Approximately one quarter of immigrants in the United States currently inhabit some form of (what sociologist Cecilia Menjivar has termed) “liminality.” While some are undocumented with little prospect of gaining a recognized status, many others reside in a grey zone. They may have recognized Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status. They may have applied for a more permanent status after entering the country on a temporary visa. Many are awaiting adjudication or federal immigration reform and have slipped out of a legally recognized status.
- Unauthorized or undocumented is a term that refers to foreign-born individuals who are neither are citizens nor have a recognized status. Some have entered the United States without inspection at the southern or northern border while others were legally admitted on a temporary basis (e.g. tourist visa) but stayed beyond their required departure date.
- The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides temporary (2 year renewable) administrative relief to eligible immigrants who came to the United States when they were children. DACA gives its recipients protection from deportation as well as a work permit. Since it was put in place in YEAR, DACA has faced a series of challenges in court. While it has been demonstrated that DACA has been highly beneficial, its recipients face uncertainty over DACA’s and their future status.
- Mixed Status is not a legal designation but rather refers to a particularly precarious status of millions of children currently residing in the United States. These are citizen children who live in families who have one or more parents who are unauthorized. There are an estimated 4.9 million children live with an undocumented parent and almost a million more who reside with extended family members with precarious status.
This means that these children live in a constant state of fear that a caretaker could be deported at any given moment. Further, though the majority are citizen children, they often receive less access to consistent health care to which they are entitled as their parents do not want to either expose the family in the short-term to potential deportation nor do they wish to compromise future efforts to regularize the family.