Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft


Social Work


There is a growing body of literature on the ways in which legal status affects the lives of undocumented Mexican immigrants, yet very little is known about how their status impacts the well-being of their children. This systematic review was conducted to answer the research question, “According to the literature, how do the children of undocumented Mexican immigrants describe the impact of parental documentation status on their identity and sense of belonging?” Studies utilizing qualitative methods were emphasized to gain insight directly from the voices of the children themselves. Results from the review included perspectives from the 1.5 generation, second-generation and migrant youth from 18 articles representing 13 unique population groups. Youth participants demonstrated that while the status of their parents’ being undocumented did have negative effects on their self-perception, familial identity and ability to experience full belonging as bicultural youths, they also shared stories of amazing strength and resilience in the face of the multiple layers of oppression their community faces. Important themes discussed by the youth included the impact of fear; importance of family; citizenship; experiences with discrimination; education, political activism and resistance to illegality.

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