Christina Wilkerson

Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

Jody Vallejo, Ph.D.


Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

McNair Project

““I’M A DREAMER”: Undocumented Latino Youth in Los Angeles and the Federal DREAM Act”

Project Abstract

In 2001 the Federal DREAM Act, a bipartisan legislative bill, was introduced to congress. This bill makes it possible for undocumented youth living in the United States to obtain citizenship by completing two years of higher education or military service within a six year period. The DREAM Act has yet to pass as a federal law. California has the largest percentage of undocumented immigrants (Flores, 2009). Moreover, 4.7 million Latinos live in Los Angeles County making the greater Los Angeles the area with the largest Latino population in the nation (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009). This study considers the question: if the Federal DREAM Act were to pass, what impact would this have on undocumented Latino youth in the Los Angeles region? To address this question, the researcher considers socioeconomic factors that influence student choice of either military enlistment or college enrollment pathways. Through the use of grounded theory research methodology this study compares interviews of undocumented Latino youth in Los Angeles. Additionally, the researcher analyzes the perceptions that this population has regarding the military component of the bill.