Undocumented Students Research Initiative

Undocumented Students Research Initiative

Background image: Illustration of Sather Gate with words "all a dream"

The Undocumented Student Research Initiative (USRI) started in 2010 as a collaboration of UC Berkeley partners to explore the topic of improving the campus climate for undocumented students at Berkeley. 

About the USRI

A collaboration of UC Berkeley partners announce a research initiative to explore the topic of improving the campus climate for undocumented students at Berkeley. Funded by the UC Berkeley Innovation Grants for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, the initiative will:

  • Organize intentional community building efforts among undocumented students across lines of race, ethnicity, and national origin –
    Following the leadership of the undocumented student movement whose members have asserted how important it is for students to “come out of the shadows” to connect with each other and build together in order to effect a meaningful impact on the climate for undocumented students.
  • Launch an intensive engaged research project that collects critical data about the experiences and insights of undocumented students students at UC Berkeley –
    Leveraging the relationships with students nurted by project partners and created through community-building activities, we will launch an engaged community research project to gather important data about the full range of undocumented students at UC Berkeley, including their backgrounds, the experiences they have as undocumented students at Berkeley, the survival strategies they employ, how those strategies vary across ehtnic/cultural groups, and what kinds of specific supports need to be developed to improve the campus climate for undocumented students. This project will also exercise rigorous standards of confidentiality.
  • Host a narrative writing project for Spring 2011, Researching & Writing Immigration –
    Narrative writing will provide rich and humanizing qualitative data that will help create a three dimensional picture of the experiences of AB540 students.
  • Facilitate information distribution of findings from our community building and research projects – We will publish a report detailing research findings and suggested recommendations for improving the campus climate.

Project partners include the Center for Race & Gender (CRG), the Center for Latino Policy Research (CLPR), Multicultural Community Center (MCC), Rising Immigrant Students through Education (RISE), Multicultural Immigrant Student Program (MISP), Asian Pacific American Student development (APASD), and Chicano/Latino Student Development (CLSD). The project will also coordinate information with the Chancellor’s Task Force on Undocumented Members of the On-Campus Community. This initiative will be ongoing for Spring 2011 and Fall 2011 semesters.

Illustration of Sather Gate with words "all a dream"

"Hey Waldo, can you find a Berkeley dreamer?", 2012, by Alberto Ledesma. 


Past USRI Scholars

(Bios reflect scholars’ status at the time of their appointment at the Center for Race and Gender.)

Lisa smiling with black turtleneck

Lisa García Bedolla

Lisa García Bedolla is Berkeley's Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division, and a Professor in the School of Education. She uses the tools of social science to reveal the causes of educational and political inequalities in the United States, considering differences across the lines of ethnorace, gender, class, geography, et cetera. She believes an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach is critical to recognizing the complexity of the contemporary United States. She has used a variety of social science methods – participant observation, in-depth interviewing, survey research, field experiments, and geographic information systems (GIS) – to shed light on this question.

She has published four books and dozens of research articles, earning five national book awards and numerous other awards. She has consulted for presidential campaigns and statewide ballot efforts and has partnered with over a dozen community organizations working to empower low-income communities of color. Through those partnerships, she has developed a set of best practices for engaging and mobilizing voters in these communities, becoming one of the nation’s foremost experts on political engagement within communities of color.


Eduardo smiling

Eduardo Bautista Duran

Eduardo Bautista Duran is a Ph.D. student in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at Berkeley Law. Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Eduardo was raised in East San Jose, California. His work focuses on the development of police forces in early statehood California, particularly in Gold Rush-era San Francisco. This genealogical approach is designed to capture the rise of policing and other criminal justice institutions as California entered statehood and as San Francisco underwent an explosive transition from a bayside settlement to an international urban hub. In studying a period of intense social transformation, the project seeks to find the breaks and continuities with the emerging racial logics of the 19th century and to assess how they shaped the modernization and professionalization of policing.


