What Facilitates and Supports Political Activism By, and for, Undocumented Students?

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Historically, undocumented students have been unable to attend public and private institutions of higher education in the United States. Lack of citizenship and/or financial aid precludes many from ever applying to college or other post-secondary institutions. This can create feelings of oppression, stigmatization, and/or inferiority for undocumented youth, who had no say in their ever coming to the United States. In the absence of a sustainable federal law that facilitates higher education attainment for this population, some states have enacted their own permissive policies. The present study utilizes a critical consciousness framework and a constant comparative approach to explore one permissive policy in a focal state. To this end, the authors attempt to answer the question of what motivates undocumented students, through the lens of critical consciousness, to engage in political activism, and what is the role of adult-allies? Findings support and extend our understanding of critical consciousness dimensions, vis-à-vis the revelation of ten themes and subthemes unique to this sample. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are also discussed.



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