In collaboration with the Undocumented Student Equity Project, we lead a group of 16 UC and CSU faculty from across the state to conduct a survey of UC and CSU undergraduate students about how immigration policies affect college students. We aim to identify ways to better support and promote the educational success and wellbeing of undocumented college students and students from mixed-status and immigrant families.
The first part of the study takes a broader view of who is being impacted by immigration policies, focusing on U.S. citizen students who have undocumented and legal immigrant parents. Prior research shows that these students are negatively affected by immigration policies, even though they themselves are not the target. But there are few campus resources dedicated to supporting their needs. There is not any systematic evidence of how these student populations are affected by policy, what their needs are, and what resources most effectively support their academic success and wellbeing. At this time, we are doing this part of the study at the UC campuses.
The second part of the study focuses on undocumented students, but turns attention to both the UC and CSU systems. Prior research shows that undocumented students struggle to pursue higher education. In fact, most campuses have undocumented student programs to provide them with additional resources and support. We aim to document the extent to which undocumented status disrupts education and wellbeing, and understand how individual student actions, student support services, and institutional context may help reduce inequalities.
We are doing this study because we believe that high-quality research will inform the development of high-quality resources and support on campus. We aim to use these findings to inform the development of programs and practices to advance educational equity for these student populations.
More about the survey data
We fielded our survey from March to June 2020 with four groups of students. At the nine UC campuses, we surveyed students from three groups: 1) undocumented students (n=667), 2) U.S.-born citizen students with at least one undocumented parent (n=643), and 3) U.S.-born citizen students with legal immigrant parents (n=1,431). Focusing on eight CSU campuses, we surveyed 610 undocumented students.
Primary outcome variables for academic performance include GPA, incomplete courses, academic engagement, post-graduate preparation, and immigration-related academic distractions. Primary outcome variables for well-being include stress, self-rated health, psychological distress, food insecurity, and help-seeking behavior. Secondary measures include economic instability, deportation threats and exposure, access to resources and opportunities, social exclusion and isolation, feelings about current immigration policy and rhetoric, concerns about the future, and self and family demographic measures.