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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From Barbies to Boycotts: How Immigration Raids in Arizona Created a Ten-Year Old Activist


Increasingly hostile and unpredictable immigration policies can have traumatizing consequences for children of undocumented immigrants. This case study examines the way that increased practices of detention and deportation affect the childhood and adolescence of young people living in an anti-immigrant state like Arizona. Specifically, the life story of Katherine Figueroa during Arizona’s anti-immigrant climate, illustrates the struggle and implications for mixed-status families. The findings demonstrate the extent to which being separated from her parents influenced her mental health and academic life. The themes outlined in this paper suggest that in a continued repressive political context, children’s preoccupations and experiences with family separation are likely to have lasting consequences as these children transition into adulthood. Additionally, this study describes how community organizing, resources, support, and a proactive response to family separation can change the outcomes of parental detention. Findings from this study reveal, for educators, school administrators, counselors, community practitioners, and policy makers, how familial documentation status can have equally complex and lasting consequences for children’s academic, emotional, and physical well-being.

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