse – AB
Perpetrator – PERP
Border Crossing – BC
Hunger – HGR
Rape – RP
Poverty – PV
Drugs – DRGS
Exploitation – XPTN
Violence – V
Assault – AST

167

Appendix E

Code List And Related Question Assignment

Racism – RSM: Question……………...8,14,17,18,20,25,29
Discrimination – DISC: Question ……..8,14,17,18,20,25,29
Fear – FR: Question……………………2,6,15,16,21,29,33,34,36,37
Stress – STRS: Question……………….8,11,17,23,24,25,29
Abuse – AB: Question…………………6,18,29,34,35,37,
Perpetrator – PERP: Question…………5,7,33
Border Crossing – BC: Question………2
Hunger – HGR: Question………………2,9,15,29,
Rape – RP: Question……………………3,6
Poverty – PV: Question…………………9,11,12,15,16,17,24,25,29,30
Drugs – DRGS: Question………………5,33
Exploitation – XPTN: Question…………9,15,17,18,20,21,29,33
Violence – V: Question………………….2,5,6,7,8,14,15,18,20,21,29,33
Assault – AST: Question………………...2,5,6,7,8,14,15,18,20,21,29,33

168

Vita