In the shadows: the invisible student cohort of Mexican diaspora : a phenomenological study of Los Retornos in Michoacán, México
Unauthorized 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; they are an invisible cohort. An estimated 5.5 million children and adolescents are growing up with unauthorized immigrant parents, and are experiencing multiple, and yet unrecognized developmental consequences of their families' 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. Many children have been exiled to México; these are the children living in the shadows of Mexican diaspora, Los Retornos. This phenomenological study developed a conceptual framework to examine the effects in which being an exiled United States citizen living in Morelia, Michoacán, affected these many children and adolescents. Bourdieu's (1977) theoretical framework is used in this study and is based on his social, cultural capital concept; the assumption is that Los Retornos carry valuable sociocultural, bilingual and monoliterate capital that is endangered, unrecognized, replaceable, and not used to the best interest of students in schools. This study made use of this framework to answer the following questions: 1. How do Retorno families (nuclear and extended) develop the self-efficacy needed to preserve the social and cultural capital they bring with them to Michoacán? 2. How are communities and identity forms imagined and created in the context of this new migration shift? 3. How are Los Retornos responding to the involuntary shift (N=7) from the U.S to Michoacán? 4. How are teachers adjusting their classroom practices and curriculum to meet the academic needs of Los Retornos? The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to improve understanding of Los Retornos. This phenomenological case study is focused on identifying experiences Los Retornos encounter in their schools and family lives through their personal migration experience to illuminate how best to help them preserve the social and cultural, capital they bring with them. The findings from this study may assist educators and policy makers in developing interventions and policies that meet the needs of this cohort.