How the Legal Status of Undocumented Students Affects Their Access to Higher Education, Public Health and Mental Health Services
Published in: Journal of Education & Social Policy
Posted on IBHRI.org on January 17, 2019
by James T. Decker, Ph.D., LCSW, Hyun Sun Park, Ph.D., Wendy Ashley, Psy.D., LCSW, Christy Bame, MSW
This descriptive study examines the stories of 102 university students (71% female and 29% male) and the effects of their legal status on their access to public health, mental health and higher education services. Literature on the immigrant community and their struggles due to their legal status as undocumented individuals is reviewed and supported by the current research. Seventy-six percent identify as benefitting from employment authorization through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and 24% with no protective status. Due to the perceived fear across generations that continues to exist among the undocumented population, it is hypothesized that those who identify as undocumented will be less likely to have access to services than those who identify with any type of legal status including DACA as a protective status. However, as university students are being interviewed, positive reinforcements on this pool of participants may contribute to a higher access of services when compared to the general undocumented population. This study uses a mixed methods approach with general demographics and an interview-structured questionnaire through Qualtrics.