Dreamers in higher education

Every year 65,000 students graduate from U.S. high school unable to participate fully in society due to their undocumented legal status. They are prohibited from working and in most states they cannot attend college at in-state rates. For most undocumented youth, the transition to adulthood holds limited opportunities. In 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legalized millions of qualifying youth (“DREAMers”) around the country.

In collaboration with Heide Castañeda and a team of graduate and undergraduate students, I have conducted research on undocumented students in higher education. Our team examined the lived experiences of DREAMers, allies, and university administrators following the 2014 passage of Florida's "tuition equity" bill. From this research we created an UndocuAlly training to educate faculty, staff, and students on the history, legislation, and current realities of undocumented youth. Our goal is to cultivate a more supportive environment for undocumented students through education. 

Since 2011 the Georgia Board of Regents has banned undocumented students from attending Georgia’s top five public universities and prohibited them from qualifying for in-state tuition. On February 1, 2016, young people from Freedom University and allies from across the country joined together in opposition to these policies. In coordinated actions across three distinct campuses, participants occupied classrooms from which undocumented students are excluded and together participated in integrated teach-ins about the histories of racialized oppression in the United States. I had the honor of accompanying these pathbreaking students by facilitating one of the teach-ins alongside Dr. Shannon Speed of UCLA.

Scholarly Products

Guevara, Juan Carlos, Angela Stuesse, and Mathew Coleman.  2017.  I Used to Believe in Justice. In Forced Out and Fenced In: Immigration Tales from the Field. T. Golash-Boza, ed. Pp. 185-192. New York: Oxford University Press.

Stuesse, Angela and Shannon Speed.  2016.  "Georgia's Ban on Undocumented College Students puts State on the Wrong Side of History."  Get Schooled, blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. February 4.

Velasquez, Jorge, Angela Stuesse, Heide Castañeda, Ryan Logan, and Sam Cathcart. 2016. "UndocuAlly Training." University of South Florida, Tampa. 


UNC Diversity and Inclusion. 2019. UndocuCarolina Ally Training 101. January 8.

Daily Tarheel. 2018. “These politics and policies have effects on human life”: UNC panel on immigration. April 26.

Daily Tarheel. 2017. How is DACA’s ending affecting the Carolina Community? September 17.

El Nuevo Herald. 2017. Soñadora detenida por ICE espera salir pronto y agradece apoyo, según amigos. March 9.

La Voz. 2017 Juntan fondos para ayudar a la familia de Dany Vargas. March 9.

La Voz. 2017. La familiar que fue por el sueño americano y vuelve deportada. March 9.

Washington Post. 2017. Lawyers try to delay ‘All-American’ Argentine’s deportation. March 6.

Washington Post. 2017. ICE nabs young ‘dreamer’ applicant after she speaks out at a news conference. March 2.

CNN. 2017. DREAMer speaks out on immigration, gets arrested. March 2.

Univisión Noticias. 2017. Una dreamer es detenida por ICE tras dar una conferencia de prensa en Mississippi. March 2.

Associated Press News. 2017. ICE detains ‘Dreamer’ after she urged Trump to protect her. March 1.