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Remaining Undocumented: Immigrant Youth Living Outside of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  • Los Peñasquitos Ranch House Canyonside Park Driveway San Diego, CA, 92129 United States (map)

Linda E. Sanchez
Anthropology Doctoral Student
University of California, Irvine

President Obama’s 2012 executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), gave undocumented youth relief from deportation and a 2-year renewable work permit provided they met certain criteria. Of an estimated 1.9 million individuals who were eligible, only 40% of those eligible applied. With a one percent overall denial rate, it is unclear why close to half chose not to seek DACA benefits. This study compares individuals who did not apply to the DACA program to those that did. It asks how immigrants decide to apply to programs that transition out of illegality, and looks at the chronic vulnerable availability created by the state through spaces of liminal legality and processes that are meant to transition out of illegality. The sudden change in DACA-related policies adds an unanticipated dimension to the comparison of those who took advantage of this government program and those who stayed away.

This presentation is based on preliminary dissertation research currently being carried out in Southern California. When this research is completed, it will be used for the partial fulfillment of a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.