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Date of Award



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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Communications


Communication Studies


"This research explores immigration policies that have provided access to higher education to undocumented students through the lens of sociocultural identity theory and cultural identification theory. These theories are fundamental in understanding the construction of identity for undocumented students as a result of their interactions with policies and higher education institutions. Pertinent Washington State legislation includes House Bill 1079, which allows for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, the Real Hope Act that provides financial aid for undocumented students. Federal policy includes the Executive Order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows undocumented students who meet certain requirements to apply for a two-year work permit in the United States. Four research questions were addressed in this study: RQl: What are the perceptions of undocumented students in regards to higher education being an attainable goal? RQ2: What factors if any continue to prevent youth from succeeding in higher education institutions in Washington State? RQ3: What can be done to help undocumented youth succeed in higher education? RQ4: How is the identity of the undocumented student impacted as a result of being "undocumented"? The methodology utilized includes the IRB approved snowball sampling/ respondent-driven sampling used to approach hard-to-reach populations. A total of 10 one-on-one interviews with undocumented students at Eastern Washington University were conducted and individually analyzed for meta-themes about their experiences, events, and feelings in higher education. Additional data was collected from Day of The Dreams (DOTD) event at EWU, which had 139 participants. Drawing on data from interviews, DOTD, and peer reviewed scholarly sources, recommendations are provided on what institutions can do to further support undocumented youth in higher education. "--Leaf iv.