Harvard Professor shares his findings on undocumented youth in Southern California

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(Cassandra Hearn / Daily Titan)

Harvard professor Roberto G. Gonzales followed the lives of 150 undocumented children in Los Angeles for 12 years and published his findings in his book “Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America.”

Gonzales presented his research on education and disadvantaged families, speaking in depth on the discontinuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and concluding that DACA reduced stress for its recipients and gave young adults a greater sense of belonging.

“Roberto is one of the first scholars who has chronicled and documented youth experiences. He’s someone that I’ve read, so I want to hear him and see him in person,” said Karina Santellano, a USC graduate student studying undocumented youths. She has been a fan of Gonzales’ for the past year.  

Fellow USC graduate and CSUF sociology alumna Blanca Ramirez also came in support of Gonzales’ research.

“I’m excited to hear more about his work,” Ramirez said. “I’m hoping he’ll touch on his future work and what he’ll continue to do, and what his research will look like under the Trump administration.”

Iris Rangel, a Harvard sociology major, said she came to hear Gonzales talk about his journey, his book and his experiences at Harvard.

“He makes me think, myself being a Latina, that (you’re) capable of going for your dreams and aspirations of obtaining a higher education,” Rangel said.

Gonzales concluded his presentation with a look at current legislation affecting immigration and undocumented immigrants today.

“He’s spent a long period of time with the undocumented youth and really advocating for them,” Santellano said. “In terms of policy, he’s always on Twitter, writing different statements and supporting legislation.”

Following his presentation, Gonzales took questions from the crowd and signed copies of his book.

Marco Moreno, a master’s student in cultural anthropology, waited in line to talk with Gonzales after the Q&A. He said he was “very happy” that Gonzales came to speak at CSUF.

“The population of people who come here, this is an important issue for them,” Moreno said. “You hear professors talk about wanting to teach a class about this because it impacts them. It has medical, emotional and psychological tolls on people’s lives when you try to shut them out.”

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