Financial and Social Exclusion: Impact on CSU Undocumented College Students’ Awareness and Use of Campus Resources

Violeta Murillo, Marisol Gonzalez, Evelyn Espinoza, Cristina Cardona, Sandra Caballero, & Dr. Karina Chavarria


California’s pro-immigrant policies in the past decade have mediated many of the exclusions produced by federal restrictive immigration policies and the volatility of limbo statuses such as DACA recipients. Previous research documents that financial and social vulnerabilities linked to undocumented status are produced and upheld by varied local, state, and federal laws and policies that limit the educational experiences of undocumented college students (Enriquez 2020; Gonzales 2016; Menjívar and Kanstroom 2014). Some of this work suggests that university-level policies can affect the experiences of undocumented students, but the mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. Drawing on 27 interviews with 1.5 generation undocumented college students at two California State University campuses, we explore the mechanisms that structure how undocumented college students’ experiences of legal vulnerability— defined as financial and social exclusions— and shape their use of institutionalized campus resources. We find that undocumented college students’ prior experiences with financial challenges and social exclusion inform their awareness, access, and use of college campus resources. In particular, we show that students experience a sequence of stages in interacting with institutional resources that is defined by learning about resources, seeking access, and applying knowledge and support to realize their educational goals. This sequence is an iterative process that hinges on the degree of mediation enacted by the campus to ease students’ knowledge of, access to, and use of available resources and support. Critically, those students who over time develop an immigrant consciousness not only continue to seek out, access, and use resources, but their motivations for doing so shift from personal use to community advocacy for peers and broader immigrant community’s needs.


Session 1

11:15am – 12:30pm

Del Norte Hall

Room A: 1555

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