Learn more about: Other Accounts of Undocumented Immigrants

Book cover of Underground AmericaJulissa Arce’s story is one out of the countless stories of those who live as undocumented immigrants in the United States. It is important to see how others in a similar situation live, especially since every story is unique in the difficulties and struggles that are faced and overcome. Arce’s story has a relatively happy ending, due to her eventual ability to attend college, achieve vocational and financial success, and evade being detained by immigration authorities. Not everyone is as lucky as Julissa, and there are many people who have different immigration stories where they cannot attend college because they do not live in a state that allows them to attend the public universities, or they struggle with immigration authorities. This article focuses on the book Underground America and how its contents, which consist of firsthand accounts of undocumented immigrants in the United States, demonstrate that those people are just as deserving of being members of the nation. This article and novel will show other examples of what life is like for an undocumented immigrant in the United States.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. “Documenting the Undocumented: Life Narratives of Unauthorized Immigrants.” Biography, vol. 35 no. 3, 2012, p. 449-471. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/bio.2012.0040.


Learn more about: Immigration and Higher Education

Julissa has a hunger for education that is evident throughout the text. She aspires to go to college, and gain the skills she needs in order to succeed like her parents want her to. She, like many immigrants, faced discrimination and racism in the school environment. These experiences had a profound influence on her future goals and endeavors. This article discusses the impact of immigration on students, and the ways in which higher education systems can contribute to immigration justice for their students. The piece discusses tone in the classroom, and how there is an obligation to pay attention to the stories of immigrants in higher education in order to circumvent discrimination and marginalization.

C. Kyle Rudick & Deanna P. Dannels (2018) ““Yes, and … ”: continuing the scholarly conversation about immigration and higher education,” Communication Education, 67:1, 120-123, DOI: 10.1080/03634523.2017.1392584


Learn more about: Undocumented Immigration in Young Adult Literature

With the primary topic of the novel being immigration between the United States and Mexico, it is important to see how the same topic is discussed in other pieces of literature. The following article examines the depiction of immigration between Mexico and the United States within Young Adult literature. It focuses on the differences in language and narrative styles between 11 different novels revolving around a similar topic. A portion of these novels were released when Julissa Arce was younger, so it helps to look at how the Young Adult literature of her era discussed the matter of immigration. Although these novels are works of fiction and Arce’s novel is a memoir, learning about the views displayed within these specific novels will give a better idea of societal opinions towards those immigrating from Mexico to the United States at various times. 

Cummins, A. “Border Crossings: Undocumented Migration Between Mexico and the United States in Contemporary Young Adult Literature.” Child Lit Educ 44, 57–73 (2013). https://doi-org.udel.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10583-012-9176-1


The American Dream

Learn more about: Reconceptualizing the American Dream

Arce writes broadly about this idea of “The American Dream” and what that looks like to her. It transforms and manifests in many different ways over the course of her story. Tinoco’s piece focuses on misconceptions of this “American Dream,” and refocuses that dream not on the cultural idea of pursuing a better life, but rather as a means for survival. She gives this phenomenon more realistic footing, grounding it in immigrant experiences. Tinoco discusses the aspirations of immigrants coming to the United States not for material wealth, but rather for a reclaiming of “identity, family, and belonging.”

Tinoco, Sonia Barrios. “Reconceptualizing ‘The American Dream’ for Undocumented Immigrants: The Yearning for a Lost Sense of Family, Identity, and Belonging.” Pacific Coast Philology, vol. 53, no. 2, 2018, pp. 289–307. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/pacicoasphil.53.2.0289. Accessed 4 Mar. 2020.



Learn more about: Issues Within the Pursuit of the American Dream

This article discusses the educational advancement of Mexican-American immigrants regardless of their generation, as well as the institutional and cultural discrimination faced by Mexican-Americans through looking into language assimilation, social cleavage, and economic mobility. The article gives a comprehensive look into both the background and future of Mexican-American immigrants and the “systematic blockages” that hinder them from moving forward in education. From racial discrimination, obtaining legal status, and facing social isolation, there are many ways in which outside roadblocks can manifest inside the educational sphere. The issues brought up in this article can be easily paralleled in Arce’s novel, where she, too, is confronted with many of these issues that challenge her and her family’s original assumptions and expectations about what the “American Dream” has to offer them.

Alba, R. (2006). “Mexican Americans and the American Dream.” Perspectives on Politics, 4(2), 289-296. doi:10.1017/S1537592706060208



Connor Keefe & Rachel Milberg, 2020

Comments are closed