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“I Ain’t Tied to No Law:” 1.5-Generation Undocumented Immigrants and Alternative Paths for Inclusion
AuthorOverli, Erienne Bethany
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1.5-generation undocumented immigrants, those who were brought to the United States as minors, use a variety of methods to counter their exclusion from U.S. citizenship and membership. Through participant-observation of online communities of 1.5-generation immigrants and of a statewide coalition of immigration activists in Nevada, as well as semi-structured interviews with immigrants from around the country, I explore the varied uses of social media and activism in the United States in the years since 2010 when the DREAM Act failed to pass through Congress. Today, immigrants use social media and activism to advance community solidarity, to move away from the rhetoric associated with the DREAM Act, and to advocate for immigrant rights. Due to a growing understanding that immigration reform is unlikely in the near future, young undocumented immigrants seek alternative ways to live without legal citizenship. They have done this by creating strong communities to foster inclusion and to resist legal exclusion. Such communities provide networks of support for 1.5-generation immigrants. I argue that, by forming community, 1.5-generation immigrants create the inclusivity that a lack of access to citizenship denies them. Thus, community formation suggests an alternative path to inclusion: by directly and indirectly resisting immigration law, 1.5 generation immigrants emphasize the importance of cultural citizenship over legal citizenship.