University of Kentucky

Poster Title

A Case Study of the Undocumented Latina/o Immigrant Community in Kentucky

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the number of undocumented immigrants in Kentucky is approximately 50,000. Due to the job opportunities available through the horse industry, there exists a prominent undocumented immigrant workforce in Kentucky. The passage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 allowed for the temporary suspension of deportation of undocumented immigrant youth and the authorization to legally work. Our research examines the impact of recent immigration legislation on undocumented immigrants living in Kentucky through participant observation and in-depth semi-structured interviews of Latina/o immigrants in Kentucky. Though there have been some quantitative studies that address the lives of undocumented immigrants, there exists very little qualitative data, as undocumented immigrants are often reluctant to speak to officials for fear of deportation. Our research findings indicate that though DACA has provided some temporary relief to many of these undocumented immigrants, there are still several outstanding issues. DACA recipients lack a path to citizenship and their family members receive few benefits. Undocumented immigrants are vulnerable to a range of human rights abuses that are largely unreported, including trafficking, sexual violence, and wage theft. The severe economic, political, and social constraints on undocumented immigrants merit special attention because immigration reform is a highly debated topic with clear policy implications, given the rapid increase in the population of undocumented immigrants in Kentucky.

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A Case Study of the Undocumented Latina/o Immigrant Community in Kentucky

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the number of undocumented immigrants in Kentucky is approximately 50,000. Due to the job opportunities available through the horse industry, there exists a prominent undocumented immigrant workforce in Kentucky. The passage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 allowed for the temporary suspension of deportation of undocumented immigrant youth and the authorization to legally work. Our research examines the impact of recent immigration legislation on undocumented immigrants living in Kentucky through participant observation and in-depth semi-structured interviews of Latina/o immigrants in Kentucky. Though there have been some quantitative studies that address the lives of undocumented immigrants, there exists very little qualitative data, as undocumented immigrants are often reluctant to speak to officials for fear of deportation. Our research findings indicate that though DACA has provided some temporary relief to many of these undocumented immigrants, there are still several outstanding issues. DACA recipients lack a path to citizenship and their family members receive few benefits. Undocumented immigrants are vulnerable to a range of human rights abuses that are largely unreported, including trafficking, sexual violence, and wage theft. The severe economic, political, and social constraints on undocumented immigrants merit special attention because immigration reform is a highly debated topic with clear policy implications, given the rapid increase in the population of undocumented immigrants in Kentucky.