About Us

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Logo credit: Josefina Espino

This project examines the experiences and needs of undocumented high school students in San Diego County, California and the school personnel who work with them. Our objectives are to (1) provide research training for students on topics related to their lives (e.g., immigration, education); (2) offer insight about undocumented high school students and educators in San Diego; (3) identify steps to address the challenges that undocumented high school students face as they pursue their educational goals; and (4) recommend policies and professional development resources to support school personnel who work with undocumented high school students.

This initiative is being led by Dr. Marisol Clark-IbaƱez (Professor in Sociology at CSU San Marcos) and Dr. Carolina Valdivia (Assistant Professor in Criminology, Law & Society at UC Irvine). At the core of this initiative are 30 undocumented students, allies, and community leaders who are passionate about working with undocumented immigrants and conducting research. You can learn more about our team members here.

The first and second stages of the project entailed in-depth interviews with high school students who are members of undocumented and mixed-status families (n = 40), as well as educators, counselors, and administrators (n= 44). The research team also conducted participant observations at eight different high schools in San Diego County. Currently, we are conducting in-depth interviews and questionnaires with undocumented college students to learn about their experiences, including unique challenges in light of the Covid19 pandemic.

The project has been supported by the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, the Latino Center for Leadership Development, UndocuScholars at UCLA, Palomar College, MiraCosta College, the North County Higher Education Alliance, and the ACT.

If you would like to learn more about resources available for undocumented students, check out this page.