Photo of Kevin A. Escudero

Kevin A. Escudero

Kevin A. Escudero is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies.  Their research focuses on the activism of undocumented immigrant youth and the role of extra-legal subjects’ use of legal strategies/tactics to bring about positive social change. More specifically, in their dissertation, “Mobilizing Rights, Contesting Citizenship and Leveraging Intersectional Identities,” they draw upon in-depth interviews and participant observation with undocumented youth activists in Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area arguing that non-citizens taking part in political activism engage in a proxy dynamic process. As part of this process they find that undocumented youth first work to raise the political consciousness of citizens, second engage the law in a piecemeal fashion to construct the equivalent of formal citizenship rights and third deploy their newly won rights as a means of working to challenge the normative, dominant construct of citizenship altogether. Building on recent scholarship in the fields of sociology, ethnic studies and law and society, their research demonstrates the importance of considering the role of immigration status in influencing an individual’s propensity to participate in social movement activism. This scholarship is also extremely timely given President Obama’s June 2012 statement to defer the deportation of an estimated 2.1 million people and discussion whether his administration may seek to extend this policy to all undocumented immigrants in the near future.

They are also currently in the process of revising my dissertation into a book manuscript and completing two articles for submission. The first article focuses on the political activism of Asian undocumented immigrant communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, while the second considers the role of civil disobedience as a social movement strategy in comparison to two other historical moments (its use by activists in post-colonial movements and queer activism in the 1990s).



Marco looking down with hands crossed

Marco Antonio Flores

Marco Antonio Flores, is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  His research interests include contemporary queer and trans Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o arts in visual culture, performance art, and experimental film. Through his interdisciplinary training, he hopes to contribute to understandings of the spiritual, the political, and the aesthetic in Chicana/o Art theories and practices.  He was an active member of numerous campus initiatives and is affiliated with the Center for Race and Gender; the Center for Latino Policy Research; the Performance in the Americas Working Group.




Evelyn with arms crossed

Evelyn Nakano Glenn

Evelyn Nakano Glenn is a Professor of the Graduate School (Emerita) - Joint Appointments in the Departments of Comparative Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women's Studies.  She was also the Founding Director for the Center for Race and Gender. 

She continues to work on a book length project entitled Foundational Violence:  U.S. Settler Colonial Articulations of Racialized and Gendered Citizenship.  This project builds on and expands ideas developed in her 2015 article in the inaugural issue of the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.  It takes the settler colonial origins of the U.S. seriously as foundational to the formation of an American national identity rooted in whiteness and masculinity.  It traces the concept of endangered whiteness and white victimization to settler-Indian relationships and its continuation through tropes of black violence and alien immigrant invasion.

A second longterm project documents the heretofore untold story of certain West Coast Japanese Americans who avoided internment during World War II by “voluntarily” relocating to inland areas.  As revealed through in-depth interviews with survivors, the experiences of self evacuees varied a great deal, but many ended up in remote rural areas where living conditions were harsh and where relocatees faced hostility and threats to their safety.  Because they did not share the central experience of the vast majority of Japanese Americans, many self-evacuees felt that their experiences were not acknowledged by the ethnic community or the larger society.



Martha with long hair and blue background

Martha Ortega Mendoza

Martha Ortega Mendoza is a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education. Her work seeks to uplift and center the voices and experiences of undocumented graduate students. Her professional dream is that one day her research will be used by practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to support the recruitment and retention of undocumented graduate students.



Leti standing in front of books, medium length hair and wearing glasses

Leti Volpp

Leti Volpp is a scholar of immigration law and citizenship theory whose research examines how law is shaped by culture and identity.

Her most recent publications include “Protecting the Nation from ‘Honor Killings’: the Construction of a Problem” in Constitutional Commentary (2019), “Refugees Welcome?” in Berkeley La Raza Law Journal (2018), “Passports in the Time of Trump” in Symploke (2018), “Feminist, Sexual, and Queer Citizenship” in the Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (2017),  “Immigrants Outside the Law: President Obama, Discretionary Executive Power, and Regime Change” in Critical Analysis of Law (2016), “The Indigenous As Alien” in the UC Irvine Law Review (2015), “Saving Muslim Women” in Public Books (2015), “Civility and the Undocumented Alien” in Civility, Legality, and Justice in America (Austin Sarat, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2014), “The Boston Bombers” in Fordham Law Review (2014), “Imaginings of Space in Immigration Law” in Law, Culture and the Humanities (2012), the edited symposium issue “Denaturalizing Citizenship: A Symposium on Linda Bosniak’s The Citizen and the Alien and Ayelet Shachar’s The Birthright Lottery” in Issues in Legal Scholarship (2011), and “Framing Cultural Difference: Immigrant Women and Discourses of Tradition” in differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (2011). She is the editor of Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places: Justice Beyond and Between (with Marianne Constable and Bryan Wagner) (Fordham University Press, 2019) and Legal Borderlands: Law and the Construction of American Borders (with Mary Dudziak) (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). She is also the author of “The Culture of Citizenship” in Theoretical Inquiries in Law (2007), “The Citizen and the Terrorist” in UCLA Law Review (2002), “Feminism versus Multiculturalism” in the Columbia Law Review (2001), and many other articles.



