Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales


Latinx students in low-income public schools face structural oppression that limits their educational and career opportunities. Those opportunities are further limited when we consider how many of those students might be undocumented. The current political climate is replete with anti-immigrant sentiment and has already created further difficulty for undocumented students with the recession of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Public high school teachers and staff play an important role in the lives of these students, for they interact in a space in which preparation for adulthood is the goal. However, these spaces do not exist in a vacuum but rather within the toxicity of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Thus, this study asks how teachers and staff in San José high schools are navigating caring, protecting, and empowering Latinx undocumented students in this particular social, historical, political moment, also known as the Trump Era.

I conducted semi-structured interviews with teachers and teaching staff to better understand their approach to working with undocumented students, and question whether the election of Donald Trump has affected their approach or classroom dynamics. As a participant observer in classrooms, I comprehended just how exposed students are to Trump’s rhetoric and the effects the current political climate has on their perceptions of teachers and staff. Explicit anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric brought forth not just with his election, but with the candidacy of Donald Trump, has shifted the environment in which undocumented Latinx students are expected to learn. Thus, it is important to discuss the pedagogical approaches of teachers and reflect on which approaches work and which need to shift to better suit the needs of undocumented Latinx students. Teachers and staff at this San José public high school shared their observations, approaches, and hopes regarding working with undocumented Latinx students in the era of Trump. The input of these participants offers the opportunity to better understand how to care, protect, and empower undocumented Latinx students in the context of San José and other cities like it.