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Using the ecological systems theory, this study highlights the significant impact the political climate in the United States (i.e., anti-immigrant sentiments and violence) has on undocumented Latinx parents’ engagement in their children’s education. Drawing from a larger qualitative, interview-based study that explored how undocumented Latinx parents were involved and engaged in their children’s postsecondary access and success (Cuevas, 2019; 2020), this study focuses on undocumented parents’ experiences and processing of the 2016 Presidential Election. Findings illustrate how the explicit racist, anti-immigrant, and nativist narratives then-Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump campaigned under and won forced undocumented Latinx parents to (re)evaluate how their undocumented immigration status impacted their parenting behaviors. Specifically, the election results caused parents to (1) increase their hyperawareness of the repercussions of their immigration status; (2) reconsider what their deportation would imply for their children; and (3) reflect what DACA and a college degree meant for their undocumented children. In a time of constant anti-immigrant sentiment and racialized nativism, it becomes important to consider the impact these messages have on parents, and consequently, their children and their educational futures.


This article was originally published in Journal of College Access, volume 6, issue 2, in 2021.

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