Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dacamented: An Ethnographic Account of the Lives of Students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
by Hernandez, Edgar, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 86; 10752287
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis addresses the lived experiences of seven undocumented students who are currently protected under the executive order signed by former President Barack Obama known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This thesis was written at a moment in time when undocumented students, and the undocumented student movement, were in the spotlight because of the Trump administration’s stance on immigration. To capture an in-depth account of the students’ experiences in the United States, the data gathering techniques I utilized were: (1) informal semi-structured interviews, (2) meeting participants at locations where they felt comfortable, and (3) spontaneous participant observation. To provide a holistic understanding of the student’s liminal lives in the United States, I followed their life trajectory from infancy to adulthood while drawing heavily on theoretical frameworks of structural violence, testimonials, and liminality, as well as anthropological and sociological scholarship.

My research revealed that DACA provided the students with the opportunity to pursue economic and academic opportunities. However, because DACA was designed to provide temporary and uncertain status, it not only failed to provide the students with a sense of belonging to their communities and “home,” but it also failed to significantly change their lives. Secondly, I uncovered that the students endure an extreme emotional toll as they continue to live in the United States as liminal human beings and “hard-working” students. To the students’, the common narrative that they are successful masks the realities of their lives and their emotional state of mind. Lastly, the students had a “love and hate relationship” with the term DACAmented, and there was no consensus regarding whether the term described their identity or served to appropriate their struggles.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Howell, Jayne
Commitee: Fouratt, Caitlin, Loewe, Ronald
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 57/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research
Keywords: DACAmented, Deferred action for childhood arrivals, Immigration, Undocumented students
Publication Number: 10752287
ISBN: 978-0-438-02431-1
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