This ethnographic study investigates the lives and identities of immigrant youth in Arizona. It explores their efforts to resolve their Mexican and American identities as shifting immigration policies threaten their immigration status. These youths are DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, former unauthorized migrants brought to the United States as children by their families and granted temporary lawful status and work authorization by the Obama administration in 2012. Arizona is home to nearly 26,000 DACA recipients. Through participant observation, and in-depth interviews (structured and unstructured), this study examines DACA recipients' distinctive and ambivalent integration as Americans. The author's own experience as a DACA recipient provides an insider's perspective, creating an auto-ethnographic exploration of identity that opens insights into the experiences of others. Narratives elicited from eleven DACAmented young adults provide an ethnographic lens through which to explore the complex concept of belonging, an often-contradictory attempt to find acceptance in American society while also embracing their cross-border cultural formation. Examination of their everyday experiences shows that the acknowledged privileges granted by the DACA program do effectively further enculturate DACA recipients into American society; yet capricious U.S. and Arizona immigration policies simultaneously contest the legitimacy of DACA recipients' decisive inclusion into the state and the nation. The coherence of their identities is thus destabilized, obligating them to adopt identities that are either fixed, conflictual, fluid, or new.
- DACAmented:Lives Within Borders: An Ethnographic Study on Latino Identity
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