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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The California Journal of Politics and Policy (CJPP) is an online journal of original scholarship, focusing on state and local politics, public policy formation and implementation, especially in the Golden State.


Transitory Legality: The Health Implication of Ending DACA

This paper examines the effects of the rescission announcement of the DACA program on the health outcomes of Latino DACA recipients in California. Research shows that undocumented immigrants face poorer health outcomes than their documented counterparts and U.S. citizens, and that being offered legal status (e.g. DACA) considerably improves their health outcomes. Even though studies have examined the impact of shifting legal status on incorporation, to our knowledge no studies have considered the effects of announcing the rescission of the DACA program on its recipients. However, this is important because it may have implications on their health outcomes. This study addresses this gap by using in-depth interviews with 43 Latino DACA recipients living in the California San Francisco Bay Area in 2017 and 2018. Our findings suggest that rescission announcement of DACA has led to worsening health outcomes for DACA recipients. Specifically, we find that it created what we call a state of transitory legality among the 1.5 generation, which causes DACA recipients to experience health outcomes that are worse than those before DACA. Our results are important in the field of sociology, public policy and heath care because they show the negative effects of reversing inclusionary immigration policies on the health outcomes of undocumented Latino immigrants.

Examining Racist Nativist Microagressions on DACAmented College Students in the Trump Era

Within public discourses of immigration, immigrant Communities of Color are increasingly targeted by expressions of racist nativism—a form of racism that has historically targeted Latinx communities that is based upon real or perceived immigrant status that in turn, assigns a foreign identity that justifies subordinating practices and policies. Beginning with his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has advanced racist nativist discourse that framed undocumented Latinx immigrants as “invaders” and “criminals.” This paper examines how these discourses impact Latinx DACAmented college students through their experiences with racist nativist microaggressions within and beyond their college campuses. Findings indicate these students are targeted by this type of microaggression, shaped by the anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx political discourses that the Trump administration advocates. Analysis of 10 in-depth interviews with Latinx DACAmented college students reveals that as a result of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, students are becoming more fearful and uncertain of their future. Even still, we found students felt empowered to resist this racism, remain resilient, and maintain a sense of hope.

Exploring Undocumented Students' Understandings of the Role of Higher Education during the Trump Era

Law pertaining to immigrants is conceptualized as legal violence (Menjívar and Abrego 2012). Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an executive policy with an uncertain future under the Trump administration. In California, many DACA beneficiaries are students at public colleges and universities. This paper conceptualizes DACA as another form of legal violence and draws from 30 in-depth interviews with undocumented students to explore the ways in which undocumented students believe the role of their college/university is to mitigate the legal violence stemming from the liminality of DACA. Some participants believe their colleges/universities should provide safety, specifically via the designation of sanctuary campus status for its symbolic importance, others believe their colleges have a responsibility beyond intellectualism sharing they should be progressive leaders against xenophobia, while others expressed cynicism, describing institutions of higher education as corporations interested in their brand rather than in being immigrant rights advocates on behalf of their students.  This study serves as a way for institutions of higher education to learn how undocumented students perceive their roles and duties. At the end of this paper, the author suggests how colleges and universities can work towards mitigating legal violence in the lives of undocumented students.

DACA, DAPA, and Discretionary Executive Power: Immigrants Outside the Law

In June 2012, President Barack Obama announced the creation of DACA, a program which instructed executive branch officials to exercise their administrative discretion to defer the deportation of eligible applicants. Two years later, in November 2014, President Obama announced the DAPA program, which expanded DACA and extended this exercise of discretion to parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Both announcements were met by controversy. Critics charged that, by altering the legal regime from one in which undocumented immigrants were to be deported to one of “executive amnesty,” President Obama exceeded his authority, turning him into an “emperor” or a “king.” The President’s supporters insisted, rather, that President Obama was acting fully within his executive authority. Understanding this debate requires one both to delve into the complicated legal context, and to look beyond legal doctrine. The controversy reflected broader concerns about discretionary executive power and the law, linked to anxiety regarding the sovereign’s head of state as “he who decides on the state of exception.” It also derived from specific concerns about President Obama as the embodiment of the sovereign: his racialized body, depicted as illegitimate and foreign, furthered the perception of his policies as illegal. Lastly, the fact that undocumented immigrants are not perceived as members of the body politic helped to produce this vision of DACA and DAPA as lawless action. In this telling, the sovereign actor, the beneficiaries of his action, and the act itself were all cast as illegitimate through a mutually reinforcing logic; all were exceptions that stood “outside the law.”