Roberto Gonzales

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Roberto Gonzales, Assistant Professor, University of Washington
“Waking Up to a Nightmare:
Undocumented Youth and the Confusing and Contradictory Routes to Adulthood”

Date: October14th, 2010
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Location: Shorb House, 2547 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94720

For 1.5-generation undocumented youth, the transitions from childhood to adolescence and adulthood involve exiting the legally protected status of K-12 students and entering into adult roles that require legal status as a basis for participation. Gonzales’ research finds that this collision among contexts makes for a turbulent transition and has profound implications for identity formation, friendship patterns, aspirations and expectations, and social and economic mobility. As undocumented children make important life course transitions, they move from protected to unprotected, from inclusion to exclusion, from de facto legal to illegal. Moreover, as these young people move into early adulthood between shifting legal contexts, they must learn to be “illegal,” a process involving an almost complete retooling of daily routines, survival skills, aspirations, and social patterns. These findings have important implications for the studies of immigrant 1.5 vs. 2nd generations, their transitions to adulthood, and the specific and complex ways in which legal status intervenes in their coming of age.

Roberto G. Gonzales is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work. He earned his Ph.D. in the department of sociology at the University of California. His work has been published in International Migration, The Peabody Journal of Education, the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, and the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy. Gonzales has also authored policy reports for the Migration Policy Institute, Immigration Policy Center, The College Board, and the Police Foundation, and has lectured nationally and internationally on the circumstances confronting immigrant youth in various contexts.