Meeting Report

There were 15 attendees including graduate students and faculty from Economics, Human and Community Development, Geography, Sociology, Political Science, and the UCD Law School.

Policy Report: Update: Deferred Action On Childhood Arrivals – November 2013

by Daniel Jacob Leraul (UCD School of Law)

Leraul presented an update on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  There have been over 500,000 DACA applications in the past 15 months, but applications are declining in recent months. DACA applicants appear to be empowered by their legal status to ask for help for themselves and family members.

A Brookings analysis of 450,000 applications found that most applicants (77%) were under 23, most have been in the United States for a decade, and most entered when they were approximately 10 years old.  Geographically, most DACA applicants are in California, Texas and New York, all states that offer driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to DACA recipients.   DACA applications are overwhelming approved, with a denial rate of under 2%.

The discussion considered DACA as a temporary policy with limited scope within the wider debate over comprehensive immigration reform.  Concern was voiced over the pitfalls of extending the use of DACA while comprehensive immigration reform is stalled, most likely until 2015.  However, some were optimistic that the institutional and interpersonal ties forged between DACA applicants and the government and NGOs working in the field could support a broader regularization in the future.  In the meantime, the first DACA renewals will begin in August 2014 under regulations that have yet to be made public.

American Individualism and the Social Adaptation of Unauthorized Mayan Youth in Los Angeles

by Stephanie Canizales  (Visiting Graduate Scholar at the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research)

Canizales studied undocumented Guatemalan Maya youth who came to the United States as unaccompanied minors in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles. Her focus was the identity and social adaptation of youth with distinct relationships with their communities and families, and her research involved observations of a community support group program in which migrant youth meet in weekly sessions to share their life experiences as minorities and immigrants in the Los Angeles area. 

Canizales worked for 13 months with the 40 plus members of the group and followed up with 15 in-depth interviews to explore the relationship of youth to their communities.  The support group moderator, a 51-year old unauthorized Guatemalan, challenged younger group members to deal with their everyday problems and focus on integrating into the US. 

Canizales found that the support group helped the youth to make the transition from a more communal culture to individualism.   Segmented assimilation breaks cultural assimilation into constituent parts, and support group members are exposed to individualist culture while they deal with transnational relationships with their families and communities in Guatemala.   The study of the impact of assimilation and individuation on the sense of agency in immigrant youth offers a unique lens through which to view other social relationships, such as gender, sexuality, family and social mobility.

The youth have multiple identities, as Mayans, Guatemalans, generally male and young. Canizales is optimistic about these youth: their “individualism does not, however, atomize the youth, but re-orients their sense of self and their goals, and personalizes their motivations in achieving them.” (p.35)

About the IFHA-Gifford Migration Workgroup: UC Davis has an impressive number of scholars of migration but we are located in diverse disciplines and scattered across campus. The IFHA-Gifford Migration Workgroup provides an opportunity to get together to talk about migration-related issues and learn about migration-related research taking place on campus. The Workgroup is sponsored by the IFHA Temporary Migration Cluster and the UCD Gifford Center for Population Studies.