Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Sora Friedman


This paper examines the advocacy movement dedicated to promoting legislation and policies supportive of undocumented students- immigrant youth who were brought to the United States as minors, and whom do not have valid immigration status. In particular, this study explores the current context of the advocacy efforts for undocumented students from the perspective of the individuals advocating for and with these students. The study focuses on advocacy for the federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students and would allow for in-state tuition at public universities.

The following research questions guide the study: What advocacy approaches are currently being utilized to expand opportunities for undocumented students? What external factors impact the advocacy efforts? What opportunities and challenges present themselves in the current advocacy context? In-depth interviews with were conducted with eleven advocates following the interview guide approach. In addition to interviews, documents and media portraying the advocacy movement for undocumented students were also examined.

Advocates for undocumented students are focusing on three overlapping advocacy strategies- youth development, education, and grassroots organizing. Other movements, including the anti-immigrant movement, the comprehensive immigration reform movement, and the movement to elect President Obama, have impacted the advocacy movement for undocumented students, presenting both obstacles and opportunities. While the current political climate, in which the President and key Congressional leaders support the DREAM Act, has lead to a sense of optimism and renewal of energy, the optimism is guarded as a result of the repeated set-backs and disappointments faced by undocumented students and their allies.


Legal Studies | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration