Mi Casa es Tu Casa: DACAdemics Redefine Citizenship




Aguilar, Carlos

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Undocumented students are one of the most negatively affected immigrant groups due to unauthorized migration in the US. The social, economic, and legal barriers they encounter complicates their educational attainment, while also decreasing feelings of membership and inclusion. Though it has been documented that the majority of undocumented students transition into illegality after high school graduation, I outline how undocumented students redefine and challenge traditional notions of citizenship through access to higher education. Drawing from thirty-five in-depth interviews with civically engaged "Dreamers" conducted in Central Texas, I found that the undocumented students interviewed maximize external factors such as parental and school support, as well as activism to remain academically resilient. Specifically, I expose how undocumented students' experiences in Central Texas universities reaffirm their sense of citizenship. Moreover, given the current quasi-legal status Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA that most of these young migrants enjoy, I introduce a term that reflects the culmination of their struggle within academia. I identify those individuals who are participating in or excelling at post-secondary scholarly pursuits and activities in spite of adversity as DACAdemics. The term DACAdemic not only results from a quasi-legal reality created by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, but also supports the introduction of a new DACAdemic school of thought in which academic endeavors align with the improvement of their communities through an exposure to academia.


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Academic Resilience, Citizenship, DACA students, DACAdemics, Education, Undocumented students