In the Spring of 2022, partnering with YouthTruth and Re-Imagining Migration, IIH Director Carola Suárez-Orozco began leading a new research initiative to help schools learn about their immigrant origin students and their sense of belonging in school. Building upon the comprehensive, normed measures developed by YouthTruth, we piloted a set of questions to delineate the unique intersecting identities that make immigrant-origin students more vulnerable to experiencing less than optimal school climates—being first or second-generation immigrants, multilingual English learners, and diverse racial, ethnic, and religious minority backgrounds. Our spring pilot data with 8 schools across the country included 3,211 students and demonstrated excellent promise for work moving forward.
(Im)migration is an experience that almost everyone in the United States shares somewhere in their family history. Whether it is recent or took place generations ago; by choice or through forced migration; for adventure, to seek a better life, or for refuge—except for native peoples—migration is at the center of nearly every family history. Reflecting upon our moving stories, listening to one another explore, relating to those experiences, and learning from those narratives are powerful ways to find common ground. This is ever more important as immigrant-origin students are experiencing polarized and stereotype-ridden public narratives about their (and their families’) place in our nation. Finding ways to connect, listen and engage around narratives of migration provides a crucial opportunity for immigrant-origin students to feel supported in their social, emotional, academic and civic growth and for their peers to explore their own families’ migration histories, their misperceptions around migration, and to find common ground.
While 7 percent of U.S. children live with an unauthorized immigrant parent, researchers and practitioners alike have little insight into how these children and their families process the phenomenon of “illegality.” Existing research highlights the role of external messages in the family’s communication practices, like school and media messages. The literature on ethnic-racial socialization suggests caregiver approaches to communicating with their children about how to cope with such messages can play an inhibiting or protective role in youths’ development. However, for mixed-status immigrant family members, processes of belonging across all contexts and relationships in their lives are embedded in the constantly-changing sociopolitical construct of “illegality”. For parents, navigating immigration policy may be cognitively challenging and further complicated by the responsibility to protect and educate their children.
The focus of this NSF-funded study is to unpack family-level socialization processes, referred to as immigration socialization, to generate foundation knowledge that helps us understand how anti-immigrant rhetoric shapes children’s learning through caregiver/parent mechanisms. We need a more nuanced understanding of how mixed-status immigrant families, living under the threat of immigration policy and striving to survive day-to-day, engage in socialization in the face of immigration threat.
This large scale, interdisciplinary, longitudinal, and comparative study, illuminated the relationships between immigration, family life and education by addressing the various ways in which schools and other institutions are changing the lives of newcomer immigrant youth. This data set has been the foundation of many publications (including Harvard University Press’ Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society) as well as numerous scholarly articles and dissertations.
This national survey focused on the college experiences of undergraduate UndocuScholar students. Its goals were to expand knowledge about the range of UndocuScholars’ experiences in order to challenge false assumptions and damaging misperceptions, and to use this knowledge to better inform on-campus practice and services as well as local and national public policy.