1st Edition

Amplifying Black Undocumented Student Voices in Higher Education

By Felecia S. Russell Copyright 2024
    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book centers a qualitative study exploring the experiences of 15 Black undocumented students and the author’s own experiences as a Black DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, highlighting the invisibility and lack of belonging Black undocumented students face in the undocumented community and the United States at large.

    Access and success within higher education for undocumented students cannot be achieved unless those implementing policies understand the full context of the community. Through both an interpretative phenomenological approach and biographical memoir, this volume makes meaning of the experiences of undocuBlack students, a group who do not often see themselves being represented in the immigrant narrative. It argues that without visibility, undocuBlack students are rarely the beneficiaries of advocacy and become targets of overcriminalization. The stories told here examine the intersection of race and identity in determining positioning within society, with the goal of contributing awareness and promoting more inclusive practices among higher education communities.

    This text offers an important new perspective for faculty and administrators, policymakers, upper-level undergraduate and graduate students, as well as general readers with an interest in Black and immigrant narratives and the undocumented experience as an academic subject.

    1. The American Dream

    2. College Realized and the Barriers to Persistence

    3. The Hope of Graduate School

    4. Black, Undocumented, and Successful?

    5. UndocuBlack Immigrant Experiences Within the Context of Higher Education

    6. Sense of Belonging on College Campuses for UndocuBlack Students

    7. Invisible Experiences of UndocuBlack Students Within Higher Education

    8. Amplify UndocuBlack Voices


    Felecia S. Russell is Director of the Higher Ed Immigration Portal at the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, as well as founder of her own online platform Embracing Undocumented. Dr. Russell identifies as a Jamaican-born, American-raised Black woman.

    "In recent years, the plight of undocumented immigrant young people has received considerable attention. Yet despite increased media coverage and advocacy efforts, still very little is known about young Dreamers who are also Black. Amplifying Black Undocumented Student Voices helps to fill this needed gap. Compelling in its approach, this powerful book tells the contemporary story of a diverse group of young adults who yearn for a place to belong, while navigating America’s racial and legal structures. Essential reading for educators and policy makers alike, the stories in this book should compel all to act."

    Roberto G. Gonzales, University of Pennsylvania, USA

    "This book beautifully captures the unique essence of what it means to be both Black and Undocumented in the United States. [Russell] poetically describes her literal home of Jamaica, which encapsulates the figurative feeling of home to so many Black immigrants, an often complex place wrapped in memories of being loved, pain and a lingering sense of longing. Russell also does the work of interrogating the concept of belonging to a people, place and culture and the impact that struggle has on the trajectory of the lives of Black immigrants. This book serves as a mirror for all who've had the UndocuBlack experience, I feel seen."

    Haddy Gassama, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the UndocuBlack Network, USA

    "Unveiling the deeply woven stories of Black undocumented students in higher education, this book provides a profound and timely exploration of resilience, identity, and educational excellence. It brilliantly captures the nuances and challenges these students face, illuminating their journeys with empathy and insight. This is a must-read for educators, policymakers, and anyone invested in understanding the complex intersectionality of race and immigration in the U.S. educational landscape. An eye-opening account, it prompts us to reflect, advocate, and champion inclusivity and justice for all students."

    William Perez, Loyola Marymount University, USA

    "Felecia Russell's Amplifying Black Undocumented Student Voices succeeds on all accounts- a compelling memoir of her own educational and professional journey, nuance narrative of the varied experiences of Black undocumented students in higher education, and scholarly study of how colleges and universities can and should better support Black undocumented students on their campuses. An invaluable addition to higher education scholarship, it will be a thought-provoking first-year book selection."

    Miriam Feldblum, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration

    "Drawing on valuable lived-experience and deep engagement in research, Dr. Russell writes with conviction to center the voices of UndocuBlack students who are too often painfully excluded from spaces of belonging on college campuses across the country. Beginning with her own personal story and bolstered by the similar patterns she found in her interviews with students, the book makes evident the unacceptable gaps in resources and safe spaces. She compellingly calls on all educators and higher education staff to develop policies and practices to better serve these students, first by recognizing their unique needs and contributions. All allies of undocumented students – within and outside of academia – should read this."

    Leisy J. Abrego, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

    "Amplifying Black Undocumented Student Voices in Higher Education offers an in-depth and nuanced exploration of the challenges undocuBlack students face. It takes the reader on a journey to understand better the complexities found in the crossroads of anti-Black racism, illegality, and access to educational opportunities in the United States. The stories shared in this cutting-edge work are both heartbreaking and thought-provoking, making it a must-read for anyone interested in equity and justice in higher education."

    Alonso R. Reyna Rivarola, Salt Lake Community College, USA

    "Felecia Russell's storytelling is nothing short of captivating, and as you read each word of this book, you'll find your heart both shrinking and growing in response to the profound experiences shared within. Amplifying Black Undocumented Student Voices is a must-read for scholars, experts, and anyone intrigued by the intricate experiences of Dreamers and undocumented immigrants."

    Gaby Pacheco, CEO of TheDream.US

    "Amplifying Black Undocumented Student Voices in Higher Education explores an important gap in the growing literature of undocumented communities in the U.S. by inserting the voices of undocuBlack students traditionally marginalized in higher education and activist spaces. As a self-identified undocuBlack scholar and higher education practitioner, Russell’s work will be critical to the library collections of scholars, community organizers, k-12 educators/administrators, higher education institutions, and policymakers to become undocu competent in practice and advocacy."

    Rafael A. Martínez, Arizona State University, USA