cohort of Central American youth participating in UCLA Labor Center's DREAM Summer programNovember 2013

By Norma Stoltz Chinchilla and Nora Hamilton

Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).

This report is an update of an earlier research project by Hamilton and Chinchilla (2001) and examines identity formation among a group of ten 1.5 and second generation Guatemalans and Salvadorans in California. Many in the group had also fled from or had family affected by the wars of the 70’s and 80’s in Central America, but came to a nation that rejected their right to refugee status and were forced to deal with the pressures of being undocumented.

The interviewees’ experiences were not typical, as many had college and/or graduate degrees; and all were involved in arts, education, community service, and/or politics related jobs and/or activities that had given them considerable space to think about their identities, the place of Central Americans in the U.S., and the influence of their Central American roots on their lives. Hamilton and Chinchilla looked at the multiple, sometimes contradictory, identities of this young group and built a common narrative around the formation of a Central American-American identity and action.

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