Janna Shadduck-Hernández – Crossing the Line? The political actions and organizing efforts of undocumented youth

Janna Shadduck-Hernández – University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Approximately, 65,000 undocumented high school students graduate from U.S. high schools every year but only 5-10 percent go on to college. Most of the estimated 1.9 million undocumented youth (16-30 years of age) residing in the U.S. are offered little incentive to finish high school, leading to high drop-out rates and no legal opportunities to work. During President Obama’s first term in office unprecedented numbers of undocumented youth and their families were detained and deported. As a response to the draconian U.S. immigration policies that separate parents and their children and deny undocumented youngsters educational and professional opportunities, a national youth movement, commonly known as the Dream Movement, has challenged, contested and resisted federal immigration legislation and border control through political organizing, direct action and civic advocacy and education. Hundreds of protests and actions led by undocumented youth are being organized throughout the nation. These include blocking access to federal immigration offices and detention centers; sit-ins in congressional members’ offices; cross border solidarity actions where undocumented families meet through border fences or create bi-national concerts; the public distribution of texts and social media written by undocumented youth; and the highly publicized youth organized self-deportations and self-arrests. In this workshop I will discuss, what conservative policy makers have called, youth “crossing the line”- the experiences of an ever increasing number of undocumented immigrant youth standing up and directly challenging U.S. government’s border and immigration policies despite their precarious and liminal migration status.

See the full program of the antiAtlas conference, Aix-en-Provence 2013