Citizen Advantage, Undocumented Disadvantage, or Both? The Comparative Educational Outcomes of Second and 1.5-Generation Latino Young Adults

Caitlin Patler
Published in
International Migration Review


Recent research theorizes a widening sociopolitical gap between undocumented and documented immigrants — but also between citizens and non-citizens generally — with implications for mobility. How might legal inequality influence educational outcomes? Largely due to data constraints, much existing research is unable to distinguish between legal statuses. Yet, legal status may help explain inconsistent findings of “immigrant advantage” among Latinos. Using survey data from Latino young adults in California, I explore how legal status impacts high school completion, post-secondary enrollment, and labor market expectations. I find evidence of undocumented disadvantage and citizenship advantage in completion and enrollment, but no differences in expectations. Findings suggest that scholars should pay closer attention to the role of legal background in shaping mobility.