A “Master Status” or the “Final Straw”? Assessing the Role of Immigration Status in Latino Undocumented Youths’ Pathways Out of School
- Author(s): Enriquez, Laura Elise
- et al.
Previous research on undocumented youth and young adults in the United States asserts that immigration status is a “master status” wherein undocumented status overshadows the impact of other social locations. Drawing primarily on interviews with 45 Latina/o undocumented immigrant youth who stopped out of school, I assess whether the “master status” explanation accurately characterizes how immigration status shapes undocumented youths’ pathways out of school. Using an intersectional lens, I argue that multiple social locations disrupt educational pathways and set the stage for immigration status to emerge as the “final straw” that pushes undocumented youth to leave school. Specifically, I show how race, class, gender, and first-generation college student status heavily shape undocumented youths’ educational journeys. I find that their resistance to these other forms of marginalization is weakened by the emerging salience of undocumented status as a severe, relatively insurmountable legal barrier. I highlight the process through which these multiple social locations work together to lead undocumented youth to stop out of school. I contend that using an intersectional lens enhances understandings of how multiple social locations intersect and interact over time to marginalize immigrants.
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