Methods: To address this research question, I conducted 34 in-depth interviews with undocumented Latinx immigrants. Snowball sampling was used to recruit participants. Interviews were conducted in secure locations on campus, within the respondent’s home, at community organizations, or via telephone and video chat. Interviews were transcribed and then uploaded to Dedoose to be coded. A combination of flexible, open, and focused coding methods was used to analyze the data.
Results: Subnational immigration policies played an important role for undocumented Latinx immigrants’ political participation. Supportive local policies helped create a space for local undocumented communities to define political participation in more traditional ways focused on engaging with elected officials, the electoral process, and public demonstrations. In communities with supportive subnational immigration policies felt more comfortable engaging in these traditional forms of political participation. In communities with restrictive subnational policies residents still thought about and engaged in political participation but in different ways. In restrictive communities undocumented Latinx immigrants were more likely to define political participation in non-traditional ways focused on individual education and everyday resistance. They were less likely to engage in more public forms of political participations but still found ways to stay active in their communities.
Conclusions and Implications: Subnational immigration policies produce important policies feedback effects that influence how undocumented Latinx immigrants define and engage in political participation. Social workers can play in important role in partnering with undocumented communities to advocate for more inclusive subnational to create space for more traditional forms of political participations. This can provide increased justification for more inclusive local immigration policy. For social workers in more restrictive communities understanding how undocumented Latinx immigrants define and engage in political participation can help them foster more effective collaboration and shape their interventions in response to the community’s needs.