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ERIC Number: ED555768
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 210
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3034-9077-4
The High-Stakes Literacies of Undocumented, Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth Detained in America
Cullerton, Alexis
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
Every year, thousands of undocumented, unaccompanied immigrant youth take dangerous journeys to the United States only to be apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) upon arrival. These youth, who are both involuntary and voluntary immigrants, are then faced with the challenge of having to navigate the complex contexts of the legal and social services systems. While detained, youth begin their family reunification and immigration legal cases. Within this navigation, youth enact unique literacies as well as make use of documents in order to mediate domains of activities within their detention centers. Immigrant youth face many obstacles and challenges while detained in America. The current inquiry focused on the experiences of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant adolescents (henceforth referred to as youth and/or minors). The current research employed descriptive case study methodology (Yin, 2006) in order to examine the literacy practices and events of minors detained in the World's Children Home (WCH). Within this inquiry, the expectations placed upon youth by the contexts of the WCH were also examined. All findings have been embedded within a contextual analysis, which served to describe the environment of the center, the first 48 hours of detention and a day in the life of an unaccompanied immigrant adolescent detained in America. A variety of sources of data were collected including: WCH staff interviews, observations, student artifacts, and document analyses. The document analyses involved an independent examination of features of the text as well as a Coh-Metrix (McNamara, D. S., Louwerse, M. M., Cai, Z., & Graesser, A., 2005) analysis in order to determine the difficulty levels of texts that mediated literacy events for the adolescents within the center. Findings revealed that all literacy practices and events present within the WCH can be categorized into youth-enacted and system-imposed literacies. Additionally, the literacy activities present in the center and the documents mediated the following domains of activities: Decision-Making, Orientation, Academic and Downtime. The literacy practices, events and documents used to mediate the domain of Decision-Making activities played extremely large roles in the youths' futures. Additionally, minors were observed having to participate in numerous high-stakes meetings with little knowledge of their purpose and inadequate preparation. Moreover, the documents used to mediate domains of activity were written at a level far beyond the ability of detained youth. The significance of these findings bring forth implications that speak to the need to revise documents, create a comprehensible timeline to accompany adolescent immigrants in their navigation of contexts, and provide additional systems of support to increase transition into life upon discharge. This study sought to add knowledge to the fields of education and adolescent literacy research, yet its implications cross additional boundaries and speak to the fields of policy, immigration and social services. The current research challenges scholars within the field to add the literacy needs and experiences of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant youth to the larger dialogue on immigration, English language learning, and adolescent literacy in the United States. In doing so, the voice of a marginalized population that is growing at a staggering rate can begin to be accounted for and the needs of youth navigating a new land can be further examined. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A