Date of Graduation

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Luz Navarrette García, EdD


This study used statistical analysis of enrollment records for ESL programs at community colleges throughout California from 2015-2019 to determine whether adult immigrants’ participation in public ESL programs was reduced under President Donald Trump. Immigrant families’ lesser use of public education services and means-tested federal benefits has been widely documented in the wake of Trump’s expansion of the public charge rule, which counted immigrants’ use of a wider array of public benefits against their case for residency in the United States than had any previous iteration of the rule. Failing the public charge test can block an immigrant’s entry into the country or even result in their deportation if the federal government determines that they are poor enough to be likely to depend on public monies for their subsistence, thus labeling them a “public charge.” Trump’s expansion of the public charge test resulted in mass chilling effects, whereby eligible immigrants avoided all kinds of public and community services out of fear of adverse immigration consequences, such as family separation. Statistical analysis of adult immigrants’ participation in community college ESL programs found that there was no significant chill in enrollment program-wide; however, three subcategories of students did display significant chilling in 2016 and 2018. Hispanic ESL students; ESL students of color, more generally; and low-income ESL students all displayed significant chilling in these years, mirroring previous findings that these specific groups were more likely than others to avoid public services due to public charge fears.

Appendix C_Appendix C- Raw ESL and Non-ESL Enrollment Data, 2015-2019.xlsx (42 kB)
Spreadsheet of raw ESL and non-ESL enrollment data used in analysis