Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration

CSII Publications

Aspiring Americans: Undocumented Youth Leaders in California

Veronica Terriquez, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California
Caitlin Patler, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, University of California Los Angeles

June 2012Immigrant Contributions

In a state crying out for strong leadership, undocumented youth have much to offer, according to Aspiring Americans: Undocumented youth Leaders in California. California is home to 1.1 million undocumented children and young adults. Those involved in immigrant youth organizations have a great inclination towards civic leadership.

Written by USC's Veronica Terriquez and UCLA's Caitlin Patler, Aspiring Americans is based off data collected from young adults in California, including 410 undocumented youth who reported participation in an immigrant youth organization. Of note, 84% of the undocumented young adults who participated in the study arrived before the age of 12.

As compared to the general populations, they face higher barriers to success (especially financially) but - despite that - have higher educational expectations and feel more empowered to make a difference. To enable them to more fully access education and legal employment and, thereby, contribute more to our society, this brief recommends protecting access to in-state tuition, institutionalizing tuition assistance, and creating pathways to citizenship to complement Obama’s recent stay on DREAMer deportations.

Aspiring Americans is part of the California Young Adult Study and was produced by Pathways to Postsecondary Success Project at UC ACCORD and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

Aspiring Americans - English
Aspiring Americans - Spanish
Aspiring Americans - Korean, with Hyeyoung Kwon
Aspiring Americans - Technical Report