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The Diffusion of the Undocumented Youth Movement in United States: Dreamers’ Networks and Strategies in Online and Public Spaces Open Access

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This research project studies the undocumented youth movement’s changing geography, and advocates’ uses of online and public spaces, with a focus on several East Coast state. This study will first contribute to the literature of immigrant advocacy in the United States by mapping a history of the creation and diffusion of immigrant organizations since the 1980s. It will then combine network theory and concepts about the spatialities of social movements to explore several case studies of undocumented youth advocacy in non-traditional immigrant destinations. While most accounts of the undocumented youth movement begin in Southern California where immigrant advocacy has deep roots, this study will focus on the East Coast, which has a more diverse political geography with some historic immigrant gateways, new immigrant destinations, and deeply conservative states. There are limited accounts immigrant advocacy outside of the traditional immigrant gateways, in states with relatively low immigrant volumes and/or with repressive policies. Through participant observation, online content analysis, mapping, and key informant interviews the project uncovers how immigrant youth have used networks and online media to further advocacy goals and circumvent local barriers, and at the same time, how they have leveraged place-based resources in high schools, public offices, and colleges to further such goals. Ultimately, this study finds that through carefully navigating online and public spaces, undocumented youth became key agents in shaping geographies of belonging at various scales.

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