The University of Arizona

"I'm a great member of society... So why am I being punished?": Negotiating Visibility, Agency and Narratives of Undocumented Immigrants in the United States

Sebastian Glen


Historically, the United States has held conflicting views on the roles immigrants assume in society. In particular, those who are undocumented continuously negotiate and adjust their levels of “visibility” in society for a variety of reasons, including attaining social and political justice, self-preservation, and countering negative societal perceptions, as a result of dominant and singular narratives that characterize them. This essay analyzes testimonials written by undocumented immigrants, including youth, in an effort to show the relationship between high visibility and achieving the goals listed above. Undocumented youth are highlighted in this paper to illustrate how they define themselves as undocumented and work towards diversifying identities, imagery and meaning of their role in society.

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