Legal Vulnerability and Multigenerational Punishment: Investigating Barriers to Mobility through Higher Education for Latinx Children of Immigrants

Awarded Scholars:
Laura Enriquez, University of California, Irvine
Project Date:
Mar 2021
Award Amount:

Undocumented status is a significant structural inequality known to constrain immigrant integration and compromise intergenerational mobility. This project will examine how self and parental undocumented status create legal vulnerability and compromise Latinx children of immigrants’ potential for mobility through higher education. Using original survey data collected from 1,862 Latinx undergraduates, Enriquez will investigate differences in mobility potential among: 1) 1.5 generation undocumented immigrants, 2) U.S. citizens with an undocumented parent, and 3) U.S. citizens with legal immigrant parents. Key outcomes include academic performance, professional development opportunities, extracurricular experiences, and optimism about their potential to achieve post-graduate mobility. Enriquez will also conduct 40 interviews, split between the first two groups, to examine how legal vulnerability emerges in everyday college life to disrupt students’ engagement in mobility-promoting opportunities during college.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


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