Supporting the undocumented community in the era of Trump: a mixed-methods analysis of higher education



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In this mixed-methods study, the issues affecting undocumented immigrants in the American higher education system are examined and discussed in relation to the current sociopolitical climate under the Trump administration. In the second chapter, quantitative data analyses of a survey given to students attending the University of Houston-Clear Lake are used to ascertain the level of prejudice among the sample student body; the results from the survey are further utilized to evaluate the correlations between stronger levels of prejudice and other defining characteristics of student identity, such as political affiliation, race, and major. Through discussing these results, significant connections between student identity, the Trump administration, and the undocumented community are established as a base to necessitate the need for more university intervention on behalf of undocumented students, which is discussed at length in the following chapter. In the third chapter, qualitative data analyses of interview and fieldwork data are used to orient the specific issues undocumented immigrants face while striving to achieve a higher education in the United States; these issues are outlined through six interconnected themes, including barriers to higher education, interorganizational cohesion, the formation of safe spaces, the sense of community between undocumented immigrants, and the concept of allyship toward the undocumented community. The study purposefully collected accounts from workers and volunteers, both documented and undocumented, of nonprofit organizations which actively engage in assisting undocumented immigrants for two key reasons: 1) to increase the generalizability of the findings to higher education institutions, and 2) to highlight the importance of undocumented voices and their allies in current academic literature. Through the analysis of these interviews, a dialogue is created that posits the importance of increasing existing university support for undocumented students, as well as proposing new methods universities could implement that are modeled after existing support tactics used by nonprofit organizations. The culmination of these two chapters provide a context for the importance of discussing undocumented rights in higher education, as well as offer multiple directions for future conversations and research to follow in advocating for the undocumented community.