Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2020 Issue »

    Nací Allá

    Meanings of US Citizenship for Young Children of Return Migrants to Mexico

    Joanna Dreby, Sarah Gallo, Florencia Silveira, and Melissa Adams-Corral
    In this essay, Joanna Dreby, Sarah Gallo, Florencia Silveira, and Melissa Adams-Corral use a transnational frame to explore the meanings of US citizenship for binational children and its importance to experiences of belonging. Drawing on interviews with children ages six to fourteen living with their Mexican-born parents in rural Puebla, their analysis shows that children view US citizenship as signaling their social location in a historically based migratory system and that the meaning of this social location on children’s daily lives differs given their transnational experiences, specifically the extent of US schooling they received. Migration thus engenders understanding of power and privilege among young children and influences how they negotiate among their peers. The authors argue that young children may exhibit “critical postures” arising from their migratory experiences. They conclude that schools on both sides of the border can view migrant children’s experiences and critical perspectives as assets that may provide more flexible spaces for learning and belonging.

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    Joanna Dreby is an associate professor of sociology at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research focuses on families and globalization, specifically on separations in transnational families and immigration enforcement from the perspectives of various members of families, especially children. Her scholarship has been supported by a Fulbright Scholar Award and a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Grant, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Russell Sage Foundation. She is the author of two award-winning books, Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and Their Children (University of California Press 2010) and Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families (University of California Press 2015), and the article “The Burden of Deportation on Children in Mexican Immigrant Families” (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2012), which won the Best Article Award from the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association in 2013.

    Sarah Gallo is an associate professor of language education and urban social justice education at Rutgers University. Her research has brought attention to the ways undocumented status shapes the educational lives of elementary school–aged children, their families, and their teachers on both sides of the Mexico-US border. Her scholarship has been supported by the Fulbright-García Robles Scholar Program, the National Academy of Education, and the Spencer Foundation. Gallo’s work appears in journals such as the American Educational Research Journal and Teachers College Record. She is the author of Mi Padre: Mexican Immigrant Fathers and Their Children’s Education (Teachers College Press, 2017).

    Florencia Silveira is a doctoral student in sociology at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in sociology from Brigham Young University. Her research interests include immigration, comparative education, and cross-national comparisons. She has published on the Programme for International Student Assessment in Socius, the Teachers College Record, and Comparative Education. Her forthcoming article in the Journal of Marriage and Family focuses on cross-national comparisons in ethnic differences in parental disciplinary practices.

    Melissa Adams-Corral is a doctoral candidate in STEM education at The Ohio State University. Her current research elaborates on relational methods for working alongside elementary mathematics teachers in their classrooms. These methods seek to engage in critical race praxis to impact the material realities experienced by children of color and their teachers in an urban public school. Before beginning her doctoral work, Adams-Corral taught second, third, fourth, and fifth grades as a bilingual elementary teacher in Austin, Texas.
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