The Trail of Dreams: Mobilizing Corazones and Forging New Visions of Migrant Justice
- Author(s): Sol�rzano, Rafael Ramirez
- Advisor(s): Abrego, Leisy J
- et al.
Political activism is neither unusual nor unexpected in U.S. South but for undocumented/undocuqueer Latinx youth to walk across the South, unafraid of detention and deportation, was especially historic locally and nationally in 2010. And, while we know that the Undocumented Youth Movement played a critical role in the development of Executive Actions like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (2012), we know least about how this played out in the southeastern U.S. My dissertation is a history of the Trail of Dreams, a four- month walk from Miami, FL to Washington D.C., which redefined migrant rights activism in the 21st century by expanding our collective understanding of political agency by undocumented youth.
Divided into two parts, the first three chapters historicize the Trail of Dreams, while the last three ethnographically analyze their political ingenuity and coalition building strategies. The introduction examines the spatial, social, and political context surrounding the Trail, as
well as provide a place-based framework to studying undocumented youth resistance in the U.S. South. Chapter 1 critiques traditional theoretical approaches that social movement scholars must attend to when examining Latina/o/x forms of resistance by asserting the need to adopt an undocuqueer critique that captures the intersectional experiences within social movements. Next, Chapter 2 highlights the intensification of nativism and interior enforcement across the U.S. South in the first decade of the 21st century. Chapter 3 documents the multidimensional and expansive gendered labor necessary to support the Trail by detailing the mobilization of resources and social media strategies during the early stages of the Trail. Chapter 4 traces how, in the context of coalition building, the Trail encounters their own complicities with power and racial privilege (shock and difference) across the State of Florida and are forced to internally challenge these subversive politics at a local and national scale. At the center of Chapter 5, is a theory I call “radical risk-taking movidas,” a conceptual frame that recognizes the emancipatory practices adopted across the Undocumented Youth Movement that uplift the most vulnerable populations of migrants and non-migrants. To conclude, I end with a discussion concerning what the Trail of Dreams
reveals about contemporary regional understandings of race and place, Latina/o/x activism and social movements.