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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“That Memory, I Cannot Erase”: In the Cross Fire of Being in a Mixed-Status Family and Having Juvenile Carceral Involvement

  • Author(s): Ojeda, Ana Magaly
  • Advisor(s): Nieri, Tanya
  • García, San Juanita
  • et al.

Previous research on mixed-status families in the United States has shown how the negative effects of immigration policy and enforcement on undocumented people spills over to their documented and US citizen family members. Similarly, there is ample research about the negative spillover impacts (i.e. collateral consequences) associated with incarceration on those who have been part of the carceral system and their families. However, these two disparate bodies of literature have not been in conversation with each other. My research brings them together to ask how negative spillover effects of the immigration system intersect with a carceral system and thus create new forms of state violence. Through the narratives of 10 Southern Californian Latinx participants who come from a mixed-status family and have juvenile carceral system involvement, I examine how such youth navigate the juvenile carceral system. Particularly, I examine how the joint experience of coming from a mixed-status family and having juvenile carceral system involvement affects the youths’ mental health, and how the youths manage their mental health. Findings demonstrate what I call multifarious punishment. This punishment created through social institutions on immigrant families is produced in various forms; legal, financial, and emotional. Moreover, findings show that the reliance on informal resources is vital for navigating the legal violence created through the juvenile system on mixed-status youth and their family as a whole. Stressors for this population increase anger due to the consequences of having undocumented family members while navigating the juvenile carceral system. Although managing mental health can often be difficult, youth in the study ultimately find education as a key role in managing their health.

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