La Lucha Sigue: Making the Case for Institutional Support of Undocumented and DACAmented Students in Higher Education

  • Vanessa Núñez
  • Esmeralda C. Cruz Lopez
  • Mariana Sarmiento Hernández
  • Anna C. Smedley
Keywords: DACA, Undocumented Students, Higher Education, Immigration, CBPR


This project used a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to explore the experiences of undocumented and DACAmented college students in Southern Nevada. CBPR is a collaborative approach to research that involves members of the community being studied to be a part of the entire research process and builds on the strengths of the community. Relying heavily on the knowledge and voices of our community partners, the UndocuNetwork, we conducted interviews with undocumented and DACAmented student activists about their experiences in higher education. We discuss the findings from in-depth interviews with twelve undocumented and DACAmented student activists who are leading the movement at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to make higher education more accessible and supportive of undocumented and DACAmented students. The questions were written broadly to foster discussion on three main topics: institutional activism, access and barriers to student resources, and campus climate. Participants shared a sense of responsibility to engage in institutional change work, and embraced their agency and exhibited resiliency for navigating higher education through their peer support network. We argue that undocumented and DACAmented students in the UndocuNetwork fill a gap within the institution in sharing resources and helping each other navigate higher education.