Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Emma Fuentes

Second Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Third Advisor

Leyla Pérez-Gualdrón


This research gives voice to the emotional experiences of mixed-status and undocumented youth, and explores the Mexican cultural arts as a healing space for this community of children. This research expands our mental health understanding of undocumented and mixed status children, capturing the undocu-trauma these participants describe in narrating the chronic fear they live with. Their stories speak to the monster of fear, la migra, witches in the field, Trump, racism, societal violence and trauma that is invisible in their home but alive in their daily lives. The participants in this study narrate the power of the cultural arts to heal and create comunidad through a non-profit that has concentrated its efforts on using ballet folklórico, Mariachi, education, culture, and social justice and social work as a temascal of healing in their community.

This qualitative research journey represents a critical discursive space that examines these youths’ narratives to emphasizes the urgency of addressing the psychological consequences of being an undocumented or mixed-status child in the United States. This qualitative research uses testimonio as methodology to document how culture rises as a shield of protection and has inspired these youth to reclaim their identities, heal societal wounds, and find strength through using the cultural arts as resistance and power. Their participation in a Northern California cultural arts non-profit organization opened the doors for a community to unite behind these children and families using a combination of the cultural arts, education, and social justice to uncover the cultural citizenship of these folklore heroes. The program of 11 Millones de Sueños has transformed into a space of cariño to capture the orgullo, esfuerza, corazón, and resistance of these youth to help them withstand the emotional suffering that has gone unrecognized for too long. Their participation in the program, their cultural wealth, resistance, determination and familia has inspired a cultural citizenship that extends beyond papers. Their citizenship is rooted in character, leadership, community service, comunidad, orgullo y alegria, danza, mariachi y folklore. No longer afraid to be seen, these youth stand strong against the societal monsters that have attempted to dismantle their humanity.