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California professor shares findings on United States undocumented youth

Posted by Elena del Valle on March 5, 2010

We Are Americans

William Perez, Ph.D., professor of education at Claremont Graduate University and an applied developmental psychologist, began interviewing undocumented students in 2006 to better understand their experiences growing up in the United States. To his surprise these students, part of a larger group of 3.1 million children and young adults whose immigration status in the country is illegal, exhibited a high percentage of civic involvement. He shared his findings and portions of the interviews with 16 undocumented students as well as four formerly undocumented students in a newly published book, We Are Americans Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream (Stylus Publishing, $22.50).

The 161-page book, published in 2009, is divided into five parts featuring the stories of high school, community college, and university students as well as college graduates, college graduates who were previously undocumented and a conclusion. He explains in the Conclusion that while 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States every year, only one in five of these students is able to overcome the overwhelming odds to continue on to college.

He believes these undocumented students and their families are members of American society and should be granted legal status; that U.S.-born citizens have nothing to fear from these marginalized individuals and others who like them are impoverished in our nation. He advocates for the legal incorporation of undocumented youths and their families, indicating that for him it is a matter of “dignity and fundamental human rights.”

The book includes a Foreword by Daniel G. Solorzano, professor, Social Science and Comparative Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies of the University of California, Los Angeles in which he sides with Perez: “Professor Perez’s research provides persuasive evidence that the talent we lose when we exclude undocumented students is a devastating loss to the United States…”


Click here to buy We Are Americans