Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2011 Issue »

    Growing Up in the Shadows

    The Developmental Implications of Unauthorized Status

    Carola Suárez-Orozco, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Robert T. Teranishi, and Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco
    Shadow_FeatureUnauthorized immigrants account for approximately one-fourth of all immigrants in the United States, yet they dominate public perceptions and are at the heart of a policy impasse. Caught in the middle are the children of these immigrants—youth who are coming of age and living in the shadows. An estimated 5.5 million children and adolescents are growing up with unauthorized parents and are experiencing multiple and yet unrecognized developmental consequences as a result of their family’s existence in the shadow of the law. Although these youth are American in spirit and voice, they are nonetheless members of families that are “illegal” in the eyes of the law. In this article, the authors develop a conceptual framework to systematically examine the ways in which unauthorized status affects the millions of children, adolescents, and emerging adults caught in its wake. The authors elucidate the various dimensions of documentation status—going beyond the binary of the “authorized” and “unauthorized.” An ecological framework brings to the foreground a variety of systemic levels shaping the daily experiences of children and youth as they move through the developmental spectrum. The article moves on to examine a host of critical developmental outcomes that have implications for child and youth well-being as well as for our nation’s future.

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    Carola Suárez-Orozco is a professor of applied psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and codirector of Immigration Studies at NYU. She publishes widely in the areas of immigrant families and youth, educational achievement among immigrant origin youth, immigrant family separations, the role of the “social mirror” in identity formation, the role of mentors in facilitating youth development, and gendered experiences of immigrant youth. Her books include Learning a New Land: Immigrant Children in American Society (Harvard University Press, 2008), Children of Immigration (Harvard University Press, 2001), Transformations: Migration, Family Life, and Achievement Motivation Among Latino Adolescents (Stanford University Press, 1995), and The New Immigration: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Routledge, 2005). In 2006, she was awarded an American Psychological Association Presidential Citation for her body of work on the cultural psychology of immigration, and she currently serves as chair of the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration.

    Hirokazu Yoshikawa is a professor of education and the academic dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a developmental and community psychologist who conducts research on the development of young children in the United States, China, and Chile. He focuses on the effects of public policies—particularly those related to parental employment, poverty, and early childhood care and education—on children of diverse ethnic and immigrant backgrounds. He received the Boyd McCandless Award for early career contributions to developmental psychology from the American Psychological Association. In 2010, he was chair of the Committee on the Science of Family Research and a member of the Board on Children, Youth and Families of the National Academy of Sciences. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has edited two recent volumes, Making It Work: Low-Wage Employment, Family Life, and Child Development (Russell Sage, 2006, with Thomas S. Weisner and Edward Lowe) and Toward Positive Youth Development: Transforming Schools and Community Programs (Oxford University Press, 2008, with Marybeth Shinn), which received an award for best edited volume from the Society for Research in Adolescence. He is author of the 2011 book Immigrants Raising Citizens: Undocumented Parents and Their Young Children (Russell Sage).

    Robert T. Teranishi is an associate professor of higher education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is also codirector of the Institute for Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings, a faculty affiliate with the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, and a consultant for the Ford Foundation. Prior to his position at New York University, Teranishi was a National Institute for Mental Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute. Teranishi’s research on the study of racial inequality and the stratification of college opportunities has been influential to federal, state, and institution policy. His most recent book is Asian in the Ivory: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education (Teachers College Press, 2010). Teranishi is the recipient of the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty Award from NYU and was named one of the nation’s top “up-and-coming” leaders by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. He was also recently appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to serve on the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission.

    Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco is the Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization and Education at New York University. His basic research on conceptual and empirical problems in the areas of cultural psychology and psychological anthropology has been continuously funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, W. T. Grant Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and other national and international sources. He has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University. He has taught in Paris, Leuven, and Barcelona and lectured at the United Nations, the Vatican, the U.S. Congress, the German and Mexican foreign ministries, the World Economic Forum, and the U.S. Federal Reserve. He is author of numerous essays, award-winning books, and edited volumes published in multiple languages by some of the leading scholarly outlets in the world. His work is regularly featured in the New York Times, CNN, the Huffington Post, NPR, and the major media in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and his native Latin America.
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    Fall 2011 Issue


    Immigration, Youth, and Education
    Editors’ Introduction
    Soojin S. Oh and North Cooc
    The Power of Context
    State-Level Policies and Politics and the Educational Performance of the Children of Immigrants in the United States
    Alexandra Filindra, David Blanding, and Cynthia Garcia Coll
    Growing Up in the Shadows
    The Developmental Implications of Unauthorized Status
    Carola Suárez-Orozco, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Robert T. Teranishi, and Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco
    “Because We Feel the Pressure and We Also Feel the Support”
    Examining the Educational Success of Undocumented Immigrant Latina/o Students
    Things I’ll Never Say
    Stories of Growing Up Undocumented in the United States
    Undocumented to Hyperdocumented
    A Jornada of Protection, Papers, and PhD Status
    Whose Deficit Is This Anyhow?
    Exploring Counter-Stories of Somali Bantu Refugees’ Experiences in “Doing School”
    Toward a Pedagogy of Acompañamiento
    Mexican Migrant Youth Writing from the Underside of Modernity
    Elementary Forms of Cosmopolitanism
    Blood, Birth, and Bodies in Immigrant New York City
    Maria Kromidas

    Book Notes

    Immigrants Raising Citizens
    Hirokazu Yoshikawa

    Balancing Acts
    Natasha K. Warikoo

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