The Influence of Legal Status on Educational Transitions among Mexican Immigrant Youth: Empirical Patterns and Policy Implications

Emily Greenman, Pennsylvania State University

This study investigates the influence of legal status on school continuation decisions around the time of high school graduation for Mexican immigrant youth who arrived in the U.S. as children. About 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year, the majority of whom are from Mexico. While undocumented students have a right to K-12 education, they face barriers to college attendance due to policies limiting admission and financial aid for undocumented students. Qualitative evidence indicates that perception of such barriers also affects students’ high school completion decisions. This project employs a unique method for inferring legal status of Mexican immigrants in the 2001 and 2004 panels of the SIPP in order to investigate the effects of legal status on school continuation decisions in late adolescence. It provides the first quantitative assessment of the influence of legal status on Mexican immigrant students’ high school graduation and college enrollment rates.

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Presented in Poster Session 7