USRI Publications

Title Author Year Publication typesort descending
It Was All A Dream: Writings By Undocumented Youth At Uc Berkeley Undocumented Youth at UC Berkeley 2014 Anthology, 2014
PART C - Working Together to Improve Campus Climate for Undocumented AB540 Students at UC Berkeley Lisa García Bedolla; Evelyn Nakano Glenn; Kevin Escudero 2013 Research Report, 2013
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - Working Together to Improve Campus Climate for Undocumented AB540 Students at UC Berkeley Lisa García Bedolla; Evelyn Nakano Glenn; Kevin Escudero 2013 Research Report, 2013
Climate Study of Undocumented Students at UC Berkeley Lisa García Bedolla; Leti Volpp; Martha Ortega Mendoza; Eduardo Bautista Duran 2020 Research Report, 2020
PART A - Working Together to Improve Campus Climate for Undocumented AB540 Students at UC Berkeley Lisa García Bedolla; Evelyn Nakano Glenn; Kevin Escudero 2013 Research Report, 2013
PART B - Working Together to Improve Campus Climate for Undocumented AB540 Students at UC Berkeley Lisa García Bedolla; Evelyn Nakano Glenn; Kevin Escudero 2013 Research Report, 2013

USRI Events

Flyer for 10-08-2020 CRG Forum

Undocumented Students and Campus Climate at UC Berkeley

10.08.2021 | 4:00 – 5:00 PM |  Virtual - Zoom Webinar

Liliana Iglesias, Program Director of Undocumented Student Program (USP), Fabrizio Mejia, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Division of Equity & Inclusion, Martha Ortega-Mendoza, Ph.D. Student in the Graduate School of Education,Diana Peña, Mental Health Coordinator & Licensed Psychologist at USP, Theo Cuison, Director and Clinical Supervising Attorney of East Bay Community Law Center’s (EBCLC) Immigration Unit, and Rebecca Romero, Paralegal in EBCLC’s Immigration Unit, will discuss challenges faced by both DACA and non-DACA undocumented students, as well as resources available on campus.

This event launched the public release of the report “Climate Study of Undocumented Students at UC Berkeley."

---
Co-sponsored by the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, East Bay Community Law Center, Institute of Governmental Studies, Othering & Belonging Institute, and the Undocumented Student Program.

LISTEN - Click to hear "Undocumented Students and Campus Climate at UC Berkeley"


Funders & Awards

2018 Hass Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS) - Intervention Grant|

2017 Hass Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS) Faculty Cluster Research Grant

2010  UC Berkeley Innovation Grants for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity - Multi-Year Award

Eduardo smiling


Eduardo Bautista Duran is a Ph.D. student in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at Berkeley Law. Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Eduardo was raised in East San Jose, California. His work focuses on the development of police forces in early statehood California, particularly in Gold Rush-era San Francisco. This genealogical approach is designed to capture the rise of policing and other criminal justice institutions as California entered statehood and as San Francisco underwent an explosive transition from a bayside settlement to an international urban hub. In studying a period of intense social transformation, the project seeks to find the breaks and continuities with the emerging racial logics of the 19th century and to assess how they shaped the modernization and professionalization of policing.

Marco looking down with hands crossed


Marco Antonio Flores
, is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  His research interests include contemporary queer and trans Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o arts in visual culture, performance art, and experimental film. Through his interdisciplinary training, he hopes to contribute to understandings of the spiritual, the political, and the aesthetic in Chicana/o Art theories and practices.  He was an active member of numerous campus initiatives and is affiliated with the Center for Race and Gender; the Center for Latino Policy Research; the Performance in the Americas Working Group.

Martha with long hair and blue background


Martha Ortega Mendoza is a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education. Her work seeks to uplift and center the voices and experiences of undocumented graduate students. Her professional dream is that one day her research will be used by practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to support the recruitment and retention of undocumented graduate students.